Wood River High School varsity football players realize they have some unfinished business when they entertain the Buhl Tribe today, Friday at 7 p.m. at Hailey's Phil Homer Field in their second game of the season—and Buhl's first.
Third-year Hailey head coach Kevin Stilling, referring to last Friday's last-minute 25-22 home loss to Sugar-Salem, said, "The kids didn't look at that game and feel down about it after. They are looking for the opportunity to get better."
Buhl (0-0), one of Wood River's oldest football rivals, should provide a suitable challenge for the Wolverines (0-1). The Tribe has won nine straight games over Wood River grid teams including three consecutive shutouts.
A State 3A playoff contender for five straight years and the State 3A runner-up in 2006, Buhl (45-14 over 6 seasons, 13-2 road last 3 years) leads the 41-game series with Wood River by a 32-9 margin. Yet some of the best Wolverine grid successes over the years have come against Buhl teams.
Stilling and his staff hope tonight brings another success.
The Wolverines hope to stretch the grind-it-out rushing attack they used so well in the second and fourth quarters against Sugar-Salem to the entire game against Buhl.
"I was disappointed how we came out of the gate against Sugar-Salem (13 rushing yards in the first quarter when WR trailed 7-0), but I was proud of the way we responded to adversity. Moving the ball well on offense at the end of the first half was a huge boost of confidence for us," Stilling said.
Trailing 13-7 at halftime, Wood River had managed to put its first points on the scoreboard in a football season debut since 2007, but just scoring points wasn't sufficient. Wolverine players wanted to win and rallied for a 22-19 lead, but the Diggers executed a long, late TD pass to escape 25-22.
Stilling said, "In the locker room at halftime, I asked the kids to raise their hands if anyone thought they had given it their best. Not a single hand went up. But any number of kids could have raised their hands at that question by the end of the game. We had a much better effort after half.
"We actually left a lot of points on the board in the second half. The kids executed well, and we could have scored more points. When it was over, the kids knew they had played well enough to win."
On offense, Wood River totaled 211 yards, including 175 rushing and 36 passing. Sugar-Salem's total offense was 291 yards with 183 rushing and 108 through the air. On kickoffs, Trevor Brand averaged 50 yards on his three kicks, and punter Trace Tupper averaged 35 yards on three kicks as well.
The Wolverines had seven different players rushing the ball, topped by senior Greg Lindbloom (14 carries for 63 yards, 3 TDs, 1 conversion). Others were K.J. Savaria (7-48), Tupper (6-32), Austin Hafer (7-22) and Braxton Parish (3-7).
Junior quarterback Tommy Bailey completed three passes, two going to Connor Braatz for a total of 30 yards and the other going to Tupper for six yards.
Here are defensive statistics from the Sugar-Salem game:
Tackles (solo-assisted): Greg Lindbloom 2-7; Chance Larkin 2-7; Drew Barsch 4-4; Connor Braatz 2-6; Kevin Cooley 3-5; Connor Farrow 1-4; K.J. Savaria 2-2; Gus Conrad 1-3; Braxton Parish 0-4; Ben Williams 2-1; Austin Hafer 1-2; Colton Larkin 0-2; Jared Anderson 1-1; Chris Carnes 1-2; and Jake Vegwert 0-2.