CHEYENNE – Through his days as a fan, a player and a coach, there isn’t much Chad Goff hasn’t seen happen during a football game.
That changed Friday when senior Dom Kaszas returned not one, but two punts for touchdowns during the first quarter of the Thunderbirds’ win at Thunder Basin. The first return spanned 50 yards, while the second covered 80 yards and gave No. 1-ranked East a 14-0 lead over the third-ranked Bolts.
“I rarely look at the statistics when we get them,” Goff said. “But I was told one of his TDs was labeled wrong, so I reached out to the statistician. I wanted to make sure our punt return team got credit for both, because – in all my years – I can’t remember someone returning two in a game, let alone two in a quarter.”
Kaszas’ contributions to the victory weren’t limited to special teams. He also caught five passes for 108 yards and intercepted a pass.
Those efforts helped the T-Birds leave Gillette with a 52-42 victory. They also earned Kaszas Prep Athlete of the Week honors from WyoSports’ Cheyenne staff.
Kaszas earned all-state honors for Class 4A state champion Sheridan last season. He led the Broncs in receiving, but his 37.8 yards per game ranked just outside the 4A top 10. Kaszas was a threat in the passing game, but made his name on special teams, where he ranked third in the state in kickoff return average (27.9 yards per attempt) and fourth in punt return average (18.1 ypa). He returned one of each for a touchdown.
“Both teams I’ve been on have been good with their schemes and execution,” Kaszas said. “They emphasize that you have to block and then get around the edge. Once you get around the corner they set, being fast helps. Returns are at least 80% on the guys in front of me.
“I know where things are supposed to develop. Once you read the defense and see what happens, that’s when speed and instincts take over.”
Kaszas has skills that can’t be coached, Goff said. The coach also echoed Kaszas’ sentiments about East’s return team.
“He broke a tackle and then broke two more tackles. That’s the kind of stuff that makes him special,” Goff said. “If you take (Kaszas’) speed and athleticism and combine it with the way the kids in front of him work hard to make great blocks, those are game-changers. Those other 10 guys in front of him and how they’re coached by coach (Jesse) Blunn is what made Friday such a special night.
“As a group, we’ve had great returns all year long. All 11 players on those units are doing a great job.”
Kaszas currently ranks sixth in 4A in receiving average at 60.3 yards per game. He leads the state in punt and kickoff return average at 41.5 and 30.5 yards per attempt, respectively.
“He hasn’t just been special on special teams,” Goff said. “He has had some great catches on offense. He sees cuts really well when he has the ball. He is so good about putting his foot in the ground and turning.
“He makes it look so fast and effortless. And he’s contributing on defense.”
Kaszas moved to Cheyenne after his mother and stepfather got jobs here. He embraced the change, despite the fact he was going into his senior year.
“I had a great group of friends up in Sheridan, and I miss them, but these guys took me in from day one and made me feel like I’ve lived here for years,” said Kaszas, who moved to Sheridan in elementary school. “I knew a couple of guys here outside of competing against them in sports before we decided to move.
“I started to get to know a couple more before we got here. It’s been a really smooth transition.”
Others recognized for their efforts include:
n Madisyn Baillie and Brooklynn Sullivan, volleyball, Cheyenne Central: Baillie had 13 kills and 11 digs in the Lady Indians’ five-set win over visiting Scottsbluff, Nebraska.
Sullivan added 21 digs and 13 kills.
n Izzy DeLay and Brinkley Lewis, girls swimming and diving, Central: DeLay won all six individual events she swam on the week, including wins in the 200-yard individual medley and 100 breaststroke at the Cheyenne Invitational.
Lewis won diving at all three meets she competed in.
n Quincy Dereemer, Ashli Smedley and Genesis Tyler, girls tennis, Central: Dereemer and Tyler went 2-0 during duals with Torrington and Rawlins. They were the Lady Indians’ No. 1 doubles tandem in one dual and No. 2 in another.
Smedley, Central’s No. 1 singles player, also went 2-0.
n Elysiana Fonseca, Gracin Goff, Boden Liljedahl and Bradie Schlabs, volleyball, East: Fonseca posted 13 kills and five blocks during the Lady Thunderbirds’ four-set win Tuesday at Scottsbluff, Nebraska.
Goff dished out 28 assists, while Liljedahl finished with 29 digs.
Schlabs recorded 20 assists, 12 digs and 10 kills.
n Cam Hayes, football, East: The junior quarterback completed 16 of 32 passes for 235 yards and three touchdowns to help the Thunderbirds to a 52-42 win at Thunder Basin. He also rushed for 58 yards and two touchdowns.
n Sydni Sawyer, girls swimming, East: The junior won three events and placed second in another during the week.
Jeremiah Johnke is the WyoSports editor. He can be reached at email@example.com or 307-633-3137. Follow him on Twitter at @jjohnke.