CHEYENNE – Braxton Rosner and Ethan Brinkman describe their Cheyenne East football careers in similar terms.
The pair spent the past few seasons biding their time at the sub-varsity levels and on the Thunderbirds’ scout teams. They were confident their times were going to come, and that they were going to be ready when they did.
They were right.
Rosner, a senior, is now starting on East’s defensive line and had six tackles during Friday’s 14-13 victory at Natrona County. The last of those stops kept Mustangs quarterback Wyatt Powell out of the end zone as he tried to give Natrona the lead on a two-point conversion.
Brinkman, a junior linebacker, posted 16½ tackles (seven solo and one sack) and used his lone carry to score the eventual game-winning touchdown in the victory.
Those efforts earned Rosner and Brinkman Prep Athlete of the Week honors from WyoSports’ Cheyenne staff.
As far as Rosner and Brinkman are concerned, their standout performances are merely a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.
“All of the sophomore games, JV games and scout team I played helped me get ready for this season,” said Rosner, who has 12 tackles through two games this fall. “It has been a pretty easy transition going from one level to the next, and scrimmaging against the varsity really helped with that.
“Last year’s team was really good, and they always came 100% at me, and I tried to come back at them 100%. I felt like I was getting better, and there was no better way I could prepare for this than going up against last year’s team.”
Rosner’s game-sealing tackle came in the waning moments Friday. He split between the left guard and left tackle and broke down in Natrona County’s backfield just as quarterback Wyatt Powell ran toward the line of scrimmage.
Rosner spun to his left, grabbed Powell and held on for dear life. Rosner slowing Powell’s progress allowed Cheyenne East’s defense to surround Powell and keep him from putting Natrona ahead with a two-point conversion.
Rosner downplays the tackle, saying he was just in the right place at the right time.
“A lot of it came down to the linebackers filling the gaps really well,” he said. “Our inside backers went down into the A-gape, and the outside went in there, too. That took the guard and tackle out of the equation and helped me get into the backfield and do what I did.”
Rosner is merely being modest, East coach Chad Goff said. He was in the right place at the right time because of execution.
“He listens to the call and executes his assignment,” Goff said. “He doesn’t try to do anyone else’s job. His job is to be in that gap at that point, and he did that and made a great play. He is really strong and grabbed onto that kid and held on until other people came and cleaned it up.”
Brinkman started piling up tackles early, notching three in Natrona’s first four plays alone. He wanted a quick start after East’s season-opening 39-34 loss to Thunder Basin.
“I wasn’t as aggressive as I needed to be in the Thunder Basin game,” he said. “I wasn’t trusting my guard reads, and I was missing a lot of tackles. I just wasn’t trusting things, and I told myself I was going to go 100% and trust everything against Natrona.”
Effort has never been an issue for Brinkman. It’s a trait East coaches have always loved about him, even if he occasionally missed an assignment or tackle.
“I have always been told it’s better to make a mistake going 100% than to have the right idea and just go 50% or not give full effort,” Brinkman said. “Effort is everything. I’ve always thought that, but I never really implemented it until my sophomore year, when I was on JV and scout team.”
Brinkman is still figuring out his inside linebacker role after previously playing outside. Friday’s performance was a step in the right direction, and an example of why East’s coaches moved him.
“He was so comfortable outside that I could tell he has been struggling a bit mentally with having to move inside,” Goff said. “I told him, ‘It would be a crime against the team if I didn’t put you inside to allow you to shut down the whole field.’
“He did such a great job of shutting down one side of the field when he was an outside backer. I needed him to roam the field and shut down the home field from the inside.”
Others recognized for their efforts include:
n Ellie Brewer and Allie Robért, girls swimming, Cheyenne South: Brewer and Robért both won three events and finished second in another across two meets last week.
n Kira Brownell and Izzy DeLay, girls swimming, Cheyenne Central: Brownell, a senior, won four events across two meets on the week.
DeLay, a sophomore, had three wins and a runner-up finish in those meets.
n Jacob Culver, Gavin Goff, Drew Jackson and Garet Schlabs, football, East: Culver posted eight tackles (three solo), a pass breakup and a tackle for loss. He also caught two passes for 28 yards.
Goff completed 17 of 27 passes for 232 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions.
Jackson finished with 10 tackles (six solo) and caught three passes for 41 yards.
Schlabs had five catches for 84 yards and a touchdown.
n Central boys tennis: The Indians won all three of their duals by combined scores of 13-2.
n Cheyenne South boys tennis: The Bison won duals against Campbell County and Thunder Basin for the first time in school history.
n Elysiana Fonseca, Hannah Harrington, Bradie Schlabs and Kiera Walsh, volleyball, East: Fonseca had 36 kills and 13 blocks to help the Lady Thunderbirds placed third at the Gillette Invitational.
Harrington posted 27 kills and 26 digs.
Walsh had 28 kills on the weekend.
Schlabs dished out 67 assists to go with 28 digs.
n Sydney O’Brien and Finley Katsens, girls tennis, East: The Lady Thunderbirds’ No. 1 doubles tandem went 3-0 on the week.
n Ashli Smedley, Kamryn Tempel and Genesis Tyler, girls tennis, Central: Smedley went 3-0 at No. 1 singles.
Tempel and Tyler went 3-0 at No. 2 doubles.