Some short notes about updates to stadiums across Wyoming:

* Thermopolis’ school board is in the process of renaming its football stadium LeRoy Hayes Field. Hayes’ son Heath said via email that the field dedication will be at halftime of the Bobcats’ Sept. 20 game against Wright. LeRoy Hayes, who died in 2013, was a longtime coach in the Thermopolis school system.

* Moorcroft was set to install the lights that formerly shined at Okie Blanchard Stadium in Cheyenne, but delays in the take-down of the stadium in Cheyenne pushed back Moorcroft’s light installation until next year, Wolves coach Dusty Petz said via email. All of Moorcroft’s home game times have been pushed to daylight hours.

* Southeast’s installation of artificial turf was also delayed. Coach Mark Bullington said via email that the Cyclones will have their artificial surface installed next year and it will be ready in time for the 2015 season.

* As previously noted, four schools (Kemmerer, Glenrock, Cheyenne East and Big Piney) added turf over the summer, while Kemmerer and Big Horn added lights.

–patrick

Annual playoff brackets for each classification have been added to Wyoming-football.com.

For example, check out last year’s playoff brackets. Or the brackets from 1983. Or 1933.

Brackets include scores for every game. Home teams are placed on top of brackets; however, neutral-site locations of quarterfinal and semifinal games are not noted on the brackets. Bracket pages for every year in which a playoff that consisted of more than just a championship game have been posted.

Links to every season’s playoff brackets are posted on the results by year page.

If you spot any errors or problems, let me know by posting a comment here or emailing me at pschmiedt@yahoo.com.

–patrick

For schools a half-hour apart, Cokeville and Bear Lake, Idaho, do not have much football history between them.

With good reason.

At 314 students, Bear Lake is the largest Class 2A school in Idaho; the Bears moved to 2A this year after spending decades as a Class 3A school. Even as a small 3A school, though, Bear Lake was always a tough team to beat. I worked one football season in Idaho and had to make picks of the high school games, and I learned one phrase quickly: “Always take the Lake, unless they’re playing Snake.” (Snake River, a consistent 3A power, was always Bear Lake’s nemesis in Idaho’s 3A District V.)

Cokeville, meanwhile, enrolls 74 students, and is the smallest 11-man football school in Wyoming.

That size disparity was, in part, why the Bears rarely played the Panthers, even though the two schools are only 32 miles apart. In fact, Bear Lake (and its predecessor in name, Montpelier High) have only played each other three times.

And guess who has the advantage? The little guys.

Cokeville is 2-1 all-time against Bear Lake/Montpelier. Montpelier beat Cokeville 13-0 in 1934, but Cokeville beat Montpelier 12-6 in 1969 and Bear Lake 22-0 in 1982.

Take note, though: Cokeville tends to play Bear Lake/Montpelier only when the Panthers have loaded teams.

For example, the Panthers’ 1969 squad (with quarterback Todd Dayton) is considered one of the school’s best. Cokeville went 8-0 that season, winning five of those games by at least 50 points on their way to a mythical Class B championship. The Panthers’ two closest games were against Byron in the season opener (20-18) and against Montpelier in the season finale (12-6). While the first seven victories helped Cokeville prove its strength, the eight victory against the big guys up the road was the one that cemented the squad as legendary in the Cokeville coffee klatsches.

And in 1982, the Panthers finished one point away from the playoffs. That year, Cokeville lost 8-7 to eventual Class B champ Lyman in the regular-season finale. The two actually tied for the conference championship, but Lyman’s head-to-head victory earned it the Southwest’s lone Class B playoff spot. The next year, Cokeville moved to the newly created Class 1A and ran off a string of eight championships in nine years.

Now, in 2014, Cokeville and Bear Lake play again, thanks in part to Zero Week’s freedom for Wyoming small schools and Bear Lake’s schedule changes due to its move to 2A.

Cokeville has won three Class 1A 11-man championships the past four years and has one of the largest senior classes in recent memory. Like 1969 and 1982, these Panthers could be one of the best teams in school history.

After all, Bear Lake only shows up on the schedule when Cokeville is better than usual.

Here are the Zero Week picks, with projected winners in bold:

Friday
Class 4A
Cheyenne Central at Natrona
Cheyenne East at Rock Springs
Evanston at Cheyenne South
Kelly Walsh at Gillette
Laramie at Sheridan
Class 3A
Riverton at Worland
Class 1A six-man
Midwest at Meeteetse
Interstate
Jackson at Teton, Idaho
Lyman at Altamont, Utah
Newcastle at Custer, S.D.
Powell at Miles City, Mont.
Saturday
Interstate
Bridgeport, Neb., at Southeast
Cody at Laurel, Mont.
Cokeville at Bear Lake, Idaho

The rest of the Zero Week schedule includes these scrimmages and jamborees:

Friday
Big Piney at Pinedale
Big Horn vs. Lander, at Casper (Kelly Walsh)

Greybull, Shoshoni at Thermopolis
Kemmerer, Riverside, Tongue River at Riverton
Wheatland at Torrington
Saturday
Burns at Lusk
Dubois, Farson, Hanna at Lander
Glenrock at Rawlins
Green River vs. Douglas, at Laramie
Guernsey, Ten Sleep at Kaycee
Lingle vs. Wind River, at Kelly Walsh (this scrimmage was canceled)
Lovell at Buffalo
Rock River at Snake River

Saratoga at Pine Bluffs
Upton-Sundance at Wright

For a full schedule, including kickoff times, click here.

+++++++++

As usual, Zero Week picks for all classifications except 4A come with a disclaimer about what’s a “game” and counted in the standings and what’s not. Remember, I count different than the WHSAA does. For the record, here are the criteria I use to judge whether or not to call an event a “game,” and therefore list it in the standings (and, eventually, as part of the team record on this site):

1. Was the game played with four 12-minute quarters with normal timing rules?

2. Were officials used? And were normal rules of play instituted for the game?

3. Was score kept?

In short, if you don’t want it to count, don’t keep score….

+++++++++

The best part about Zero Week is that we finally get to stop talking and start playing. It feels nice, doesn’t it? Any games drawing your interest? Any picks you think I got wrong? Any scrimmages or jamborees that could be telling despite not counting? Post a comment and let’s talk about it.

–patrick

Class 4A has been the most predictable classification in the state each of the past four years. Four schools (Sheridan, Gillette, Cheyenne East and Natrona) have had their run of the classification. Together the past four years, they’re 104-8 against the other six schools in the classification (Natrona and Sheridan are 27-1, Gillette 26-2 and East 24-4), including 16-0 in the playoffs.

The past four regular seasons have been little more than preludes to semifinal rounds that have been as consistent as Old Faithful. So is 2014 the year that the Federal Trade Commission raids Wyoming’s 4A playoff system, invoking the Sherman Antitrust Act? Well…

Four questions to answer

The fab four again, right? Yes. Gillette, Sheridan, Cheyenne East and Natrona have comprised Class 4A’s semifinal round of the playoffs for the past four years. Pencil in five. As for the order of those four schools? That’s anyone’s guess. The parity at the top of the classification remains strong, and no one of those four teams is the clear-cut favorite.

How will new coaches shake up the classification? Enough to be noticeable. With former Wyoming Cowboy Drew Severn taking over for longtime coach Brick Cegelski at Cheyenne Central and with David Hastings coming from the Utah prep ranks to coach Rock Springs, an upset or two is entirely possible, but it will probably be a couple years before these schools can consistently hang with 4A’s best.

What program will be the biggest surprise this season? Laramie. Year 2 of the Chuck Syverson rebuilding project is underway. Year 1 brought a late-season upset of Kelly Walsh; the Plainsmen also played tough against other solid programs. Remember, this is a program that has only had two first-team all-state selections the past six years. Continued success could help Laramie continue to pull upsets.

Where is Tevis Bartlett going to play college football? Wherever he wants. Now leave him alone (see below).

Four players to watch

Tevis Bartlett, Cheyenne East. Everyone understands Bartlett’s offensive prowess — he ran for 1,400 yards, threw for 1,521 and was in on 32 touchdowns last year. But he was also East’s top tackler a year ago, and he’s as competitive as they come. No wonder he’s drawing interest from top-tier college programs.

Tayton Montgomery, Cheyenne Central. No receiver in the state, regardless of classification, had as many receiving yards as Montgomery did last season (976). With a new coach, Montgomery’s numbers may fluctuate, but his importance to the Indians’ offensive attack remains steadfast.

Logan Wilson, Natrona. Few players are as versatile as Wilson, who was a first-team all-state selection at four positions — wide receiver, defensive back, kicker and punter. He led NC in receiving, scoring and interceptions last season and will be a key piece of the Mustangs’ championship chase.

Talon Nelson, Gillette. The Camels have some rebuilding to do on offense, but Nelson has the No. 1 receiver position on lockdown. He led the team in catches (22) and receiving yards (527) a year ago. Do the math, and it’s clear: He averaged an unreal 24 yards per catch. That’s a threat Gillette needs to break in a new quarterback.

Four key games

Natrona at Cheyenne East, Sept. 5. The rematch of last year’s title game comes early — just one week after the season openers. It’s the first high-profile game of the year, and both teams will be eager to prove themselves.

Natrona at Gillette; Sheridan at Cheyenne East, Sept. 19. This is the only week when the top four teams face each other on the same week. The toughest choice will be choosing which one to attend.

Gillette at Sheridan, Oct. 3. The Energy Bowl is always a big game. It’s even bigger when both schools figure to be a part of the championship race.

Cheyenne East at Gillette, Oct. 23. This regular-season finale might be the biggest game of the season. Well, the biggest game of the regular season.

Predicted order of finish

Cheyenne East, Natrona, Gillette, Sheridan, Cheyenne Central, Evanston, Laramie, Rock Springs, Kelly Walsh, Cheyenne South.

Way-too-early title-game score prediction

Cheyenne East 22, Gillette 21. Tevis Bartlett caps his high-school career with the game-winning two-point conversion. OK, maybe that’s too specific for a top-loaded classification where anything can happen.

And that’s 4A. Boring old 4A. Or is this the year we see some change? Are we bound for another predictable semifinal round? Or is 2014 the year we see someone else break the monotony of 4A football? Post a comment and let me know what you’re thinking.

–patrick

Todd Ghormley will be the football coach at Wyoming Indian this fall, the Casper Star-Tribune’s Jack Nowlin reported on Twitter.

Ghormley takes over for Taylor Her Many Horses, who was the head coach the past two seasons. The Chiefs went 2-14 under Her Many Horses, finishing 0-8 in 11-man in 2012 and 2-6 in six-man last year. The Chiefs are back in Class 1A 11-man this fall.

Ghormley is also Wyoming Indian’s wrestling coach and was previously an assistant football coach with the Chiefs, too. He’s a graduate of South Dakota Mines and was an assistant football coach for the school in 2006.

Practice for Class 1A 11-man football teams started Monday.

To see the list of all coaching changes statewide, click here.

–patrick

Normally, when a team wins 27 consecutive games and three state championships, it gains a New York Yankees-type following: Just as many people want to see that team fail as succeed.

But not Powell. Not this year. Not with this offseason.

Truth is always stranger, more more heart-rending and more amazing than fiction. Powell’s 2014 season will likely be memorable for a variety of reasons, but after what the Panthers have faced this offseason, it’s safe to say no one is rooting to see the Panthers fail this autumn. Except maybe the 11 other schools in Class 3A, who all want their chance to dethrone the Panthers.

Four questions to answer

Can Powell break the state record for consecutive victories? Definitely — but it’s no given. Powell has won 27 consecutive games entering this season. The state record for consecutive victories is 34 (Laramie, 1959-63) and the record for consecutive unbeaten games is 36 (Worland, 1953-56). Powell does face some challenges to that streak, though — namely Miles City, Mont., in a Zero Week game, Douglas in Week 1 and an always-tough rivalry game against Cody in Week 8.

Who has the best chance to keep Powell from four-peating? Douglas or Cody. The Bearcats — losers to Powell in the 2011 and 2013 Class 3A title games — return only two starters on offense but have one of the classification’s stoutest defenses. Cody returns a stable of talented and athletic players. And they both have the chance to get film on the Panthers prior to the playoffs.

Is 3A still top-heavy? Definitely. The favorites are clear; the contenders are clear; the teams that still need development are clear. And the five teams anticipated to be on the top of their conferences — Douglas and Riverton in the East and Powell, Cody and Star Valley in the West — all play each other in the nonconference season. Expect a lot of playoff rematches come the semifinals and state championship.

OK, so you just turned 3A into a five-team race. Which squad is most likely to make you look like a fool? Torrington. The Trailblazers have slowly been gaining respect from 3A coaches statewide and have what may be the most athletic group of players that fourth-year coach Mark Lenhardt has ever had. This might be Torrington’s year to shift from developing to developed.

Four players to watch

Riley Stringer, Powell. Already a two-time all-state selection — and the Casper Star-Tribune’s statewide defensive player of the year last year as a junior — Stringer is one of the best linemen in the state. He is Powell’s leading returning tackler and finished with 15.5 tackles for loss a year ago. Look for more of the same.

Bay Parks, Douglas. Parks is Douglas’ leading returning tackler and led the Bearcats with six sacks a year ago. His influence will be a big part of a young Bearcat squad that has to replace several starters.

Carter Myers, CodyMyers is a beast on both sides of the ball. He led Cody in rushing yards (1,023) and scoring (103 points) on offense and also led the Broncs in defensive points. If Cody is going to challenge Powell out west, it will be in big part because of Myers.

Theo Dawson, Jackson. Dawson burst on the statewide scene as a sophomore by leading the Broncs, the best rushing team in Class 3A year ago, in rushing yards (924) despite missing a big chunk of the season to injury. As a junior, he could help the Broncs mess up the dreams of some unsuspecting West Conference foes if they’re not ready for him.

Four key games

Powell at Douglas, Sept. 5. The rematch of the 2011 and 2013 Class 3A championship game is important for both squads; the winner of this Week 1 matchup will gain confidence — and a target on its back. Never mind Powell’s whole winning streak thing…

Cody at Star Valley, Sept. 26. The first West Conference game of the season for both teams will help quickly clarify which team has the best chance to challenge Powell’s supremacy.

Douglas at Riverton, Oct. 17. A senior-laden Wolverines squad could be Douglas’ biggest challenge in the East Conference. And Riverton draws the game at home.

Cody at Powell, Oct. 24. If Powell reaches this point in the season without a loss, this game will be for the state’s unbeaten streak record. But it could also be critical for playoff seeding and maybe a conference championship, too.

Predicted order of finish

East Conference: Douglas, Riverton, Torrington, Lander, Buffalo, Rawlins. West Conference: Powell, Cody, Star Valley, Jackson, Worland, Green River.

Way-too-early title-game score prediction

Powell 20, Cody 18. There’s enough parity at the top of 3A that a Powell four-peat is not a given. Don’t be surprised if this year’s state champ has a couple losses during the regular season.

Is Powell destined for another undefeated season? Can Cody or Douglas stop them? What other schools have the goods to hang with the best in the class? Let’s start the conversation with your comments.

–patrick

I posted a quick update to Burns’ 1970 season. Turns out that Burns’ home games that year were played in Pine Bluffs for some reason. Those games — against Goshen Hole, Glenrock, Hanna and Saratoga — have been updated to correct the location.

–patrick

Throughout its history, the Cokeville Panther football program has been among Wyoming’s best. Longtime coach Todd Dayton, though, took Cokeville’s success to unparalleled heights.

Cokeville had an all-time record of 126-96-10 before Dayton arrived as head coach in 1980. The Panthers’ pre-Dayton winning percentage of .565 would have it just outside the top 10 for active Wyoming programs.

Then Dayton arrived and turned the program into a juggernaut. Dayton’s career record at Cokeville is 282-52 — a .844 winning percentage — and Cokeville’s record of 408-148-10 gives it a winning percentage 0f .730, which is the best among active Wyoming programs by a wide margin.

Consider this: Natrona, which is second to Cokeville in active programs with a .664 winning percentage, would have to win 211 consecutive games to reach Cokeville’s .730 winning percentage.

Consistency is what has given Cokeville its success. In fact, the Panthers are trying to notch their 27th consecutive winning season and their 29th consecutive non-losing season in 2014. Both streaks are the longest in state history.

Through 2013 season, here are Wyoming’s longest streaks of winning, non-losing, non-winning and losing seasons. The asterisk (*) denotes a current streak:

Top 10 winning (better than .500)
1. Cokeville, 26, 1988-2013*
2. Southeast, 16, 1997-2012
3. Glenrock, 15, 1963-77
4t. Byron, 14, 1963-76
4t. Natrona, 14, 1932-45
6t. Douglas, 13, 1948-60
6t. Lusk, 13, 1991-2003
6t. Natrona, 13, 1993-2005
9t. Laramie, 12, 1954-65
9t. Star Valley, 12, 1961-72
9t. Torrington, 12, 1947-58

Top 10 non-losing (.500 or better)
1. Cokeville, 28, 1986-2013*
2. Glenrock, 24, 1956-79
3. Byron, 23, 1954-76
4. Torrington, 22, 1937-58
5. Natrona, 19, 1927-45
6t. Southeast, 17, 1997-2013*
6t. Torrington, 17, 1966-82
8t. Mountain View, 16, 1991-2006
8t. Natrona, 16, 1993-2008
10. Pine Bluffs, 15, 1959-73

Top 10 losing (worse than .500)
1. Newcastle, 22, 1984-2005
2. Sundance, 14, 1941-54
3t. Laramie, 13, 2001-13*
3t. Rawlins, 13, 2001-13*
3t. Wyoming Indian, 13, 1983-95
6t. Burns, 12, 1941-73 (gaps, 1945 and 1947-66)
6t. St. Mary’s, 12, 1960-71
6t. Rawlins, 12, 1987-98
9t. Big Horn, 11, 1959-69
9t. Manville, 11, 1930-41 (gap 1933)
9t. Worland Institute, 11, 1951-61

Top 10 non-winning (.500 or worse)
1. Wyoming Indian, 24, 1983-2006
2. Newcastle, 22, 1984-2005
3. Torrington, 18, 1996-2013*
4. Thermopolis, 17, 1973-89
5. Kelly Walsh, 15, 1987-2001
6t. Basin, 14, 1922-35
6t. Cheyenne East, 14, 1986-99
6t. Greybull, 14, 1963-76
6t. Sundance, 14, 1941-54
10t. Farson, 13, 1940-53 (gap 1952)
10t. Laramie, 13, 2001-13*
10t. Meeteetse, 13, 1941-54 (gap 1943)
10t. Rawlins, 13, 2001-13*

These streaks have been added to the streaks page.

–patrick

Class 2A, due in part to its large number of schools and its consistent turnover of seniors, always seems to have parity. This is especially true at the top of the classification — Class 2A’s playoffs have been among the most exciting the past few years. Will 2014 bring more of the same? Probably….

Four questions to answer

Can Big Horn repeat as state champion? Can they? Yes. Will they? That’s not as clear. The Rams return four of their seven all-state selections from a year ago but have to replace quarterback Connor McCafferty, who was the Casper Star-Tribune’s Super 25 offensive player of the year last year. He won’t be easily replaced, but the Rams have talent in spades everywhere else.

So is Big Horn the favorite in the 2A this year? Well… it depends on who you ask. Big Horn is solid, but so is Mountain View, and Lovell, and Lyman, and Newcastle, and Thermopolis, and…. Class 2A’s parity has been its calling card for several years, but more teams than ever are in the conversation as championship contenders.

Who’s everyone forgetting about? Lovell. It sounds silly to say that a team that started 9-0 and returns five of its nine all-conference selections is overlooked, but the Bulldogs’ success has been overshadowed by the fact that they didn’t make it to Laramie last year. They shouldn’t be: Lovell’s deep and experienced, and it only lost six seniors from last year’s team. Watch out.

Will Thermopolis’ move to the East Conference change anything? Not really. The Bobcats are back in the East after two years in the West Conference. The change isn’t that big to Thermopolis – the only team that’s new to the Bobcats is Wheatland. The two schools haven’t played each other since 1986 but will open East Conference play by facing each other.

Four (OK, five) players to watch

Christian Mayer, Big Horn. When you score five touchdowns in a state championship game, you draw attention. That’s the case for Mayer, who might be Class 2A’s most dangerous wide receiver and return specialist.

Austin Houskeeper and Cade Covington, Mountain View. If the Buffalos return to the state championship game, it will be on the backs of these two-time all-state picks. Covington was Mountain View’s leading rusher last year and Houskeeper had more than 2,100 yards of all-purpose offense — and they both finished in Mountain View’s top three in defensive points.

Tyler Cornwell, ThermopolisClass 2A had six running backs break 1,000 yards a year ago, but Cornwell is the only one who’s back. Just a junior, Cornwell ran for 1,012 yards a year ago and will run behind an experienced offensive line to boot.

Calder Forcella, Greybull. It’s no surprise the dynamic quarterback of the Buffaloes led his team by throwing for 1,717 yards and 14 touchdowns a year ago. But he also led his team in rushing yards (624) and rushing touchdowns (nine). With a new coach, his numbers might not be as high, but his responsibilities will be just as critical.

Four key games

Big Horn at Lovell, Sept. 5. These two teams have had pretty epic semifinal games the past two years. Now we don’t have to wait until the playoffs to see them face each other.

Lovell at Mountain View, Sept. 26. This game pits the team that won the West Conference title last year against the team that represented the West in the state championship game. And both teams have the goods to be contenders again this year. This one is big.

Mountain View at Lyman, Oct. 24. Mountain View and Lovell are the clear contenders in the West, but don’t forget about Lyman. The Eagles could be one of the classification’s top teams, and the Bridger Valley Bowl on the regular season’s final day could be for a conference title.

Newcastle at Thermopolis, Oct. 24. Both teams have the potential to challenge Big Horn for supremacy in the East Conference. If things go right for both teams, this regular-season finale should be for way more than just bragging rights.

Predicted order of finish

East Conference: Big Horn, Newcastle, Thermopolis, Wheatland, Burns, Glenrock, Wright. West Conference: Mountain View, Lovell, Lyman, Greybull, Pinedale, Big Piney, Kemmerer.

Way-too-early title-game score prediction

Big Horn 34, Mountain View 28. If the Rams can find someone as consistent as Connor McCafferty under center, they have the weapons to repeat.

What do you think? Which teams have the best chance of keeping Big Horn from repeating? What teams will be better than we think? Post a comment to kickstart the 2A conversation.

Next Tuesday: Class 3A.

–patrick

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