The Jerome Tigers came knocking on Wood River’s door Friday for “Senior Night” at Phil Homer Field and left Hailey victorious by winning the Great Basin Conference football game 44-21.
Wolverine seniors Cooper Bailey, Jon Reigle, Quinn Guthrie, Aaron Luggen, Beau Boss and Cody Richmond were honored for their last home game in front of a crowd that donned pink in support of breast cancer awareness.
Guthrie and Luggen served as captains for the night.
During the game, each yard was hard-fought for Wood River (1-7, 0-4 league) as it faced one of its biggest rivals in Jerome (4-4, 3-1).
Jerome, needing two league wins in its final two games to nail down a State 4A playoff berth, roared for six touchdowns building a 31-0 lead late in the second quarter.
Wood River’s Bailey provided much-needed excitement before half. He electrified the crowd by taking a 90-yard kickoff return to the house.
Bailey caught the kickoff at the Wood River 10-yard line, danced through a slew of blockers and Jerome tacklers, and popped out un-scathed to scamper down the sideline. He finished “Senior Night” with 140 yards (110 return, 30 rush).
“I always like to see our seniors shine on that last home game,” Wood River coach Kevin Stilling said. “As hard as Cooper plays it’s always nice to see him get rewarded.
“All of our seniors played well. Cody (Richmond) did a great job getting to the second level on their backers and filled nicely on defense. Jon Riegle did the best he's done all season as executing our defensive game plan. Beau Boss got the most snaps he's had in any game this year.”
Rushing yardage was virtually identical for each team, 158 yards for Jerome and 144 for Wood River. The big difference was Jerome’s 279-30 edge in the passing game—most coming from long passes. In general, the Wolverines stuffed the Jerome short passing game.
Stilling said, “We were determined to get them out of their screen game which has always been a thorn in our side and they have been particularly good at this year. I think we also did a really good job defending their run game.
“We limited their yardage on their screens and they rarely went back to it because we had so many bodies there to defend them.”
The Tigers capitalized by stretching their passing game downfield. Jerome quarterback Zach Thibault had 279 passing yards and five TD passes. His average was just a shade over 22 yards a pass.
Down 38-7 at halftime, Stilling and his players came out in the third quarter ready to execute their ground game. Wood River seemed like a different team after halftime.
Stilling said, “The goal was to ignore the scoreboard and go out and play two good quarters of football. It was really nice to see our first group chew up clock and yards against their first group; something we should have been able to do in the first half.”
Wood River chewed up over six minutes with junior Hayden Thayer finishing off the touchdown drive with a 1-yard score. Thayer played like how a first team all-league player should play by running fiercely on offense (71 yards on 13 carries) and hitting hard on defense (5 tackles).
“It was more an indication of how talented (Thayer) is when he isn't forced to play hobbling around with MCL and hip injuries,” said Stilling.
For the game, Wood River dominated time of possession with over 28 minutes.
The Wolverines also played a much more disciplined game than Jerome. The Tigers tallied up 13 penalties for 85 yards. Wood River had five penalties for 50 yards but didn’t commit a single penalty in the second half.
Wood River’s third and final touchdown—the most scores the Wolverines have had since their 40-32 home win over Salmon Sept. 6—came with one minute left in the game on a Alec Nordsieck quarterback plunge from the 1-yard line. It was Nordsieck’s first varsity TD.
The Wolverines will visit the Canyon Ridge Riverhawks (1-7, 0-4) in Twin Falls Friday, Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. to end the season. Wood River will try to end the season on a high note in the battle of last-place teams. Last year in Hailey, Canyon Ridge pulled out a 6-0 road win.
Stilling said about the final contest, “We’ll try to limit our penalties and turnovers and establish our running game early. We also need the same Alec Nordsieck we saw earlier this year. His neck is closer and closer to normal and we'll need him to step up and make some plays for us to be successful.”
It hasn’t been an easy season for Stilling and the Wolverines. On Oct. 18, lack of available players caused Wood River to forfeit its league road game against Burley on the Bobcat “Senior Night.”
Stilling said about resuming play against Jerome, “Make no mistake about it, Friday was a clear reminder that our decision to cancel the Burley game was a sound one. The fact that we finished with only 14 players and had multiple kids playing spots they'd never played before is a clear reminder of that.”
Check today’s Express Web site for WRHS-Jerome stats.
WRHS Line Score
Jerome 44, Wood River 21
Jerome—Ethan Bragg, 30-yard pass from Eduardo Vega (Marco Vargas kick); 10:13 1st (7-0 J).
Jerome—Dan Thibault, 36-yard pass from Zach Thibault (Vargas kick); 8:11 1st (14-0 J).
Jerome-Vargas, 37-yard field goal; 6:30 1st (17-0 J).
Jerome-Tyler Frisbey, 1-yard pass from Thibault (Vargas kick); 2:07 1st (24-0 J).
Jerome-Thibault, 10-yard pass from Thibault; 2:37 2nd (31-0 J).
Wood River-Cooper Bailey, 90-yard kickoff return (Kyle Weller kick); 2:19 2nd (31-7 J).
Jerome-Thibault, 15-yard pass from Thibault (Nick McDonald kick); 0:52 sec 2nd (38-7 J).
Wood River—Hayden Thayer, 1-yard run (PAT no good); 4:21 3rd (38-13 J).
Jerome-Gunner Gridley, 5-yard pass from Thibault (PAT no good); 1:47 3rd (44-14 J).
Wood River-Alec Nordsieck, 40-yard run (Christopher Lentz run); 1:06 4th (44-21 J)
INDIVIDUAL LEADERS—Wood River
Rushing—Hayden Thayer 13-71 1 TD; Alec Nordsieck 5-11; Cooper Bailey 8-30; Champe Kotara 9-32; Christopher Lents 1-1 1 Fumble.
Passing—Alec Nordsieck 1-8, 30 yards.
Receiving—Austin Savaria 1-30.
Fumble recovery (1)—Jon Reigle.
Tackles leaders—Hayden Thayer 5, Hagan Barsch 4, Jon Reigle 4, Cooper Bailey 3, Parker Bingham 2, Cody Richmond 2, Austin Krenz 2, Christopher Lentz 1, Alec Nordsieck 1.
Rushing—Alex Gonzalez 8-47; Kadin Williams 5-28; Zach Argyle 4-55; Zach Thibault 3-28.
Passing—Zach Thibault 13-21, 279 yards, 5 TD.
Receiving—Ethan Bragg 2-60 1 TD; Dan Thibault 3-69 3 TD; Tyler Frisbey 1-1 1 TD; Parker Scherer 1-4; Gunner Gridley 2-60 1 TD; Jaime Valdez 1-36; Haziel Ledezma 1-50.
Tackle leaders—Jaime Valdez 4, Tyler Frisbey 4, Juan Hernandez 3, Bryce Embretson 3, Zach Argyle 3, Diego Recillas 1, Haziel Ledezma 1, Levi Lindley 1, Dan Thibault 1, Eric Luna 1, Tanner Crawford 1, Jakob Palmer 1, Stephen Carlson 1.