BAGGS, WYO. — Things tend to fall in place when a football team properly executes the game plan, Mike Bates said.
The Little Snake River Valley School’s six-man football team routed Ten Sleep High School, 45-6, on Saturday in the season opener for both teams.
Bates, head coach of the Rattlers, told his players their execution throughout the game made him look good.
“Our players came out and did what we told them and they made the coaches look like geniuses,” Bates said. “Everything we planned for came together and the players really came through.”
The Rattlers might be hard pressed to impress their coach this season, a year after winning Wyoming’s 1A six-man state title in a season full of blowout wins.
But, consider Bates enthused with his team’s defensive performance in the opener. LSRV had to replace two of its leading tacklers to graduation, the coach said.
“We lost a middle linebacker and a defensive end and that is a big hole in our defense,” he said. “The kids that came in didn’t miss a beat and I think they played even stronger than our defense did last year.”
Heading into the game, Bates said the LSRV coaching staff planned for a pass-heavy attack from Ten Sleep.
However, LSRV’s defensive backs stepped up, intercepting four passes, including two by senior Miles Englehart, whom Bates named player of the week.
“We talked about what to expect and the guys read the quarterback and he did what we practiced for,” Bates said. “We had guys in the vicinity when the ball was thrown for four interceptions and six or seven knock downs.”
On the other side of the ball, senior running back Daniel Wille led the way for the Rattlers, piling up 195 yards rushing.
Junior quarterback Zach Filip passed for 60 yards in his first start.
Bates pulled his offensive starters after the first half, but he cited better production in the passing game as an area that needed improvement as the season progresses.
“We don’t want to become one-dimensional, so I’d like to see better passing moving forward,” Bates said. “Zach’s first outing went well, but we didn’t need to pass, so he didn’t get much experience there.
“All our players played well and our blockers did their job to give us a chance.”
With the Rattlers on an 11-game winning streak that began last season, Bates said it’s crucial for the Rattlers to stay focused on each game.
“I like us to face each game like it is brand new because we don’t know who moved in or what teams did since last year,” he said. “It is a different year and we have to be ready for everyone.”
Focus will be crucial this week, Bates said, as the Rattlers prepare for a team they’ve never played against — Dubois High School. The game is set for Sept. 10 at Dubois.
Dubois went 10-2 last season as an 11-man squad, but made the move to six-man this year.
Dubois won its first game Friday, 49-20, over Midwest School.
“Dubois runs a triple option, so either the quarterback or running back could end up with the ball,” Bates said. “This week we have to talk about staying home and each player’s responsibility because this is stuff we haven’t faced before.
“Our defense is going to have to be solid again and each guy will have to be able to trust and help one another.”