Volume 4, Number 33 - November 11, 2004
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Puncher legacy lives on
The 2004 Big Piney Puncher football team continued their tradition at the 3A State championships last weekend, coming away with a 14-10 win over the Mountain View Buffalos. The hard-fought defensive game was won in the last few nail-biting seconds, as the Punchers made a 16-yard touchdown pass with just nine seconds remaining. The fans stood behind their Punchers until the end, maintaining that a win was still possible with less than a minute left in the game, and it was. One fan dubbed Head Coach Joel Eskelsen “the king of the two-minute offense.” Eskelsen and his team lived up to the name, driving the offensive game to a big win in the end.
“The Punchers struggled to play well for most of the first half ...” Eskelsen said; Mt. View managed three times to drive inside the Punchers’ 20 yard line. The Big Piney boys stood firm, however, and prevented three Buffalo touchdowns in the first quarter.
At half-time, both the Punchers and the Buffalos had a failed attempt at a field goal; the score was 0-0.
Terry Cain, mother of senior Puncher Ryan Cain, commended the team for playing entirely as a team. “There was no superstar; they were a team, they played unselfishly and worked together,” she said. Cain also commented on the coaching staff behind the Big Red. “They are all excellent, excellent coaches,” she said.
After a quick pep talk during half-time, Piney’s own returned to the field with a vengeance, stepping up the defense and heading the offensive drives. The Punchers made two touchdowns in the second half to Mt.View’s single touchdown and field goal.
“It was a really neat deal,” Jim Greenwood said of the home-game win. “They dang sure played as a team.” Greenwood, father of Levi and Parker, was particularly excited over the reward for the team, “the fact that they gave it all and it paid off for them” meant a lot for him as a parent.
The state championship last Saturday resulted in this year’s seniors being the winningest players of Big Piney football history; Hadley Quintard, Ryan Cain, RJ Thompson, Pat McDowell, Miles Kreiger, Esjae Eiden and Roby McNeel won 33 games on Puncher teams throughout their high school careers, including two previous state championships. These boys were freshmen on the 2001 state champion team and lead the underclassmen to another championship in 2004.
“Hats off to a great bunch of athletes who worked hard and kept improving,” Eskelsen said.
Several parents pointed out the dedication with which the team played, stepping up to new positions to compensate for the loss of last year’s graduating class. Trena Eiden, mother of senior Esjae Eiden, shared the excitement over a second state championship with her son, looking on his last football game with mixed emotions.
“This was Esjae’s third position this year ... he just stepped in” where the team needed him and “certainly played well,” the proud mother said. She added that it was great to see such a large number of Pinedale fans at the game to support Sublette County’s kids.
Pinedale football coach Mike Gregory joined a large number of Sublette County onlookers from Pinedale. He commented on the team’s ability to pull together at the most pivotal points in the game, “It was a game where there were a number of mistakes on both sides, but when it came down to it, Big Piney had what it took to get the win.”
The determination and resilience of the 2004 Puncher football team was most certainly admirable, as well as effective throughout the season. “They never quit and they won all of the close games during the year. That is what makes championship teams,” Eskelsen said.
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