PREVIEW: #4 Cheyenne Central vs #2 Cheyenne East

East vs Central Preview (Cheyenne, WY)
East vs Central Preview (Cheyenne, WY)(KGWN)
Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 5:11 PM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - One of the most prestigious, if the most prestigious, rivalries in Wyoming sports is the one that lies between the Central Indians and East Thunderbirds. The cross-town rivalry is one that is always contentious no matter the records coming into the game, but this year could be even more intense.

“It’s more than a rival game, you know? For us, it’s about being 1-0 and putting ourselves to stay in the front seat,” said East’s Head Football Coach Chad Goff.

The Thunderbirds come back to Okie Blanchard with their first loss of the year, losing a narrow game against the now top-ranked team in 4A, Sheridan. While no loss ever comes at the right time, Coach Goff made sure to point to a silver lining within the result.

“At this point in the season, that’s a great lesson for us. Keeping your head up, I mean this is what you’re out here to do,” said Goff.

A strength of the Thunderbirds team this year has been the passing game, piloted by Junior Cam Hayes. In that loss against Sheridan, Hayes had over 400 passing yard with three touchdown’s added in. While the numbers have helped get East to where they are this year, Coach Goff highlighted that that the mentality to succeed is well established in #17′s mind.

“Cam’s a good kid and he’s done good things, and he understands what we believe in as quarterback. Stats are stats, that’s all other things. That’s outside noise for the most part. The stat that that kid will believe in, just like we teach all our other quarterbacks, go out and win games,” said Coach on his QB.

On the other side of town, Central’s QB Keagan Bartlett has become well-established in Wyoming Football. His skillset is one of the reasons that Central has been able to win three straight games, managing to score over 40 points in each of those contests.

“We had a couple of teams the last couple of weeks that are sort of rebuilding, and we probably needed that. A little bit to get ourselves right, get some confidence, and improve on some things,” said Central’s Head Football Coach Mike Apodaca.

Bartlett isn’t the only one in the backfield making plays. The Indians have put numerous running backs out on the field to help spread the wealth on the ground, something Apodaca has credited with helping the success of the team.

“That depth has come in really handy, because each one of those kids have battled through an injury, you know those running back sort of things, and it’s just been really nice to have good depth behind there,” said Apodaca.

The defense has done it’s fair share to help Central get to 4-2. They’ve allowed 14 or less three times this year, including back to back games of less than ten against Laramie and South. Central sits at #4 in the rankings to this point in the year. While the number beside their name helps highlight their success, Coach Apodaca and the Indians try to remain focused towards the ultimate goal; a 4A State Championship.

“We kind of tell the kids that the only rankings that matter are the first week and the last week. The first week because you get an impression of what other teams and coaches and media feels about you. I don’t know how important it is, but you kind of can figure out what people think and really the last one is the only one that truthfully matters. All the stuff, they’re fun and they’re neat and maybe they serve a purpose, but the reality is we think we got a good football team and we continue to get better,” said Apodaca.

The Indians and Thunderbirds will meet at Okie Blanchard Stadium on October Seventh.