Lusk football coach Matt VandeBossche has stepped down as the Tigers’ coach.

VandeBossche confirmed his resignation in an email to wyoming-football.com on Wednesday.

As Lusk’s coach for the past 10 years, VandeBossche has posted a record of 74-23, including just six losses in the past five years combined. His Lusk teams finished as Class 1A 11-man state runners-up in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014. VandeBossche’s teams reached the playoffs in nine of his 10 years and reached at least the semifinal round in seven of those seasons.

VandeBossche will retain his teaching position and his position as athletic director at Lusk. He said the search for a new coach will begin as soon as possible.

His resignation was first reported by the Casper Star-Tribune.

VandeBossche is the second coach in the state to resign a coaching position this offseason, joining Worland’s Thor Ware.

Update: 2:29 p.m. March 25: Ryan Nelson, a longtime assistant at Lusk under VandeBossche, was named as Lusk’s new head coach shortly after VandeBossche resigned, the Casper Star-Tribune reported.

–patrick

NFF Wyoming Chapter scholar-athlete award winners. Photo courtesy Ernie Over.

NFF Wyoming Chapter scholar-athlete award winners. Photo courtesy Ernie Over.

Cheyenne East’s Tevis Bartlett was named Wyoming’s top scholar-athlete football player at the annual awards banquet for the National Football Foundation’s Wyoming chapter on Saturday.

Bartlett, who will attend the University of Washington for football, won a pair of $1,200 scholarships.

Other scholar-athletes were Lusk’s Martin Fitzwater; Natrona’s Josh Harshman; Cheyenne East’s Chandler Haukup; Mountain View’s Austin Houskeeper; Thermopolis’ Logan Kay; Dubois’ Kurt Leseberg; Big Horn’s Christian Mayer; Cody’s Carter Myers; Cokeville’s Jace Petersen; Guernsey’s Austin Quynn; Powell’s Riley Stringer; and Lusk’s Derick VandeBossche. Keenan Montgomery and Stuart Williams from the University of Wyoming were also honored. Players all won $1,200 scholarships apiece.

Wright’s Michael Yeradi was awarded the group’s scholar-athlete courage award.

Special award winners included:

Greatest University of Wyoming football fans: Ron Leathers, Laramie; Leonard S. “Pete” and Sandy Pedersen, Cheyenne.
Greatest Wyoming high school football fans: Dorothy Fuller, Cody; Virgil Harris, Thermopolis.
Outstanding contribution to amateur football: Jack Nokes, Casper; Bruce Pivic, Rock Springs.
Ox Zellner football official career achievement award: John Rabun, Douglas.
Football coach career achievement award: Tom Rowley, Casper; Randy Weber, Riverton; Robert Linford, Afton.
President’s award for outstanding contribution to the Wyoming Chapter: Trudy McCraken, Laramie.

Speakers included UW coach Craig Bohl and WHSAA Commissioner Ron Laird.

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

–patrick

In a rural state like Wyoming, finding suitable opponents for high school sports teams can sometimes be a challenge.

Schools are often stuck with a difficult conundrum — they have to schedule a team that’s significantly worse (or better) but nearby, or schedule a team of nearly equal talent that’s hours and hours away.

Neither option is preferable. In Wyoming, though, they may be the only options available.

But this isn’t anything new to those born and raised in the Equality State. Long road trips are normal. The average this year was 192 miles, one way, per road trip.

For many years, Wyoming schools opted to stay close to home, even if that meant playing in the occasional 50-0 slaughter.

In the mid-1980s, though, a few far-flung but equally talented schools hit on an idea: Why not just meet halfway?

The idea of a neutral-site game wasn’t new. They were a staple of playoff games, either because schools decided to meet halfway or a host team decided to shift to a larger nearby stadium for a the larger crowd anticipated at a postseason game. And some rivalries got moved to neutral sites — like the Thunder Bowl between Big Horn and Tongue River, which was played at Sheridan off and on for years. And every once in a while, a couple of schools that weren’t too far apart just decided to meet in the middle, like Green River and Superior playing in Rock Springs (which happened in 1936).

But two teams deciding to meet “halfway” to fill a hole in both squads’ regular-season schedules? In the 1980s, this was almost completely new.

And in 1986, it took off. Two of the five neutral-site games that season involved Pine Bluffs, which in back-to-back games played Pinedale and Cokeville at Hanna.

The fad peaked in 1990, when seven neutral-site games were played. However, several schools embraced the neutral-site games and made them nearly annual events.

  • Hulett and Ten Sleep played each other in Buffalo seven times between 1988 and 1999 (and they played in 2000 in Big Horn). Ten Sleep, in fact, played four neutral-site games in just two seasons, 1988 and 1989.
  • Wright also hit the neutral-site bandwagon hard, playing four games in 1990 and 1991 and a fifth in 1992.
  • Gillette played some big out-of-state schools via the neutral site in the 1980s and 1990s: Montrose, Colorado; Hastings, Nebraska; and Oakdale Tartan, Minnesota. Sheridan got neutral-site games against Overland, Colorado, and Lincoln Pius X, Nebraska.

Although neutral-site meetings faded a bit when the WHSAA took over varsity scheduling in 2001, a few schools have revived the trend. Last year, six-man schools Hanna and Hulett met in Midwest in the state’s first true neutral-site football game — the first one where both teams traveled more than an hour to play and was pre-scheduled — since 2010.

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The list below is of the neutral-site midpoint games played since the first in 1923; this list does not include conference or state playoff games, including triangular playoffs; games played at temporary home sites (like Burns had this year while its stadium was under construction); neutral-site games in the same city as one of the teams (like Natrona and East had this year playing at South); or traditional rivalry games at neutral sites (like the Thunder Bowl in Sheridan).

S28/1923 Cheyenne Central 21 Chappell (NE) 3 at Pine Bluffs

O14/1925 Rawlins 0 Lander 13 at Casper

S30/1933 Gebo 12 Ten Sleep 21 at Worland

O3/1936 Green River 6 Superior 27 at Rock Springs

O8/1936 Ten Sleep 63 Fort Washakie 0 at Riverton

O14/1938 Lingle 19 Manville 14 at Lusk

N18/1939 Douglas 0 Midwest 46 at Casper

O4/1940 Jackson 6 Reliance 32 at Rock Springs

O16/1940 Manville 26 Upton 13 at Newcastle

O22/1947 Pine Bluffs 8 Harrisburg (NE) 6 at Albin

O13/1955 Huntley 6 Lingle 35 at Torrington

S25/1964 Guernsey-Sunrise 0 Huntley 34 at Torrington

S5/1969 Shoshoni 20 Dubois 8 at Morton

S24/1982 Byron 0 Cokeville 21 at Lander

A29/1986 Pine Bluffs 14 Pinedale 34 at Hanna

S5/1986 Natrona 7 SLC Highland (UT) 24 at Evanston

S5/1986 Pine Bluffs 20 Cokeville 40 at Hanna

S12/1986 Cody 24 Torrington 6 at Casper

S12/1986 Pinedale 13 Rocky Mountain 24 at Lander

S19/1987 Farson 0 Burlington 46 at Riverton

S25/1987 Pinedale 41 Rocky Mountain 0 at Lander

S3/1988 Kelly Walsh 15 Dickinson (ND) 47 at Spearfish (SD)

S3/1988 Hulett 12 Ten Sleep 46 at Buffalo

S10/1988 Burlington 0 Farson 42 at Shoshoni

S17/1988 Douglas 29 Rock Springs JV 12 at Laramie

O22/1988 Ten Sleep 42 Farson 8 at Shoshoni

S2/1989 Kelly Walsh 22 Dickinson (ND) 28 at Spearfish (SD)

S2/1989 Hulett 0 Ten Sleep 46 at Buffalo

S9/1989 Sheridan 0 Overland (CO) 20 at Douglas

S15/1989 Cokeville 49 Riverside 0 at Shoshoni

S16/1989 Gillette 13 Montrose (CO) 12 at Craig (CO)

21/1989 Farson 32 Ten Sleep 20 at Shoshoni

A31/1990 Wright 6 Tongue River 7 at Gillette

S7/1990 Rocky Mountain 0 Pinedale 6 at Riverton

S7/1990 Lingle 50 Hulett 0 at Lusk

S15/1990 Greybull 22 Wright 6 at Buffalo

S29/1990 Encampment 0 Burlington 21 at Shoshoni

O5/1990 Lyman 26 Greybull 7 at Lander

O13/1990 Wheatland 8 Jackson 25 at Shoshoni

S7/1991 Gillette 36 Hastings (NE) 3 at Sidney, NE

S20/1991 Burns 20 Wright 6 at Lusk

O24/1991 Hulett 32 Ten Sleep 6 at Buffalo

O25/1991 Wind River 41 Wright 24 at Casper

S4/1992 Sundance 6 Rocky Mountain 39 at Dayton

S18/1992 Wright 19 Burns 44 at Guernsey-Sunrise

S3/1993 Wheatland 28 Mountain View 12 at Rawlins

S3/1993 Pine Bluffs 24 Sundance 14 at Lusk

S18/1993 Ten Sleep 6 Hulett 54 at Buffalo

O2/1993 Moorcroft 38 Greybull 12 at Buffalo

O14/1993 Lovell 20 Kemmerer 15 at Shoshoni

S2/1994 Big Piney 18 Greybull 6 at Lander

S3/1994 Sundance 12 Pine Bluffs 42 at Lusk

S9/1994 Kelly Walsh 14 Evanston 42 at Rawlins

O1/1994 Moorcroft 0 Greybull 31 at Buffalo

O14/1994 Kemmerer 28 Lovell 6 at Riverton

S8/1995 Kelly Walsh 7 Evanston 21 at Rawlins

S9/1995 Lincoln Pius X (NE) 27 Sheridan 20 at North Platte (NE)

S15/1995 Rocky Mountain 48 Saratoga 19 at Riverton

O6/1995 Hanna 0 Upton 32 at Lingle

S14/1996 Hulett 18 Ten Sleep 32 at Buffalo

S20/1996 Wheatland 13 Kemmerer 54 at Rawlins

S20/1996 Rocky Mountain 43 Saratoga 12 at Riverton

S6/1997 Big Piney 18 Moorcroft 6 at Casper

S26/1997 Burns 6 Wright 38 at Lusk

O9/1997 Wind River 53 Custer JV (SD) 8 at Wright

S5/1998 Big Piney 34 Moorcroft 0 at Kelly Walsh

S12/1998 Gillette 24 Oakdale Tartan (MN) 7 at Mitchell, SD

S12/1998 Hulett 12 Ten Sleep 8 at Buffalo

S25/1998 Wright 20 Burns 13 at Guernsey

S11/1999 Hulett 46 Ten Sleep 0 at Buffalo

S9/2000 Hulett 20 Ten Sleep 6 at Big Horn

A31/2002 Guernsey-Sunrise 41 Riverside 14 at Casper

O20/2006 Dubois 14 Upton 28 At Casper, NCHS

A25/2007 Gillette 6 Logan (UT) 36 At Ogden UT

A25/2007 Mountain View 12 Logan JV (UT) 39 At Ogden UT

A25/2007 Star Valley 0 Park City (UT) 46 At Ogden UT

A31/2007 Upton 13 Dubois 28 At Casper, NCHS

A30/2008 Gillette 21 Sky View (UT) 55 At Green River

A30/2008 Kelly Walsh 17 Rock Springs 13 At Riverton

S19/2008 Hanna 0 Hulett 63 At Casper (NCHS)

O3/2008 Dubois 7 Upton 38 At Casper (NCHS)

O10/2008 Burns 47 Sundance 6 At Newcastle

S4/2009 Dubois 0 Upton 25 at Casper, NCHS

O3/2009 Southeast 67 Normative Services 8 at Casper, NCHS

S3/2010 Dubois 48 Upton 0 at Casper, NCHS

S17/2010 Douglas 40 Star Valley 6 at Riverton

O2/2010 Normative Services 0 Southeast 56 at Casper, NCHS

S7/2013 Wright 18 Lingle 35 at Douglas

O7/2013 Midwest 50 Hulett 40 at Moorcroft

S12/2014 Moorcroft 8 Tongue River 28 at Sheridan

S13/2014 Hulett 18 Hanna 62 at Midwest

Which of these games seems the most bizarre to you? Which ones would you like to see on the schedule again? Or should all regular-season games be played either as true home/road games? Leave a comment and we can chat about it!

–patrick

A little bit of investigating turned up a pair of games that had somehow eluded me in previous research, and they’re both from Big Piney’s 1955 season:

Added Big Piney’s 86-14 victory against Mountain View on Sept. 30, 1955, in Mountain View.

Added Big Piney’s 45-0 victory against Lyman on Oct. 5, 1955, in Big Piney.

Both games have been updated on all relevant pages.

I also fixed the coach for Big Piney that season — it was Jerry Parker, not Robert Edwards.

The Mountain View game also reset Big Piney’s single-game scoring record and it tied the Punchers’ single-game margin of victory record. It also reset Mountain View’s most points allowed and largest margin of loss records for the school. It’s excusable; the loss to Big Piney was only Mountain View’s second game as a program.

Also, the state basketball tournament scores and all the other relevant info from 2015 has been added to the basketball record listings.

As always, if you have any updates for me, post a comment here!

–patrick

Tonight’s “rematch” between Natrona and Gillette for the 4A boys basketball championship got me thinking about times when the football title game has been repeated for the basketball title.

A quick scan of football and basketball title games showed that tonight’s Natrona-Gillette title game is only the 10th time that two football title-game combatants have met for the basketball championship a few months later.

Here are the other nine “rematches” I found:

2012/13: Powell and Star Valley (Powell won 3A football, Star Valley won 3A basketball)

2008/09: Burlington and Southeast (Southeast won 1A football and basketball)

2005/06: Cheyenne Central and Cheyenne East (Central won 5A football, East won 4A basketball)

1998/99: Gillette and Laramie (Gillette won 4A football and basketball)

1997/98: Lusk and Rocky Mountain (Rocky Mountain won 1A-D1 football and 2A basketball)

1994/95: Burlington and Hulett (Burlington won 1A nine-man football and 1A basketball)

1993/94: Lander and Star Valley (Star Valley won 3A football and basketball)

1992/93: Buffalo and Thermopolis (Thermopolis won 2A football, Buffalo won 3A basketball)

1950/51: Cowley and Hanna (Cowley won six-man football, Hanna won B basketball)

–patrick

With the Class 4A and 3A state basketball tournaments coming up this weekend — brackets here — here’s a quick look at some of the historical precedents that are possible, that are scheduled and that have already happened for the tournament:

Drought: The longest state tournament drought broken this week is by the Worland boys, who are in the state tournament for the first time since 2011.

Streaks: Gillette’s boys and girls continued a pair of current state-best streaks. The Camel girls qualified for the state tournament for the 26th consecutive year, while the boys’ squad qualified for the 28th year in a row. Natrona’s girls qualified for state for the 18th consecutive year, the third-best active streak in the state regardless of gender.

Long-awaited first-round matchups

4A girls: Gillette at Riverton are playing each other at state for the first time since 2002; the other three first-round games are rematches of games played at some point during last year’s state tournament.

4A boys: Natrona and Cheyenne Central are playing against each other at state for the first time since 2004.

3A girls: Lovell and Wheatland are playing each other at state for the first time since 1978.

3A boys: All of the games pit teams that have played each other in the fairly recent past; the longest drought is the one between Powell and Buffalo, who are playing against each other at state for the first time since 2009.

Semifinal potential: The Worland boys have the longest semifinal drought of all boys’ teams playing this week; the Warriors haven’t been to the state semis since 1996.

Gillette’s girls, meanwhile, have one of the state’s most remarkable streaks going into the tournament; the Camels have been to 22 consecutive semifinal rounds at state, having reached the final four every year since 1993. The Gillette boys have made the semis for five straight years, the longest streak of any participating team this weekend.

Title potential: The Worland boys, in addition to having the longest semifinal drought, also have the longest championship drought of any boys’ team playing this week. The Warriors are trying to reach a state title game for the first time since 1966. The Riverton boys are the only team playing this week that doesn’t already have at least one state championship to its credit.

The Riverton girls, meanwhile, haven’t been to a title game since 1989, the longest drought of any girls’ team playing this week. Girls’ teams from Kelly Walsh, Powell, Rawlins and Worland are playing for their first state championships; Powell, Rawlins and Worland are all on the same half of the 3A bracket.

Want to dig deeper? Check out our state basketball tournament score database.

–patrick

The alternate players have been named for the 2015 Wyoming Shrine Bowl. The players chosen will play in the game if one of the players named to the original roster can’t play.

The North squad has named eight of its 12 alternates and will name four other players later. The South has named all 12 of its alternates.

Players include:

NORTH: Cody Ballek, Buffalo; Jorden Schulte, Cody; Jordan Fischer, Gillette; Alex Poole, Meeteetse; Mason Pisciotti, Newcastle; Tucker McKim, Riverside; Cale Horrocks, Rocky Mountain; Logan Kay, Thermopolis.

SOUTH: Paden Wilson, Burns; Nathan Taylor, Cheyenne East; Macen Petersen, Cokeville; Chris Bolinger, Hunter Haman and Haize Weber, Douglas; Austin Quynn, Guernsey-Sunrise; Barry Greenwald, Lingle; Skyler Walker, Lyman; Logan Lupher, Mountain View; Brendan Lloyd, Pinedale; Patrick Carr, Torrington.

The annual all-star football game will be played June 13 in Casper.

–patrick

Updated 12:17 p.m. March 4 to include Walker, whose name was inadvertently left off the original post.

With the Class 2A and 1A state basketball tournaments coming up this weekend — brackets here — here’s a quick look at some of the historical precedents that are possible, that are scheduled and that have already happened for the tournament:

Drought: The longest state tournament drought broken this week is by the Hanna girls, who are in the state tournament for the first time since 2007.

Streaks: Tongue River’s girls qualified for state for the 13th year in a row, the longest active streak among non-4A schools in Wyoming.

Meanwhile, Burlington’s boys qualified for state for the 10th consecutive year, third-longest streak in the state behind 4A schools Gillette and Evanston.

Long-awaited first-round matchups

2A girls: Burns and Thermopolis are meeting at state for the first time; Big Horn and Lyman are meeting at state for the first time since the first state tournament in 1976.

2A boys: Pine Bluffs and Lyman are playing each other at state for the first tine since 1984.

1A girls: Hanna and Encampment, longtime Carbon County rivals, are playing each other at state for the first time.

1A boys: NSI and Burlington are playing each other for the first time at the state tournament; Cokeville and Upton are meeting in the state tournament for the first time since 1962.

Semifinal potential: If NSI can upset Burlington in the first round of the 1A boys tournament, the Wolves will reach the state semifinals for the first time in program history. Only two other active boys programs — Cheyenne South and Glendo — have never made it to the semifinal round.

Burlington’s boys, meanwhile, if they can beat NSI, will qualify for the semifinals for the 10th year in a row, the longest streak in the state regardless of classification. Snake River will need to beat Kaycee to qualify for the semis for the seventh straight year; the Rattlers’ six straight semis qualifications is second only to Burlington statewide.

Title potential: Two participants in the 1A girls bracket, Hanna and St. Stephens, are among 13 girls programs that have never played in a state championship game. Six boys programs have never played in a title game; of those, NSI is the only one playing this weekend.

Want to dig deeper? Check out our state basketball tournament score database.

–patrick

For more than seven decades, Wyoming state football championship games were played on the field of the higher-seeded team.

The system worked — teams displayed all kinds of hometown pride, stadiums filled and trophies went to deserving teams.

Usually.

But every once in a while, the location of the game helped shape its outcome, and the team that won the title wasn’t the better team.

From 1990 — when Wyoming expanded to five classifications for football — until 2008, home teams went 65-30 in state championship games. That means those home teams had a .684 winning percentage, far above the usual 56-percent rate at which home teams win.

That changed in 2009, when the Wyoming High School Activities Association made the decision to move all state football title games to the University of Wyoming’s War Memorial Stadium in Laramie.

While the decision has had both supporters and detractors, there’s no denying that moving the title games to Laramie has given Wyoming high school teams, for lack of a better term, a more even playing field for state championship contests.

Since 2009, the team that would have been the home team has gone 18-12 (.600) in the Laramie title games.

While detractors of the title games’ move to Laramie have valid points about community pride, Laramie’s sketchy November weather and a mostly empty War Memorial Stadium, even they can’t overlook that the move to Laramie has produced state title games that turn out more representative champions than in previous years.

By employing a neutral site for championship games, Wyoming is more likely to have its best teams win state titles.

This is most evident at classifications below the big schools in Class 4A.

In Class 4A, where teams play a round-robin regular-season schedule to determine playoff seeding, higher-seeded teams are 6-0 in title games. In the state’s other four classifications, where the honor of “hosting” the title game is often determined by an annual rotation between the East and West conferences and is not necessarily awarded to the team with the better record, higher-seeded teams are actually 11-13 (.458) in Laramie — 3-3 in every classification except six-man, where higher-seeded teams are 2-4.

The neutral site has a clear ability to help eliminate any advantage given rather than earned. Maybe that’s why, in part, the Wyoming High School Activities Association voted last week to continue Laramie’s privilege of hosting state championship games through 2017.

+++

Another myth that’s been dispelled in the first six years of title games in Laramie: The team that is closer to Laramie has no advantage over the team that has to travel further to reach Laramie. Since 2009, the team that’s closer to Laramie has gone 15-15 in the title game. Apparently, distance doesn’t matter if both teams are traveling.

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Here’s the breakdown of each state football championship game in Laramie since 2009. The team listed first is the winning team. Game winners are indicated by location (closer or further from Laramie than opponent) and seeding (higher or lower than opponent).

2014
4A: CLOSER/HIGHER Natrona-Gillette
3A: FURTHER/HIGHER Cody-Douglas
2A: CLOSER/HIGHER Mountain View-Big Horn
1A11: FURTHER/LOWER Cokeville-Lusk
1A6: CLOSER/LOWER Guernsey-Dubois

2013
4A: CLOSER/HIGHER East-Natrona
3A: FURTHER/LOWER Powell-Douglas
2A: FURTHER/LOWER Big Horn-Mountain View
1A11: FURTHER/HIGHER Cokeville-Lusk
1A6: FURTHER/LOWER Meeteetse-Midwest

2012
4A: CLOSER/HIGHER Natrona-Gillette
3A: CLOSER/HIGHER Powell-Star Valley
2A: CLOSER/HIGHER Lyman-Lovell
1A11: CLOSER/LOWER Southeast-Lusk
1A6: FURTHER/LOWER Dubois-Snake River

2011
4A: FURTHER/HIGHER Sheridan-East
3A: FURTHER/LOWER Powell-Douglas
2A: FURTHER/HIGHER Lovell-Lyman
1A11: FURTHER/LOWER Cokeville-Southeast
1A6: CLOSER/LOWER Snake River-Dubois

2010
4A: CLOSER/HIGHER Natrona-Sheridan
3A: CLOSER/HIGHER Douglas-Buffalo
2A: CLOSER/LOWER Thermopolis-Big Horn
1A11: FURTHER/HIGHER Cokeville-Lusk
1A6: FURTHER/HIGHER Snake River-Hanna

2009
4A: FURTHER/HIGHER Sheridan-Central
3A: CLOSER/LOWER Douglas-Cody
2A: FURTHER/LOWER Thermopolis-Glenrock
1A11: CLOSER/HIGHER Southeast-Lingle
1A6: CLOSER/HIGHER Guernsey-Kaycee

Of the games listed here, which game won by a lower seed is the most likely to have been won by the higher seed if it had been played on the higher seed’s home field? Post your thoughts about that question, or about anything related to what’s shown here, with a comment. I’d love to chat about this fun stuff!

–patrick

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