Key to Success: How the Mustangs Prepare for Friday Nights

What goes on behind the scenes, from the moment the last game is over to the next kickoff, will often determine the outcome.


Corey Gonzales

The Natrona County Mustangs stretch before their game against the Rock Springs Tigers on September 30th, 2022. Stretching is one part of effective pre-game preparation. “These are the best stretches in America,” says Head Coach Steve Harshman.

Corey Gonzales, Sports Reporter

Ask any player, and they’ll tell you that football is a fast-paced game, played week by week, with each test coming under the Friday night lights. All the preparation put in that previous week will be on display. The players know it. The coaches know it. The fans know it. What goes on behind the scenes, from the moment the last game is over to the next kickoff, will often determine the outcome. 

One thing the Mustangs do to get prepared for a game is watch film on their upcoming opponent. The film shows the different plays their opponent’s offense runs and how they cover their defense. 

Once coaches finish going over film with players, the team warm’s up quickly, then go to their offensive and defensive positions. To get realistic practice, a “scout team” is used. Made mostly of sophomore and JV players, these Mustangs pretend to be the opposing team, doing their best to counter NC’s offense and defense. In this way, our players get the most intense opportunity to polish their skills, to practice like they play, so they can play like the practice.  The defensive backs (corners and safeties) and the linebackers run a scout team for the starters to play defense on the opponents passing plays. Scout team is where the non starters are being a dummy for the starters. 

The next thing they do to help prepare for Friday Night is go to their position groups, which are smaller groups where coaches can work with individuals on position-specific skills. They warm up with footwork and pursuit angles. The defensive backs and linebackers run their opponent’s plays. The linemen practiced being physical upfront and getting off blocks on defense and blocking the entire play on offense. The Mustangs special teams also practice kick return and punt return to help them prepare. They also go to kick off and kick return. Then they go to the goal post to kick field goals. They go to individual practice with their positions. The starters practice defending the pass plays from the Sophomores and Juniors. The lineman work on getting off blocks and blocking each other. 

Beau Russell is a safety and quarterback but is also on special teams. His blocked field goal and touchdown return against Rock Springs was a direct result of his and the scout team’s effort and preparation that came before the game. “Our blockers timed the field goal as best as they could’ve, because they saw on film a guy being slow and all I had to do was find the ball and go,” said Russell. “To see the play before it actually happens is really good, and I saw it at least three times this week because of the scout team.” All of the preparation worked out against the Tigers and the Mustangs won 34-14.