SPRAY – The Wheeler Co. Rattlers had something to prove coming into Friday’s game with the Echo Cougars. After being shutout in their opener at Monument last week, Wheeler County was eager to put points on the board.
The team didn’t disappoint and defeated Echo 60-51 on a beautiful spring day in Spray.
The points came quickly and the team was buoyed by the return of several key players.
Returning for the Rattlers were Nathan Clark, Clint Rutherford and Oran Davis. The team showed that they are a force to be reckoned with on the offensive side of the ball.
With Zach Neuburger, Logan Sweeney, Tom Chase and Rylee Fowke controlling the line of scrimmage and opening holes, Wheeler County ran the ball very well.
The team scored quickly on their first possession and then made big stops in the first quarter. The team’s leader and only senior – Justin Bunch, made a big tackle on 4th and 3, which gave the ball back to Wheeler Co.
That setup Nathan Clark, who was unstoppable on the ground and through the air. Using a run/pass/option offense, Clark showed patience and took what the defense gave him.
Rutherford also could not be slowed down by Echo and ran hard up the middle. With a push from his teammates in a rugby-style scrum, Rutherford scored to make it 14-6
In the second quarter, Clark broke loose for a 22 yard touchdown, showing vision and making sharp cuts.
But Echo hung tough and wouldn’t go away. The Cougars receiver Sam Wyse ran a reverse left everyone behind to make the score 21-14.
But The Rattlers were too much for Echo and scored three more touchdowns to close the half with the score 41-22.
For their part, Echo refused to quit and kept things interesting. Several plays, which appeared to be heading for disaster, were pulled off and the Cougars closed the gap to a 10 point lead.
But Wheeler County was in control and kept with it. Big holes up front paved the way for long runs by Clark, Davis and Rutherford.
Coach Jerry Anderson was happy with the result but said defensively, the team needs to improve.
“We got a victory and we’re happy our kids are happy,” Anderson said. “But we need to play better defense, especially in the second half.”
Next week’s scheduled game has been cancelled by Harper Charter due to COVID protocols. The team’s next scheduled game is in Fossil on March 26th against S. Wasco County.