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Friday, April 2, 2021

Shorthanded Wheeler Rattlers show potential, fall to Monument/Dayville

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MONUMENT – The three high-schools of Wheeler County have combined for the 2021 abbreviated football season. On Friday the Wheeler Rattlers made their way up the river and into Grant County where they fell to the Monument/Dayville Tigers 0-33.

Playing a football game in March seems strange but with warm weather in Monument, there were no complaints from the scattered and distanced spectators.

Wheeler was without key starters Nathan Clark, Oran Davis and Clint Rutherford who were at a rodeo. The Rattlers also had two players on the sideline with injuries.

While the score appears lopsided, the teams were evenly matched and Wheeler’s size up front gave the Tigers problems to start the game.

Wheeler kicked off to start the game and got the ball back in a four-and-out series. Wheeler Co. lineman Tom Chase (#54) was a force on the line of scrimmage and the Rattlers size up front had the Tigers rattled.

All but one of Wheeler’s players are underclassmen, with seven freshman on the roster. The team is big up front and looks to control the line of scrimmage in 2021 and beyond. (Times-Journal)

But on the offensive side of the ball, Wheeler County struggled to move the chains and turned the ball over on downs in consecutive drives.

The Tigers capitalized on a trick pass play in the second quarter that resulted in a big gain, leading to the game’s first touchdown.

After getting more key stops and hard hitting tackles from 6’3, 240-pound freshman Zach Neuberger and 6’1, 200-pound freshman Logan Sweeney – Wheeler was in good position but fumbled the ball twice and threw an interception.

At the half, the score was 15-0 Tigers.

Hardnosed defense kept the Rattlers in the game. (Times-Journal)

Wheeler County continued to battle in the second half but fatigue set-in.

With just eight players suited up, Wheeler faced an opponent with twice as many players – as Monument/Dayville suited up and played 16, including five seniors.

While it was a hard loss, the team showed real potential. The lone senior on the team, Justin Bunch provided hard hits and leadership for the young team.

The Monument School in the background. The school was made by same builder as the Spray School. (Times-Journal)

Wheeler quarterback Carson Conlee also showed good leadership and freshman Eli Wilkes had an interception and some hard hits from the secondary.

Expect this team to gel and to get better. On the defensive side of the ball, the team is capable of holding their own and then some. Offensively, the team will welcome back their key running back in Oran Davis and their best receiver in Nathan Clark for next week’s game against Echo. The game will be held in Spray.

Coach Jerry Anderson liked what he saw. “For having three of our key players out, we played well,” Anderson said. “We are young but the kids have played together since Middle School – they want to win.”

Next Game: Wheeler vs. Echo, March 12th at 1PM – Spray High School

Cheerleaders for Wheeler County (Times-Journal)

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