Rock River will join the six-man football program ranks this fall, playing a junior-varsity schedule. And the program’s development is thanks in part to an NFL grant from former Greybull star Brett Keisel, now with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Rock River coach Kyle Stucky said the community raised about $8,000 to bring football to the small school about 40 miles north of Laramie, and that money was augmented by $5,000 in grant money supplied by the NFL through Keisel.
A second try
Stucky said it was a Rock River connection to Keisel — Keisel is acquaintances Les Dunmire, the longtime boys basketball coach for the Longhorns, and his daughter, Heather Alexander, the Longhorns’ volleyball coach — that helped inspire the community to get serious about football.
Stucky said any NFL player can choose any youth football team in the country for the grant, “and he chose us.”
“Since he was from a small Wyoming school, he gets it,” Stucky said, “where small schools struggle to have teams and (have) financial restraints.”
Rock River was one of 10 programs named in the original six-man proposal in 2009 that was approved by the Wyoming High School Activities Association, but the school dropped the idea after funding concerns arose, which kept the Albany County School District from giving final approval to the team’s formation.
Stucky said the school didn’t find out about the grant until this summer. The grant called for a community match, and Rock River raised more than a match, putting together about $8,000 in less than a week to over-match the NFL’s $5,000.
“I’m really excited for our community,” Stucky said. “Just in talking with the 1A schools… (and) what it’s done for their communities, I’m real excited.
“I think that’s something our community can really embrace and enjoy. … They’ve already supported us financially. I have no doubt that they’ll be there.”
Stucky said Rob Hall will assist him with coaching duties. The school has ordered gear, which is expected to arrive later this month. The field and the bleachers are being built this summer, as well.
“We’re truly starting from the ground up, which is kind of neat, and that’s part of the challenge,” Stucky said.
Rock River will play a junior varsity schedule this fall, with hopes of moving up to the varsity level in either 2013 or 2014, Stucky said. Between 12 and 15 players are anticipated to come out, Stucky said.
The move to varsity play may depend in part on the WHSAA, which has pushed reclassification back to the 2014-15 school year but may make a special exception for football reclassification.
Rock River will have three home games and three road games; the Longhorns will play JV teams from Kaycee and Snake River and freshman teams from Laramie.
Rock River is the second school to add six-man football at the junior varsity level in the past two years. St. Stephens added football last year and played a limited sub-varsity schedule in 2011, and is planning to do so again this fall.
The Longhorns’ home games are set for Sept. 22 (Snake River JV, 1 p.m.), Sept. 27 (Laramie freshmen, 4 p.m.) and Oct. 6 (Kaycee JV, 1 p.m.). Road games are scheduled for Sept. 8 (Kaycee JV, 1 p.m.), Sept. 13 (Laramie freshmen, 5 p.m.) and Oct. 20 (Snake River JV, noon).