Rangers spoil Wildcat homecoming

Jason Ferguson

A long season got even longer last Friday evening for the Custer High School football team when the previously one-win Hill City High School football team came to Wildcat Field and spoiled the Wildcats’ homecoming and Hall of Fame Night by handing the Wildcats another shutout loss, this time by the score of 20-0.
It was the fifth shutout loss of the season for the 0-7 Wildcats.
Custer head coach Dave Williams said the Wildcats might have come into the game thinking the Rangers would provide the team’s first win—and perhaps even an easy win—which may very well have contributed to the loss.
“They didn’t think they were going to be competitive, or athletic or such a tough opponent,” he said.
It appeared that may very well be the case on the opening possession of the game, as Custer marched down the field, largely on the legs of running back Tyrin Scott, who ripped off a handful of big runs, taking the Wildcats deep into Ranger territory.
As has been the case for most of the season though, the Wildcats shot themselves in the foot soon thereafter, being whistled for a holding penalty that put them behind the chains and eventually stalled the drive. The drive ended with a failed 45-yard field goal attempt from Kyle Virtue.
“They couldn’t stop us. We shot ourselves in the foot. It comes down to mental breakdowns at bad times,” Williams said. “The worst time to have a penalty or turnover, we have it. It kills the whole momentum.”
Hill City wasn’t fairing much better on offense, however, and the Wildcats were down only 6-0 at halftime when the Rangers scored just before the half on a Devin Buehler pass to Grayson Rahn. The two-point attempt failed.
“I thought we were in good shape at halftime. We just had to clean up the mistakes,” Williams said, before adding the qualifier, “the second half was just like the first half.”
Custer couldn’t muster much in the way of sustained offense in the second half, but the Rangers were able to get on the board again in the third quarter via a Buehler touchdown run, followed by a successful two-point play that put Custer down 14-0.
Williams said once the Rangers scored the second touchdown, some of the Wildcat players may have adopted the “here we go again” mentality.
“After playing games we have played and scores we have had to endure, it’s hard not to say ‘here we go again,’” Williams said. “The body language wasn’t good.”
Buehler, who Custer fans may recognize from his days playing for the Custer Ravens youth football team, put a bow on the scoring with another touchdown pass, this time to Isaac Dean.
“He’s a great athlete. He played with most of these guys (on the Ravens),” Williams said of Buehler.
Williams said his players continue to show heart and play with intensity, even if the results aren’t there.
“We thought we had a good shot at winning,” he said. “We just make mistakes at bad times.”
The Wildcats had 164 yards rushing in the game, including 88 from Scott. However, the Wildcats had negative one yard passing and an interception while completing two of seven passing attempts. Ryder Bailey and Virtue tied for the team league in tackles, with 11 each.
“We’ve been one-dimensional on offense for quite a while,” Williams said.
With the playoffs not a possibility the Wildcats have two games left on their schedule, with the first coming this Friday evening in Canton against the 3-4 C-Hawks.
“We have to clean up the mistakes. Sometimes I take the blame for it. I think a lot of it is discipline that should come from your program and coaching,” Williams said. “Now it’s all about heart. Now it’s playing for pride and getting better.”

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