Today, when we think about successful six-man football programs in Wyoming, we don’t think about Glenrock or Big Horn.

Yet, if we had asked the same question in 1941, the top two teams that would immediately come up would be the Herders and Rams.

These two programs renew their rivalry on Friday in Glenrock, with the Herders ranked first and the Rams second in my Class 2A rankings. They’re both perennial contenders for the 2A championship, and as 2A East Conference rivals since 2009, they’ve developed a healthy, competitive, high-stakes rivalry.

Key games between them, though, didn’t start in 2009. In fact, their first game against each other ended up being one of the most important games in state history.

On Nov. 20, 1941, Glenrock beat Big Horn 22-20 in the state’s first regional six-man playoff game — and its last meaningful six-man game for several years.

Much like most six-man programs of the era, both programs were taking baby steps into that playoff. The Big Horn program was in only its third year, having started football in the fall of 1939. Glenrock, meanwhile, had started its program in 1923 but had gone through extended periods without a team; the 1941 season was just the Herders’ ninth and, like Big Horn, was just its third season since starting back up in 1939.

However, Big Horn was a fast study and won the Northeast district six-man crown in 1941, while Glenrock picked up on the game just as fast and won the Southeast district. The two teams met in Sheridan, neither knowing what to expect; what they got was more than 1,000 fans to show up at Central Field to watch the two teams fight it out for the regional title. The Herders won in a thriller.

Less than three weeks later, America was jumping headlong into World War II, and smaller programs struggled to continue during the war years. Big Horn didn’t have a team from 1944-47; Glenrock skipped the entire 1942 season. When statewide playoffs came back to Wyoming in 1948, though, there was a six-man division — thanks in big part to the success of the Big Horn-Glenrock regional playoff back in 1941.

Six-man, eight-man and nine-man have come and gone in waves in Wyoming. Big Horn and Glenrock haven’t. They’ve consistently been among Wyoming’s best teams, with Glenrock sporting a .613 winning percentage and Big Horn a .593 entering the season.

Oh by the way, they’re both undefeated this year.

When they take the field tonight in Glenrock, keep in mind the influence of this rivalry goes way beyond the two teams involved.

+++

Week 5 is also a huge rivalry week in Class 4A, as the Energy Bowl between Gillette and Sheridan, the Oil Bowl between Natrona and Kelly Walsh and the Capital Bowl between Cheyenne East and Cheyenne Central will all be played.

It’s an interesting dynamic in Cheyenne, where both East and Central have already lost to 2016 Cheyenne city champion South. The Capital Bowl isn’t what it used to be, not only this year but every year from here on out, thanks to South’s entry.

That old feeling may also be dying in northeastern Wyoming, where Friday’s Energy Bowl may be the last one to feel like an Energy Bowl. With Thunder Basin High School set to open in Gillette in 2017, the rivalry between the Camels and the Broncs can’t help but be diminished, if even slightly, by the new rivalry brewing between cross-town rivals in Gillette.

Oh, sure, the Energy Bowl will always be important. The Camels and Broncs will always have a special place in each other’s hearts. But it won’t be THE game like it is today, and I’m sad to see that dynamic disappear.

One parallel we can draw is in the Laramie-Cheyenne Central rivalry, once the king of Wyoming rivalries. The addition of East, and eventually South, in Cheyenne changed the dynamics of the rivalry between the Plainsmen and Indians. Laramie may say Central is its biggest rival; Central, thanks to almost 60 years staging off against in-city rival East, may not say the same in return.

That said, this year’s Energy Bowl — a rematch of last year’s 4A title game — promises to be plenty special, with the top-ranked and undefeated Broncs hosting the once-beaten Camels in a game that has deep playoff implications in addition to the rivalry angle.

That angle may mean less and less in years to come.

And that’s why the stands at Homer Scott Field should be full on Friday. Even if you have no rooting interest, this may be your last chance to see this rivalry in all its splendor, as everything it can be.

Other games I’m watching closely this week: The Cheyenne South-Laramie game is interesting: South won its first three, but comes in having lost two in a row, while Laramie lost its first three, but comes in having won two in a row. … Likewise, the Oil Bowl between Natrona and Kelly Walsh pits a couple teams that could be really good, or really bad, or kind of average, maybe. Perhaps the real identities of these Mustangs and Trojans simply need a rivalry game to show themselves. … When the schedule came out in November, Douglas at Torrington figured to be the biggest 3A East game of the year. Nothing I’ve seen since then makes me think any differently. … The Worland-Cody game will be a heck of a litmus test for the upstart Warriors — and a heck of a challenge for the already-in-season-saving-mode Broncs. … Rivalries aren’t just a 4A thing this week: Big Piney and Pinedale will face off in their annual Sublette County showdown, too. … Wheatland at Newcastle could be the best game of the week; both teams need to keep pace with Big Horn and Glenrock, but only one can. …  Kaycee and Guernsey-Sunrise are the only two teams left undefeated in 1A six-man East play. The winner maintains its own playoff destiny. … It’s nice to see the Burlington-Meeteetse game back on the schedule, especially when both teams appear to be on their game.

Picks. Bold = winner.

Friday
Class 4A
Cheyenne East at Cheyenne Central
Cheyenne South at Laramie
Gillette at Sheridan
Natrona at Kelly Walsh
Rock Springs at Evanston
Class 3A
Douglas at Torrington
Jackson at Green River
Lander at Buffalo
Riverton at Rawlins
Star Valley at Powell
Worland at Cody
Class 2A
Big Horn at Glenrock
Big Piney at Pinedale
Burns at Thermopolis
Lyman at Greybull
Moorcroft at Lovell
Mountain View at Kemmerer
Wheatland at Newcastle
Class 1A 11-man
Cokeville at Wyoming Indian
Lusk at Tongue River
Shoshoni at Saratoga
Southeast at Upton-Sundance
Wind River at Rocky Mountain
Wright at Pine Bluffs
Class 1A six-man
Burlington at Meeteetse
Hanna at Lingle
Kaycee at Guernsey-Sunrise
Rock River at Midwest (at Natrona County HS, Casper)
St. Stephens at Riverside
Saturday
Class 1A six-man
Farson at Dubois
Hulett at Normative Services
Ten Sleep at Snake River

My picks last week: Above average for the season, below the mark of 100 percent I shoot for every week.

Last week: 26-6 (81 percent). This season: 112-29 (79 percent).

Week 5 is going to be fun this season. With so many key games and rivalries being played this week, it can’t help but set the course for several teams whose fates remain in question. So who do you think is going to rise to the occasion this week? Leave a comment and we can talk about it….

–patrick

The Wyoming High School Activities Association this week officially juggled classifications for four football programs for the 2017 football season to accommodate a new high school set to open in Gillette next year.

Thunder Basin High School in Gillette will waste no time, starting its varsity football program in Class 4A in 2017. Their entry will force one school to shift its classification for the 2017 season: Evanston will go from 4A to 3A, Buffalo will go from 3A to 2A and Big Horn will go from 2A to 1A 11-man. Also, Lingle, currently in 1A six-man but ineligible for the playoffs, will formally move from 1A 11-man to 1A six-man and become eligible for the six-man playoffs in 2017.

Buffalo will remain in 3A after opting up despite the program’s reclassification.

Wyopreps.com reported the changes in a series of tweets.

Buffalo officials have previously said the Bison would opt up to Class 3A for 2017. Buffalo is the only one of the four schools affected by the changing classifications to note its desire to opt up. Coaches and administrators from Evanston, Big Horn and Lingle indicated to wyoming-football.com Tuesday they would accept the classification level set by the WHSAA.

The proposal had been addressed first at the WHSAA’s board of directors meeting in February and was formally approved at the board’s meeting Tuesday in Casper.

With Buffalo’s successful appeal to Class 3A, three classifications — 3A, 2A and 1A 11-man — will have 13 programs apiece.

Normally, by structure, the 10 largest schools in the state are classified as 4A schools; the next 12 are classified in 3A; the next 14 are in 2A; the next 14 are in 1A 11-man; and the remaining schools are in 1A six-man.

Conferences will be set prior to the release of the 2017 schedule in early November. Schools in each classification for the 2017 season will be:

Class 4A: Cheyenne Central, Cheyenne East, Cheyenne South, Gillette, Kelly Walsh, Laramie, Natrona, Rock Springs, Sheridan, Thunder Basin.
Class 3A: Cody, Douglas, Evanston, Green River, Jackson, Lander, Powell, Rawlins, Riverton, Torrington, Star Valley, Worland, Buffalo.
Class 2A: Big Piney, Burns, Glenrock, Greybull, Kemmerer, Lovell, Lyman, Moorcroft, Mountain View, Newcastle, Pinedale, Thermopolis, Wheatland.
Class 1A 11-man: Big Horn, Cokeville, Lusk, Pine Bluffs, Rocky Mountain, Saratoga, Shoshoni, Southeast, Tongue River, Upton-Sundance, Wind River, Wright, Wyoming Indian.
Class 1A six-man: Burlington, Dubois, Farson, Guernsey-Sunrise, Hanna, Hulett, Kaycee, Lingle, Meeteetse, Midwest, Normative Services, Riverside, Rock River, St. Stephens, Snake River, Ten Sleep.

–patrick

By the end of the night on Friday, only one Class 4A team will remain undefeated.

We know that because Sheridan and Rock Springs, the last two undefeated 4A teams, will play each other Friday night in Rock Springs.

But we also didn’t expect this a week ago.

A week ago, the Broncs and Tigers were among four undefeated teams. Then something happened we haven’t seen much of in Class 4A in half a decade: the unexpected. Winless Kelly Walsh smoked undefeated Cheyenne South and one-win Natrona went on the road and beat undefeated Gillette.

All of a sudden, four became two. This week, two gets whittled down to one.

That one remaining team, all of a sudden, becomes the favorite for the Class 4A title.

The parity 4A has shown has been a remarkable break from the past. As I mentioned earlier this year, since 2011, Gillette, Cheyenne East, Natrona and Sheridan have been a combined 136-4 against the other six teams in the classification.

So far this year, those “big four” programs are 7-3 against the other six — nearly as many losses through four weeks as through the past five years.

The kinds of things we’re seeing in 4A this year are things we haven’t seen in years. However, the idea that any team can beat any other team in the 4A classification is actually more typical than the “big four” patterns of the past few years.

In short, 2016’s unexpected nature isn’t the anomaly; the consistency from 2011 to 2015 was.

So when the Broncs and Tigers meet on Friday, anything is possible.

It’s nice to be able to say that again — especially if you’re from Rock Springs, or Evanston, or Cheyenne South, or Kelly Walsh, or Cheyenne Central, or Laramie.

Other games I’m watching closely this week: Staying in 4A, as noted, Gillette and Cheyenne South were both undefeated entering last week. They both suffered losses to teams with losing records. It only makes sense to have them play each other this week, so that’s what will happen — and I’m curious to see who responds to their loss better. … Cheyenne Central-Laramie is under the radar, but it could be the best game of the week regardless of class. … Conference play starts in 3A this week. Plan on at least one upset, because 3A. … Mountain View might be the team with the best chance of chasing down Greybull in the 2A West. But first, the Buffalos will have to survive a long, tough road trip to Lovell. … Pinedale-Lyman might be for a playoff spot by the time it’s all said and done. … The 1A 11-man East schedule is stacked this week. Pine Bluffs heads north to face Upton-Sundance, while Tongue River goes south to face Southeast. Together, those four teams are a combined 12-1 this season. Honestly, any combination of teams could win and I wouldn’t bat an eye. … Rocky Mountain has never beaten Cokeville; the Grizzlies are 0-11 all-time against the Panthers, the most one-sided series that will be played this season in any classification. However, the Grizzlies have a chance this week to break that streak once and for all — but they’ll have to do it in Cokeville. … This week’s slate of six-man games is pretty meh, but the Lingle-Midwest game in Casper could be a nail-biter.

The picks for this week are below. By now, I hope you know how this works: projected winners in bold. For a full season schedule with kickoff times, click here.

Thursday
Class 1A 11-man
Shoshoni at Wind River
Friday
Class 4A
Cheyenne Central at Laramie
Evanston at Natrona
Gillette at Cheyenne South
Kelly Walsh at Cheyenne East
Sheridan at Rock Springs
Class 3A
Buffalo at Rawlins
Cody at Star Valley
Douglas at Lander
Jackson at Worland
Powell at Green River
Torrington at Riverton
Class 2A
Glenrock at Wheatland
Greybull at Burns
Kemmerer at Big Piney
Mountain View at Lovell
Newcastle at Big Horn
Pinedale at Lyman
Thermopolis at Moorcroft
Class 1A 11-man
Pine Bluffs at Upton-Sundance
Rocky Mountain at Cokeville
Saratoga at Wyoming Indian
Tongue River at Southeast
Wright at Lusk
Class 1A six-man
Guernsey-Sunrise at Normative Services
Hanna at Rock River
Lingle vs. Midwest (at Casper)
Riverside at Meeteetse
St. Stephens at Burlington
Ten Sleep at Farson
Saturday
Class 1A six-man
Kaycee at Hulett
Snake River at Dubois

Meanwhile, I had an almost perfectly average week with my picks last week. Thanks, 4A parity… thanks a lot. 🙂

Last week: 25-7 (78 percent). This season: 86-23 (79 percent).

How about YOU? Who’s poised to pull an upset this week and bring parity to its own classification? Leave a comment and let’s talk week 4! (Already the halfway point of the regular season…)

–patrick

Stop me if you’ve heard this one recently:

This Star Valley-Douglas game should really be something…

Wait, stop? Already?

OK, yeah. Makes sense. Star Valley and Douglas have been playing a lot of football against each other recently — about as much as two teams can.

They’ve played each other six times the past three seasons, once in the regular season and once in the playoffs every year since 2013. Douglas won all four in 2013-14; Star Valley won both in 2015.

Douglas reached the Class 3A title games in 2013 and 2014; Star Valley won the 3A title in 2015.

Yeah, the Bearcats and Braves have built a nice little rivalry, in part because of the high stakes on the line when they play each other the second time around in a season.

When they renew this rivalry on Friday in Douglas, only bragging rights will be on the line. Even so, those bragging rights are as big as they come at this point in the season. Star Valley is ranked first in my Class 3A rankings, while Douglas is second in my rankings.

Yep, this game should really be something.

What’s amazing to me is how quickly this rivalry has grown. The two programs have played each other 10 times since 2010 after only three meetings in the previous 4.5 billion years. Friday’s game makes 11 meetings in seven years.

Even though Douglas has won seven of those 10 most recent games, Star Valley won both meetings last year. Star Valley’s championship momentum carried over into 2016, as the Braves have three pretty dominant victories this year (average score 44-13).

But Douglas has learned from its struggles in 2015, including its two losses to Star Valley, and started 2016 with victories by 24 and 35 points.

If the current trends hold, that 12th meeting in seven years could be in Laramie in November.

That game would really be something.

Other games that are intriguing on paper that I hope will be just as intriguing in person: For the first time all season, I’m picking Cheyenne South to win a game. About time, dude; South is 3-0 and has already secured the Capital City championship for the first time. Bison are legit. … Cheyenne East is 1-2 but still a threat; the two losses are by a combined four points. Watch out, Sheridan. … I don’t know what to make of either Buffalo or Worland just yet. It helps that they play each other this week. Buffalo’s 2-0 with victories by 6 and 1; Worland is 1-1, losing by 6 and winning by 2. I think this one might be close, too. … This week has the biggest scheduling question of the year. Big Horn goes to Kemmerer, while Cokeville goes to Tongue River. Why, oh, why, isn’t Big Horn going to Tongue River and Cokeville going to Kemmerer? Way fewer miles on the road, at least, and maybe better games because of that. … Most impressive 0-2 team in 2A might be Big Piney. Punchers have fought hard in a couple close losses; I’m curious to see how they do against Lyman. … The Lovell-Greybull game decided the 2A West last year. They play again Friday. … The Upton-Sundance/Shoshoni game lost some luster after the Wranglers got throat punched by Southeast. How will Shoshoni respond? … How about St. Stephens starting 2-0? The Eagles’ toughest test so far comes this week against a strong Farson squad. Meanwhile, the two other undefeateds in the 1A six-man West (Meeteetse and Snake River) meet in what might be the biggest game of the week, and could be the biggest game of the year, at the six-man level. Watch out for the Rattlers at home. … Last but not least, Cokeville head coach Todd Dayton could pick up career win No. 300 when the Panthers play Tongue River on Saturday. It’d be interesting to see coach Dayton get the victory in his first coaching trip to the town of Dayton.

Here are my picks for Week 3, with anticipated winners in bold and anticipated upset-makers in regular type. For a full season schedule with kickoff times, click here.

Friday
Class 4A
Cheyenne South at Kelly Walsh
Laramie at Evanston
Natrona at Gillette
Rock Springs at Cheyenne Central
Sheridan at Cheyenne East
Class 3A
Cody at Lander
Green River at Torrington
Rawlins at Jackson
Riverton at Powell
Star Valley at Douglas
Worland at Buffalo
Class 2A
Big Horn at Kemmerer
Glenrock at Newcastle
Lovell at Greybull
Lyman at Big Piney
Moorcroft at Burns
Pinedale at Mountain View
Wheatland at Thermopolis
Class 1A 11-man
Lusk at Rocky Mountain
Southeast at Saratoga
Upton-Sundance at Shoshoni
Wind River at Wright
Wyoming Indian at Pine Bluffs
Class 1A six-man
Dubois at Riverside
Farson at St. Stephens
Meeteetse at Snake River
Midwest at Guernsey-Sunrise
Normative Services at Lingle
Rock River at Kaycee
Saturday
Class 1A 11-man
Cokeville at Tongue River
Class 1A six-man
Burlington at Ten Sleep
Hulett at Hanna

My picks last week were not too bad, but by no means do I think my good fortune last week will have any carryover to this week. Here’s where I stand for the year:

Last week: 27-4 (87 percent). This season: 61-16 (79 percent).

Who’s ready to win this week? Which game has your attention? Leave a comment and share with us what you’re ready for in Week 3!

–patrick

For two schools just 23 miles and a couple dozen students apart, Lingle and Guernsey-Sunrise have taken decidedly different paths since the last time they played football against each other.

The longtime rivals haven’t faced each other since Oct. 3, 2008 — the last game between the two before the Vikings left for the new six-man classification.

Since then, they’ve both found success in separate ways. Lingle has advanced to the 1A 11-man playoff semifinals five times, finishing once as runner-up (2009). Guernsey-Sunrise has won a pair of state championships at the 1A six-man level, going undefeated in 2009 and 2014.

Now that Lingle has made the move to six-man, the North Platte valley rivalry can renew once again.

And what a rich rivalry it is.

From 1952 to 2008, the Doggers and the Vikings/Longhorns/Miners played each other every season, and Lingle also played Guernsey in 1951. They stayed joined despite shifting play structures, playing in six-man together from 1951-56, eight-man from 1957-63 and 11-man from 1964-2008 (playing each other even through Lingle’s dip into nine-man in 1989 and 1990 and Guernsey-Sunrise’s hybrid nine-man season in 1998).

However, Lingle and Guernsey didn’t play each other from 1940-50, when Guernsey moved to six-man football but Lingle stayed in 11-man; Sunrise and Lingle had a similar gap from 1941-50.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

After seven years apart, the Vikings and Doggers renew their rivalry on Friday in Lingle. In the terms of the 2016 season, this game represents an opportunity for one of the two teams to get back on track; both teams lost their season openers Saturday.

In terms of history, though, this game has much bigger implications for a rivalry that’s been dormant for far too long.

Now that Lingle and Guernsey-Sunrise are again in the same classification, they might be back together on each other’s schedules for another 56 consecutive years.

Other games I’ll be watching closer than others this week, because attention is finite and I must devote my brain’s resources accordingly: Obviously, East-South is the marquee game in Class 4A this week. South is 2-0 (and after the last few years, the Bison deserve it) and East is one two-point conversion away from 2-0. If South can somehow pull this one off, my goodness, I think the good folks south of I-80 in Cheyenne will be ready to make coach Dan Gallas the mayor. Or the governor. … Rawlins-Green River is the only 3A game that pits two undefeated teams. Arguably, Green River’s one W is more impressive than Rawlins’ two, but I’m interested to see if the Outlaws can push the Wolves and maybe pull the surprise. … Bridger Valley Bowl, Mountain View-Lyman, is always worth your attention. Even though Mountain View won and Lyman lost last week, I thought both teams had eye-catching Week 1 outings — Mountain View limiting 1A Cokeville, Lyman hanging tough with 3A Rawlins. … Rocky Mountain was impressive in its opener, beating Kemmerer by 40. The Grizzlies, for their success, get to play Upton-Sundance in Week 2. Maybe, just maybe, the Griz will be better than we think? … Shoshoni travels to Yoder to play Southeast in the biggest revenge game of the week. Southeast, of course, ended Shoshoni’s undefeated season in the 1A 11-man quarterfinals last week. The Wranglers would love to exact some measure of revenge; the Cyclones would love to show their victory was no aberration. … The two best teams in six-man last week may have been Burlington (winners by 70) and Farson (surprisingly easy winners on the road against a good Guernsey-Sunrise team). It doesn’t seem right that they play so soon in the schedule. It’s got all the feeling of a Week 8 potential conference-championship-deciding kind of game.

Here’s what I think will happen this week, with the teams I think that will finish with more points than their opposition in bold:

Friday
Class 4A
Cheyenne Central at Gillette
Cheyenne East at Cheyenne South
Evanston at Sheridan
Kelly Walsh at Rock Springs
Laramie at Natrona
Class 3A
Douglas at Cody
Lander at Jackson
Powell at Buffalo
Rawlins at Green River
Riverton at Star Valley
Worland at Torrington
Class 2A
Big Piney at Lovell
Burns at Big Horn
Greybull at Kemmerer
Mountain View at Lyman
Newcastle at Moorcroft
Thermopolis at Glenrock
Wheatland at Pinedale
Class 1A 11-man
Pine Bluffs at Wind River
Rocky Mountain at Upton-Sundance
Saratoga at Lusk
Shoshoni at Southeast
Tongue River at Wyoming Indian
Class 1A six-man
Guernsey-Sunrise at Lingle
Midwest at Normative Services
Snake River at Riverside
Saturday
Class 1A 11-man
Wright at Cokeville
Class 1A six-man
Burlington at Farson
Kaycee at Hanna
Meeteetse at Dubois
Rock River at Hulett
Ten Sleep at St. Stephens

Picks last week were respectable; I’m climbing out of the awful hole I dug for myself in Zero Week. That said, to the teams I did not pick to win, a short message: Upsets make me happy. Prove me wrong, and I’ll be the first to praise you. So, by all means, prove me wrong! No bitterness on this end…

Last week: 27-6 (82 percent) This season: 34-12 (74 percent).

Which game has YOU excited for Week 2? Many teams begin conference play this week… Which game catches your attention as a key game to start a conference slate? Leave a thought below and we can talk about the start of something cool.

–patrick

Two consistent elements constituted my postgame Friday nights during my four years of high school football:

The first was a shower.

The second was “watching scores”: Waiting until George Kay came on my TV screen at 10:25 p.m. to show the final scores from high school football games across the state. If I could help it, I never missed it.

Thanks to Twitter, Facebook and a hundred other ways of finding live scores throughout the night, the concept of “watching scores” seems somewhat antiquated now.

However, I think the idea of broadcasting consistent statewide high school football updates has merit — which is why I am going to launch the Wyoming-football.com livestream this season.

I had a dry run in Zero Week and was intrigued by the possibilities. But for it to work most effectively, I’ll need your help with score updates.

So… Throughout the night, if you’re at a game, please tag @wyomingfootball in some score update tweets, or post score updates on the Wyoming-football.com Facebook page. And if you’re not at a game, join the livestream. Chat Wyoming high school football with me in real time.

The livestream will start at 8 p.m. MDT. Come watch scores with me.

http://www.youtube.com/user/pschmiedt/live

–patrick

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 8.53.44 PM

The 2016 edition of the Wyoming High School Football Guide is here!

With 65 extensive team previews and five classification previews, this magazine is the most thorough and most informative high school football preview you’ll find anywhere in the state. And, conveniently, it’s all in one place!

This is the fifth year for the Wyoming football preview magazine. In addition to the digital file on this site, hard copies are available at the locations of all the advertisers. The advertisers make this magazine possible, so stop in to one, pick up a magazine — they’re free, by the way — and then give them some of your business. Let them know you came for the football magazine but you stayed to say thanks. And I thank you for doing so.

Read it here. Pick it up across the state.

–patrick

A little distance but a lot of time separate the football programs in Newcastle, Upton and Sundance.

Only 28 miles separate Newcastle and Upton, and only 46 separate Newcastle and Sundance. In football, though, they may as well have been across the globe from each other.

Despite being so close, Newcastle hasn’t played Upton or Sundance all that recently, even though the Dogies have had traditional rivalries with both schools dating back to the early days of football in Wyoming.

Newcastle and Upton have played each other 40 times, but not at all since 1982. And Newcastle and Sundance have played each other 31 times, but only once since 1954.

However, both rivalries come back on Friday thanks to the Upton-Sundance Patriots. Friday’s game between the Patriots and Dogies could represent the start of a regional rivalry — one with its roots both in the past and in the existing framework of football in the state’s northeast corner.

The Upton-Sundance co-op is in a different classification from Newcastle (Upton-Sundance is 1A 11-man, Newcastle is 2A), but it’s not like the players are unfamiliar to one another. These programs play each other at the junior-high level before separating for high school. So the regional bragging rights in this one will be big.

Both teams come in hot, too, after winning-cross border battles against South Dakota foes in Zero Week. Newcastle opened its season by pasting Custer, S.D., 48-2; Upton-Sundance throttled Lead-Deadwood, S.D., 56-0.

Upton-Sundance is the defending Class 1A 11-man champion and has hopes for a repeat. Newcastle went 3-6 last year but, as the Custer game showed, the Dogies may be a surprising squad in the 2A East.

At least for one night, the programs will have the chance to renew their long-dormant rivalries — and start a new one in the process.

+++

Other games I’m watching closely this week: Cheyenne South at Cheyenne Central. Both the Bison and the Indians are 1-0; South won its season opener for the first time in program history, and Central became just the second team in Wyoming history to win a game by scoring exactly five points. It’s the only 1-0 vs. 1-0 game in 4A this week. … Green River at Riverton. Both of these teams are eager to prove they can hang with 3A’s best. The winner of this game will have a lot more valid claim — although Riverton won this game last year and Green River played for the 3A title. So go figure. … I’m really curious to see how Lingle and Snake River match up on Saturday in Lingle’s first six-man game since 1956. This might be a game that Snake River wins in Week 1 but Lingle wins in Week 8, after the Doggers gain some six-man experience. … Finally, St. Stephens travels to Rock River, and the Eagles just might get their first varsity victory in three-plus seasons of play. Rock River hired its coach at the end of last week and only has seven players. The Longhorns will still put up a fight, but the potential ingredients are there for an Eagle streak-stopper.

The picks for the week are below, and the teams in bold are the teams I’m predicting will win. For a full season schedule with kickoff times, click here.

Thursday
Interclass
Lusk at Moorcroft
Friday
Class 4A
Cheyenne South at Cheyenne Central
Gillette at Evanston
Natrona at Cheyenne East
Rock Springs at Laramie
Sheridan at Kelly Walsh
Class 3A
Buffalo at Cody
Green River at Riverton
Lander at Worland
Powell at Douglas
Class 2A
Lovell at Big Horn
Pinedale at Glenrock
Thermopolis at Greybull
Class 1A 11-man
Wind River at Tongue River
Class 1A six-man
Dubois at Midwest (at Natrona County HS, Casper)
Hanna at Meeteetse
Normative Services at Burlington
Riverside at Kaycee
St. Stephens at Rock River
Interclass
Big Piney at Shoshoni
Burns at Saratoga
Cokeville at Mountain View
Kemmerer at Rocky Mountain
Lyman at Rawlins
Torrington at Wheatland
Upton-Sundance at Newcastle
Interstate
Mitchell, Neb., at Pine Bluffs
Preston, Idaho, at Star Valley
Southeast at Bayard, Neb.
Sugar-Salem, Idaho, at Jackson
Saturday
Class 1A six-man
Farson at Guernsey-Sunrise
Hulett at Ten Sleep
Lingle at Snake River

Wright has already defeated Wyoming Indian by forfeit this week; the Panthers play the Kelly Walsh sophomores Friday in Casper.

Here’s to hoping I can improve on my Zero Week pick accuracy. It was a rough start. My tallies so far:

Last week: 7-6 (54 percent). This season: 7-6 (54 percent).

One last plea, inspired by a conversation with my dad last week: People in Casper have a cool opportunity to support Natrona County’s smallest high school football team this fall with Midwest scheduled to play its home games “in town.” I sincerely hope the people of Casper will embrace the chance to (1) see some six-man football and learn something new about the game and (2) support a group of students going through a season in difficult circumstances. Midwest’s first game is at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Natrona.

Which teams do YOU think are ready to make a big showing in Week 1? Post a comment, or head over to the Wyoming-football.com Facebook or Twitter, and let’s talk!

–patrick

Midwest alums Cathy and Steve VanNorman hooked me up with some more Midwest game films from the early 1980s, including the first two Class 1A state championship games from 1983 and 1984. Score! I’ve added these games to my YouTube playlist of archived Midwest football game films:

1980 vs. Big Horn
1983 vs. Guernsey-Sunrise
1983 vs. Cokeville (1A state championship game)
1984 vs. Big Horn
1984 vs. Tongue River
1984 vs. Moorcroft
1984 vs. Burlington (1A semifinal)
1984 vs. Cokeville (1A state championship game)

With the earlier upload of Midwest football game videos, this now makes 92 MHS football games available online.

If you’ve got Wyoming varsity high school football game tapes around that you’d like digitized and posted to YouTube, let me know! I’m happy to help. I love seeing the game in its previous eras.

–patrick

Doug Spriggs will be the football coach in Rock River this year, wyosports.net has reported.

Rock River has had three coaches in the past few weeks, as Terrance Reese resigned in July and new coach Brandon Barba stepped down after the first week of practice.

Spriggs previously coached in Casper and at Riverside, Wyosports’ story said.

–patrick

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