Herders run down Red Lodge

Score a touchdown in a game, and it’s a pretty good night. Score two, you’re feeling alright. Three or four? What’s one more?

Five. Five touchdowns in a single game and Casey Gunlickson might not have to pay for breakfast at The Bakery for the next week. His five-score game helped propel the Sweet Grass County football team to a 58-7 rout of Red Lodge on Oct. 13.

It also vaulted the No. 9 Herders (5-3, 4-2 South Region) back to the playoffs for the first time since 2010.

“I probably haven’t done something like that since little league,” Gunlickson said of scoring five times in a single game. “It was just a big win for us. We know we’ve got to win every one from here on out, so, that’s just huge for us.”

John Rennie had his fifth 100-yard rushing game, and fourth-straight, with 125 yards on 11 carries. He set up Gunlickson’s first touchdown — a 29-yard sprint — with back-to-back eight hard smashes up the middle. Gunlickson rushed for 117 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. 

PHOTO GALLERY: Take a look through some of the best shots from Friday night's win, here.

“This is how we wanted to start last week, but like I said before, we had a great week of practice,” said head coach J.V. Moody. “That’s one thing: These guys aren’t just physically tough, this is probably the toughest mental team that I’ve been around since I’ve been here.”

A lot of times, coaches talk about ‘football I.Q.’ as a way to discuss the sixth sense some players have when the game hits full speed. But getting out to a 31-0 lead after just the first quarter provides a whole other discussion.

After Kell Schwers trotted in for his second touchdown of the night, making the score 58-0 on a cutback to the left side of the field, Red Lodge (0-6, 0-5 South Region) players grumbled about how the Herders were running the same scoring play, yet the Rams had no answers. 

Four players score the nine touchdowns by the Herders, with Gunlickson leading the way. Schwers had two with quarterback Blake Finn tossing his one to Gunlickson and Nathan Baker finding pay dirt in the first quarter as well. 

Moody said there’s more to these wins and even this season than just making it back to the playoffs. Often, coaches preach changing a culture. But how often can a team reap the rewards so soon?

“A lot of it is heart and it’s a very smart team. They care,” Moody said. “I don’t know where that comes from. Maybe we’ve got a new culture here. And they know what’s at stake.”

The Rams finally got on the board with 73 seconds left in the game on a seven-yard score from Vincent Sobiech. It would’ve been the second shutout win for the Herders this season, but spoiled in the waning minutes. 

For more of this story, pick up a copy of next week’s Big Timber Pioneer on newsstands Oct. 19, or subscribe online at bigtimberpioneer.net. Included in the print version only will be a special look at where the Herders might fall when it comes time for the postseason.

PHOTO CAPTION: Orry Carroccia (25) stiff arms Red Lodge defender Austin Heimer (3) on his way to 14-yard gain on Oct. 13. (STEPHEN KALB-KOENIGSFELD / Big Timber Pioneer)




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