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Q&A with Riverton Head Football Coach Troy Anderson heading into the 2021 season

David Graf made the trip to Riverton to talk to Wolverines Head Football Coach Troy Anderson about the town’s football culture, who will stand out from his team this season and the opening game against Powell on Aug. 27.
Published: Aug. 25, 2021 at 12:51 AM CDT
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RIVERTON, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - The high school football season kicks off on Aug. 27, and the Riverton Wolverines are looking to build on its 3A playoff appearance during the 2020 season.

David Graf made the trip over to Riverton to talk to Head Coach Troy Anderson about the Riverton football culture, Wolverines to watch this season and the team’s opening game against Powell.

This interview has been edited for content and clarity.

DG: I don’t know a whole lot about Riverton football to be perfectly blunt. What is this team? What is the mentality of the Riverton Wolverines? What do you try to instill in these young men here?

TA: Riverton’s got a really rich legacy of football. In the early 90′s, we had the Don Julian era, and even since then, there have been some moments. We’re a blue-collar town, so I think that town culture is where it starts. My job is to try to meet that town culture with what we can personnel. So that’s kind of what we try to instill. I’m a work ethic guy, and I kind of earn it. That’s what I think we have to go out and do. Nobody’s going to give you anything, or you can’t think you’re at a certain level or able to do something. Your performances and your scoreboard usually will dictate what that comes out to be as far as the legacy, but I think there’s a lot of people in town that had sons come through during that early to mid-90′s legacy that really set a tone, and that’s still well-remembered and important.

DG: You’re heading into your second season as the head coach, and you made the playoffs last year. What are you hoping to accomplish this season?

TA: I was just thinking about that the other day. I think we just want to build the program’s esteem if you will throughout the state in all areas, and so that could be a really awesome team culture, which is definitely an emphasis for us. Wins and playoffs and things like that are definitely something that’s on top of mind. We have some team goals, but I’m not going to unveil those publicly. Those are things that we want to build. From an X’s and O’s standpoint, I think the next logical progression is for us to get a playoff win.

DG: I talked to quite a few of your seniors and some juniors. Who should people know about from Riverton football this season?

TA: I think the first guy that they’re going to consider based on past performance is Lucas Engle. He’s a two-time All-State receiver. He’s going to draw a lot of emphasis from opposing defenses. Then, we have a lot of unknowns. Not a lot of household names. Chris Topolm is a returning senior. He was an All-Conference defender two years ago. The other important thing, which goes back to one of your original questions, is we have guys like Braden Vincent, who is going to play on the offensive line for us, and he’s going to make that selfless sacrifice. He’s repositioning offensively, which is fantastic. Kailer Girgen is going to be in a more offensive role for us this year. Tanner [Johnson] is a pretty well-known kid, more on the special teams’ side, but he’s a fantastic athlete. He’s going to cover a lot of bases for us, and then, [Nathan] Hutchison, obviously as a new quarterback, there are some things to come on, but as far as, desire to win and willingness to do all that extra work, I wouldn’t say there’s many out there in the state that are willing to work at the rate that he’s willing to work at.

DG: What stands out to you about Lucas Engle as a player and as a kid?

TA: Lucas is a real quiet kid, and you’ve got to get to know him. The thing I’ve really loved and noticed about Lucas as we’ve moved into this year from the summer is that he’s started to really open up and blossom. I think this final year of his career he’s grasping on the onus of it, and he’s taking on a leadership role. We’re giving him some responsibilities that weren’t maybe previously before. People might have looked at him like he wanted to be, but I think now he’s really ready and owning those responsibilities, and it’s going to be fantastic to see it come to fruition on the field.

DG: As a head coach of a high school football team, you play a large role in these kids’ lives in terms of they’re going to remember these memories from out on the field. What does that mean to you?

TA: That’s a great question. It’s just like legacy stuff. I don’t think you get in a role like this without having had some really great experiences yourself. I have a coach of mine that still works in that building over there [gestures to a building directly behind Wolverine Stadium]. He’s going to teach my daughter this year. He coached at Wind River. He coaches still in Riverton, and so that’s a huge legacy. Those are some huge footsteps. I’ve had other guys that were out there, too. It makes me feel pretty warm getting to see those guys now at almost 50. I hope I can do the same for these guys if they choose to stay in Riverton and raise families. That they’ll have that same warmth to have that conversation with me about all the good things we had or even the struggles we had.

DG: You open the season against Powell on Aug. 27. What are you looking forward to about the season kicking off?

TA: I love it. Us and Powell always play a full game. I wish everybody played a full game on zero week, to be honest. I look forward to it because that gives us the true perspective of what we’ve done in this hard, difficult time. We have a really good evaluation period, and if you get that win, you get a chance to put that win on the board regardless of what it says on the schedule, zero week or not, and move on. I think it’s a real big deal. Powell’s always a tough competitor. They’ve got a bunch of big, strong kids. It seems like they have a never-ending cup of big, strong kids that come out of Powell, so it’ll be a great game. To open at home, gosh, it’s awesome.

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