By: Shawn O’Brate

LANDER – Friday night’s home game at Lander Valley High School (LVHS) was not only the final time for the Tigers under their home lights this season, but it was also one of the brightest and biggest crowds all year. 

The bleachers, student section, and the field itself was filled with pink shirts, pink socks, pink onesie-pajamas, and everything else as the LVHS Lady Tigers held their first ever “Spike Out Cancer” Pink-Out night that bled into the football game right after the volleyball match was over (look at page B2). 

Lander’s last home game of the season saw their helmets sporting bright pink “LT” as they took on the Worland Warriors (3-3) who also wore pink to help show their support for breast cancer awareness, but it would not make them equal with the Tigers (4-2) on the field. 

Senior Gabe Harris stiff-armed a Worland defender on a big punt return during the 4th quarter Friday in Lander. (p/c Carl Cote)

The game started off with a very long drive (13 plays, 80 yards) by Worland which ended with a 15 yard touchdown reception by Court Gonzalez to put them up 7-0. But, Lander would quickly strike back. 

Quarterback Brenon Stauffenberg led a similar drive right down the field, traveling the same length in just seven plays. It was all capped off with a three-yard touchdown run by Gabe Harris, who came into the game with the most receiving scores on the team (7) but only the third-most rushing touchdowns (1). 

The Tigers would get the ball back after another long drive by the Warriors as Stauffenberg, in his strong safety position, picked off Worland’s Carter Clark who had a phenomenal game outside of that one or two plays. 

Lander would immediately go down the field, traveling 71 yards in just six plays which ended in a touchdown pass to the corner into the hands of senior Evan Stephenson, marking his fourth receiving touchdown in three games. 

After the game, during the post-game interview on WyoToday’s livestream of the game, head coach John Scott praised Stephenson for his maturation during the final four weeks.

“What a ball, what concentration, what a catch,” Coach Scott started. “That’s been a big plus for us to have him be able to emerge and do that on the outside because we have been such an inside slot team with Gabe and Matisse, now you got to stay honest a little bit because of what he’s done the past couple of weeks.”

Brenon Stauffenberg made an interception late in the game against Worland Friday in Lander. (p/c Carl Cote)

The play itself was similar to the other touchdowns for Stephenson over the past few weeks, something that Stephenson knows, but he says it’s all been working toward these moments all season.

“I guess I’ve just been working on getting open and helping Brenon find a place to throw it,” Stephenson said about the corner of the endzone.

That touchdown came with just over four minutes to go in the second half, but by the time the halftime horn rang loud the Tigers would find themselves with a 31-yard field goal attempt that senior Matisse Weaver would knock through the uprights to send the Tigers up 17-7 at half. 

Worland came out of the halftime huddles with a new energy that took the Tigers by surprise, traveling nearly 60 yards in four plays with a large chunk coming from a 51-yard run by Brock Douzenis. 

After that though, the Warriors would simmer and the Tigers would get back to normal, ending in short touchdown runs by both Harris and Stauffenberg. 

The score would end with Lander on top of Worland, 31-13, as the Tigers improved to 5-2 on the season and 3-1 in conference play. Worland would leave Fremont County with a record of 3-4 overall and 1-3 in conference play. 

Up next, the final week of the regular season pits Lander against #3 Douglas in the Bearcats home stadium with a potential number one seed hanging in the balance (look for more information on the playoff seeding on page B4).