HUNTINGTON – A number of student athletes in larger Oregon schools spend summers at camps or playing on league teams to hone their skills. For a number of players on the Wheeler County Rattlers, football was not on their minds until just a few weeks ago. Prior to taking the field against the Huntington Locomotives in 6-man football action, Rattler players were on the back of a bronc or sliding off a horse to wrestle down a steer.
“A lot of us were rodeoing up until a week ago,” said senior Clint Rutherford after the Rattlers downed the Locomotives 74-8 on Sept. 3. “We basically jumped off a horse and into a football uniform.”
The time on the rodeo circuit did not slow down Rutherford as he had two scores against Huntington. His first score, midway in the first quarter was a 47-yard run and he followed it up with a 45-yard scoring run in the third.
“This is a special group of kids this year,” said Rattlers’ head coach Jerry Anderson. “We have two seniors and four juniors making up the nucleus of the team and some great athletes backing them up. We are excited about the season.”
In addition to Rutherford, senior Thomas Chase was anxious to finally get on the field.
“This team has a lot of potential,” said Chase. “We are a close-knit group made up of athletes from all over Wheeler County. It says a lot that we come together and make up a team like this.”
Chase is correct as players from Spray, Mitchell and Fossil make the time to practice, travel and hit the field as one team. However, the season had to wait until the chutes of the rodeo circuit ended.
Looking at the score, hearing the defensive hits during the Locomotive game and going over the statistics from the game, maybe other teams should consider placing players on the rodeo circuit as the Rattlers do.
Junior Nate Clark returned two punts for scores (52 yards and 60 yards) and added two additional runs for touchdowns (3 yards and 69 yards).
Junior Carter Boise also had a 32-yard punt return for a score, ran for a 10-yard TD, and threw to sophomore Oran Davis on a 10-yard passing score and again connected with Davis for a 12-yard scoring pass for the final score of the game.
Davis, in addition to twice scoring as a receiver, returned a 65-yard punt back to the end zone.
Sophomore Zachery Neuberger completed the Wheeler County scoring on a two-yard run.
For a group of athletes eating rodeo dirt just a few weeks past, a lot of scoring on the football field.