Bronc football battles through COVID to the end

    Two weeks before the 2020 football season started, athletic boards across the state planned on delaying or outright cancelling the season. However, the athletic directors came to agreement on safety protocols and restrictions to allow football players to have a season. The Sheridan High School Broncs finished the season 7-4, and they were glad to have been able to play a full season. 

    COVID-19 proved to alter some aspects of the season, but the team handled the adversity well and still managed to maintain as normal of a season as possible. “COVID wasn’t necessarily a big challenge; you just had to follow the rules,” said senior offensive tackle Justin Vela. In an effort to avoid the spreading of the coronavirus, the Broncs instituted strict protocols to ensure the highest possible level of safety for the athletes and coaching staff. All members of the team were required to wear face coverings in the locker room and on the bus, and coaches were required to be masked at all times whenever around athletes. On the field, players were not required to wear face coverings but they could not use communal water bottles, so each athlete used one or two personal water bottles during practices and games. 

   In such a wild and unpredictable year, the team chose the motto “set your anchor” to emphasize focus on the season and what each player and coach could control. The idea behind the motto was for the team to find its foundation and focus on playing Bronc football no matter the circumstances. The anchor was meant to be seen as more of a stabilizing force and provide the roots of what the team and the season was about. “There have been a lot of people that have come before us in the Bronc program that have built just a solid foundation,” said head coach Jeff Mowry. At the end of the day, the team was going to leave their all on the field and they would not allow anything to deviate them from their goals. With what the Broncs accomplished this year, they hoped to provide a dependable legacy for teams to come. 

   “As the seniors go, the season goes,” said former Bronc football head coach Don Julian. This saying has been popular in the program since it was first stated in 2007. This year, the team was led by 23 seniors and the class was well diversified between position groups. “I think our seniors really helped in getting things moving,” said senior corner and flex receiver Kyle Meinecke.  With the unpredictable nature of the season, the seniors could have stepped back from their leadership positions or abandoned them, but the group as a whole embraced the challenge this year presented and dedicated themselves to creating a legacy for the underclassmen on the team. 

   Across Wyoming, many teams had new athletes move in for the season as many other states were delaying or cancelling fall sports. Sheridan was not an exception. The team gained three athletes from California and one from Colorado. Two of the move-ins were seniors: defensive lineman Chili Tanner and tight end Rance Beck. “I felt so welcome,” said Tanner. 

   The Broncs lost in the semifinals to the Cheyenne East Thunderbirds in an intense four quarter battle that ended 31-21. This marked the 13 consecutive year the Broncs have been to the semifinals and the first time in five years the Broncs did not make an appearance in the state championship game. This was not the outcome the team was hoping for, but they can find peace and self confidence knowing they gave their best effort on the field and showed humility and class in both victory and defeat.