In a state as sparsely populated as Wyoming, this situation is bound to happen: You beat a team once, only to play that same team again in the playoffs.

For Equality State football programs, the playoff rematch is fairly common: In the 982 playoff games the state has had since 1931, Wyoming high school football teams have played rematches of regular-season games 375 times. So 38.2 percent of all playoff games have been rematches of regular-season games.

Of course, the advantage in those rematch games goes to the team that won in the regular season. But quite often, that regular-season success actually hasn’t paid off in the rematch that really counts. In fact, in those 375 playoff rematches, the team that won in the regular season lost 78 times — or in more than 20 percent of the games.

+++++

Last year’s playoffs had four games where the regular-season loser was the postseason winner. Two of those four were in the Class 4A semifinals: East avenged its loss to Sheridan, as did Natrona against Gillette. Natrona also beat Kelly Walsh in the 4A quarterfinals after losing in the regular season. The last one is in on a technicality but counts all the same, as Midwest beat Farson in the 1A six-man quarterfinals after having to forfeit its regular-season game to the Pronghorns.

Recently, Wyoming’s playoffs have had a few teams that have avenged those regular-season losses in the playoffs. The 2012 and 2011 playoffs had three reversals of fortune; 2010 had four; 2009 had five; 2008 had only one. And there’s no real pattern. The recent high came in 2005, when six playoff game rematches ended with the regular-season loser winning, but that scenario didn’t happen at all one year prior in the 2004 playoffs.

In the bulk of those “reversal” games, the regular-season game was close. Even so, almost no margin of victory in the regular season translates into a favorites’ position in the postseason. In 37 of the 78 games won by the regular-season loser, the regular-season game was decided by eight points or less. Do the math, and you can see that 41 times, a team lost its playoff rematch after winning in the regular season by eight or more points.

Even teams that win by relatively large margins in the regular season aren’t safe in the playoffs. The biggest turnarounds, ranked by the size of the margin of victory in the regular season, are:

34 points (2006): Mountain View beat Glenrock 41-7 in the regular season; Glenrock won the rematch 7-0 in the 3A quarterfinals.

35 points (2010): Big Horn beat Thermopolis 42-7 in the regular season, but Thermopolis won the rematch 13-9 in the 2A championship game.

42 points (2010): Evanston beat Cheyenne East 42-0 in the regular season; East won the rematch 30-20 in the 4A quarterfinals just two weeks later.

+++

Meanwhile, close games in the regular season are no guarantees of close games in the playoffs. Last year’s NC-KW rematch was one of the extreme examples of that. The biggest turnarounds, ranked by the size of the margin of victory in the postseason:

33 points (2013): Kelly Walsh beat Natrona in the Oil Bowl last year 21-20 but lost in the rematch 33-0 in the 4A quarterfinals.

34 points (2012): Lusk beat Southeast 7-6 in the regular season; Southeast won the rematch 40-6 in the 1A 11-man championship in Laramie.

35 points (2002): Mountain View beat Glenrock 28-19 in the regular season but lost the rematch 35-0 in the 3A title game.

+++

Finally, sometimes, the regular-season game is a perfect indicator of what will happen in the postseason. The “Why did we do this, again?” award for exact same scores in both the regular-season game and the rematch (and, in all three cases, both games were in the same place, too) goes to:

Southeast and Upton: In 2008, Southeast beat Upton 34-0 both in the regular season and in the 1A quarterfinals more than a month later; both games were in Yoder.

Riverton and Cody: In 2004, Riverton beat Cody 48-7 both in the regular season and in the 5A quarterfinals three weeks later; both games were in Riverton.

Pine Bluffs and Guernsey-Sunrise: In 1991, Pine Bluffs beat Guernsey-Sunrise 20-14 both in the regular season and in the 1A semifinals almost two months later; both games were in Guernsey.

In short: Regular-season success only gives you about an 80 percent chance of winning that rematch in the postseason. Beware overconfidence, and respect the history. This happens more than you might think.

+++

This year, half of the 20 quarterfinal playoff games are rematches — all four Class 4A games, two games in 3A (Powell-Riverton and Star Valley-Douglas), three games in 2A (all except Thermopolis-Mountain View), and one game in 1A six-man (Hanna-Snake River). If statistical tradition holds, two of the 10 teams that won in the regular season will lose in the rematch….

On to the picks, where statistical tradition is ignored, but I still choose a few road teams to win first-round games. Projected winners in bold, like I’ve done for years, but hey, this might be your first visit here and you’re learning how I do things. So there you go:

Friday
Class 4A
(8) Evanston at (1) Natrona: The Mustangs haven’t lost yet and beat Evanston 48-6 about a month ago. NC should keep rolling. First playoff meeting since the 1995 quarterfinals.
(5) Cheyenne Central at (4) Sheridan: Cheyenne Central’s last-minute victory against Evanston last week was the Indians’ second straight victory. But that momentum doesn’t mean much to the Broncs, who are 2-2 in their last four but still the favorites. First playoff meeting since the 2009 title game.
(7) Kelly Walsh at (2) Cheyenne East: KW is 1-4 in its past five games, and the one game the Trojans won, they won by one point. And even though KW played East tough in the regular season, the T-Birds should win at home. Throw in the twist that this is the first playoff game at the new Okie, and East will be sure to protect the home turf. First playoff meeting.
(6) Laramie at (3) Gillette: Laramie’s steady improvement hasn’t gone unnoticed. The Plainsmen could be pesky. Then again…. Nah. Gillette beat Laramie two weeks ago. The 4A hierarchy sustains itself. First playoff meeting since the 2000 4A title game.
Class 3A
(4E) Rawlins at (1W) Cody: Rawlins’ turnaround under first-year coach Corey Wheeler has been fun to watch. A team so mired in losing deserves to have some success. However, Cody has not-so-quietly emerged as the team to beat from the West Conference. First playoff meeting.
(3W) Powell at (2E) Riverton: This one is brutal. Riverton beat Powell 20-14 at Wolverine Stadium on Sept. 19. I like what the Wolverines have done and I like their chances. But it’s so hard to ignore what Powell has done the past three years. The Panthers know how to win in the playoffs. Ugh… OK. Wolverines. First playoff meeting since the 2010 quarterfinals. (BTW, Riverton was the last team to beat Powell in the playoffs in that 2010 meeting.)
(4W) Star Valley at (1E) Douglas: The Braves are the best 2-6 team in the state. Douglas is still a notch or two above that, though. The Bearcats’ run through the East Conference was really impressive, and I think that momentum continues deep into the playoffs. Rematch of a semifinal playoff game from last year.
(3E) Torrington at (2W) Jackson: These two schools have never faced each other in football prior to this game. They’re both greatly improved and have both the momentum and the ability to go deep in the playoffs. If it’s close, though, you take the team at home — not the team that’s traveling 400-some miles one way to play. First meeting.
Class 2A
(4E) Thermopolis at (1W) Mountain View: This one might be closer than it appears; Mountain View overcame its only loss with style, but Thermopolis has been quietly consistent. And we all remember what Thermop did as a 4-seed in last year’s playoffs. Right, Burns? Rematch of a semifinal game from a year ago.
(3W) Greybull at (2E) Newcastle: This might be the toughest playoff game to choose. Greybull has made great strides this season and were impressive in knocking off Lovell last week, and they’re a better team than the one that lost to Newcastle by 20 earlier this year. I still like the Dogies at home, though, in a close one. First playoff meeting since the 2010 quarterfinals.
(4W) Lovell at (1E) Big Horn: This rivalry has been fun to watch develop the past three years. This time, though, the unbeaten Rams have the decided advantage, in part due to the 25-0 victory Big Horn put on Lovell in Week 1. Third consecutive year they’ve met in the playoffs after semifinal showdowns in 2012 and 2013.
(3E) Wheatland at (2W) Lyman: Remember back in Week 1? When Wheatland went all the way across the state and beat Lyman 13-0 on the Eagles’ home field? So does everyone else who will step on that same field just shy of two months later. Just like the other 2-3 2A game, this one’s really tough to choose, but I’ll stick with the team that won this game the first time around. Rematch of a 2012 quarterfinal game.
Class 1A 11-man
(3E) Upton-Sundance at (2W) Rocky Mountain: Rocky Mountain’s most impressive victory of the season was probably the one the Grizzlies put up last week against Burlington. The Griz clearly aren’t the team that lost to Tongue River in Week 1. Then again, Upton-Sundance’s most impressive victory of the season was probably the one they put up last week against Southeast. I think the Patriots get the program’s first playoff victory. First playoff meeting.
(4E) Tongue River at (1W) Cokeville: Watching Tongue River’s continuous improvement has been fun to watch this year. Watching Cokeville’s domination of a classification for three decades has been fun, too. Just the second meeting between these programs; the first was in the 1956 six-man state title game.
(3W) Shoshoni at (2E) Lingle: Something lit a fire under Shoshoni after starting 0-3, and the Wranglers have won five in a row. Lingle, though, has lost only to Lusk and presents a strong challenge to the Wranglers’ momentum. This one will be fun to watch. First playoff meeting.
Class 1A six-man
(4E) Midwest at (1W) Dubois: Since losing to Farson in Week 3, Dubois has been on a tear. The West was full of parity this year, but the Rams are the top seed from that conference for a reason. Fourth consecutive playoff meeting after semifinal games the past three years.
(3W) Meeteetse at (2E) Kaycee: This one will be fun. I honestly don’t know who to pick — the Longhorns, the defending champs, or the Buckaroos, who are probably the odds-on favorites to be the 2015 champs? Again, this one will be fun. Rematch of a quarterfinal game from last year.
(4W) Farson at (1E) Guernsey-Sunrise: Farson deserved better than this for the fantastic season it’s had. Unfortunately for the Pronghorns, they draw the top-ranked Vikings in the first round. First playoff meeting since the 2009 quarterfinals.
(3E) Hanna at (2W) Snake River: Hanna’s kind of in the same boat as Farson: Great season. A couple tough losses. Better than you think. Capable of giving opponent a good game. Still the underdogs. In this case, though, Snake’s already beaten Hanna once this year, and it wasn’t neighborly (76-44 in Week 1). First playoff meeting since the 2010 title game.
Saturday
Class 1A 11-man
(4W) Riverside at (1E) Lusk: Riverside had to win a triangular playoff game against Wind River just to make it to the postseason. Lusk is undefeated, got to rest up with a Week 8 bye and is playing at home. Advantage Tigers. Rematch of a quarterfinal game from a year ago, a game Lusk won by 68.

Last week: 27-5 (84 percent). This season: 220-53 (81 percent).

For a full season schedule, including kickoff times for this week’s games, click here.

The first week of the playoffs is usually pretty predictable. What team do you think is best poised to pull an upset? Which road teams have the ability to keep their seasons rolling? Which favorites should be booking rooms in Laramie? Comment below and let’s chat about it.

–patrick

The Wyoming High School Activities Association has set kickoff times for the quarterfinal playoff games, as noted on its website:

Edited 12:57 p.m. Monday to reflect errors in 1A 11-man kick times; edited 6:50 p.m. Tuesday to reflect the result of the 1A 11-man triangular playoff.

Friday, Oct. 31
Class 4A
(8) Evanston at (1) Natrona, 5 p.m.
(5) Cheyenne Central at (4) Sheridan, 6 p.m.
(7) Kelly Walsh at (2) Cheyenne East, 7 p.m.
(6) Laramie at (3) Gillette, 6 p.m.

Class 3A
(4W) Star Valley at (1E) Douglas, 6 p.m.
(3E) Torrington at (2W) Jackson, 7 p.m.
(3W) Powell at (2E) Riverton, 6 p.m.
(4E) Rawlins at (1W) Cody, 7 p.m.

Class 2A
(4E) Thermopolis at (1W) Mountain View, 2 p.m.
(3W) Greybull at (2E) Newcastle, 6 p.m.
(3E) Wheatland at (2W) Lyman, 2 p.m.
(4W) Lovell at (1E) Big Horn, 6 p.m.

Class 1A 11-man
(3E) Upton-Sundance at (2W) Rocky Mountain, 6 p.m.
(3W) Shoshoni at (2E) Lingle, 6 p.m.
(4E) Tongue River at (1W) Cokeville, 1 p.m.

Class 1A six-man
(4W) Farson at (1E) Guernsey-Sunrise, 7 p.m.
(3E) Hanna at (2W) Snake River, 2 p.m.
(3W) Meeteetse at (2E) Kaycee, 2 p.m.
(4E) Midwest at (1W) Dubois, 2 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 1
Class 1A 11-man
(4W) Riverside at (1E) Lusk, 1 p.m.

–patrick

As the 2014 season ends for teams throughout the next few weeks, I will begin updating the site with the results of the season. The updates will be reflected on some pages and not on others. I will ask for your patience as I work on updating all the pages on the site the next few weeks.

–patrick

Official brackets and game times will be posted by the WHSAA on its website.

Saturday: Updated to reflect the results of the 4A coin flip for the 2-3-4 seeds.

Class 4A
(8) Evanston at (1) Natrona
(5) Cheyenne Central at (4) Sheridan
(7) Kelly Walsh at (2) Cheyenne East
(6) Laramie at (3) Gillette

Class 3A
(4W) Star Valley at (1E) Douglas
(3E) Torrington at (2W) Jackson
(3W) Powell at (2E) Riverton
(4E) Rawlins at (1W) Cody

Class 2A
(4E) Thermopolis at (1W) Mountain View
(3W) Greybull at (2E) Newcastle
(3E) Wheatland at (2W) Lyman
(4W) Lovell at (1E) Big Horn

Class 1A 11-man
(4W) Burlington/Riverside/Wind River at (1E) Lusk
(3E) Upton-Sundance at (2W) Rocky Mountain
(3W) Shoshoni at (2E) Lingle
(4E) Tongue River at (1W) Cokeville
Note: A triangular playoff Tuesday in Thermopolis will break the tie for the 4W seed.

Class 1A six-man
(4W) Farson at (1E) Guernsey-Sunrise
(3E) Hanna at (2W) Snake River
(3W) Meeteetse at (2E) Kaycee
(4E) Midwest at (1W) Dubois

–patrick

With 23 games affecting playoff qualification and seeding, Friday night will be busy for Wyoming high school football teams.

All the work may not be done by the end of the last game on Friday, though.

Depending on how this week’s games come out, we could be left hanging Saturday morning waiting on the results of two triangular playoffs and three coin flips — and, just maybe, a WHSAA ruling on how to break a five-team tie.

In all, 23 of the 32 games this weekend could affect playoff seeding: all five 4A games, three of the six 3A games, five of the seven 2A games, six of the seven 1A 11-man games and four of the seven games involving 1A six-man teams.

However, 30 of the 40 playoff spots up for grabs have been claimed. Another 14 schools have already been eliminated from playoff contention, leaving 19 teams chasing the remaining 10 playoff spots.

Even with all that, only the Upton-Sundance/Southeast game provides a “winner in-loser out” scenario. A variety of other teams could qualify with a victory or miss the postseason with a loss, but no other squads in the state face the clear-cut win and in-lose and out dichotomy Upton-Sundance and Southeast have in their game.

All that’s left for some conferences is seeding. The eight squads for the 3A playoffs, for example, are set; what’s not set is seeding. The Rawlins-Torrington game will give clarity to the East seedings — the winner will be No. 3, the loser No. 4 — to go with Douglas’ guaranteed top seed and Riverton’s sealed No. 2 seed. The 3A West is messier, where the four squads of Cody, Powell, Jackson and Star Valley are all in, but seeding won’t be set until after Friday’s games, or later if there ends up being a three-way tie that must be settled by a coin flip.

A similar scenario exists in the 2A East, where Big Horn, Newcastle, Wheatland and Thermopolis are playing for seeding but might need a coin flip to sort it all out. Also, the 1A six-man West’s seeds will be settled on the field on Friday when the Farson-Snake River games settles the conference’s four seeds, one way or another, which will be divvied out to the Pronghorns and Rattlers as well as Dubois and Meeteetse.

That leaves five conferences — 4A, 2A West, 1A 11-man East and West and 1A six-man East — where games can influence not only seeding but qualification, as well. Class 4A is a mess, as a potential five-way tie could happen between Cheyenne Central, Cheyenne South, Evanston, Laramie and Kelly Walsh given the right circumstances. The WHSAA handbook lists no guidelines for breaking a five-team tie.

The 2A West is much simpler: Lovell has the inside track to the conference’s last seed, but Big Piney could sneak in with a victory and a loss by Lovell.

The two 1A 11-man conferences look similar — set in the top halves, messy in the bottom halves. The top two seeds in each conference, with Lusk and Lingle in the East and Cokeville and Rocky Mountain in the West, are already set. The chase for the final two spots in both conferences is among four teams. (Southeast, Moorcroft, Upton-Sundance and Southeast are playing for the final two spots in the East, while the West’s final two spots are also up for grabs among Burlington, Riverside, Shoshoni and Wind River.) The only potential for a triangular playoff, though, is in the West, where if Cokeville, Rocky Mountain and Shoshoni win their respective games, then Burlington, Riverside and Wind River will meet in a triangular for the final playoff spot.

The 1A six-man East Conference also has potential for a triangular playoff, but only if NSI beats Midwest and Hulett beats Rock River. In that circumstance, NSI, Midwest and Hulett would meet in a triangular with one playoff spot available. Midwest has the advantage heading into the final week, needing only to beat NSI to reach the playoffs.

Clear?

Don’t worry if all the scenarios are a little overwhelming. As straightforward as seeding is supposed to be, we may not be done by the time the regular season is done, anyway.

Other stuff for the week:

The toughest games of the week to pick: Laramie/Kelly Walsh, Rawlins/Torrington, Big Piney/Pinedale, Greybull/Lovell, Upton-Sundance/Southeast, Farson/Snake River. Week 8 is loaded with a ton of potential thrillers. In the bulk of these picks, I just went with the home team and called it good. …

Nothing but pride on the line in the Saratoga-Wyoming Indian and the St. Stephens-Ten Sleep games. The four squads have zero combined victories, but they’ve all got the chance to end the season with a victory. …

The best playoff bracket will be Class 3A’s. Just sayin’. …

Here are my picks for the final week of the regular season, with projected winners, as usual, in bold:

Week 8
Thursday
Class 3A
Riverton at Lander
Friday
Class 4A
Cheyenne East at Gillette
Evanston at Cheyenne Central
Laramie at Kelly Walsh
Natrona at Rock Springs
Sheridan at Cheyenne South
Class 3A
Buffalo at Douglas
Cody at Powell
Rawlins at Torrington
Star Valley at Jackson
Worland at Green River
Class 2A
Big Piney at Pinedale
Glenrock at Kemmerer
Greybull at Lovell
Mountain View at Lyman
Newcastle at Thermopolis
Wheatland at Big Horn
Wright at Burns (at Pine Bluffs)
Class 1A 11-man
Burlington at Rocky Mountain
Cokeville at Wind River
Lingle at Moorcroft
Pine Bluffs at Tongue River
Riverside at Shoshoni
Saratoga at Wyoming Indian
Upton-Sundance at Southeast
Class 1A six-man
Farson at Snake River
Guernsey-Sunrise at Meeteetse
Hulett at Rock River
Kaycee at Hanna
NSI at Midwest
Interclass
Dubois at Natrona sophs
Saturday
Class 1A six-man
St. Stephens at Ten Sleep
Open: Lusk.

Last week: 27-5 (84 percent). This season: 193-48 (80 percent).

For a full season schedule, including kickoff times for this week’s games, click here.

The final week of the regular season is here! Are you ready for it? What game strikes you as the biggest of the bunch? Post a comment and let’s chat.

–patrick

This is a preliminary look at the playoff scenarios for each team in the state entering Week 8. Games for Week 8 are listed here.

Saturday update: The 1A six-man East scenarios are updated to reflect Saturday’s results.

Class 4A
Natrona
: In. No. 1 seed.
Gillette
: In. No. 2 seed with victory. No. 3 seed with loss and Cheyenne South victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (coin flip to break) with loss and Sheridan victory.
Sheridan
: In. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (coin flip to break) with victory and Cheyenne East victory. No. 3 seed Gillette victory, regardless of victory or loss. No. 4 seed with loss and Cheyenne East victory. 
Cheyenne East: In. No. 2 seed with victory and Cheyenne South victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (coin flip to break) with victory and Sheridan victory. No. 4 seed with loss.
Cheyenne Central, Cheyenne South, Evanston, Kelly Walsh, Laramie, Rock Springs
: A lot of possibilities. They’re outlined here, to the best of my knowledge: 

Sheridan beats South CC KW Lar Eva CS RS
Eva W, Lar W, NC W (Note 1, scenario 1) 6 5 7 8 out out
Eva W, Lar W, NC W (Note 1, scenario 2) 4-way 4-way 4-way 4-way out out
Eva W, Lar W, RS W 4-way 4-way 4-way 4-way out out
Eva W, KW W, NC W 7 5 out 6 8 out
Eva W, KW W, RS W 7 5 out 6 out 8
CC W, Lar W, NC W 5 7 6 8 out out
CC W, Lar W, RS W 5 7 6 8 out out
CC W, KW W, NC W 5 6 8 out 7 out
CC W, KW W, RS W 5 6 8 out 7 out
South beats Sheridan (Note 2)
Eva W, Lar W (Note 3) 5-way 5-way 5-way 5-way 5-way (5 seed) out
Eva W, KW W 8 5 out 6 7 out
CC W, Lar W 5 8 7 out 6 out
CC W, KW W 5 6 8 out 7 out

Note 1: In the scenario where Sheridan, Evanston and Laramie all win, then Central, Kelly Walsh, Laramie and Evanston will all be tied with 3-6 records for the final four playoff spots. I’m not sure how that tie would be broken. In the first scenario listed above, KW and Evanston get credit for their victories over the highest-ranking non-tied team, which in this situation would be Cheyenne South… then KW gets the 5 seed for its victory against Evanston. Then it reverts to the three-way tiebreaking procedures from there. In the second scenario listed above, KW and Evanston don’t get credit for beating South (because more than one team beat the highest-ranking non-tied team), which would lead to a four-team playoff for the final four spots.

Note 2: In all situations where South beats Sheridan, the Rock Springs-Natrona game is meaningless for playoff seeding, and Rock Springs is eliminated.

Note 3: If South, Evanston and Laramie all win, then Evanston, Laramie, Kelly Walsh, Cheyenne Central and Cheyenne South will be in a five-way tie for the final four playoff spots. The WHSAA does not have guidelines for breaking a five-team tie. However, using the criteria used in four-team tiebreakers of giving the team with the victory over the highest-ranking non-tied team the top seed, South would get the No. 5 seed for beating Sheridan. Then that leaves Evanston, Kelly Walsh, Cheyenne Central and Laramie tied for three playoff spots… and See Note 1.

Class 3A East
Douglas: In. No. 1 seed.
Riverton: In. No. 2 seed.
Torrington: In. No. 3 seed with victory. No. 4 seed with loss.
Rawlins: In. No. 3 seed with victory. No. 4 seed with loss.
Buffalo, Lander: Out.

Class 3A West
Cody: In. No. 1 seed with victory. Tie for 1-2-3 seeds (coin flip to break) with loss and Jackson victory. No. 2 seed with loss and Star Valley victory.
Powell: In. No. 1 seed with victory and Star Valley victory. Tie for 1-2-3 seeds (coin flip to break) with victory and Jackson victory. No. 3 seed with loss and Jackson victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (coin flip to break) with loss and Star Valley victory.
Jackson: In. Tie for 1-2-3 seeds (coin flip to break) with victory and Powell victory. No. 2 seed with victory and Cody victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (coin flip to break) with loss and Cody victory. No. 4 seed with loss and Powell victory.
Star Valley: In. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (coin flip to break) with victory and Cody victory. No. 3 seed with victory and Powell victory. No. 4 seed with loss.
Green River, Worland: Out.

Class 2A East
Big Horn: In. No. 1 seed with victory. No. 2 seed with loss and Thermopolis victory. Tie for 1-2-3 seeds (coin flip to break) with loss and Newcastle victory.
Newcastle: In. Tie for 1-2-3 seeds (coin flip to break) with victory and Wheatland victory. No. 2 seed with victory and Big Horn victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (coin flip to break) with loss and Thermopolis victory. No. 4 seed with loss and Wheatland victory.
Wheatland: In. No. 1 seed with victory and Thermopolis victory. Tie for 1-2-3 seeds (coin flip to break) with victory and Newcastle victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (coin flip to break) with loss and Thermopolis victory. No. 3 seed with loss and Newcastle victory.
Thermopolis: In. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (coin flip to break) with victory and Big Horn victory. No. 3 seed with victory and Wheatland victory. No. 4 seed with loss.
Burns, Glenrock, Wright: Out.

Class 2A West
Mountain View: In. No. 1 seed with victory. No. 2 seed with loss.
Lyman: In. No. 1 seed with victory. No. 2 seed with loss and Greybull victory. No. 3 seed with loss and Lovell victory.
Greybull: In. No. 3 seed with victory. No. 4 seed with loss.
Lovell
: Neither in nor out. No. 2 seed with victory and Mountain View victory. No. 3 seed with victory and Lyman victory. No. 4 seed with loss and Pinedale victory. Out with loss and Big Piney victory.
Big Piney: Neither in nor out. No. 4 seed with victory and Greybull victory. Out with loss or Lovell victory.
Kemmerer, Pinedale: Out.

Class 1A 11-man East
Lusk: In. No. 1 seed.
Lingle: In. No. 2 seed.
Moorcroft, Southeast, Tongue River, Upton-Sundance: A lot of possibilities. They’re outlined here:

Lingle beats Moorcroft SE TR US Mor
US W, TR W out 4 3 out
US W, PB W out 4 3 out
SE W, TR W 4 3 out out
SE W, PB W 3 4 out out
Moorcroft beats Lingle
US W, TR W out out 4 3
US W, PB W out out 4 3
SE W, TR W 4 3 out out
SE W, PB W 3 out out 4

Pine Bluffs: Out.

Class 1A 11-man West
Cokeville: In. No. 1 seed.
Rocky Mountain: In. No. 2 seed.
Burlington, Riverside, Shoshoni, Wind River: A lot of possibilities. They’re outlined here:

Wind River beats Cokeville Sho Rsd Brl WR
Brl W, Rsd W out 4 out 3
Brl W, Sho W 3 out out 4
RM W, Rsd W 4 3 out out
RM W, Sho W 3 out out 4
Cokeville beats Wind River
Brl W, Rsd W out 4 3 out
Brl W, Sho W 3 out 4 out
RM W, Rsd W 4 3 out out
RM W, Sho W 3 triangular triangular triangular

Saratoga, Wyoming Indian: Out.

Class 1A six-man East
Guernsey-Sunrise: In. No. 1 seed.
Kaycee: In. No. 2 seed with victory. No. 3 seed with loss.
Hanna: In. No. 2 seed with victory. No. 3 seed with loss.
Midwest: Neither in nor out. No. 4 seed with victory. Tie for 4 seed (triangular playoff to break) with loss and Hulett victory. Out with loss and Rock River victory.
NSI: Neither in nor out. No. 4 seed with victory and Rock River victory. Tie for 4 seed (triangular playoff to break) with victory and Hulett victory. Out with loss.
Hulett
: Neither in nor out. Out with loss or Midwest victory. Tie for 4 seed (triangular playoff to break) with victory and NSI victory.
Rock River: Out.

Class 1A six-man West
Dubois: In. No. 1 seed with Snake River victory. No. 2 seed with Farson victory.
Farson: In. No. 1 seed with victory. No. 4 seed with loss.
Snake River: In. No. 2 seed with victory. No. 3 seed with loss.
Meeteetse: In. No. 3 seed with Snake River victory. No. 4 seed with Farson victory.
St. Stephens, Ten Sleep: Out.

–patrick

Oct. 31, 1981.

The Newcastle Dogies are riding a seemingly unstoppable wave of momentum. They’re 8-0 and cruising into the Class A title game against Jackson. The Dogies won a ton of close games, but that’s not surprising; this is Newcastle’s eighth consecutive winning season. These Newcastle kids know how to win. They beat Torrington 18-14 two weeks ago and Wheatland 7-6 last week to get here.

Those two victories came after a bye week, which was created after Sheridan dropped Newcastle from its schedule after the little guys from Weston County went up to Sheridan the year before and beat — nay, shut out — the Class AA big guys, 14-0. In Sheridan.

But this is no fairy tale. Jackson’s good, and strong, and motivated. Maybe most importantly, the Broncs are at home. Newcastle loses that Class A title game, 13-6. But there’s nothing to suggest the Dogies can’t return, and soon, to try again.

+++

Oct. 19, 1998.

The Big Horn Rams trudge off a cold, muddy field in Gillette, defeated. They’ve lost to Hulett, 12-0, in the first half of a tiebreaking triangular playoff. For the fourth consecutive year — every year since the state abandoned nine-man football and forced the Rams to move to 11-man — the Rams will miss the playoffs.

In that 1998 season, the Rams manage three victories, beating winless Greybull, tiny Meeteetse and fellow nine-man transplant Midwest. But Ten Sleep doubled them up, rival Tongue River beat them by 34, and conference rivals Upton and Hulett beat them by 35 and 23 points, respectively. There’s nothing to suggest a Rams’ resurgence is near.

+++

Nov. 8, 2003.

On their home field, the Big Horn Rams celebrate with a state championship trophy in hand. They’ve just completed a perfect 11-0 season. Lusk, the team Big Horn beat 29-8 in the Class 2A championship game that afternoon, was nothing more than another victim. Lusk was the team that kept Big Horn at bay in the 2002 title game; Big Horn left no doubt in 2003 as to which was the better team.

In that 11-0 season, Big Horn won all but one game by at least 21 points. From wire to wire, the Rams had the mojo of a champion. Just the second title in school history was theirs. Even the novice could see the Rams had the chance to win a heck of a lot more titles, and soon.

+++

Sept. 24, 2004.

After 29 consecutive losses, the Newcastle Dogies have some hope. The Dogies are already 0-4, and Buffalo pasted them 49-6 the previous week in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score might suggest. A victory seems so long ago; a time when the Dogies were expected to win seems almost like a different reality.

But winless Wheatland was coming to Schoonmaker Field. This was going to be Newcastle’s best chance to get a victory and to end the losing streak that dated back to August of 2001 — more than three years on the calendar — and the program’s best chance to win its first home game since 1999.

This night was Newcastle’s. The Dogies scored 34 points, their most in a single game since before the turn of the century, and defeated the Bulldogs by 14.

Yeah, Newcastle didn’t win another game in 2004. And, yeah, the Dogies’ victory came in a losing season, their 21st straight losing season in streak that eventually reached 22, setting a state record no program wants to have. Never had a victory against a winless opponent meant so much. Highs aren’t supposed to be this low.

+++

Nov. 10, 2007.

Big Horn’s back-to-back titles in 2003 and 2004 are memories now. The Rams’ focus is on winning the school’s fourth state title. But against Riverside in one of the best games of the decade, Big Horn can’t stop what can only look like fate’s predetermined outcome. In the game’s final minutes, Riverside drives 99 yards to score, and then converts on a gutsy two-point conversion, to earn a 21-20 victory and the state title.

When losing after giving up a 99-yard drive, and giving up the subsequent two-point conversion, tears will come — either from grief or from frustration. Unfortunately for Big Horn, the loss is a harbinger of losses to come: Big Horn will lose two state title games in the next three years after losing to Riverside, falling short in 2008 and again in 2010. So many tears shouldn’t be shed in times of so much success, but the Rams had the grief or frustration to justify them.

Big Horn’s next state championship would come, in part, thanks to the head coach on the Riverside sideline that day in 2007.

+++

Oct. 21, 2011.

Newcastle coach Matt Conzelman is nearing the end of his third season as head coach. He’s seen his team steadily improve: The Dogies went a traditionally Newcastle-ish 1-8 in 2009, his first year, but finished 4-6 in his second year and were competitive (and headed for a winning record and a semifinal appearance) heading into a key 2A East Conference game against Big Horn by late October 2011.

Big Horn and Newcastle hadn’t played each other until 2009, when reclassification tossed the two schools, traditionally separated by a definitive size difference, together into the hodgepodge 2A East Conference. The little guys with lots of recent tradition had no trouble with the big guys with lots of recent struggles; Big Horn beat Newcastle in 2009 and again in 2010.

Not this time. Not in 2011. This was Newcastle’s chance to show its slow, incremental successes were not accidents. No, Newcastle was for real. And the best way to prove that was by beating the reigning conference champ, a program with a ton of success and title-game trips the past decade. So the Dogies did just that. Final: Newcastle 35, Big Horn 21.

+++

Oct. 19, 2012.

Newcastle was 8-0. Big Horn was 8-0. And they were going to play each other in the final game of the regular season to determine the 2A East Conference champion and the team that would host the first two rounds of playoff games.

Michael McGuire — the coach who helped Riverside top Big Horn back in 2007 — was now the Rams’ leader, in his first season with his new squad. And this was a chance to prove something. Maybe that the Rams were better than everyone thought. Maybe that the title-game losses, five of them since 2000, were the old Big Horn. Maybe that his team, not the Dogies, was the team that could give those big shots out in the West, Lyman and Lovell, their biggest challenge in the playoffs. Maybe that the Rams’ past distractions were now memories.

Big Horn 55, Newcastle 6.

Both teams lost in the 2A semifinals, Big Horn to Lovell and Newcastle to Lyman.

+++

Sept. 13, 2013.

After the consistent success the Dogies found under Conzelman and the revival of pride the Rams found under McGuire, everyone could see the opening game of the 2A East conference schedule would be important. And, eventually, it was — it decided which team would host a playoff game and which one would have to travel.

In one of the highest-scoring games of the season, the Rams beat the Dogies 50-43. However, for both squads, the game was more than a victory or loss. The game was an indicator that both programs had changed.

Newcastle was no longer the pushover, the laughingstock. In a way, the Dogies now resembled the Dogies of old, the program even the likes of Sheridan were scared to play.

Big Horn was no longer the struggling little guy. The Rams had forged a new identity, one found in the early 2000s and refined after several near-misses in the postseason, near-misses that were appeased somewhat by the state championship the Rams won later in the 2013 season.

And those games between the two, from a rivalry that didn’t exist prior to their 2009 happenstance conference marriage, would, for the foreseeable future, always be critical.

+++

Friday’s game between Big Horn and Newcastle is just the sixth in the series between them, but, like usual in this short series, the winner has numerous spoils awaiting them.

If Newcastle can somehow upset the top-ranked Rams, the Dogies will win the 2A East Conference title and earn home-field advantage in the playoffs. Big Horn can’t quite pull off the same feat alone — the Rams need Burns to upset Wheatland on Friday, too, in conjunction with a victory against Newcastle to win the conference on Friday. Otherwise, Big Horn will need to beat Wheatland next week to win the conference title. Chances are good that the teams will finish first and second, in some order, in the East this year.

Either way, though, the fact that the Big Horn-Newcastle game means as much as it does is a testament to two programs that have become consistently successful. Newcastle had to fight through 22 consecutive losing seasons to get here; Big Horn had to fight through being a nine-man also-ran and an an 11-man afterthought.

The fact that this rivalry has become so important so fast is something for each team to cherish on its own sideline, something to admire on the other.

+++

+++

+++

The game between Big Horn and Newcastle is not the only one that could determine a conference champion. In fact, eight of the nine conference champions could be decided by the end of Week 7, and five schools (Natrona, Riverton, Douglas, Newcastle and Cokeville) can win their respective conference crowns simply with a victory:

4A: Natrona can win the No. 1 seed with a victory.

3A East: The Riverton-Douglas winner will win the conference title.

3A West: No one can win the conference this week.

2A East: Newcastle can win the conference with a win; Big Horn can win the conference with a victory AND a Burns victory.

2A West: Mountain View can win the conference title with a victory AND a Greybull victory.

1A 11-man East: Lusk has won the conference title.

1A 11-man West: Cokeville can win the conference title if its JV can beat Wyoming Indian (see explainer below).

1A six-man East: Guernsey has won the conference title.

1A six-man West: Dubois can win the conference title with a victory AND a St. Stephens victory.

Playoff watch: Seventeen schools have already qualified for the playoffs — Natrona, Sheridan, Gillette, Cheyenne East, Riverton, Douglas, Cody, Powell, Big Horn, Newcastle, Lusk, Cokeville, Guernsey, Kaycee, Snake River, Dubois and Meeteetse. Meanwhile, five others (Burns, Wright, Kemmerer, Saratoga and Wyoming Indian) have been mathematically eliminated. The rest is still up for grabs. And only two seeds, Lusk’s No. 1 seed in the 1A 11-man East and Guernsey’s No. 1 in the 1A six-man East, have been set.

This time of year, I feel like I could put every game down as an important game to watch, because basically every game is important for playoff seeding. But here are a few games this week that I’m keeping a special eye on:

In Class 4A, Natrona can wrap up the No. 1 seed in the playoffs if it can beat Sheridan on Friday in Casper. The Mustangs and Broncs have a deep and storied rivalry, and this one between 7-0 NC and 6-1 Sheridan should be another classic. And if Sheridan finds a way to win, we’ll have a messy tiebreaker to settle atop the classification for those all-important top seeds. …

The winner of Friday’s showdown between Douglas and Riverton will be the top seed from the 3A East. Need we say more? …

Another big game lurks in the 3A West, where Powell faces Jackson. While some of the luster wore off this game when Jackson fell to Cody last week, the Broncs from Teton County are still definitely in the hunt for a home playoff game and, if everything falls right, can still have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win and help. But Powell is a proud program, and the Panthers are at home. …

One of the toughest games for me to pick this week was Star Valley-Worland. A playoff spot is likely on the line in Washakie County. …

An underrated but key 2A West game is the one between Greybull and Lyman. The winner is likely going to get a home playoff game — a big deal in a parity-filled classification. …

The 1A 11-man West has turned messy. Cokeville is in, and Saratoga and Wyoming Indian are out, leaving five teams chasing four playoff spots. Four of those five play each other this week: Rocky Mountain’s at Riverside and Shoshoni’s at Burlington. By Saturday, will we have more clarity, or more chaos? …

And how about the 1A six-man West? A conference full of parity just keeps throwing us surprises. The six-man West is the only conference in the state where every team has at least one league loss, making the chase for the conference championship, and playoff seeding, really interesting.

1A 11-man West explainer: A quick note of clarification on Cokeville’s schedule this week. The Panthers’ varsity will play the Evanston JV on Wednesday, while their junior varsity plays conference opponent Wyoming Indian on Friday. The varsity game against Evanston’s JV will count toward Cokeville’s overall record, while the JV’s game against Wyoming Indian’s varsity will count toward both teams’ 1A 11-man West Conference standings but not toward Cokeville’s overall record for the season. This has happened a few times in 1A basketball, but to my knowledge it’s the first time it’s happened in football. …

On to the picks. Projected winners are in bold. You should know this by now. You probably do. But I say it anyway:

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

Guernsey-Sunrise already notched a forfeit victory against Rock River this week. Rock River does plan on playing Hulett next week, though.

Last week: 28-4 (88 percent). This season: 166-43 (79 percent).

For a full season schedule, including kickoff times for this week’s games, click here.

So, now that you’re all studied up… leave a comment. I’m ready to chat. Maybe some other folks are, too. I’ve started the conversation and everything….

–patrick

The past couple weeks, we’ve looked at how the seasons of 1976 and 1985 would have shaped up if given modern conference and classification alignments. But what if, like many other aspects of Wyoming life, the WHSAA was resistant to changing a classification setup? What if, in 2014, we were still using the 1976 classification and conference alignments — with the largest 14 schools in Class AA, the next 15 in Class A and the rest in Class B?

Well, we’d likely have conferences and classifications that look like this:

Class AA East
1. Gillette, 2,439
4. Cheyenne East, 1,468
5. Kelly Walsh, 1,395
6. Cheyenne Central, 1,269
7. Cheyenne South, 1,223
8. Sheridan, 1,017
9. Laramie, 991

Class AA West
2. Natrona, 2,184
3. Rock Springs, 1,562
10. Evanston, 918
11. Green River, 817
12. Riverton, 788
13. Star Valley, 717
14. Jackson, 673

Class A East
16. Douglas, 516
17. Rawlins, 507
21. Torrington, 399
22. Buffalo, 328
24. Wheatland, 298
25. Newcastle, 237
27. Glenrock, 222

Class A West
15. Cody, 661
18. Lander, 493
19. Powell, 484
20. Worland, 426
23. Pinedale, 303
26. Mountain View, 222
28. Lovell, 215
29. Thermopolis, 210

Class B Northeast
35. Big Horn, 157
36. Wright, 156
37. Moorcroft, 153
41. Tongue River, 123
45. Sundance, 103 (contingent on co-op breakup)
50. Upton, 81 (contingent on co-op breakup)

*57. NSI, 65
*58. Midwest, 63
*60. Hulett, 51
*62. Kaycee, 47

Class B Southeast
34. Burns, 166
42. Lusk, 116
44. Pine Bluffs, 109
46. Southeast, 101
51. Lingle, 80

*56. Guernsey, 65
*67. Rock River, 33

Class B Northwest
33. Greybull, 175
38. Wyoming Indian, 139
39. Wind River, 128
40. Rocky Mountain, 124
43. Shoshoni, 115
48. Riverside, 97
49. Burlington, 82

*53. St. Stephens, 70
*59. Dubois, 52
*66. Meeteetse, 40
*68. Ten Sleep, 33

Class B Southwest
30. Lyman, 204
31. Big Piney, 198
32. Kemmerer, 177
47. Saratoga, 100
52. Cokeville, 74

*55. Hanna, 68
*61. Farson, 49
*63. Snake River, 46

This week, we could be prepping for that big Natrona-Jackson showdown. Or the Converse rivalry game between Douglas and Glenrock. Or the top-tier showdown between Cody and Mountain View. … However, the uneven split in Class AA might force us to split up the two Casper schools, or consider moving Laramie to the West, or consider a North-South arrangement instead of the East-West split used in 1976 (with a North of Gillette, Sheridan, Natrona, Kelly Walsh, Riverton, Star Valley and Jackson and a South of Cheyenne East, Cheyenne Central, Cheyenne South, Laramie, Rock Springs, Evanston and Green River).

Meanwhile, 13 of the state’s smallest programs would be left to the breeze, maybe unable to field a team at all, as six-man is but a distant memory in our three-class 2014. Of those 13, only a handful would be in existence in 2014, large enough to support an 11-man squad. (Of course, in 1976, a few squads opted to play eight-man together instead — a plausible scenario in our alternate 2014.)

Oddly enough, with only three classifications, Wyoming might be able to squeeze all three of its title games into one epic day (instead of one epic weekend) at War Memorial Stadium.

In short, our Fridays (and our old Championship Saturday) would be quite different.

+++

One of the things to consider is that, with fewer classifications, reclassification would be a much bigger deal. With fewer schools switching classifications from one cycle to the next, and therefore a smaller percentage of schools changing classifications, each move would cause huge shifts in conference balance, competitive equity and a host of other concerns that are somewhat minimized by having more numerous classifications.

Does this alignment look better to you than the one Wyoming uses now? In some ways, I actually like this one better; in some ways, I’m incredibly happy to see the changes time has brought to Wyoming high school football. Share some thoughts and let’s talk reclassification options… if you’re so inclined.

–patrick

When Jackson cracks the six-victory barrier, it’s usually a good sign.

The problem for the Broncs is they don’t hit that milestone often.

In a program history that dates back to 1931, Jackson has only notched six or more victories in a season eight times. In three of those eight seasons, Jackson won state championships; in four of the eight, the Broncs played in the state title game.

The Broncs won state titles in 2007 (11-0), 1986 (6-4) and 1981 (9-0); played for a state title in 1989 (7-2); and also cracked six victories in 1990 (7-2), 1982 (7-1), 1969 (6-4) and 1938 (6-0).

The point? When Jackson is good, Jackson is REALLY good.

Make it nine. This year, the Broncs raced out to a 6-0 start, its closest victory a 32-16 doubling-up of Worland two weeks ago. Already, the 2014 Broncs are one of the most successful squads in program history, regardless of how the rest of the season plays out.

But Jackson’s opponents haven’t been the best of the best; the combined record of the Broncs’ opponents is 9-23, and only one (Rawlins) has a winning record.

Which is why Friday’s showdown against 4-2 Cody is so interesting.

The Broncs from Park County present the Broncs from Teton County with arguably their biggest test of the season. After six games against so-sos, Jackson finally gets to play an uh-oh.

Cody’s been strong all season, with losses only to Laurel, Mont., in Week Zero (13-0) and to perennial tough beat Douglas in Week 2 (13-7). Defensively, the Broncs have shined, giving up just 61 points through their six games — a solid number in a classification where the average points allowed per game is more than double that.

And, for the record, Cody has cracked six or more victories 33 times in their program history, and it’s on track to do so again this year.

Cody, though, just like Jackson, has just the three state championships to its credit.

There’s the rub. Which team has the advantage — the program with the consistency of being a contender, or the program that knows how to be an upstart?

Winning momentum means more to a squad that doesn’t normally feel it. It burns hotter, but quicker. We’ll see Friday if Jackson’s winning momentum burned too hot, too fast.

Other games I’m keeping a close watch on this week:

Three undefeated teams remain in Class 1A 11-man. Two of them play Friday night when Lingle and Lusk renew acquaintances in Niobrara County. The winner is on track for home-field advantage through the first two rounds of the playoffs. (By the way, one of the quieter streaks happening in the state is Lusk’s home winning streak. The Tigers have won 25 consecutive games at home since 2009, tied for fifth-longest in state history. The unofficial state record is 31, set by Byron from 1953-61. The last team to beat Lusk in Lusk? Lingle.) …

On the other side, winless Green River and winless Star Valley will face each other in Afton. What’s unfortunate is that both the Wolves and Braves have shown potential to be good squads this fall; they just haven’t quite put it all together at the right time. …

The only Thursday game has Shoshoni traveling to Pavillion to play Wind River. In a messy 1A 11-man West, this game could be the difference between a playoff spot and a spot on the couch. …

Class 4A is a mess on its bottom half: Five teams are at 2-4, and they’re playing for the final four playoff spots. The only game between two 2-4 teams this week, though, is the one between Evanston and Kelly Walsh in Casper. …

Guernsey has the chance to be the first team to secure a conference championship. If the Vikings beat Hulett on Saturday, they’ll win the 1A six-man East and host through the first two rounds of the playoffs. …

Even though it lost last week, Rawlins has improved dramatically this season. The Outlaws aren’t the favorites in their game against Douglas this week — the Outlaws haven’t beaten the Bearcats since 2001 — but expect a similar close game like the one Rawlins had last week against Riverton. The fact that it’s Week 6 and Rawlins is still in the conversation is amazing progress in and of itself. First-year coach Corey Wheeler has that program moving in a good direction, win or lose this week. …

Here are this week’s picks. Teams I project to have more points than their opponents by the end of their respective games are in bold, but fortunately for the teams not in bold, every game starts 0-0, and the officials don’t award points for projections:

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

Last week: 29-3 (91 percent). This season: 138-39 (78 percent).

For a full season schedule, including kickoff times for this week’s games, click here.

We have some pretty amazing games on the schedule this week. Which one sticks out to you? Leave a comment and we can all chat about cool football stuff.

–patrick

Last week, we looked at how the conferences would have formed in 1976 if we used the 2014 conference structure. Today, we’ll jump ahead to 1985.

By 1985, Wyoming had expanded from three football classifications (AA, A and B) to four (4A, 3A, 2A and 1A). At that time, all four were 11-man classifications; the nine-man designation didn’t come along until 1989, and it broke off into its own class in 1990, which gave the state the five football classifications it has had ever since.

Applying this year’s conference alignments to the 1985 enrollment figures, here are the conferences we would have had back then:

Class 4A
1. Natrona, 2,054
2. Cheyenne East, 1,856
3. Cheyenne Central, 1,774
4. Kelly Walsh, 1,587
5. Gillette, 1,579
6. Laramie, 1,246
7. Sheridan, 1,156
8. Rock Springs, 1,101
9. Riverton, 981
10. Green River, 866

Class 3A East
11. Lander, 727
12. Rawlins, 693
15. Douglas, 578
20. Torrington, 469
21. Wheatland, 423
22. Buffalo, 368
Class 3A West
13. Cody, 690
14. Evanston, 670
16. Powell, 518
17. Star Valley, 513
18. Worland, 508
19. Jackson, 507

Class 2A East
23. Newcastle, 336
24. Glenrock, 321
25. Thermopolis, 304
31. Wind River, 187
34. Hanna, 168
35. Lusk, 165
36. Saratoga, 152
Class 2A West
26. Kemmerer, 248
27. Lyman, 237
28. Mountain View, 236
29. Lovell, 228
30. Greybull, 192
32. Pinedale, 185
33. Big Piney, 182

Class 1A 11-man East
38t. Seton, 138
41. Sundance, 129
42. Lingle, 123
44. Guernsey, 114
45. Upton, 109
49. Pine Bluffs, 99
50. Burns, 95
52. Southeast, 87
Class 1A 11-man West
37. Tongue River, 145
38t. Wyoming Indian, 138
40. Moorcroft, 131
43. Rocky Mountain, 118
46. Dubois, 107
47t. Basin, 106
47t. Shoshoni, 106
51. Big Horn, 94

Class 1A six-man East
53. Wright, 82
55. Midwest, 78
56. Hulett, 75
Class 1A six-man West
54. Cokeville, 79
57. Burlington, 67
58. Meeteetse, 64
63. Ten Sleep, 57

This actually shapes up pretty close to the state’s first attempt at a five-class structure in 1990. It’s here where we can see the rise of the western middle-sized town (the likes of Evanston, Kemmerer and others growing and Lander shrinking) forcing some uncomfortable alignments in 3A and 2A, where Lander and Wind River are forced into makeshift “East” conferences.

But that’s nothing compared to 1A, where the consolidation out west and the sheer number of smaller schools in the southeast corner has severely reduced the available schools for a “West” conference. Consequently, to get balanced eight-team conferences, we REALLY have to stretch, as Moorcroft heads west to keep things even.

And those six-man conferences look suspiciously like the nine-man conferences of the early 1990s….

Here are the retroactive five-class champions from 1985:

Class 4A: Natrona over Sheridan. Natrona actually beat Cody in the 1985 4A title game, but with Cody in 4A, the Broncs would have been replaced with… well, the Broncs. NC beat Sheridan 17-13 in the regular season in 1985 in Sheridan.
Class 3A: Cody over Evanston. Cody was the 4A runner-up in 1985; Evanston was the 3A champ over Torrington. In this matchup, the Broncs had the advantage; in five games against common opponents in 1985, Cody was 5-0, while Evanston was 3-2.
Class 2A: Lovell over Glenrock. Glenrock’s only losses were to Rawlins and Torrington, making them the top team in the East, while Lovell only lost to state champ Shoshoni. The nod goes to the Bulldogs, because coin flip.
Class 1A 11-man: Shoshoni over Seton. These two actually met in the 2A title game in 1985, and the Wranglers came out on top. Convenient.
Class 1A six-man: Wright over Cokeville. With real 1A champ Big Horn in a different conference, the real runner-up (Wright) would have met semifinalist Cokeville for the state title — and Wright actually would have had the edge in this one.

In both 1976 and 1985, we’ve had to fudge the geographic limits of the state to come up with equitable conference alignments. In 2014, we’ve had to do the same, but the alignments we’ve got in 2014 are actually pretty well suited for the enrollment splits the state has now. I think the biggest failure would be if, in 20 years from now, Wyoming high schools are using the same conference structure they’re using now. Reclassification is an endless process; just about the time we think we have a handle on it, enrollments will change and the process starts again.

–patrick

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