LSRV football team looking for back-to-back gridiron titles |

LSRV football team looking for back-to-back gridiron titles

Joshua Gordon

Rex Stanley, left, and Daniel Wille, both incoming seniors at the Little Snake River Valley School in Baggs, Wyo., celebrate during the 2010 1A six-man state championship game in Laramie, Wyo. The Rattlers won the state championship last season. Head coach Mike Bates said being the defending state champions will make this season more difficult, but he believes his team has the talent to win another title.

In 2009, head coach Mike Bates' first season with the Little Snake River Valley School's six-man varsity football team, the Rattlers had an average season.

The team went 3-4.

One season made a world of difference.

2009 was the Rattlers first season after a 55-year layoff in football. 2010 was one for the school's record books.

The team went 10-0 en route to winning the 1A six-man football state title.

The team's closest game was a contest on the road at Hanna-Elk Mountain, which they won, 50-34, in week six. The Rattlers also beat Hanna-Elk Mountain, 67-12, in the state championship game.

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Now, heading into the 2011 season, Bates said the expectations are as high as possible and the target is squarely on his team's back.

"I think the kids know they have the target on their back and they know they are going to have to improve," he said. "They are coming into the season with some unanswered questions, but they know they have to answer them early and play mistake-free football the entire season."

Bates said the team didn't rest during the summer, going to a full-contact camp in Nebraska and bringing an experienced high school coach from Montana to run a three-day camp in their hometown of Baggs, Wyo.

But, as the team prepares to officially open practice Monday, the coach said his players have things to work on.

"Namely, we are going to start getting kids in shape," Bates said. "We are going to instill some new things this year as well as perfect our old stuff.

"If we keep getting better at the fundamentals and the basics, we will have a successful season."

The Rattlers lost three seniors to graduation but Bates said the team returns everyone else from last year's title squad.

"We are going to have to have players fill in for the seniors who graduated, but I think we have the talent to do that," he said. "We have a lot of players coming back who know what they have to do to win."

The team's offense averaged about 62 points per game last season, most of it coming on the ground.

Graduated senior Sean Rietveld led the team with 1,186 yards of the team's more than 3,000 rushing yards, while fellow graduated senior Chance Englehart passed for 987 yards.

Bates said incoming senior Daniel Wille is more than capable of taking over the duties in the backfield as the top running back.

"Daniel will pick up where Sean left off and be the workhorse at running back," he said. "He has gotten faster, running a 4.6-second 40-yard dash, which is better than his 4.8 (seconds) last year."

Zach Filip, an incoming junior, will take over at the quarterback position after two years on the junior varsity team.

"My first two years coaching, I had a senior quarterback each year, so it will be nice to have some continuance at that position with Zach," Bates said. "He played for the junior varsity team his first two years, but he is athletic and I think more than ready to lead the team."

The Rattlers will also return running back Manuel Quinteros and wide receivers Rex Stanley and Miles Englehart — all key contributors last season.

Defensively, Bates said he is counting on two juniors — Jacob Ready and Cole Gorlay — to stop opposing offenses.

In 2010, the Rattlers' defense allowed about 15 points per game, with two shutouts.

"As a freshman, other teams knew that Jacob had a big impact," Bates said. "Now, as a junior, he is 230 pounds, runs a 4.9-second 40-yard dash and still hits like he weighs 230.

"Our opponents double-team him and that still leaves Cole to stop them."

Bates, who was named the 2010 1A six-man coach of the year by the Wyoming Coaches Association, said he knows repeating won't be easy.

The Rattlers will have a new foe on the schedule this year, Dubois High School, who went 10-2 last season as an 11-man squad.

"In week two, we go to Dubois and face someone we didn't face last year," Bates said. "It will be neat to see what we have against a good team in the second week."

Still, Bates said, with the talent the team is returning, they have as good a shot as anyone.

"Going into spring ball, we knew we had to keep improving and we had the busiest summer ever," he said. "We were young last year, so we are coming into this year with more experience and knowledge on how to take our game to the next level."

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LSRV football schedule

2011 six-man varsity football team schedule for the Little Snake River Valley School in Baggs, Wyo.:

(Date — Place — Opponent)

• Sept. 3 — Home — Ten Sleep High School

• Sept. 10 — Away — Dubois High School

• Sept. 17 — Home — Guernsey-Sunrise High School

• Sept. 24 — Away — Meeteetse School

• Sept. 30 — Away — Hanna-Elk Mountain High School

• Oct. 7 — Home — Kaycee School

• Oct. 14 — Away — Midwest School

• Oct. 21 — Home — Farson-Eden School