By: Shawn O’Brate

YODER – The Wyoming High School football quarter finals took place all across the state this past weekend with many games going exactly how people might think they’d go. But, one game that went against the grain, was the Wind River Cougars’ game against the Southeast Cyclones of Yoder. 

Wind River not only dropped their final two games of the season, placing them as the third seed in the 1A-9 Man West bracket, but they also lost two of their biggest playmakers and keys to their offense. Junior quarterback Chris Burk (ACL) and senior running back Jaycee Herbert (shoulder / concussion) were both out of the final game of the season against Rocky Mountain and it showed when they lost 35-0. 

Cooper Frederick was brought down near the line of scrimmage in the first quarter against Rocky Mountain in Pavillion. (p/c Carl Cote)

The good news for the Cougars is that they had a full week of practice to prepare for their road playoff game against the Cyclones, knowing that Burk and Herbert would not return for the pivotal game. The other good news? They had a player by the name of Cooper Frederick. 

Frederick, a junior, held the reigns of the team for the most part on Friday as the Cougars were the only team in the entire state to win an away game in the quarter finals. One reason they were able to come out of Yoder victorious was Frederick’s state-record holding stats that ended with him rushing 61 times for 550 yards and six touchdowns. 

The previous record was held by Saratog’s Teegan Love in 2020 when he ran for 506 yards on 28 carries. 

“It was a good game,” Frederick said afterwards. “I had holes to run through, the front line and the fullbacks they were all just pushing through. It was good execution.”

Frederick’s coach, his father Rod Frederick, said the huge win was “truly a testament to everybody on the team,” stating that everybody had to learn a new offense in just five days without their starting quarterback and All-State running back that can do pretty much anything if given the ball in open space. 

“We had stuff that was working throughout the game,” Coach Frederick said. “But, when it came to some big plays we knew we had to go back to Cooper.”

Coach Frederick admitted that handing the ball off to his son 61 times was not the game plan heading into the first playoff game for Wind River since they were knocked out of the semi-finals last year by Shoshoni.

“We did not have that planned, no,” Coach Frederick said with a laugh. “I got a hold of both coaches after last week and said ‘we have to come up with another offense’. We knew [Cooper] would have a big game, didn’t know it would be that big.”

“Our guys all just came into the game very confident in the offensive plays we called,” Cooper said about the game plan against Southeast. 

After Wind River’s 46-38 victory on the road they now travel right down the street from Pavillion to the home of the Shoshoni Wranglers, and Coach Frederick knows that the team has last year’s loss and last month’s 25-14 loss on their minds. 

“It’s kind of huge,” Coach Frederick said about the game this weekend. “Getting last year’s game out of our head, and last month’s game out of our head … I think we’re in a better spot than we were last year because Chris [Burk] got sick just a day before the game.”

With the record-breaking success that Coach Frederick and the Cougars’ coaching staff had with their Stack formation and I-Formation plays it will be interesting to see if Frederick gets that many carries, or that many yards, against their rivals on Saturday. 

“I think we’re all ready to hit hard and have another good game,” Cooper said before heading into the film room on Monday. 

You can hear the Wind River vs Shoshoni game on 99.1 KWYW as well as on WyoToday’s YouTube page on Saturday when they face off at 2 p.m. No matter who wins, it will surely be one of the biggest and best games of the postseason.