When the Wyoming High School Activities Association handed nonconference football scheduling back to individual schools, reducing travel was the goal.

The schools came through on that end — big time.

A breakdown of the 2017 schedule shows travel is going to be down. WAY down.

The average Wyoming high school football road game trip this year, one way, is going to be more than 20 miles shorter than it was last year. And the average nonconference trip, one way, is going to be 70 miles shorter than it was last year. Even one-way mileage for conference games is down:

  • Average one-way trip for all games: 175 miles, down from 196 last year
  • Average one-way trip for conference games: 183 miles, down from 189 last year
  • Average one-way trip for nonconference games: 147 miles, down from 217 last year

Meanwhile, the median one-way nonconference trip this season will be 137 miles; the median one-way trip in 2016 was 221 miles.

In part, this is because some of the absurdly long trips teams made have also been pared down. In 2016, seven games had one-way trips of more than 400 miles; in 2017, only one game (the ridiculous Torrington-Star Valley game) is more than 400 miles one way.

Also, shorter trips are more numerous. Last season, 24 games had one-way trips of 50 miles or less; this year, 34 such games are scheduled.

A big reason for the mileage reduction is schools’ ability to schedule sub-varsity games in nonconference weeks. Five schools, so far, have taken advantage of that opportunity, and more may do so before the season starts in August.

Another thing that helped reduce the longest trips was Evanston’s move from 4A to 3A, which eliminated the Red Devils’ trips to, or their opponents’ trips from, Gillette and Sheridan — traditionally the longest trips on the Wyoming high school football schedule regardless of classification.

The reduced travel comes with tradeoffs, though.

Namely, eight schools don’t have full schedules. Rocky Mountain, Tongue River, Powell, Evanston, Cody and Wright all tentatively have bye weeks scheduled; Rocky Mountain actually has two open weeks, back-to-back, right now. Also, Riverton and Douglas have a scrimmage scheduled for the opening week of the season, which is far from ideal. No one had a scheduled open week last season.

We’ve seen that competitive equity scheduling increased travel but decreased competitiveness. Those trends continued in both 2015 and 2016. Maybe 2017 will bring us closer games AND reduced travel. For eight programs, though, the tradeoff might be one (or more) Friday night on the couch instead of on the field.

How mileage was calculated: Using Google Maps directions, distances from city to city were calculated for each game of the 2016 season and each scheduled game for the 2017 season. Scrimmages and jamborees were not considered. Games involving Upton-Sundance used the closer of the two schools for road games and the actual site for home games. Travel went “through the park” via Yellowstone when possible. Google Maps’ suggestions were used unless a shorter mileage option that did not significantly add to travel time (15 minutes or more) was available.

–patrick

Big Horn’s Nolan McCafferty was named the state’s to football scholar-athlete in Wyoming for 2016 by the Wyoming Chapter of the National Football Foundation.

McCafferty was one of 12 finalists for this award, which was handed out Saturday in Laramie.

McCafferty was awarded $2,400 in total scholarships; each of the other finalists earned $1,200.

–patrick

The Wyoming Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame will recognize its scholar-athlete choices for 2016 in a ceremony Saturday in Laramie.

Each of the finalists earns a $1,200 scholarship, while the top scholar-athlete earns an additional $1,200 scholarship. The top scholar-athlete will represent Wyoming at the regional level.

This year’s finalists are Dalton Abarr from Meeteetse; Garrett Cooper from Lingle; Garrett Vezain from Rocky Mountain; Brennan Kutterer from Tongue River; Nolan McCafferty and Andrew Ratty from Big Horn; Ty Larson from Douglas; T.J. Abraham from Powell; McCabe Smith from Star Valley; Lane Tucker from Gillette; Coy Steel from Sheridan; and Caleb Price from Cheyenne South.

The Wyoming Chapter will also hand out several special awards, including:

Keith and Joyce Bloom Courage Award: Skyler Dillon-Bennett, Tongue River
Perseverance Award: Zach Hoopman, Douglas
Greatest UW Football Fan: Jim Moore, Douglas; Tim Roberts, Worland
Greatest High School Football Fan: Wes Grussendorf, Casper; Rusty Jones, Wright
Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football: John Cundall; John Pine, Sheridan
Ox Zellner Official Career Achievement Award: Keith Gemar, Gillette
Junior High Coaching Career Achievement Award: Gary Jahnke, Gillette
High School Football Career Coaching Achievement Award: Gary Glenn, Douglas; Brick Cegelski, Cheyenne

Previous award winners are available at the group’s website.

–patrick

Jim Craig provided some valuable help for some games involving Powell and some all-state help. Here’s the updates I made thanks to his help:

Added two games to Powell’s 1945 season: a 6-6 tie with Columbus, Mont., on Sept. 8 in Powell, and an 18-0 victory against Laurel on Sept. 14-15 in Laurel (added to missing games list because an exact date couldn’t be pinned down).

Added Powell’s 7-2 loss to Laurel, Mont., on Sept. 12, 1947, in Laurel.

Corrected the score for Lovell’s 14-6 victory against Powell on Sept. 23, 1949; I had the score reversed, with Powell winning.

Added the first name and corrected the team for Laramie’s Dick Cox, a second-team all-state choice in 1951; he was previously listed with Rawlins, which was incorrect.

(Short track aside: He also found the last missing state track champion on my lists, the 1979 girls Class C 4×1 champion — Ten Sleep. Their title and time was added to the list.)

Through some of my own research, I also made these updates:

Found the location for the game between Meeteetse and Joliet, Mont., on Oct. 14, 2002; it was in Joliet.

Found the score for Deaver-Frannie’s 49-6 loss to the Billings West, Mont., JV on Oct. 26, 1962.

All the updates have been made on all the relevant pages.

–patrick

Note: This post was originally written and published on Oct. 10, 2007, at the now-defunct Sports Goulash site for the Casper Star-Tribune and trib.com.

Friday’s game between Natrona County and Sheridan is the renewal of a rivalry that dates back nearly a century. And for a time, the two teams battled not only for a victory, but for the “Queen Marie Trophy.”

What was it? Well, here is this excerpt from the Nov. 11, 1943 Casper Tribune-Herald (an old cousin of the current Casper Star-Tribune):

“Several years ago when the local citizens were looking around for some trophy as a stake for the annual Armistice Day games the late Queen Marie of Rumania happened to be passing through the city. She was asked to autograph a football which she graciously did and since that time the autographed pigskin has been the highly prized award of the winner of the annual Armistice Day football game between Casper and Sheridan.

“The somewhat faded pigskin is carried back and forth between the two cities as a token of their victories. It is believed to be the only such trophy in the state where two teams annually battle for the possession, and it has become a tradition.

“The honored pigskin has changed hands often. The football games played between the Broncs and the Mustangs are the fiercest fought games of the season.”

Then there’s this, from a preview of the 1944 Casper-Sheridan game in the Star-Herald:

“The team which won three years in successions was to have permanent possession. Casper won permanent possession but later put the trophy up again and they are still playing for the football.”

The question now becomes: Where is this football now? Is it in the trophy case at either NCHS or Sheridan? Is it on a dusty mantlepiece in someone’s home, or tucked away in a forgotten box in an attic? Or was the football overlooked and carelessly thrown away several decades ago?

Personally, I have no idea. Google “Queen Marie Trophy” and nothing comes up. If I’m not mistaken, if you look in the trophy cases at both Natrona County and Sheridan, you’ll have similar success.

If the football can be found between now and Friday, and put on display during the contest, I’m sure both schools would be more than happy to renew this tradition.

For now, though, it’s a matter of finding it.

–patrick

Thanks to Jim Craig’s continued help in the archives, I was able to make these updates:

Added St. Mary’s 42-0 victory against Burns in Burns on Sept. 17, 1943.

Noted that Sundance’s 15-0 victory against Wright on Sept. 13, 1991, was later forfeited to Wright. This forfeit explains why Upton, Sundance and Wright had to have a triangular playoff at the end of the 1991 season. This also changed Wright’s longest losing streak.

Added Reliance’s 7-6 victory against the Green River JV on Oct. 26, 1938, in Green River.

Added Sunrise’s 32-26 victory against Manville on Oct. 14, 1949, in Lance Creek. This game result was originally listed for a game played on Oct. 5. An Oct. 5 game was also played, and Sunrise won that game, but a score for that game has yet to be pinned down (added to the missing games list due to that).

Added the location and date for Wind River’s 33-19 victory against Burlington on Oct. 23, 1990, in Burlington.

Added the location of Mountain View’s 19-12 loss to the Jackson JV on Sept. 11, 1981 — it was in Jackson.

Added the location of Meeteetse’s 36-6 loss to the Cody JV on Oct. 8, 1995; it was in Meeteetse.

Added numerous updates to the track and field champions listings. Times/marks and first and last names have been nailed down for every champion except for one… and we’re working on finding that one as we speak!

I also updated the 1990 2A all-state team to put Bill Holthues on the right team. He played for Thermopolis, not Big Piney. Thanks to Heath Hayes for catching that!

I also fixed Rawlins’ all-time playoff record: It’s 4-10, not 3-10.

All the updates have been made on all the relevant pages.

–patrick

The rosters for the 2017 Shrine Bowl are set.

Shrine Bowl Executive Director John Cundall announced the rosters via a release this morning.

The South team will include:

BURNS: Klayton Clark.
CHEYENNE CENTRAL: Eric Lundgren.
CHEYENNE EAST: Nate Logemann, Jacob Ross.
CHEYENNE SOUTH: Keyshawn Farmer, Caleb Price.
DOUGLAS: Eric Jamerman, Ty Larson, Gage Pitt.
EVANSTON: Jesse Barker, Kaleb Fackrell, Malek Wagstaff.
FARSON: Ed Barlow.
GLENROCK: Logan Downs, Cooper Fargen, Garrett Schwindt.
GREEN RIVER: Hunter Spartz, Blake Waite.
LARAMIE: Conner Beeston, Carless Looney.
LYMAN: Preston Quinney.
MOUNTAIN VIEW: Dane Covington, Blake Murray.
PINE BLUFFS: Ruger Lewis, Kyle Steger.
PINEDALE: Taylor Jensen.
RAWLINS: Colton Garlington, J.D. Smith.
ROCK SPRINGS: Matt Fowler, Oaklan Jenkins, Josh Tepera.
SOUTHEAST: Jacob Schmidt.
STAR VALLEY: Collin McGinley, McCabe Smith.
TORRINGTON: Logan Harris.
WHEATLAND: Poston Anderson.
Head coach: Will Gray, Pine Bluffs. Assistant coaches: Brian Anderson, Pine Bluffs; Marvin Applequist, Farson; Mitch Espeland, Pinedale; Pat Fackrell, Evanston; Corey Wheeler, Rawlins.
Certified trainer: Emily Yorges, Torrington.
Student managers/trainers: Kari Goold, Douglas; Jordan Miller, Cheyenne East; MaKayla Nelson, Evanston.

The North team will include:

BIG HORN: Colton Bates, Colton Williams.
CODY: Brennan Blaylock, Matt Lovera.
GILLETTE: Parker Long, Alex Lumbardy, Madden Pikula, Bryer Sims, Lane Tucker.
GREYBULL: Elias Ewen, Dawson Forcella, Dawson McEwan.
KELLY WALSH: Tanner Bloom, Sam Marsh, Hunter Wright.
LOVELL: Jaret Collins.
MEETEETSE: Dalton Abarr.
NATRONA: Trey Cimburek, Tom Robitaille.
POWELL: T.J. Abraham, Zach Easum, Mason Olsen.
RIVERTON: Teron Doebele, Brady Fullerton, Kyren Higgs, Hunter Lee.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN: Cole Simmons, Garrett Vezain.
SHERIDAN: Drew Boedecker, Andrew Boint.
SHOSHONI: J.J. Pingetzer, Jason Thoren.
TONGUE RIVER: Brennan Kutterer, Mason Schroder.
UPTON-SUNDANCE: John Sullivan, Hunter Woodard.
Head coach: John Scott, Tongue River. Assistant coaches: Jason Gill, Gillette; Matt Jensen, Meeteetse; Pat Patterson, Riverton; Vic Wilkerson, Gillette; Marty Wrage, Greybull.
Certified trainer: Nicole Ackerman, Newcastle.
Student managers/trainers: Kyler Delancey, Gillette; Caylyn Dygon, Tongue River; Teghn Kobza, Tongue River.

The game will be June 10 at Natrona County High School in Casper. The North leads the series 22-18-3 and won last year’s game 41-26.

Post updated 10:04 a.m. Feb. 13 to add a name accidentally omitted from original post.

–patrick

The rosters are set for the Six-man Shootout all-star game between Wyoming’s best and Nebraska’s best small-school football players.

The game will be June 24 in Kaycee. Kaycee’s Lee Kremers will be the head coach, with Farson’s Trip Applequist, Midwest’s Ken Swieter and Kaycee’s Tony Rouse working as assistants.

The Wyoming roster includes:

BURLINGTON: Dallin Christiansen; Austin Nicholson.
DUBOIS: Brock Baker.
FARSON: Ryan Curtis; Thomas Rezzonico.
GUERNSEY-SUNRISE: Seth Frederick; Lucas Osmera; Cody Quynn.
HANNA: Jarrett Neimark.
HULETT: Bodhi Penning.
KAYCEE: Reed Stafford.
LINGLE: Garrett Cooper; Dallen Fleenor.
MEETEETSE: Dalton Abarr; Cole Burbank.
MIDWEST: Dustin Bogart; Nick Ray.
ROCK RIVER: Kolten Moss.

Nebraska’s roster includes Cody-Kilgore’s Cade Cody, Augie Galloway, Jared Schmit and Jayden Schmit; Deshler’s Jon Banks; Elwood’s Jake Gydesen; McPherson County’s Colby Crow; Riverside’s Ryan Langan and Noah Valasek; Silver Lake’s Skyler Ericson; South Platte’s Kyle Odenbaugh and Will Spencer; Spalding Academy’s Zach Diessner; St. Edward’s Brayden Olson, Keenan Rasmussen and Evan Roberts; and Walthill’s Grayden Hollowell and Tyler Lovejoy. Coaches will be Riverside’s Joe Imus (head coach), Spalding Academy’s Troy Kleffner, Cody-Kilgore’s Landon Miller and Silver Lake’s Duane Arntt.

The game is in its sixth year. Wyoming holds a 3-2 series lead, but Nebraska won last year’s game 59-32.

–patrick

Big Horn moves from Class 2A to Class 1A 11-man in 2017 — and that should make everyone in Class 1A 11-man more than a little scared.

The Rams were state champs at the 2A level last season despite being the smallest school in the classification. Next year, with Thunder Basin coming into 4A and causing a cascade of class changes, the Rams will move into 1A 11-man.

If Big Horn wins a title in 2017 after changing classifications, they’ll be just the seventh team — and the second program — to do so. The Rams would join Cokeville and Southeast as the only programs to have won back-to-back state titles despite switching classifications from one year to the next.

In all, 11 teams in state history have moved classifications after winning a state title; Big Horn will make the 12th. Yet only the Panthers and Cyclones won a state title the next year.

Cokeville has pulled off the feat three times, winning the 1988 1A title and the 1989 2A title; the 1989 2A title and the 1990 1A 11-man title; and the 1994 1A 11-man title and the 1995 1A Division II title. Two of those came near the 1989 season, when Cokeville opted up to 2A after 1A became a nine-man-only division for that season, prior to the state’s move from four to five classifications in 1990.

Southeast, meanwhile, has done this three times, too: The Cyclones won the 2000 1A Division II title and the 2001 2A title, the 2006 2A and the 2007 1A title, and the 2008 1A and the 2009 1A 11-man title.

In those six cases, three championships came when moving up a class and three titles came when moving down, like Big Horn will do next year.

In addition to the Cokeville and Southeast changes noted, six other teams tried, and failed, to repeat as state champion despite changing classifications after a title-winning season. Five of those six teams moved up in classification after winning a title. Teams that failed to repeat after changing include Burlington in 1995 (1A nine-man to 1A Division II); Cowley in 1956 (B six-man to B 11-man); Green River in 1977 (A to AA); Lingle in 1991 (1A nine-man to 1A 11-man); Tongue River in 1957 (B six-man to B eight-man); and Worland in 1960 (A to AA).

(Note: Changes in name classification alone are not considered here; for example, Big Piney won the 2000 2A title and the 2001 3A title, but that was a case of a classification renaming than a classification change. Additionally, champions from shift years 1982 and 1989, where the state went from three to four and four to five classifications, respectively, are not noted here unless the team actually moved in classification in more than just name, as Cokeville did in 1989 to 1990.)

–patrick

(Post updated 10:14 a.m. Feb. 8, 2017, to note Southeast’s 2006-07 repeat at different classifications.)

The state championship games are 10 months away. Seems like the perfect time to predict who might win those games, right?

Here’s a peek at the 2017 top fives for each classification of Wyoming high school football, way sooner than is advisable to do so:

4A
1. Sheridan: The two-time defending 4A champions return three all-state players (seniors Blayne Baker, Kyle Custis and Sam Smart) and tons of program momentum. The Broncs will need to find a new quarterback and rebuild big chunks of their line, but the precedent is there for Sheridan to do just that.
2. Natrona: No doubt, the most improved team in 4A last year was Natrona. The Mustangs relied a lot on juniors last year, and it showed early but paid off late — and will pay off big this year, as the Mustangs’ four returning all-state players (Mason Gallegos, Dan Slack, Brett Brenton and Riley Shepperson) is best among all 4A schools.
3. Gillette: With four first-team all-conference returning players, the Camels should be in good shape to challenge again. The big question hanging over the team in the offseason is how much talent will defect to Thunder Basin, putting into question something as simple as who’s back and who’s not.
4. Laramie: The Plainsmen are easy to overlook after losing a strong senior class, but they bring back three first-team all-conference players (seniors Nate Burman and Garrett Worden and junior Jason Upton) and are in great shape to notch their first winning season in almost two decades.
5. Rock Springs: This year is the test for the Tigers: Do they have a system that works, or did the players in that system the last couple years take it beyond expectations? With just a pair of first-team all-conference players back (senior linemen Bryan Mattinson and Will Petrovich), it’s time to see if the program can sustain itself.
Dark horse: Kelly Walsh. The Trojans had a nice breakthrough season in 2016; it’s easy to forget that KW hosted a playoff game last year. That should help build some momentum for a team that brings back only a pair of first-team all-conference picks.

3A
1. Star Valley: The Braves have some holes to fill but bring back three all-state performers (seniors Josh Dawson, Cosmo Morgan and Noah Hutchinson), tied for the most in 3A. And then there’s the momentum of back-to-back championships.
2. Torrington: Six of the Trailblazers’ seven all-conference picks from a year ago are back. Yes, really. No team is in a better position to make an immediate run at a state title than Torrington; the key will be if it can continue to grow as the season (and this summer) goes along.
3. Powell: The Panthers were young but talented last year; they’ll have back three all-state picks from a team that finished as state runners-up. Seniors Brooks Asher and Max Gallagher will help make the Panthers a tough team to stop.
4. Green River: The Wolves will return four all-conference players, led by senior Cole White, Green River’s lone returning all-state selection. Quarterback Chance Hofer and running back Candon Croft could form one of 3A’s best 1-2 backfield punches in 2017; watch out.
5. Douglas: Riverton and Buffalo are lurking, but the Bearcats develop young talent as well as any team in the state, regardless of class. With just one of the 11 all-conference picks from last year returning this year, they’ll need to do so quickly.
Dark horse: Riverton. How many 3-6 teams actually outscore their opponents during the season? Riverton did just that in 2016. And the Wolverines get back a pair of offensive threats and defensive cornerstones in seniors Brodie Roden and Jaren Draper.

2A
1. Glenrock: Believe it or not, no team in 2A brings back more than one all-state player this year. But the Herders also have back five all-conference players — highest in 2A — from a team that was undefeated until the semis.
2. Greybull: The Buffs lost a ton of seniors from last year’s state runner-up squad but return a pair of key all-conference players in senior Riley Hill and junior Zack Keisel.
3. Mountain View: The Buffalos’ depth will be a question, as seven all-conference players are gone, but Mountain View does return all-conference picks Jason Stoddard and Colby Rees and should be a contender again.
4. Lyman: The three all-conference players the Eagles return is second only to Big Piney in the West Conference. Beaudee Bluemel may be one of 2A’s most versatile players, while linemen Wesley Eyre and Dryden Menck will provide stability.
5. Wheatland: The Bulldogs get back a pair of all-conference players, and QB Trevor Vaughn and wideout Zac Gunter will form an explosive pairing. If the line can develop, the Bulldogs might be a surprise.
Dark horse: Big Piney. The Punchers were 1-7 last year but return all four of their all-conference players (most in the West Conference) after losing only a handful of talent to graduation.

1A 11-man
1. Big Horn: Last year’s 2A champ is the early favorite after moving down to 1A 11-man thanks to three returning all-state players. And Kade Eisele, Seth Mullinax and Kade VanDyken are all juniors — setting up the Rams for a title run not only this year but next year, too.
2. Cokeville: The Panthers are loaded. They return four of their five all-state players (Hunter Cheney, Rick Nate, Antheny Petersen and Cordell Viehweig will all be seniors) and six of seven all-conference choices. Cokeville’s stiffest challenge to a West Conference title will be injuries.
3. Pine Bluffs: Repeating as champs will be tough in a loaded 1A 11-man this year, but the Hornets are up to the challenge. They return three all-state choices with seniors Haize and Wyatt Fornstrom and junior Hunter Jeffres, and they’ll be buoyed by the confidence that comes from winning the school’s first state championship.
4. Upton-Sundance: Don’t write off the Patriots, who only return one all-state choice in Dawson Butts but have lost just twice in the past two years. There’s some rebuilding to do, but the Patriots’ pedigree for success runs deep.
5. Pick ’em: Any number of teams could fill this spot: Rocky Mountain, Saratoga, Shoshoni, Tongue River, Southeast… but all of them will rely on unproven talent to make a dent past the regular season.
Dark horse: Again, pick ’em. This will be a year of change in 1A 11-man. The four favorites are clear. Everything else looks muddy, muddy, muddy.

1A six-man
1. Kaycee: The defending champs ride a 20-game winning streak into 2017, and with class-best tallies in returning all-state players (four) and all-conference players (five), the Buckaroos are favorites to win it all again.
2. Farson: The Pronghorns were breakthrough challengers in the West and with three returning all-state players, they figure to challenge again. Juniors Lain Mitchelson and Clancy Gines and senior Cruz Lucero will put the Pronghorns in prime position to win the West for the second year in a row.
3. Meeteetse: The Longhorns return a trio of all-conference selections in seniors Braenn Smith and Josh Graybill and junior Kirwin Johnson. Meeteetse won’t be overlooked, but it will have work to do to catch up to Farson.
4. Snake River: The Rattlers get back one of six-man’s top players in J.D. Corson and two other returning all-conference selections in Kameron Evans and Thomas Duncan. But they’ll have to adjust to a new coach, which always takes time.
5. Guernsey-Sunrise: The most likely challenger to Kaycee in the East, the Vikings return three all-conference selections. Seniors Garrett Oneyear and Gage Koetmann and junior Dylan Rose will keep the Vikings in contention.
Dark horse: Burlington. The Huskies proved they could hang with six-man’s best last year. However, they only get back one all-conference player, and have some work to do to prove they can remain one of the West’s tougher teams to beat.

What do you think? Who’s poised for a breakthrough in 2017? Who’s falling off the radar too soon? Post a comment and let’s work through what the 2017 season may bring us!

–patrick

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