St. Stephens will finish the 2017 season with two head coaches who stepped in to fill the void left by the retirement of the program’s previous head coach.

Billy Brost and Dee Harrison have coached the Eagles in their past three games and will lead them into the season finale Friday against Meeteetse.

Brost said in an email to wyoming-football.com that former coach Lyle Valdez resigned shortly before St. Stephens’ game with Riverside on Sept. 29.

Harrison and Brost had previously been coaches for St. Stephens’ middle school team. Prior to this season, Harrison had several coaching stints in the West, including time at Eastern Oregon University, while Brost had been an assistant football coach at several schools in the West. Brost had previously been St. Stephens’ head track coach before resigning last spring.

Brost said he is excited for the future of the program. He said building the program will include work in the weight room, time at team camps, conditioning programs and a continued focus on the fundamentals.

“Once our kids have taken hundreds of reps with Dee’s offensive system, and our kids pick up the fundamental skills, I can foresee a quick turnaround for St. Stephen’s Eagles football as early as next season,” he wrote.

Valdez retired in part to watch his grandchildren play sports at Wyoming Indian, Brost said. The program retained its other two assistant coaches.

St. Stephens is 0-7 so far this year at the Class 1A six-man level.

–patrick

Of all the 41 potential playoff scenarios that exist heading into Week 8, none is weirder than Lovell’s.

Of the eight possible scenarios coming out of the 2A West, Lovell makes the playoffs in five of them and misses the playoffs in three of them.

Here’s the kicker, though: Lovell could lose and qualify for the playoffs. They could also win and miss the playoffs.

Obviously, the odds are better if Lovell wins. Of the four scenarios in which Lovell wins its game on Friday against Kemmerer, the Bulldogs qualify for the playoffs in three of them; of the four scenarios in which Lovell loses, the Bulldogs still make the playoffs in only two of the four scenarios.

The odd duck scenario where Lovell wins but still doesn’t qualify happens if the Bulldogs beat Kemmerer, Lyman beats Big Piney and Greybull beats Mountain View. In that scenario, Lyman and Lovell end up tied for the No. 4 seed, and thanks to Lovell’s loss to Lyman, the Bulldogs would be out and the Eagles in.

So is it possible Lovell could take the field on Friday night and actually TRY to lose to help qualify for the playoffs? Or just forfeit the game completely?

The short answer: No.

The reason? Kickoff times.

The first game played in the 2A West on Friday will be the one between Big Piney and Lyman, which kicks off at 2 p.m. If Big Piney wins, Lovell’s in the playoffs, no matter what.

However, if Lyman pulls the upset, Lovell HAS to win (and then hope Mountain View beats Greybull) to qualify for the playoffs.

So even though the scenarios outline a situation where it would be better for Lovell to lose, the kickoff times assure us we won’t see anyone intentionally tanking in Week 8 to qualify for the playoffs.

Thank goodness. Because as weird as Lovell’s situation is this week, it’d be even weirder to see a team intentionally trying to lose to qualify for the playoffs.

+++

We know some things — but not everything — entering the final week of the Wyoming high school football regular season.

Twelve teams (Kelly Walsh, Worland, Cody, Torrington, Glenrock, Big Piney, Wheatland, Mountain View, Cokeville, Rocky Mountain, Meeteetse and Kaycee) already know their playoff seedings.

Two first-round playoff games are already set: Worland at Torrington in 3A and Meeteetse at Kaycee in 1A six-man.

And 10 teams (Cheyenne Central, Cheyenne South, Greybull, Lyman, Lovell, Lusk, Southeast, Guernsey-Sunrise, Hanna and Hulett) are playing for their playoff lives this week. Two games — Cheyenne Central hosting Cheyenne South and Southeast hosting Lusk — are direct winner in/loser out scenarios.

+++

Obviously, Week 8 is full of important games. Here’s some highlights of a few of them.

If you asked me which game I want to see most this week, it’s Upton-Sundance vs. Pine Bluffs. I want to know if Upton-Sundance’s 40-point loss to Big Horn two weeks ago was an aberration or a harbinger. We’ll find out Friday when the Patriots face an undefeated defending state champion on that champ’s home field. …

Star Valley faces Green River for the top seed in the 3A West. Star Valley will be the favorite, even on the road, but Green River could really upset expectations if they can somehow beat the two-time defending champs. …

Farson facing Snake River in Baggs could be the best game of the six-man regular season. Yes, Snake River lost to Burlington last week, but the Rattlers can still win the West’s No. 1 seed with a victory. Farson, meanwhile, is still undefeated and angling for a second consecutive trip to Laramie. …

Cheyenne East and Sheridan are playing what could objectively be called the game of the week. After all, Sheridan is 8-0 and undefeated in 4A, while Cheyenne East is 7-1 and proving it knows how to win games in all styles, but especially close ones. The Broncs should be the favorites, but the Thunderbirds are likely to give Sheridan a necessary challenge heading into the playoffs. …

The Thunder Basin-Laramie game could be a hidden gem in the Gem City. It’s an important game in the 4A seeding race, and Laramie has the potential to pull the surprise at home if the ‘Bolts overlook them. …

The Mountain View-Greybull game isn’t quite what we thought it might be at the beginning of the season, but nevertheless it’s a big one in the 2A West. And Mountain View has to make the trip to Greybull, making things a little more difficult on the no-e Buffalos. …

The Thunder Bowl is back in Sheridan County after a three-year hiatus as Big Horn faces Tongue River. Honestly, there’s no reason why this game should ever be off the schedule, and I’m glad to see the regional rivals facing off again. …

The Rocky Mountain-Wright game is a late addition to the schedule after Wyoming Indian forfeited to Rocky Mountain a couple weeks ago. Wright had an open week scheduled, so it makes sense for the two of them to meet halfway in Sheridan — Rocky as a playoff tune-up, Wright as one more chance to take the field as a team. …

On to my choices for each game. You know how I do this by now: predicted winners in bold, and then we all watch the games, which is way more fun than predicting them:

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

For a full schedule including kickoff times, check out the 2017 schedule and results page.

Results of my picks from last week and this season:

Last week: 24-6 (80 percent). This season: 203-35 (85 percent).

So here we are: the last week of the regular season. Who’s your surprise team for a championship run? And what does week 8 hold for them? Leave a comment and let’s enter into a dialog.

–patrick

Here’s a quick look at the playoff scenarios for Wyoming high school football teams entering Week 8 of the 2017 season:

Class 4A
Sheridan: In. No. 1 seed with victory. No. 2 seed with loss and Rock Springs victory. Tie for 1-2-3 seeds (coin flip to break) with loss and Natrona victory.
Cheyenne East: In. No. 1 seed with victory and Rock Springs victory. Tie for 1-2-3 seeds (coin flip to break) with victory and Natrona victory. No. 3 seed with loss.
Natrona: In. Tie for 1-2-3 seeds (coin flip to break) with victory and Cheyenne East victory. No. 2 seed with Sheridan victory. No. 3 seed with loss Cheyenne East victory.
Kelly Walsh: In. No. 4 seed.
Rock Springs: In. No. 5 seed with victory and Laramie victory. Tie for 5-6-7 seeds (coin flip to break) with loss, Natrona victory and Laramie victory. No. 6 seed with victory and Thunder Basin victory.
Thunder Basin: In. No. 5 seed with victory. Tie for 5-6-7 seeds (coin flip to break) with loss and Natrona victory. No. 7 seed with loss and Rock Springs victory.
Laramie: In. Tie for 5-6-7 seeds (coin flip to break) with victory and Natrona victory. No. 6 seed with victory and Rock Springs victory. No. 7 seed with loss.
Cheyenne Central, Cheyenne South: Neither in nor out. No. 8 seed with victory. Out with loss.
Gillette: Out.

Class 3A East
Torrington: In. No. 1 seed.
Douglas: In. No. 2 seed with victory. No. 3 seed with loss and Riverton victory. No. 3 seed with loss, Lander victory and Torrington victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (coin flip to break) with loss, Rawlins victory and Torrington victory.
Buffalo: In. No. 2 seed with victory and Riverton victory. No. 2 seed with victory, Lander victory and Torrington victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (coin flip to break) with victory, Rawlins victory and Torrington victory. No. 4 seed with loss.
Rawlins: In. No. 3 seed with Douglas victory. No. 4 seed with Buffalo victory and Riverton victory. No. 4 seed with loss, Lander victory and Torrington victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (coin flip to break) with victory, Buffalo victory and Torrington victory.
Lander, Riverton: Out.

Class 3A West
Green River, Star Valley: In. No. 1 seed with victory. No. 2 seed with loss.
Cody: In. No. 3 seed.
Worland: In. No. 4 seed.
Evanston, Jackson, Powell: Out.

Class 2A East
Glenrock: In. No. 1 seed.
Wheatland: In. No. 2 seed.
Newcastle, Thermopolis: In. No. 3 seed with victory. No. 4 seed with loss.
Burns, Moorcroft: Out.

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

Class 1A 11-man East
Pine Bluffs: In. No. 1 seed with victory. Tie for 1-2-3 seeds (coin flip to break) with loss and Big Horn victory. No. 2 seed with loss and Tongue River victory.
Big Horn: In. Tie for 1-2-3 seeds (coin flip to break) with victory and Upton-Sundance victory. No. 2 seed with Pine Bluffs victory. No. 3 seed with loss and Upton-Sundance victory.
Upton-Sundance: In. No. 1 seed with victory and Tongue River victory. Tie for 1-2-3 seeds (coin flip to break) with victory and Big Horn victory. No. 3 seed with loss.
Lusk, Southeast: Neither in nor out. No. 4 seed with victory. Out with loss.
Tongue River, Wright: Out.

Class 1A 11-man West
Cokeville: In. No. 1 seed.
Rocky Mountain: In. No. 2 seed.
Saratoga, Wind River: In. No. 3 seed with victory. No. 4 seed with loss.
Shoshoni, Wyoming Indian: Out.

Class 1A six-man East
Kaycee: In. No. 1 seed.
Midwest: In. No. 2 seed with victory. No. 3 seed with loss and Hanna Hulett victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (coin flip to break) with loss and Guernsey-Sunrise victory.
Guernsey-Sunrise: Neither in nor out. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (coin flip to break) with victory and Hanna victory. No. 3 seed with victory and Midwest victory. Tie for 3-4-out of playoffs positions (coin flip to break) with loss and Midwest victory. Out with loss and Hanna victory.
Hanna: Neither in nor out. No. 2 seed with victory and Hulett victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (coin flip to break) with victory and Guernsey-Sunrise victory. No. 4 seed with loss and Guernsey-Sunrise victory. Tie for 3-4-out of playoffs positions (coin flip to break) with loss and Hulett victory.
Hulett: Neither in nor out. No. 4 seed with victory and Hanna victory. Tie for 3-4-out of playoffs positions (coin flip to break) with victory and Midwest victory. Out with loss.
Lingle, NSI: Out.

Class 1A six-man West
Farson: In. No. 1 seed with victory. Tie for 1-2-3 seeds (coin flip to break) with loss and Burlington victory. No. 2 seed with loss and Riverside victory.
Snake River: In. No. 1 seed with victory and Riverside victory. Tie for 1-2-3 seeds (coin flip to break) with victory and Burlington victory. No. 3 seed with loss.
Burlington: In. Tie for 1-2-3 seeds (coin flip to break) with victory and Snake River victory. No. 2 seed with Farson victory. No. 3 seed with loss and Snake River victory.
Meeteetse: In. No. 4 seed.
Dubois, St. Stephens, Ten Sleep: Out.
Riverside: Ineligible for playoffs.

–patrick

Updated 9:41 a.m. 10/20/17 to fix Midwest’s seeding possibilities.

Technically, only one conference champion is guaranteed to be crowned this week.

Either Kaycee or Midwest will win the 1A six-man East Conference championship when the two programs face each other Friday night in beautiful downtown Midwest.

Oh, sure, four other programs can win their respective championships this week, too: Torrington in the 3A East, Glenrock in the 2A East, Mountain View in the 2A West, Cokeville in the 1A 11-man West. Also, Sheridan could win 4A’s top seed with a victory and a Cheyenne East loss to Rock Springs, while Star Valley would win the 3A West with a victory and a Green River loss to Jackson.

But it’s possible that every single one of those teams could lose on Friday. That’s why Kaycee-Midwest is so intriguing — unless it ends in a tie or is postponed or we see the destruction of the Earth between now and about 9:30 p.m. Friday, the top seed from the 1A six-man East Conference will be sewn up at the conclusion of this game.

Midwest has been a nice surprise this season. The Oilers have won four in a row since losing to Burlington 44-40 to open their season. Every game has been a little bit closer than the last one, though — from a 62-point victory against NSI to a 45-point victory against Guernsey-Sunrise to a 36-point victory against Lingle to a 13-point victory against Hulett.

Meanwhile, 32 miles to the north, top-ranked Kaycee has been perhaps the most dominant six-man team the state has ever seen.

The Buckaroos have won their past 25 games, but by far the 2017 season has been the most dominant. With first-year head coach Tony Rouse leading a deep senior class, Kaycee has outscored its opponents 370-26 this season, including its last three by 224-0.

Week 7 is always a little strange, because so many potential playoff scenarios exist. By my math, only three of the state’s 65 teams (Jackson, Wright, Wyoming Indian) have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs (see below for more on Wyoming Indian). And no matter what happens, two conferences (1A 11-man East and 1A six-man West) are guaranteed NOT to have a conference champion by the time Week 7 is done.

That’s why Friday’s game in Midwest is so interesting. It’s nice to have a little certainty in uncertain times.

+++

Other stuff on my sonar for Week 7:

The Kelly Walsh-Thunder Basin game is the most intriguing game on the 4A schedule. Thunder Basin is stronger than it’s been all season thanks to the return of running back Austin Clemetson, who came back last week. A ‘Bolts victory gives them all the tiebreakers necessary for a home playoff game, and that’s super helpful. …

Greybull’s surprising loss to Lovell last week turned the 2A West into a big quagmire. Right there in the middle of the mess with Greybull are Lyman, Pinedale and Lovell. They’ll play on Friday (Greybull at Lyman, Pinedale at Lovell), and I honestly have no idea what to expect in either game. …

The only interclass game of the week is really interesting. It’s the two “Bigs” (Big Horn and Big Piney) meeting halfway in Riverton. And they’re both 5-1 coming into the game. Could be a hidden gem of a game on that neutral field on Friday. …

Evanston against Worland in the 3A West could be a really close game. Both teams need this victory to stay in the playoff race, and that may bring out the best in both squads. …

Wheatland has been resurgent of late and could steal a home playoff game if they can top Newcastle. …

I’m interested to see how much of a challenge one-loss Burlington can give undefeated Snake River in Burlington. …

+++

On to this week’s picks. As usual, the predicted winners are in bold, because to change that tradition now would just be silly:

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

For a full schedule including kickoff times, check out the 2017 schedule and results page.

My picks were made last week. By me. I made the picks. Most of them were right. Here’s how many:

Last week: 27-4 (87 percent). This season: 179-29 (86 percent).

+++

Chiefs forfeit final two games: Wyoming Indian will forfeit its final two games of the year, as reported by Brady Oltmans of the Casper Star-Tribune on Twitter on Tuesday. The Chiefs were scheduled to play Shoshoni this week and Rocky Mountain in Week 8; they were 1-5 prior to ending the season early.

+++

With the playoffs a scant couple weeks away, what teams do you see as the ones ready to make a late-season run? Post a comment so we can dig deep into week 7!

–patrick

Post updated 9:01 a.m. Oct. 12, 2017, to reflect Lingle’s playoff possibility.

The 2017 edition of the Wyoming Shrine Bowl raised $20,000 for the Shriners Hospital for Children in Salt Lake City, Shrine Bowl executive director John Cundall announced Wednesday in a release.

All profits from the annual all-star football game, played in June in Casper, went to the hospital. This year’s game was the 44th Wyoming Shrine Bowl.

Shrine Hospitals focus on providing care for children at no cost to the family.

The North team won the 2017 game 49-7. The 2018 game will be June 9, 2018, in Casper.

–patrick

Here’s a quick look at the Wyoming high school football playoff picture entering Week 7:

Class 4A
In: Sheridan, Cheyenne East, Natrona, Kelly Walsh, Rock Springs, Thunder Basin, Laramie.
Neither in nor out: Cheyenne Central, Gillette, Cheyenne South.
Out: No one.

Sheridan, East and Natrona are ahead of the rest of the pack; KW, Rock Springs, Thunder Basin and Laramie are more or less fighting for seeds 4-7, and Central, Gillette and South are basically fighting it out for the eighth spot. Technically, there could be some shuffling in these tiers, but for now there are three distinct separations of playoff battles happening in the big schools.

+++

Class 3A East
In
: Torrington.
Neither in nor out: Rawlins, Douglas, Buffalo, Riverton, Lander.
Out: No one.

Right now, Lander is on the outside looking in, but if the Tigers can upset Douglas and Rawlins, they could make a real mess of things. The loser of this week’s Buffalo-Riverton game will have a tough time keeping pace, too.

+++

Class 3A West
In: Star Valley.
Neither in nor out: Green River, Cody, Evanston, Powell, Worland.
Out: Jackson.

A scenario exists where Green River, Cody, Evanston, Worland and Powell could end up in a five-way tie for seeds 2, 3 and 4. That’s how messed up (or, alternatively, parity-filled) the 3A West is this season.

+++

Class 2A East
In
: Glenrock.
Neither in nor out: Newcastle, Wheatland, Moorcroft, Thermopolis, Burns.
Out: No one.

Speaking of scenarios, there is a bizarre scenario in the 2A East where four teams could tie for places 1-4 with 3-2 records. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

+++

Class 2A West
In: Mountain View, Big Piney.
Neither in nor out: Greybull, Lyman, Pinedale, Lovell, Kemmerer.
Out: No one.

Technically, everyone is still alive for the playoffs, thanks mostly to Lovell’s upset of Greybull last week. The scenarios here are messy; there’s a weird one where four teams tie for the fourth seed. Ugh.

+++

Class 1A 11-man East
In: Pine Bluffs, Big Horn.
Neither in nor out: Upton-Sundance, Southeast, Lusk, Tongue River.
Out: Wright.

The weird scenario here is where there’s potentially a three-way tie for the No. 4 seed, or, even worse, a four-way tie for seeds No. 3 and 4. It’s possible. I hope I don’t have to sort through it, though.

+++

Class 1A 11-man West
In: Cokeville.
Neither in nor out: Rocky Mountain Saratoga, Wind River, Wyoming Indian, Shoshoni.
Out: No one.

Rocky Mountain, Saratoga and Wind River are in the best positions to qualify for the remaining open spots, as they’re all 2-1 in league play. Shoshoni and Wyoming Indian need some miracles to happen to climb back from 0-3 and force a tie for one of the final spots; they play each other next week.

+++

Class 1A six-man East
In: Kaycee, Midwest.
Neither in nor out: Guernsey-Sunrise, Hanna, Hulett, Lingle, NSI.
Out: No one.

This might be the weirdest scenario, where zero-victory NSI actually has a better chance than one-victory Lingle. That’s because NSI has two conference games remaining instead of one and could, with the right scenario, force a tie for the No. 4 spot. Lingle could do that, too, but needs winless NSI to beat unbeaten Kaycee, in addition to a bunch of other things, to force a four-way tie for the No. 4 seed that might be broken coin-flip style.

+++

Class 1A six-man West
In: Farson, Snake River, Burlington.
Neither in nor out: Meeteetse, Ten Sleep, Dubois, St. Stephens.
Out: No one.
Ineligible: Riverside.

Meeteetse just needs to beat Ten Sleep next week to secure the conference’s last available spot. If Ten Sleep wins, though, that opens the door for winless teams Dubois and St. Stephens to stay alive, too.

–patrick

How Big Horn and Upton-Sundance have missed each other the past few seasons defies a convenient explanation.

Big Horn hasn’t played Upton since the two teams played in the 2004 2A championship against each other and hasn’t played Sundance since 2008.

That’s weird. In Wyoming terms, they’re pretty close to each other — it’s 160 miles from Big Horn to Sundance and 147 from Big Horn to Upton. And they’re in the same classification and conference for every single other sport.

Also, the past three years, the schools have been dominant in their respective classifications:

  • In 2014, Big Horn was 10-1; Upton-Sundance was 6-4.
  • In 2015, Big Horn was 7-2; Upton-Sundance was 10-1.
  • In 2016, both programs finished 10-1.

Tally that up, and combined the past three seasons, Big Horn and Upton-Sundance are 53-10. Not too shabby.

However, despite being close in proximity, enrollment and success, the two programs tallied those records in different football classifications — 2A for Big Horn, 1A 11-man for Upton-Sundance.

This year, though, football classification shakeups brought this rivalry back to the fore. Big Horn is in the smallest 11-man division for the first time since playing in Class 1A Division II in 2000. Upton-Sundance, meanwhile, has been in the 1A 11-man ranks for the entirety of its co-op, remaining playoff eligible through a quirk of WHSAA rules that allows co-ops to claim only partial enrollments of schools.

In other words, Big Horn has been the small guy in the big division for a long time, while Upton-Sundance has been the big guy in the small division for a long time.

That changed this year, when Big Horn — after winning the 2A title in 2016 — came back to the 1A ranks and joined Upton-Sundance in the same classification (and the same conference) for the first time in football.

As expected, both teams have continued their streaks of dominance amid the conference restructuring. The Rams are 4-1, the lone loss by a single point in overtime to defending 1A 11-man champ Pine Bluffs and the four victories all by at least 28 points, while the Patriots are 6-0, their closest game last week’s 28-14 victory against Southeast.

In terms of the 2017 season, this game is critical for both programs as the 1A 11-man playoff race finds its form.

In terms of the rivalries that exist between the three schools — and the two programs — the game is more than just an opportunity to gain a better playoff seed. It’s an opportunity to revive a dormant regional rivalry between two programs that have consistently displayed excellence.

+++

Other games that look like they’re halfway decent:

The 3A East showdown between Torrington and Douglas could be for the conference crown. They’re the only two teams in the conference who are still unbeaten in league play. Winning Friday is no guarantee of a title, but the team that wins will be in control of its own destiny. …

The Bridger Valley Bowl is always interesting, full stop. Mountain View has the edge, but in a rivalry game, Lyman could be dangerous. Also, don’t overlook the Sublette County rivalry bubbling between Big Piney and Pinedale. …

The only interclass game of the week has Kemmerer at Lusk, and it could be a tight one. If it was in Kemmerer, maybe I’d go with the Rangers, but with almost 400 miles between the two communities — who are playing each other for the first time, by the way — the edge goes to the home team. …

Oh yeah, it’s rivalry week in 4A. Capital Bowl with East-Central, Oil Bowl with Kelly Walsh-Natrona, Energy Bowl with Sheridan-Gillette… and yet the best game in 4A might be Thunder Basin facing off against Rock Springs. Both teams desperately need this one to keep any dreams of a home playoff game alive. …

+++

On to some picks. As usual, the team I anticipate winning is bolded. Because the reverse of that would just look ridiculous and confusing. I have standards.

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

For a full schedule including kickoff times, check out the 2017 schedule and results page.

Thank goodness Evanston is off this week. They can’t screw up my picks. They were the *only* team to do so last week. Oh well. Maybe this week I finally have a perfect week in the regular season? Meh. It’s more fun when it’s not predictable.

Last week: 30-1 (97 percent). This season: 152-25 (86 percent).

So what rivalry in Week 6 are you most happy to see — revived or not? Post your thoughts in a comment and let me know!

–patrick

The Rawlins football program is desperate for success.

The Outlaws’ football history is filled with more troughs of frustration than peaks of success; with 471 losses over 93 seasons, Rawlins has lost more games than any other program in Wyoming.

But this season is different.

What Rawlins has done through five games in 2017 already has the Outlaws on track for their most memorable campaign in almost two decades. With its 5-0 start, a record at least at .500 is guaranteed — and that’s something that has happened just twice (1999 and 2000) in the past 30 years of Outlaw football.

This week, the Outlaws will have the chance to show they aren’t just settling for .500.

However, when 5-0 Rawlins hosts 4-0 Douglas on Friday night, the Outlaws will play in unfamiliar conditions. The last time Rawlins as many as five consecutive games was in 1999 and 2000; the Outlaws won their last game in 1999 and then went 9-0 to win the 3A championship in 2000. Prior to that, Rawlins hadn’t won five in a row since winning six straight to open the 1986 season.

Rawlins’ opponent on Friday is in a completely different historical era.

Douglas has won at least five straight games eight different times since 1999, including a 30-game winning streak from 2008-10. And the last 17 times Rawlins and Douglas have played, Douglas has won; Rawlins hasn’t beaten Douglas since the 2001 regular season.

The fact that Rawlins comes into the game not only undefeated but with perhaps a slight edge speaks volumes to what the coaches and players have been able to do since Corey Wheeler took over as head coach in 2014. The former Cheyenne Central star immediately led Rawlins to a 4-5 mark, then slipped back to 2-6 before again finishing 4-5 last year.

Last year’s Outlaws started 4-1 before losing their final four games.

This year’s Outlaws are proving they learned lessons from that frustrating finish.

Slowly but surely, Rawlins’ desperation for success has morphed into an expectation of success.

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Other games that might be halfway decent this week:

Beyond Rawlins-Douglas, the other 3A East games are also big this week. After losing to Rawlins last week, Buffalo needs to beat Torrington to keep any hopes for a home playoff game alive. Meanwhile, Lander and Riverton face off in the Fremont County rivalry after both losing last week in their conference openers, meaning both teams will be on edge that much more. …

Star Valley’s trip to Cody might be interesting. Even though the Broncs lost to Green River last week, they’ve proven they have the ability to play close with anyone in 3A, including the top-ranked Braves. But Star Valley has owned this series, winning 10 straight in Cody since the early 1990s. …

The battle of tough nonconference schedules comes to a head in the 2A East when Wheatland (which played three 3A foes in Weeks 1-3) plays Glenrock (which played two 3A foes and top 2A contender Greybull in Weeks 1-3). They both won their conference openers last week. …

Upton-Sundance has a potential trap game this week in its venture to Yoder to play Southeast. The Patriots have Big Horn next week, and if they get caught looking ahead, the Cyclones might be an upset-maker. …

The toughest game of the week to pick may be Lingle at Hanna. Barring a late-season upset of some kind, the winner of this game likely makes the playoffs, and the loser is likely out. That means both teams should feel a little urgency, which can be either a blessing or a curse. …

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Here are the Week 5 picks. Winners, or so I think.

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

For a full schedule including kickoff times, check out the 2017 schedule and results page.

Here’s how well I did last week. This should give some hope to those teams I didn’t bold. I’m wrong often enough to feel good about your chances.

Last week: 26-6 (81 percent). This season: 122-24 (84 percent).

So who’s your boo for Week 5? Who’s ready to spring a big upset? Leave a comment so we can talk about it!

–patrick

Everything — except history — will be on Thunder Basin’s side when the ‘Bolts face Gillette on Friday.

The game will be the first between the new Gillette rivals, the beginning of a rivalry that will likely live for decades and develop its own rich character and flavor.

The short-term football history between the intra-city foes is pretty simple: When the returning seniors and juniors got to choose their school, most of them chose Thunder Basin. Because of that mass migration south, Thunder Basin has a better-than-average chance of ending a streak of bad luck for first-year programs playing intra-city rivals for the first time.

The ‘Bolts are a respectable 2-2; losses to Cheyenne East and Sheridan the past two weeks have slowed their momentum a bit, but they’re still one of the better Class 4A teams in Wyoming.

The Camels, meanwhile, are 0-4, outscored 251-19 while playing with what mostly amounts to a junior-varsity team.

Yes, Thunder Basin will probably win the first “Coal Bowl.” However, while the short-term history might be on Thunder Basin’s side, long-term history is on Gillette’s side: Schools playing an intra-city foe in their first season have had historically bad luck, going 0-5 all-time.

Those losses include:

In 1960, Cheyenne East lost its first game to Cheyenne Central 13-7. (East beat Central 7-6 the next season.)

In 1965, Kelly Walsh lost its first game to Natrona 12-7. (Kelly Walsh first beat Natrona 8-7 in 1969.)

In 2011, Cheyenne South lost its first game to Cheyenne Central 63-0 and its first game to Cheyenne East 49-6. (South first beat Central 31-28 in 2014 and first beat East 31-28 last season.)

And, in 1908, University Prep lost its first game to Laramie 6-5. (Prep never beat Laramie, going 0-10-1 all-time.)

Thunder Basin will probably break this 109-year-old trend. After all, who needs history when you’re barely a month old?

If somehow Gillette pulls this one off, though, we can chalk it up to more than a century of history stacked against the ‘Bolts.

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A few other games that have me rubbernecking to check them out:

I didn’t anticipate that the Week 4 game between Rawlins and Buffalo would match up two undefeated teams. But here we are. And the winner might secure home field in the playoffs by late October in what’s turning into a weekly gauntlet in the 3A East. …

Last year’s 2A runner-up, Greybull, is off to a somewhat surprising 1-2 start. That makes Friday’s game against Pinedale — which started 2-0 in conference play — all of a sudden a make-or-break game for the Buffaloes. …

Tongue River travels south to play Pine Bluffs in a rematch of last year’s 1A 11-man title game. That feels like a lifetime ago. Nevertheless, in a competitive 1A 11-man East where only one team has a losing record right now, this is a big one. …

East-Natrona ought to be a good one. Even though East is undefeated, Natrona is still the favorite. I’m sure that will get East fired up. …

I’m curious to see how Cody stacks up on the road against Green River. The Wolves should win, but the Broncs have shown some pluck this season and I think they’ll be tougher than people might anticipate. …

Shoshoni’s been outscored 135-0 this season; Wind River’s been outscored 132-20. Someone will get off the schneid when they play each other; the winner’s likely headed for the playoffs. …

The only interclass game this week (Mountain View at Jackson) is actually really intriguing. Curious to see how the Buffalos do punching above their class against the winless Broncs. …

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Picks. Bold for winners. Obviously.

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

For a full schedule including kickoff times, check out the 2017 schedule and results page.

I pick every game every week. And I tally how well I do. But you knew that, right?

Last week: 27-5 (84 percent). This season: 96-18 (84 percent).

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On Rock River: As reported a couple weeks ago, Rock River has decided to forgo its varsity season. Longhorns coach Doug Spriggs said via email to wyoming-football.com this week the Longhorns will play a junior varsity schedule this year. The Longhorns have only six healthy players on their roster right now, Spriggs said; four of those hadn’t played varsity football prior to this season.

“It was not in the best interests of our student athletes or programs future to take on the juggernaut of six-man varsity football given these circumstances,” Spriggs wrote.

Spriggs said Rock River will run its junior high program this season and intends to field a high school varsity team in 2018.

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After this week, we’ll be halfway through the season. Who’s been your surprise team so far? Who’s been doing exactly what you expected? Leave a comment and let’s talk!

–patrick

When the WHSAA Board of Directors meets for the first of its four quarterly meetings on Sept. 26-27 in Casper, one of the big topics will be — get this — reclassification.

The WHSAA reclassifies schools every two years. Two big changes are part of this year’s reclassification cycle — the changes the WHSAA approved last spring, and Thunder Basin now officially being a part of reclassification rather than an add-on.

In case you forgot, here’s how the structures are changing:

  • Basketball, volleyball and track are changing from a 12-16-20 format to a 16-16-16 format. Four more teams in 4A, four fewer teams in 2A. That’ll mean a lot of moving around for those sports.
  • Soccer is changing from a 12-team 4A to a 14-team 4A, with everyone else in 3A.
  • Wrestling, cross country, golf and swimming don’t have any structure changes; neither do one-class sports indoor track, alpine skiing, Nordic skiing and tennis. Wrestling, cross country, golf and swimming, though, will see some schools change classes to accommodate Thunder Basin.

Based on the “average daily membership” enrollments provided by the WHSAA, here are the changes I anticipate for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years:

For football: No changes. (The only possible change prompted strictly by enrollment comes at the 3A/2A level. Buffalo opted up to 3A this season and will have the option to do so again for the next two years as they’ll still be classified in 2A by enrollment. Riverside will continue to be ineligible for the six-man playoffs at its current enrollment level.)

For basketball, volleyball and track: Star Valley, Riverton and Cody from 3A to 4A; Burns, Lovell and Big Piney from 2A to 3A; Upton from 2A to 1A.

For soccer: Star Valley from 3A to 4A.

For wrestling, cross country and golf: Jackson from 4A to 3A; Thermopolis from 3A to 2A.

For swimming: Jackson from 4A to 3A.

Conferences and regions for each sport have yet to be established. Conferences are established by participating schools, but the WHSAA sets regions for regional tournament qualifying.

Because this is gonna get SUPER confusing, here’s a cheat sheet to estimate which schools will be classified where for each sport. Check it out. It’s handy.

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The ADM numbers the WHSAA provided to the schools, rounded to the nearest whole number, are as follows:

1. Kelly Walsh, 1,958
2. Natrona, 1,902
3. Rock Springs, 1,597
4. Cheyenne East, 1,522
5. Cheyenne South, 1,409
6. Cheyenne Central, 1,346
7. Thunder Basin, 1,234
8. Gillette, 1,175
9. Laramie, 1,142
10. Sheridan, 998
11. Evanston, 828
12. Green River, 817
13. Jackson, 813
14. Star Valley, 783
15. Riverton, 711
16. Cody, 615
17. Powell, 561
18. Lander, 546
19. Douglas, 505
20. Rawlins, 474
21. Worland, 428
22. Torrington, 358
23. Buffalo, 339
24. Pinedale, 321
25. Wheatland, 280
26. Mountain View, 263
27. Newcastle, 257
28. Lyman, 231
29. Burns, 224
30. Thermopolis, 216
31. Lovell, 212
32. Big Piney, 188
33. Glenrock, 184
34. Kemmerer, 177
35. Moorcroft, 170
36. Greybull, 154
37. Tongue River, 151
38. Big Horn, 140
39. Wyoming Indian, 136
40. Rocky Mountain, 132
41. Wright, 127
42. Wind River, 125
43. Sundance, 120
44. Shoshoni, 114
45. Pine Bluffs, 111
46. Southeast, 94
47. Riverside, 93
48. Lusk, 92
49. Saratoga, 84
50. Cokeville, 80
51. Lingle, 73
52. Upton, 70
53. Burlington, 69
54. Guernsey-Sunrise, 67
55. Normative Services, 65
56. St. Stephens, 65
57. Farson, 62
58. Hanna, 62
59. Kaycee, 54
60. Hulett, 51
61. Fort Washakie, 49
62. Encampment, 47
63. Snake River, 46
64. Dubois, 43
65. Meeteetse, 43
66. Midwest, 39
67. Arvada-Clearmont, 35
68. Arapaho Charter, 35
69. Ten Sleep, 35
70. Rock River, 28
71. Glendo, 20
72. Chugwater, 12

–patrick

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