Wyoming high school sports are still on track to start on time, even after the Mountain West Conference postponed fall sports, including football.

Wyoming High School Activities Association Commissioner Ron Laird said Tuesday in an interview with wyoming-football.com that the Mountain West’s decision isn’t affecting how high schools, or the WHSAA, will move forward with fall sports.

“We’re totally different than them,” Laird said, “and I would hope that everyone would continue to look at where we are in Wyoming and what’s going on in Wyoming.”

Laird said the state’s high schools have done well instituting the required protocols to protect students who participate in activities. Laird cited a survey the WHSAA did in late June, noting that more than 4,000 daily screenings of players and coaches had yielded zero COVID-19-positive results.

“Our schools have done a great job this summer of putting those protocols in place,” he said. ” … I have the utmost confidence in our schools that they’re going to continue to do that.”

Of the three tiers in place in the WHSAA’s “Smart Start Guidance,” Laird said all but two schools are in Tier I. In Tier I, schools are open and teams practice screening, sanitizing and social distancing. The only two schools not in Tier I are Wyoming Indian and St. Stephens, which both recently canceled fall sports.

Athletes from those two schools can transfer to other schools to compete this fall as hardship cases, Laird said, but both schools have to agree to the transfer first. Students can also return to their first school and retain eligibility when their first school reopens, but Laird said he hoped schools would work to arrange transfers at the end of grading periods so students who make such a move don’t lose credits.

On a statewide level, Laird said he was not naive enough to think there won’t be cases of COVID-19 on high school campuses this fall. But he also said he is confident in the protocols that are in place if a case does arise. He also said students, coaches and parents need to be honest about what they see.

“Our goal is to complete the season, and our purpose is to have kids compete,” Laird said, adding that students, coaches or parents who try to hide someone’s symptoms so they can play “wrecks it for everybody else.”

“If we want this opportunity, we’ve got to keep doing the protocols, staying safe and making good decisions.”

Laird said state and local health departments and school boards will still maintain control when, or if, COVID-19 cases arise. Laird said he was satisfied with the discussions he has had so far with Dr. Alexia Harrist, Wyoming’s state health officer and state epidemiologist.

“I was just very pleased with Dr. Harrist and her staff,” he said. “They were very reasonable.”

One of the reasons high school sports can continue while the Mountain West cannot, Laird said, were outbreak hotspots in the MW. Since high schools aren’t sending players to outbreak locations like California, Las Vegas or Boise, the risk is much lower, Laird said.

Laramie’s University of Wyoming, meanwhile, is not a COVID-19 hotspot but suffered the consequence of being associated with schools in hotspot areas.

“UW did a great job with their kids and their protocols and the safety of their students,” Laird said. “It was outstanding. … But they have just so many factors out there that they have no control over.”

Laird said one of the reasons high school sports can continue this fall even though spring sports were canceled when the state had lower infection rates is because of the evolving knowledge about how the disease is spread. This allowed schools and organizations like the WHSAA and the National Federation of High Schools to develop protocols like the ones used this fall by teams in every sport to limit the spread of disease.

“I think everybody has just learned so much more about this as we’ve gone through it, including the experts,” Laird said. ” … We’re all concerned with the total health of our students, and the mental and emotional health of our students is an important part of that, too.”

Practice for golf, tennis and Class 4A football started Monday. Practice for cross country, girls swimming, volleyball and class 3A, 2A and 1A football begins next week.

Interscholastic competition starts Wednesday for golf and Saturday for tennis. Football games start Aug. 28.

–patrick

About this time last year, I posted something fun: Wyoming’s top returning high school football players by uniform number.

You all liked it. Like, a lot. Only one other post got more views all year long than the one I’ve linked above.

I hear you. So we’re back at it again.

The gist of this is that rather than looking by team or position, we’re picking out Wyoming’s best returning players by the number you’ll use to identify them on the field.

For some numbers, that’s exceedingly difficult. For most single-digit numbers, and for some reasons several numbers in the 20s, it was hard to pick just one player. For other numbers, it was easy — because only one returning player in the state wore that number last year.

The result is that this list recognizes a variety of players, from schools large and small, across all kinds of talent spectrums. Of course, a list like this has no right or wrong answers. It just has my answers. If you disagree with my selections, that’s awesome! After all, that’s why we play the game. And I’d love to hear your comments about who you think belongs in the spot belonging to a specific uniform number.

A quick note: I can’t guarantee that the numbers players wore last year will be worn again by them this year. I can’t even guarantee that they’ll go out, or that they haven’t moved since the end of last year. I used last year’s stat listings to determine what jersey number players wore; if your team didn’t compile stats, I didn’t (moreover, couldn’t) include those players. Also, a few of these players wore more than one number last year; they’re noted with asterisks.

All that said: Here it is, Wyoming’s top returning high school football players by jersey number for 2020.

NumberNameSchool
1Carson BatesBig Horn
2Jackson HesfordCheyenne East
3Hyrum HatchBuffalo
4Cooper HillLingle
5Brant NelsonStar Valley
6Tyler NicholsLovell
7Kieser WolfeTorrington
8Sadler SmithJackson
9Andrew JohnsonCheyenne Central
10Nate BarnesCokeville
11Izak AksamitSheridan
12Harrison TaubertNatrona
13Graedyn BuellCheyenne East
14Tryston TruemplerShoshoni
15Collin MadsenRock Springs
16James WoodCheyenne South
17Jake RaylCheyenne East
18Cason JamesLovell
19Preston BrewerLyman
20Carter LobatosCheyenne Central
21Liam HughesBig Piney
22Jess ClaycombUpton-Sundance
23Tyler BanksRocky Mountain
24Dylan TaylorGreen River
25Kade GuentherGlenrock
26Christian WalkerBig Horn
27Hunter KramerGillette
28Jaxon PikulaThunder Basin
29Rylan WehrDouglas
30Dominick BradachNatrona
31Grant MillsWright
32Jack SweeneyLander
33Cord HerringSoutheast
34Tate ClutterRiverside
35Nate LundbergCheyenne Central
36Triston LamorieFarson
37Connor BrownMountain View
38Julien GuinaLander
39Tony PerfettiTongue River
40Drake LampLusk
41Dominic GrayKelly Walsh
42Gabe BormanDouglas
43Dayne LampLusk**
44Colter DawsonJackson
45Tiger BullenNSI
46Bradyn StroufBuffalo
47Kolby BroederlowBurlington
48Kobe BartoCheyenne South
49Nic TalichCody
50Cordell ForknerLingle
51Dylan MolzahnLusk
52Ethan ZancanellaWright
53Noah RimmerSaratoga
54Trey BowerCheyenne East
55Julian VigilCheyenne East**
56Dakota HeckmanCheyenne East
57Ethan WeissBig Horn
58Joey KosteleckyCheyenne Central
59Chris LarsonSheridan
60Jimmy KoenigCheyenne Central
61Derek JohnsonEvanston
62Sawyer AndersonSoutheast
63Aaron OriaDouglas**
64Remington FerreeThermopolis
65Mason WellsLusk
66Quinton MangusSheridan
67Kannon ProchnowKelly Walsh
68Ethan BirdCokeville
69Nick CarlsonKemmerer**
70Gabe NieldStar Valley
71Sam HendersonKelly Walsh
72Mason HutsonLander
73T.J. WilsonCheyenne Central
74Jake MartinezGreen River
75Kale CorleyNewcastle
76Hunter MeeksMountain View
77Trey WrightWorland
78Jacob KnoblochTongue River
79Tim PeckKemmerer
80Jake HicksWheatland
81Jared LucasRiverton
82Rhys StaffordKaycee
83Rodee BrowWheatland
84Brock StoreboCheyenne Central
85Caleb CockrumKelly Walsh
86Jaret TaylorCheyenne East
87Brady StoreboCheyenne Central
88Broden MathesRiverton
89Lucas EngleRiverton
90No returners identified
91No returners identified
92No returners identified
93No returners identified
94No returners identified
95No returners identified
96No returners identified
97No returners identified
98No returners identified
99Kevin GunhammerTorrington**

**-Last year, Lamp also wore #70; Vigil also wore #87; Oria also wore #99; Carlson also wore #54; Gunhammer also wore #74 and #84.

Feedback? Leave a comment, or consider following along with what I do on Twitter or Facebook.

–patrick

Usually, the math is pretty simple: When you win more games than you lose, you go to the playoffs.

Occasionally, though, that simple math doesn’t quite work the way it should.

Since 2000, the number of playoff-eligible teams to finish with a winning record but still miss the playoffs is short: Saratoga in 2013 (5-3), Greybull in 2011 (6-4) and Sheridan in 2007 (5-4). (Riverton finished 6-4 in 2002 and did not make the playoffs, but was 4-4 in the regular season before winning the consolation playoffs. Remember those?)

Prior to 2000, missing the playoffs with a winning record was more common, in part because many classifications still only had four teams reach the postseason. However, some programs still finished with winning records in classifications with eight-team brackets only to miss the playoffs, usually because of a poor conference record but a strong nonconference stretch. That included two programs in 1999, Sundance (6-3) and Meeteetse (4-3), the last time two teams with winning records missed the playoffs in eight-team brackets in the same year.

But 1999 has nothing on 1994, when four teams with winning records in classifications with eight-team brackets — Tongue River, Greybull, Lingle and Guernsey-Sunrise — all missed the playoffs. All four finished 4-3.

The last team to be victimized two years in a row in this way was Ten Sleep, which finished with winning records in 1996 (5-2) and 1997 (4-3) but missed the playoffs both times in eight-team brackets.

The last two-loss team to miss the playoffs was Lyman, which went 6-2 in 1998 but missed the playoffs in the four-team Class 2A bracket. The last one-loss team to miss the playoffs was Wright in 1988; the Panthers were 7-1 but did not make the four-team 2A playoffs.

(Note that Lusk finished 7-0 in 1991 and 8-0 in 1992 but did not qualify for the playoffs, as the Tigers were not eligible for the playoffs those years.)

–patrick

A single tip sent me down a huge rabbit hole — and from that, I’ve posted seven new all-state listings to the site.

I’ve added the Class B all-state teams from 1971 and 1970 in addition to the Class AA all-state team from 1950 and the all-class all-state teams from 1939, 1936, 1933 and 1929.

The last four teams listed above don’t have first names — for now.

The 1970 and 1971 Class B all-state teams have always been a mystery. A few years ago, I found an article that said those teams weren’t picked due to the regional loyalties of the coaches who selected the teams; research help from friend of the site Jim Craig had helped me uncover the 1970 and 1971 Class B all-conference teams, which I had posted here before:

But friend of the site Mike Ragan also alerted me to the fact that there was indeed all-state teams chosen then — he had the 1971 team cut out from the Casper paper to prove it. As it turns out, the Class B all-state teams ran in late December, after Christmas, well after I had given up looking for them (and maybe after the coaches came to their senses and voted for all-state teams after the whole regional rivalry thing got out to the public?).

Regardless, those teams are now listed as part of the site’s all-state listings.

Then I really headed down a research rabbit hole. Using a subscription I recently acquired, I uncovered the other all-state teams from 1950, 1939, 1936, 1933 and 1929 from various sources.

I also found the only missing first name I couldn’t find since 1945. For the 1969 Class B team, I found the first name for Mountain View’s Joe Aimone, who had always been listed only with his first initial.

I also added Rawlins’ Gary Eyre to the 1951 all-state team. I unintentionally left him off the original list.

In exploring all-state selections, I also corrected some spellings of some names: Cody’s Darren Wehrer (1985); Big Horn’s Nolan LaMeres (2000); Cokeville’s Kalvin Watson and Kaylan Grandy (2004); Cokeville’s Jared Watson (2002), Cokeville’s Kent Cassels (1990); Douglas’ Jon Schroeder (1984); Douglas’ Brent Plumb (1976); Guernsey’s Forest Foos (2015); Guernsey’s Greg Putnam (1972); Hanna’s Conor McGraw (2018); Kemmerer’s John Corra (1983); Kemmerer’s Curt Waisath (1982); Laramie’s Ralph Barkey (1951); Lovell’s Keith Grant (1997); Lusk’s Damien Molzahn (2017); Natrona’s Marcus Bielefeld (2005); Rawlins’ Larry Jebens (1974); Rawlins’ Floyd Rummel (1974); Southeast’s Justin Burkart (1997); Star Valley’s Todd Spencer (1982); Torrington’s Mike Cruickshank (1970); Wheatland’s Steve Loyd (1985); and Wright’s Erin Knight (1985). As always, if you spot a misspelling in my all-state listings, please let me know and I’ll get it fixed!

I’m exploring some other research regarding all-state teams, now that I’m confident that I have basically all of them from the 1940s forward — although the Class 1A nine-man all-state team from 1994 is still proving to be incredibly elusive. I still haven’t found a full listing for that team yet.

I’m still not sure if Class A or Class B all-state teams were chosen in the early 1950s, particularly 1950-54. I’m also still missing all-state teams from 1932 and 1926, which I can’t seem to find anywhere — and I’m not even sure if they were selected.

Still, it was fun to put a big dent in the research needed here to make the all-state listings complete. Thanks to Mike for the inspiration!

–patrick

Debate time: 2020 will be Wyoming high school football’s 100th season (or at least the 100th since the modern form of it started in 1921). If I made a list of the 100 greatest players over those 100 years, which ONE player should definitely be on that list?

Leave a comment with your nomination…

–patrick

It’s a tradition ’round these parts to live in a fantasy world — one with reliable transportation, unlimited money and lots of free time.

How I would spend that time and money, come August/September/October/November, is on attending high school football games.

With a 2020 schedule in hand (and with an optimistic view that the season will still happen on schedule), here’s where I’d go to catch as many games, and as many good games, as I possibly could:

Week 0 (Friday, Aug. 28): East-West Jamboree, Casper, 11 a.m. Friday; Cheyenne East at Thunder Basin, 6 p.m. Friday; Big Horn-Buffalo scrimmage, 1 p.m. Saturday. The showdown in Gillette between the Thunderbirds and the ‘Bolts is the marquee matchup of the opening weekend. However, the East-West Jamboree, featuring nine of the teams in six-man nine-man facing off in Casper, will be a great opportunity to see how the classification might come together. Another scrimmage on Saturday between two teams that played in Laramie last year is a nice bonus.

Week 1 (Friday, Sept. 4): Rawlins at Lyman, 5 p.m. Thursday; Guernsey-Sunrise at Farson, 1 p.m. Friday; Mountain View at Evanston, 7 p.m. Friday; Snake River at Hanna, noon Saturday. The first two games are nice appetizers before the meal. The Mountain View-Evanston game is one of the most intriguing interclass games on the schedule in 2020, and then Saturday’s Carbon County duel between Snake River and Hanna is a reprise of last year’s six-man title game.

Week 2 (Friday, Sept. 11): Farson at Burlington, 2 p.m. Friday; Lander at Powell, 7 p.m. Friday; Ten Sleep at Meeteetse, 2 p.m. Saturday. The Northwest corner has some intriguing games in Week 2, including the Lander-Powell matchup that could be 3A’s most interesting early-season matchup. Both squads impressed last year, and I’d be curious to see how they stack up. Throw in a couple six-man games, and it’s a full weekend.

Week 3 (Friday, Sept. 18): Shoshoni at St. Stephens, 5 p.m. Thursday; Encampment at Farson, 2 p.m. Friday; Sheridan at Rock Springs, 6 p.m. Friday; Burlington at Snake River, 2 p.m. Saturday. Lots of options existed in Week 3, including the Oil Bowl, but I decided that seeing a pair of what should be awesome 1A six-man West games was too good to pass up. In between is a showdown between Sheridan and Rock Springs that should be better than people anticipate, and a Thursday nine-man Fremont County game is a nice bonus (but not the only one we’ll get this year).

Week 4 (Friday, Sept. 25): Shoshoni at Wind River, 7 p.m. Thursday; Hulett at Kaycee, 2 p.m. Friday; Rock Springs at Natrona, 6 p.m. Friday; NSI at Midwest, 2 p.m. Saturday. More six-man and nine-man fun at non-Friday night times is always cool, and the Rock Springs-Natrona game last year was a doozy. Several games with great potential dot the schedule for Week 4, so really, you can’t go wrong.

Week 5 (Friday, Oct. 2): Sheridan JV at NSI, 1 p.m. Thursday; Farson at Kaycee, 2 p.m. Friday; Torrington at Big Horn, 6 p.m. Friday; Guernsey at Hulett, 1 p.m. Saturday. We’re staying Northeast for this weekend of football, mostly because I want to see this Torrington-Big Horn matchup. Who knows? By Week 5, it may have lost some luster, but right now it looks like a really fun game. A bunch of six-man around it fills out the weekend.

Week 6 (Friday, Oct. 9): St. Stephens at Wind River, 7 p.m. Thursday; Cody at Star Valley, 4 p.m. Friday; Cokeville at Kemmerer, 6 p.m. Friday; Thermopolis at Lyman, 11 a.m. Saturday. Yes, I know, I can’t get to BOTH the Star Valley and Kemmerer fields in time to watch both games… but I can’t resist that Cody-Star Valley game, which always seems to be a good one. Everything else is gravy, even if it’s just the second half (or fourth quarter?) in Kemmerer.

Week 7 (Friday, Oct. 16): St. Stephens at Wyoming Indian, 7 p.m. Thursday; Lusk at Southeast, 2 p.m. Friday; Wheatland at Torrington, 7 p.m. Friday; Hulett vs. Hanna (at Midwest), noon Saturday. On paper, the Lusk-Southeast, Wheatland-Torrington and Hulett-Hanna games could all be huge in deciding conference championships and playoff seeding. Meanwhile, Thursday’s game is the renewal of a reservation rivalry that may not have the title stakes but might be the most meaningful game of the week.

Week 8 (Friday, Oct. 23): Glenrock at Tongue River, noon Friday; Thunder Basin at Sheridan, 6 p.m. Friday; Dubois at Ten Sleep, 2 p.m. Saturday. You’d be out of your mind to think I’d miss the ‘Bolts and the Broncs in the regular-season closer. The other two games are nice and close, and they’d bring a solid end to the regular season.

With this plan, I’d get to see 41 of Wyoming’s 65 programs play football. Thanks to the non-Friday-night scheduling, I’d see Farson four times and Hulett and St. Stephens three times each; I’d also see Thunder Basin, Sheridan, Rock Springs, Big Horn, Lyman, Torrington, Shoshoni, Wind River, Guernsey, Snake River, Hanna, Burlington, Ten Sleep, Kaycee and NSI twice each. I’d see every team in six-man thanks to its less consistent scheduling. And I’d put an extra 2,618 miles on my car, eat lots of sodium-filled gas station snacks and temporarily alienate my wife in the process. Worth it.

–patrick

Updated 9:15 a.m. May 28 to fix an error in the Week 0 listing.

Here’s a collection of Friday’s #bethelight and #bethelightwy posts in Wyoming on social media. If you’ve got one that you’d like me to consider posting here, email me at pschmiedt@yahoo.com; I’d love to have one post from each school that participated.

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Be The Light. Well done, Pinedale!?

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Since the start of Wyoming high school football back in 1894, a total of 233 teams have gone undefeated — defined as playing at least four games in a season and not losing a single one of them.

But which team is the best of the bunch?

Since we can’t exactly put two teams from different eras on the same field at the same time, I think the best way to decide the answer to that question is one big bracket and a bunch of simulations.

Welcome to the Wyoming Football Ultimate Playoff: three single-elimination brackets set up to help decide which team truly was Wyoming’s best.

The three brackets are set up for each level of play — one for 11-man, one for six-man and one combined bracket for eight- and nine-man. Teams will face each other in simulation games staged on League Simulator. As the tournament progresses into later rounds, I’ll set up pre-game polls on the Wyoming-football.com Twitter account, so you can chime in with your thoughts on who you think will win the games closer to the championships.

Brackets are available here for each of the three divisions.

+++

I know you have questions. Let me try to address them before you ask them:

How did you seed the teams?

With way more time and care than I probably should have. For the 11-man bracket, I separated teams into three tiers based on the level at which they completed their undefeated season — what I called Tier 1, the big-school level (modern 4A); Tier 2, the medium-school level (modern 3A); and Tier 3, the smaller-school level (modern 2A and 1A). I subjectively ranked teams in each tier and then seeded each tier from there. That means the 64 teams in Tier 1 were seeded 1-64, then the 40 Tier 2 schools were seeded 65-104, and the remaining 75 Tier 3 schools were seeded 105-180.

Within each tier, I tried to separate the bracket so teams from the same school wouldn’t meet each other any sooner than the bracket’s quarterfinals. That means I didn’t seed the bracket 1-180 based on the rankings I would have given them; I got teams close, and then adjusted seeds to avoid same-school pairings until that quarterfinal round.

For the eight-man and six-man brackets, I didn’t have tiers — I just seeded them, also looking to avoid same-school matchups until as late as possible.

When seeding teams, I looked season records at whether the teams had any ties; any team with a tie was automatically sent to the bottom of the tier; for example, an 8-0-1 team was never going to be seeded higher than a 8-0 team from the same tier. From there, I used a combination of season scoring, an analyzation of teams’ closest victories, reputation, era, and intuition to rank them as well as I could. After seeds were in place, I started to do the math…

What effect do seeds have on the simulation?

Not a whole lot. After I was done seeding, I used a big Excel sheet to give each team’s offense and each team’s defense a single ranking from 1-9 (one being the worst, nine the best), as those are the ranking levels used for teams on League Simulator, the simulator I’m using for this project. It’s those rankings, NOT the seeds, that will have the biggest effect on the results of the simulated games.

I ran through a few dry runs on League Simulator, and I noted that the lower-ranked teams do occasionally still win — a fact I like a lot, which hopefully will make the bracket more realistic and give us a chance for a couple Cinderellas.

In determining a team’s rankings for offense and defense, I used a combination of points scored, points allowed, tier of play, and era. As I looked at the data, I noticed there were huge differences in teams that gave up, say, nine points per game in 2012 against a team that gave up the same amount of points in 1925. The 2012 team was, by all measures, a better defensive team; we can’t compare their defensive efforts head-to-head, point-to-point, without accounting for what era they played in. So I tried to “curve” scoring over each era to allow for more realistic comparisons between them. For era, I separated teams into pre-1945, 1946-1985 and 1986-present — the three eras when scoring between teams was relatively similar.

In the 11-man bracket, only two teams ended up with rankings of 9 on both offense and defense: Laramie 1964 (seeded #4 overall) and Natrona 2014 (seeded #13 overall). No teams are “perfect 18s” in either my six-man or eight/nine-man brackets.

Rankings for every team are available at the bottom of the brackets page.

I think my favorite team is seeded too low, or has rankings that I think are too low. Can I appeal the seed and/or the ranking?

No.

Can I complain?

Sure. Go nuts.

What if a really good team loses to a significantly lower-rated team really early in the bracket? I mean, come on, that would never happen in real life.

Right. But I guess that’s the fun (and frustration) of a single-elimination bracket, isn’t it? If we ran this simulation 10 different times, we’d probably get 10 different champs. I hope the brackets stimulate conversation, not end it.

What inspired this?

I’ve been thinking about doing this for years. I actually drew up a preliminary bracket in 2015, but I never felt like I had the right approach until the past few weeks when I started playing around with online simulators, looking for one that would give me the closest thing to what I was looking for. That, plus a bizarre start to 2020 (a safer-at-home order from my governor, a shutdown at my employer, and some free time) made now the right time to do this. Oh, and the fact that Wyoming high school football is nearing its unofficial 100th birthday next year helps, too!

Games start Friday, April 10.

That’s it for now. Watch for game results on the Wyoming-football.com Twitter account, and follow the brackets here.

Even better, set up an office pool. We haven’t had enough of those in 2020.

–patrick

The Wyoming high school football makeup will see a huge shift in 2020, as reclassification introduces a nine-man classification and sends 12 schools into different classifications.

But what if reclassification had hit in 2019 instead of 2020? What if next year’s conferences were in place this year? How different would the 2019 season have turned out?

Here’s a quick hypothetical look at how 2019 may have developed if we were using the 2020 conference alignments:

Class 4A: No differences. Class 4A is untouched by reclassification. Sheridan still wins it all.

Class 3A: The only difference in 3A is Buffalo taking Torrington’s spot. And the Bison had a pretty salty team last year, finishing second in 2A. So where would Buffalo have finished in a parity-filled 3A East? Good question… but my guess is just above the three-way tie for second, just behind Lander. Maybe a final order of Lander, Buffalo, (tied teams Riverton, Douglas, Worland,) Rawlins. But Star Valley still wins it all.

Class 2A: Ready for this simulation to get weird? With Big Horn, Upton-Sundance, Torrington, Tongue River and Cokeville in (and Buffalo, Moorcroft and Greybull out), the dynamics in 2A take on a much different look. Based on interclass games and score comparisons, this is the best I could come up with in terms of what the conference standings might have looked like in 2019:

2A East: Big Horn, Burns, Upton-Sundance, Torrington, Wheatland, Tongue River, Glenrock, Newcastle.

2A West: Mountain View, Thermopolis, Cokeville, Lyman, Big Piney, Lovell, Pinedale, Kemmerer.

That means the first-round playoff matchups would have looked like this: (4W) Lyman at (1E) Big Horn; (3W) Cokeville at (2E) Burns; (3E) Upton-Sundance at (2W) Thermopolis; and (4E) Torrington at (1W) Mountain View. Those 2-3 matchups are doozies, and I’d pay good money to watch them. But ultimately, I think Big Horn and Mountain View end up in the title game, and I think Mountain View still takes it all.

Class 1A nine-man: You thought 2A was weird? Let’s try 1A nine-man, a classification that barely resembles the 1A 11-man class from 2019. It’s hard to compare across classifications here, but this is what I think the standings might have ended up looking like in 2019 with the teams in the conferences for 2020:

1A-9 East: Southeast, Wright, Lusk, Lingle, Moorcroft, Saratoga, Pine Bluffs.

1A-9 West: Shoshoni, Rocky Mountain, Greybull, Riverside, Wind River, St. Stephens, Wyoming Indian.

That leads to some interesting playoff pairings: Riverside at Southeast; Greybull at Wright; Lusk at Rocky Mountain; Lingle at Shoshoni. And from there, honestly, anything could happen. The East was the stronger conference, so it would have been entirely likely to see something like a Southeast-Wright championship game.

Class 1A six-man: A return to normalcy comes with six-man, as the two state title game opponents, Snake River and Hanna, remain in the classification. But with Lingle and St. Stephens gone, and Encampment in, a few teams would have finished higher in the standings than they did, and some of the first-round playoff pairings would have been a bit different.

1A-6 East: Hanna, Hulett, Kaycee, Guernsey, Midwest, NSI.

1A-6 West: Snake River, Burlington, Farson, Encampment, Meeteetse, Dubois, Ten Sleep (Ten Sleep didn’t field a team in 2019).

First-round pairings would have had Guernsey at Snake River, Kaycee at Burlington, Farson at Hulett and Encampment at Hanna. Ultimately, the Rattlers and Miners would have squared off again in Laramie, with Snake River winning it.

As teams, players and communities adjust to the new structure of Wyoming high school football in 2020, it’s interesting to think about what those changes will mean long-term. This little peek behind the curtain of this new structure could reveal some important distinctions about how 2020 might be different beyond just different players, coaches and schedules.

Hopefully, the season can happen.

–patrick

A handful of times in century-plus of Wyoming high school football, teams have scheduled each other one time for a regular-season contest only to never play each other again.

Many times, the one-and-done scenario isn’t played out a second time because the first game was so non-competitive that the schools realized the matchup was a bad idea in the first place.

Occasionally, though, teams scheduled each other one time, played a pretty decent game — and then never played each other again.

I compiled a list of these times — when two current programs played each other once, and only once, in the regular season in their histories. I found 79 such games. The games fell into eight categories:

  1. Teams punching above their weight in games in the 1920s and 1930s, when no one really fully understood the advantage big schools had.
  2. Games scheduled right before a program went away, either temporarily or for good, which disallowed a return game in the process.
  3. Games from 2013. (I’ll explain more on that in a second.)
  4. Games from 2019. Those involve Encampment, which just came back last year and hasn’t had a chance to play return games.
  5. Games that fall into that “mistake” category — blowouts of 40-plus points.
  6. Games that fall into the “too far” category — they weren’t blowouts of 40-plus points, but the trips were more than 250 miles one-way.
  7. Games that were actually decent matchups: within 250 miles, within 40 points.
  8. Games that were scheduled but never played because they were forfeited, and then never put on the schedule again.

I mentioned 2013, which ended up being a bizarre year for scheduling. If you’ll remember, that’s the year the Wyoming High School Activities Association had to put together a schedule that was more temporary than the rest. The WHSAA was deep in some reclassification discussions and put everything on hold for a year but still allowed teams to change classifications in football for the 2013 season before reclass fully hit in 2014, returning then to the normal two-year cycle. Consequently, the 2013 football schedule ended up with a lot of games that couldn’t be returned in 2014 as classifications and conferences changed the following year, including 10 games that were the only regular-season matchups ever between the participating schools.

However, of the 79 games that fall into one of these eight categories, eight 10 are on the schedule for 2020: Encampment’s games with Burlington, Midwest, Dubois, Meeteetse and Snake River; Lingle vs. Wright; Pine Bluffs vs. Riverside; Meeteetse vs. NSI; and St. Stephens vs. Wyoming Indian and Greybull.

Of the 16 games that I actually called decent matchups that might be worth seeing again, only three are probably feasible today due to classification changes since the games were originally played. None of the 16 games involved teams that are now in the same classification, but games involving 2A or 3A programs (where scheduling could actually make it happen) could be Cokeville-Jackson, Evanston-Pinedale and Pinedale-Worland.

Here are the times when current programs played each other one time and then never again, with the score of the game included and a $ mark indicating games we’ll see in 2020:

Punching above their weight in the early days
Gillette-Moorcroft 1922: Gil 58-0
Greybull-Natrona 1922: Nat 52-12
Greybull-Sheridan 1922: She 68-0
Glenrock-Natrona 1924: Nat 52-0
Cheyenne Central-Lingle 1925: CC 59-0
Green River-Saratoga 1926: GR 53-0
Powell-Ten Sleep 1926: Pow 72-0
Rawlins-Saratoga 1926: Raw 32-6
Rock Springs-Saratoga 1926: RS 47-0
Cokeville-Star Valley 1928: Cok 17-3***
Cheyenne Central-Lusk 1929: CC 38-0
Midwest-Rawlins 1930: tie 7-7***
Buffalo-Ten Sleep 1932: Buf 52-0
Hanna-Lander 1932: tie 6-6***
Cody-Ten Sleep 1933: Cod 25-0
Hanna-Natrona 1933: Nat 41-0
Riverton-Shoshoni 1933: Sho 6-0***
Kemmerer-Sheridan 1939: She 24-0
***-the little guy actually won, or tied

Programs be gettin’ canceled out here
St. Stephens 1965 (last season for several decades)
Buffalo-St. Stephens 1965: Buf 43-0
Greybull-St. Stephens 1965: SS 12-7 $
Kemmerer-St. Stephens 1965: Kem 12-0
Encampment and Farson 1990 (last seasons for several decades)
Big Horn-Farson 1990: BH win by forfeit
Burlington-Encampment 1990: Brl 21-0 $
Encampment-Midwest 1990: Mid 49-0 $
Farson-Lingle 1990: Lin win by forfeit
Hulett 2009 (played 2010 as a JV six-man)
Hulett-Lusk 2009: Lus 24-10
Hulett-Pine Bluffs 2009: PB 22-20
Rock River 2016 (hasn’t returned since)
Lingle-Rock River 2016: Lin 92-13

And then 2013 happened
Big Piney-Riverside 2013: BP 19-10
Burlington-Thermopolis 2013: The 40-26
Farson-Wyoming Indian 2013: Far 67-61
Guernsey-Sunrise-St. Stephens 2013: GS 85-0
Kaycee-Wyoming Indian 2013: Kay 77-26
Lingle-Wright 2013: Lin 35-18 $
Midwest-St. Stephens 2013: Mid 63-20
Pine Bluffs-Riverside 2013: Rsd 34-16 $
St. Stephens-Wyoming Indian 2013: WI 86-6 $
Snake River-Wyoming Indian 2013: SR 46-12

Too soon, man
Dubois-Encampment 2019: Enc 60-24 $
Encampment-Meeteetse 2019: Enc 45-15 $

Blowout mistakes (victories by 40-plus)
Lusk-Powell 1944: Pow 47-0
Cokeville-Farson 1988: Cok 48-0
Buffalo-Rocky Mountain 2003: Buf 42-0
Burns-Midwest 2005: Bur 60-0
NSI-Upton-Sundance 2012: US 48-6
NSI-St. Stephens 2014: NSI 59-12
Kaycee-Riverside 2016: Kay 56-0
Kemmerer-Rocky Mountain 2016: RM 47-7
Pine Bluffs-Wind River 2016: PB 41-0
Tongue River-Wyoming Indian 2016: TR 68-0
Rawlins-Wind River 2017: Raw 49-0

Ever look at a map? (victories by 39 or less but more than 250-mile trip one-way)
Jackson-Kelly Walsh 1966: KW 33-0
Lovell-Rawlins 1970: Lov 28-14
Sundance-Wyoming Indian 1986: WI 12-6 OT
Kemmerer-Worland 1988: Wor 12-0
Laramie-Powell 1990: Lar 48-13
Hulett-Wyoming Indian 1994: Hul 38-0
Hanna-Upton 1995: Upt 32-0 (played in Lingle)
Guernsey-Sunrise-Riverside 2002: GS 41-14 (played in Casper)
Glenrock-Jackson 2004: Glk 24-13
Newcastle-Rawlins 2004: Raw 21-13
Kemmerer-Lusk 2017: Lus 22-12

Hey that was actually a decent matchup (victories by 39 or less, fewer than 250-mile trip one-way)
Lingle-Newcastle 1937: Lin 13-12
Lander-Shoshoni 1950: Lan 40-25
Encampment-Snake River 1956: Enc 16-6 $
Moorcroft-Ten Sleep 1962: Mor 12-0
Big Piney-St. Stephens 1964: SS 13-0
Dubois-Mountain View 1968: MV 20-0
Cokeville-Jackson 1974: Cok 31-12
Evanston-Pinedale 1974: Eva 19-2
Gillette-Rawlins 1976: Raw 13-6
Lyman-Wind River 1976: Lym 32-0
Guernsey-Sunrise-Sundance 1978: GS 26-14
Greybull-Meeteetse 1985: Gre 39-6
Riverside-Thermopolis 1990: The 45-14
Greybull-Sundance 1995: Sun 14-13
Moorcroft-NSI 2004: Mor 26-14
Pinedale-Worland 2017: Wor 27-7

Good job, good effort
Meeteetse-NSI 2001: Meeteetse win by forfeit $
Wright-Wyoming Indian 2016: Wright win by forfeit

–patrick

Updated 10:40 a.m. Feb. 25 to add St. Stephens-Wyoming Indian and St. Stephens-Greybull to the list of games that will be played in 2020.

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