CASPER, Wyo. — The South team's first full-contact practice in preparation for today's Shrine Bowl could be described in many ways. It was spirited. It was hot. And much of it was a new take on a popular children's book.
That's right. Forget Waldo. Where's Wolfley?
Rick Wolfley, the Brigham Young-bound behemoth of a lineman, identifiable not by a striped hat and black glasses but by his thigh-size biceps and protruding belly, resembled a wrecking ball during drills this week.
On offense, the Star Valley graduate opened up holes for South running backs Jonathan McBride, Willie Padilla and Geoff Tyrrell. On defense, he routinely barreled his way into the backfield to pressure quarterbacks Beau Rabe and Levi Greenwood.
"On the very first play I was cutting to the outside and I didn't see him," Saratoga's Jason Kraft said. "He absolutely mowed me over. I was looking for him after that."
So, too, was everyone else.
At 6-foot-4 and 315 pounds, Wolfley is hard to miss — and equally difficult to move. While taking a breather on the sideline, one South defender talked about how much effort it took to help Wolfley up at the end of a play.
Wolfley, who played tackle in high school but played predominantly guard at practice on Tuesday, was the focal point of Star Valley's offense last fall and also had 105 defensive points. The Braves finished 9-3 and lost to Buffalo in the Class 4A championship game.
"When we needed a tough yard, we'd run off of him and let him lead the way," said Star Valley head coach Dale Anderson, who is an assistant coach for the South. "And defensively, he's hard to handle. Any team that had much success with him had to go with at least two guys. He can be disruptive."
Accordingly, the South's gameplan will involve a whole lot of the big fellow.
"Get under Rick," bellowed South head coach Brick Cegelski in between plays. "I'd run behind that big (guy) every time."
Cegelski, who guided Cheyenne Central to the 5A state championship, said he was impressed with his team, especially his running backs, after the morning session. He added that his team will emphasize ball control on offense today and he intends to use Wolfley — and several other players — on both offense and defense.
"He's a pretty premier kid," Cegelski said. "He's got the size and he's also got really good feet."
"I just give it my all," said Wolfley, who honed his footwork on wrestling mats and won back-to-back heavyweight championships as a junior and senior. "It's awesome being here. Not very many people get to do this."
Among the other members of the South squad are Wolfley's Star Valley teammates Andy McKen, Clint Nicholes and Jeff Wilkes. On several occasions in practice, they went head-to-head with their friend and former high school teammate. More often than not, they lost.
"When I'm out on the field, everyone is my enemy," Wolfley said.
"He's a nice kid, but he definitely has that switch he can flip and he can get after you when he really needs to," Anderson said.
After just one day of practice, his South teammates are already excited to watch Wolfley flip the switch on someone else.
"I can't wait to see him go against the North," Kraft said.