Between now and the second weekend of November 2023, a lot is possible.

We do know that, at the end of it all, five teams will be crowned champions, and 60 others will be left to chase.

Just which teams will win those five championships, we won’t know until the clock in War Memorial Stadium hits 0:00 on five separate occasions.

That doesn’t mean we can’t speculate.

So, here’s some way-too-early speculation on what might happen almost exactly 10 months from now on which teams might be the title holders come the end of a season that’s still months away from starting.

Class 4A
1. Cheyenne East
: With five first-team all-state players coming back — and with the rest of 4A only having four combined — the Thunderbirds are the early favorites to win it all in 2023. That tally also includes QB Cam Hayes and RB Drew Jackson, a good place to start.
2. Sheridan: Never, ever rule out the Broncs, who will need to replace a talented senior class but always seems to do so no matter who’s on the roster. DB Dane Steel, the conference defensive player of the year, and lineman Alex Haswell are the key pieces on which to rebuild.
3. Cheyenne Central: Central’s five returning first-team all-conference selections gives the Indians just as many as East, and a lot of that strength rests in an improving defense that could carry the team early.
4. Thunder Basin: Returning QB Alonso Aguilar gives the ‘Bolts some experience under center, a necessary piece for a team that has lots of holes to fill.
5. Rock Springs: The Tigers return some key offensive pieces in QB Michael Faigl, RB Brycen Cooms and WR Goodness Okere but might need to outscore opponents until the defense comes along.
Wild card: Natrona. The Mustangs were a senior-loaded bunch last season, but they always seem to be in the same position every season and usually come out OK on the other side. Some untested talent will need to grow quickly.

Class 3A
1. Star Valley
: The defending champs return three all-state picks, tops in the classification. The biggest offensive weapons are gone to graduation, but a solid group of up-and-coming players should make the Braves the favorites from day one.
2. Douglas: Douglas is loaded with solid returners, including QB Trey Rinn, linemen Tegen Seeds and Malachy Lehnen and maybe the best up-and-coming junior in the state in Carter Archuleta. The Bearcats will definitely be the East favorites.
3. Buffalo: The Bison had a solid campaign in 2022 and with four returning all-conference players (tied with Douglas for the most in 3A), they should be right in the championship discussion again this year. RB Will Hammond emerged as a solid offensive centerpiece.
4. Cody: How will the Broncs react to losing all 13 of their all-conference picks and all nine of their all-staters? If Cody’s returners learned anything in practice, it’ll be time to show it in the games.
5. Powell: A trio of returning all-conference selections, led by all-state WR Trey Stenerson and QB Jhett Schwahn, should put the Panthers in a good spot entering 2023.
Wild card: Evanston. The Red Devils get back a pair of all-staters in Cohen Morrow and Brady Roberts and could be a team on the rise but will need to adjust to a new head coach.

Class 2A
1. Lyman
: Three teams in 2A return four all-conference players; Lyman just happens to be one of them. The Eagles’ title hopes went awry in 2022, but honestly — a play here, a play there and maybe we’re talking four-peat.
2. Big Horn: The defending champs proved a lot in their title run, and with a pair of returning all-staters in Kiefer Dunham and Drew Heermann, the Rams should be in the chase for a repeat.
3. Tongue River: The Eagles had a breakthrough season in 2022, and they did so with a bunch of younger players leading the way. With four all-conference players returning — all of whom were key pieces of TR’s turnaround — watch out.
4. Mountain View: The Buffalos’ four returning all-conference players might be the most exciting group of talent returning to any team in 2A. Both Jayce Schultz and Carson Eardley were all-state, and they lead a group that’s eager to return to the top.
5. Cokeville: Three all-conference players (but no all-staters) return for Cokeville, and it goes without saying that the Panthers consistently put out winners.
Wild cards: Lovell and Newcastle. For opposite reasons, two teams show up here — Lovell, last year’s runner-up, gets back just a pair of all-conference players and loses a senior class that was clearly carrying the bulk of the weight. Newcastle, meanwhile, improved significantly last year and gets back a trio of all-conference selections, enough to compete in the East.

Class 1A nine-man
1. Pine Bluffs
: In a classification that was hit hard by graduation (only six returning all-state players statewide), the defending champs earn the recognition of early favorite by returning four all-conference choices, tied for the most of any team in 1A nine-man.
2. Big Piney: The Punchers get back four of their five all-conference choices and lead the state with a pair of returning all-state picks in seniors Karsyn Gurr and Ruben Stoutenberg.
3. Southeast: The Cyclones don’t return any all-state choices but do get back four of six all-conference picks, setting them up well to compete in the East.
4. Lingle: The Doggers will rely on two returning all-state choices in Louden Bremer and Kaiden Riggs, who both made the team as sophomores, to be leaders in 2023 for a team that was one big play away from hosting a playoff game.
5. Wind River: RB Cooper Frederick is the centerpiece of a Cougar game plan that will rely on him heavily, but in a depleted West Conference, that may be enough to carry the day.
Wild cards: Rocky Mountain and Shoshoni. Between them, they combined for 18 all-conference and 11 all-state choices. Every single one has graduated. Underclass talent will have to develop in a hurry for them to stay in a title conversation.

Class 1A six-man
1. Burlington
: Last year’s runners-up return four all-conference players, tied for the most in six-man with Kaycee, but with some key players graduated, rebuilding will need to happen fast.
2. Dubois: RB Wyatt Trembly set a single-season rushing record in six-man last year, and his presence alone will keep the Rams competitive — which is good, because four all-conference players will leave upon graduation.
3. Encampment: The Tiger trio of all-conference players (Quade Jordan, Ryon Miller, Kaben Pickett) will be tough to top as seniors, and that experience will help Encampment find some success, especially early.
4. Snake River: The Rattlers have had back-to-back undefeated seasons, but this might be the year they come back to earth. They’ll still be competitive with all-stater Isaiah Skalberg leading the way, but the senior class is thinner than usual.
5. Kaycee: Four all-conference returners will help Kaycee improve, and all-stater Vaun Pierson will help set the pace for a thin but improved Buckaroo squad.
Wild cards: Meeteetse and Midwest. Both the Longhorns and Oilers return all three of their all-conference choices, and Meeteetse’s Joseph Pina was the North’s co-defensive player of the year. Both teams should be improved in 2023.

What do you think, in January at least? Who’s poised for a breakout year? Leave a comment and share your ideas. And then let’s keep talking for another 10 months until all of this actually, finally, gets settled on the field.

–patrick

Sheridan’s undefeated Broncs of 2022 deserve tons of praise.

With a 12-0 finish, Class 4A Sheridan became just the fourth team since 2005 to finish Wyoming’s big-school football season undefeated, joining a previously undefeated Bronc team from 2017 and Natrona teams from 2012 and 2014.

However, a look at their playoff results gives Sheridan an ignominious aspect to its playoff run — worst playoff defense ever among state champions.

Before you get those keyboards fired up, though, Bronc fans, hear me out. This isn’t my call. It’s simple math: No team that has ever won an 11-man championship in Wyoming has ever given up so many points during its three-game playoff run than Sheridan gave up in its three playoff games of 2022.

The Broncs gave up 92 total points in their three playoff victories, giving up 27, 42 and 23 points in their quarterfinal, semifinal and championship games, respectively. Sheridan still won each game by double digits on its way to victories of 52-27, 63-42 and 34-23, finishing off that undefeated season with yet another 4A title.

Still, the 92 total points allowed is by far the most allowed by a title-winning team in a three-game stretch, topping the 79 points Star Valley allowed in 2016. In fact, only four 11-man title teams have allowed more than 60 points in their three games, the others being — ready for this? — Sheridan in 2019 with 75 points and Sheridan in 2021 with 65 points.

The other 11-man champions this year gave up 51 points (Star Valley, 3A) and 33 points (Big Horn, 2A) in their respective three-game playoff runs.

As noted in a previous post and updated here, here are the most points allowed by 11-man teams in their three-game championship runs:

92 points: Sheridan (27, 42, 23), 4A 2022
79 points: Star Valley (27, 42, 10), 3A 2016
75 points: Sheridan (14, 35, 26), 4A 2019
65 points: Sheridan (14, 24, 27), 4A 2021
58 points: Cheyenne East (10, 34, 14), 5A 2007
55 points: Star Valley (13, 27, 15), 3A 2015 … Big Horn (14, 19, 22), 2A 2013 … Sheridan (12, 29, 14), 4A 2011 … Big Piney (8, 33, 14), 3A 2001 … Big Piney (7, 20, 28), 2A 2000
54 points: Lyman (20, 28, 6), 2A 2021 … Cheyenne Central (20, 20, 14), 5A 2005 … Rocky Mountain (12, 22, 20), 1A DI 1997
51 points: Star Valley (17, 27, 7), 3A 2022 … Sheridan (17, 6, 28), 4A 2016

Conversely, the fewest points allowed in a three-game playoff run for teams on their way to a championship include:

0 points: Kemmerer (0, 0, 0), 3A 2007 … Wind River (0, 0, 0), 1A DII 1997
2 points: Southeast (0, 2, 0), 1A 2008
6 points: Lusk (6, 0, 0), 2A 2002 … Sundance (0, 6, 0), 2A 2005
7 points: Gillette (0, 0, 7), 4A 2000
8 points: Cokeville (0, 8, 0), 1A 2002 … Glenrock (8, 0, 0), 3A 2008
9 points: Upton (0, 3, 6), 1A 2005
10 points: Natrona (0, 7, 3), 5A 2003
12 points: Glenrock (0, 6, 6), 3A 2003 … Glenrock (0, 12, 0), 3A 2002 … Torrington (6, 0, 6), 3A 1990
13 points: Cokeville (0, 7, 6), 1A 11-man 2014 … Cokeville (0, 7, 6), 1A 11-man 2010 … Cokeville (0, 13, 0), 1A DII 1995 … Lusk (6, 0, 7), 1A DI 2000 … Natrona (0, 13, 0), 4A 1996 … Powell (0, 3, 10), 3A 2012 … Southeast (0, 6, 7), 2A 2001 … Thermopolis (0, 0, 13), 2A 1992 … Worland (0, 0, 13), 4A 2003 … Worland (7, 6, 0), 4A 2001 … Mountain View (14, 0, 0), 2A 1995 … Natrona (7, 0, 7), 4A 2012 … Wheatland (6, 0, 8), 2A 2015

+++

To win a championship while still allowing so many points, Sheridan must have had a record-setting offensive performance during its playoff run, right?

Well… almost.

The Broncs’ 149 points scored tied for the sixth-most ever by an 11-man team in a three-game title run. And four of the top five performances ahead of Sheridan, though, have come since 2018, including three from 2019 alone. Again updated from a previous post on this site, those include:

191 points: Big Horn (67, 68, 56), 1A 11-man 2018
185 points: Big Horn (82, 48, 55), 1A 11-man 2019
162 points: Cokeville (54, 54, 54), 1A 2002
159 points: Sheridan (62, 62, 35), 4A 2019
152 points: Mountain View (72, 56, 24), 2A 2019
149 points: Sheridan (52, 63, 34), 4A 2022 … Buffalo (56, 50, 43), 2A 2018 … Sheridan (64, 43, 42), 4A 1993
148 points: Mountain View (55, 66, 27), 2A 1995
145 points: Lusk (68, 49, 28), 1A Division I 1999
144 points: Southeast (74, 42, 28), 1A 2007
140 points: Mountain View (60, 52, 28), 2A 2014 … Douglas (40, 56, 44), 3A 2009

The fewest points scored in a championship run, though, now includes this year’s aforementioned Big Horn team. The Rams only allowed 33 points, but conversely only scored 43 — tied for second-lowest of any 11-man championship team in a three-game playoff run:

31 points: Cokeville (7, 7, 17), 1A 11-man 1994
43 points: Big Horn (28, 7, 8), 2A 2022 … Glenrock (20, 10, 13), 3A 2003
44 points: Natrona (14, 23, 7), 4A 1996
48 points: Riverside (17, 10, 21), 2A 2007
49 points: Big Piney (12, 16, 21), 3A 2006
52 points: Pine Bluffs (23, 19, 10), 1A 11-man 2016
53 points: Southeast (34, 7, 12), 1A 2008
54 points: Guernsey (32, 8, 14), 1A 2006
55 points: Cheyenne East (13, 28, 14), 4A 2013
59 points: Cokeville (28, 19, 12), 1A Division II 1998

+++

In six-man, meanwhile, Snake River just put up the best defensive playoff run of any state champion. The 2022 version of the Rattlers allowed only 22 points — six in the quarterfinals and eight in both the semifinals and championship — on their way to this year’s six-man championship.

The 22 points allowed barely edged out the 24 allowed by Snake River in its 2010 title run. Snake River also owns the third-best run with 38 allowed in its 2019 championship season.

Three teams have finished with more than 200 points scored in a six-man championship run, led by Farson’s 225 in 2018. Farson also allowed more points during its three-game playoff championship run than any other, allowing 79 that same year. Two years later, in 2020, Farson scored 154 points — the fewest ever scored by any six-man champion since 2009.

Here are the top three performances by state champions in the six-man playoffs since 2009:

Most points scored
225 points: Farson (90, 62, 73), 2018
217 points: Guernsey (65, 72, 80), 2014
202 points: Dubois (89, 59, 54), 2012

Fewest points scored
154 points
: Farson (70, 42, 42), 2020
157 points: Kaycee (60, 56, 41), 2016
173 points: Snake River (64, 42, 67), 2010

Fewest points allowed
22 points
: Snake River (6, 8, 8), 2022
24 points: Snake River (0, 12, 12), 2010
38 points: Snake River (0, 0, 38), 2019

Most points allowed
79 points
: Farson (22, 19, 38), 2018
78 points: Guernsey (8, 40, 30), 2014 … Snake River (8, 46, 24), 2021

–patrick

Quick trivia: Since 2009, what’s something that Natrona’s football team has done 193 times that Lusk’s has done zero times?

Answer: Attempt a field goal.

A compilation of statistics since 2009 shows Natrona is, by far, the state’s leading team when it comes to field goal tries — and that Lusk is the most field goal-averse.

From 2009-22, Natrona’s kickers attempted 193 field goals, making 120 of them. The number of attempts far outpaces second-place Sheridan (123) and third-place Star Valley (86), and the number of makes also far exceeds runner-up Sheridan (76).

On the other side, Lusk has gone the past 14 seasons, and maybe longer, without attempting a single field goal. So have St. Stephens and Wyoming Indian, although their streaks are a bit shorter.

Three other active programs — Upton-Sundance, Farson and Encampment — as well as now-defunct NSI have only attempted one field goal in that span.

Five programs haven’t missed a field goal in that time, with Hulett’s perfect 3-for-3 in the past 13 years leading the way. Wheatland, at 2-for-2, also hasn’t missed a field goal since at least 2009. NSI, Upton and Upton-Sundance are 1-for-1.

Meanwhile, aside from Encampment and Farson (both 0-for-1), Moorcroft is the team with the roughest percentage, making just 22% (2-for-9) of its attempts.

The state average over this span has been 57.1%, with kickers making 1,114 field goals in 2,003 attempts. The number of field goals attempted statewide in a season has ranged from as few as 120 (in both 2020 and 2018) to as many as 179 (2011). The 2022 season saw 131 field goal attempts.

The team that both attempted and made the most field goals in a season was Natrona’s 2015 team. That season, Natrona kickers made 20 of 28 field goals.

Kicking field goals, though, is by no means a measure of success. Many championship teams went their entire seasons without so much as attempting a field goal, including Big Horn and Snake River this season. Snake River also did so last season and Big Horn also did so in 2018.

Note: Since this data was compiled from the existing stat sheets, data may be incomplete. For example, six-man data is missing for 2009 and 2010, and some team statistics are missing if a team decided not to compile individual statistics, which has happened a handful of times over the past 13 years. Still, this is the best we can do with what we have, so enjoy.

Total field goals from 2009-2022:

TeamTOTAL FGMTOTAL FGAPct
Natrona12019362.2%
Sheridan7612361.8%
Campbell County518063.8%
Star Valley508658.1%
Cheyenne Central487762.3%
Cheyenne East488258.5%
Riverton477463.5%
Kelly Walsh467759.7%
Buffalo456569.2%
Powell437358.9%
Torrington386063.3%
Green River376457.8%
Lander376953.6%
Laramie366852.9%
Thunder Basin315952.5%
Big Horn274165.9%
Cody264854.2%
Newcastle234254.8%
Worland213756.8%
Evanston204050.0%
Douglas183650.0%
Pine Bluffs183946.2%
Cokeville172958.6%
Cheyenne South153641.7%
Mountain View142948.3%
Rock Springs143737.8%
Jackson132356.5%
Southeast132065.0%
Hanna111861.1%
Lingle111861.1%
Shoshoni113036.7%
Pinedale101566.7%
Rocky Mountain101758.8%
Greybull8988.9%
Lovell81747.1%
Glenrock71163.6%
Saratoga71643.8%
Midwest61442.9%
Dubois51435.7%
Rawlins51241.7%
Tongue River5771.4%
Burlington4850.0%
Meeteetse4850.0%
Wright4850.0%
Burns3742.9%
Hulett33100.0%
Kemmerer3475.0%
Riverside3742.9%
Snake River3475.0%
Wind River3837.5%
Big Piney2450.0%
Guernsey-Sunrise2366.7%
Kaycee2366.7%
Lyman2825.0%
Moorcroft2922.2%
Thermopolis2540.0%
Wheatland22100.0%
NSI11100.0%
Ten Sleep1250.0%
Upton11100.0%
Upton-Sundance11100.0%
Encampment010.0%
Farson010.0%
Lusk00#DIV/0!
Rock River00#DIV/0!
St. Stephens00#DIV/0!
Sundance00#DIV/0!
Wyoming Indian00#DIV/0!
TOTAL1144200357.1%

–patrick

A trophy of a cowboy throwing a football.
A trophy of a cowboy throwing a football.
Slim MacGuffin

Everyone, meet Slim MacGuffin.

He might just be the next great piece of Wyoming high school football lore.

Right now, Slim belongs in the trophy case at Sheridan High School.

In addition to winning the Class 4A championship this year, the Sheridan Broncs also held onto an important honor they didn’t even know they were playing for — the Wyoming football MacGuffin.

Some of you may have heard of the MacGuffin, which has built a following on Twitter by tracking college football’s most interesting theoretical traveling trophy.

The concept is simple: All you have to do to get the trophy is beat the team that has it.

In this case, we start with the first Wyoming high school football game ever played, and the winner gets a trophy — Slim, in this case. They get to hold onto that trophy until they lose; the team that beats them gets the trophy. That team then holds onto it until they lose. And so on, and so on, and so on.

In the college ranks, there have been more than 1,500 MacGuffin games; the trophy has traded hands 317 times since the first intercollegiate game in 1869, and 93 teams have had the trophy, including the University of Wyoming for a bit, including the entire 1994 offseason.

If we had a Wyoming high school football MacGuffin, though, Sheridan would be the rightful owners of that trophy, at least for now.

Starting with the first game between two Wyoming high schools in 1908 — played on Nov. 3 of that year between crosstown rivals Laramie and University Prep — there have been 907 Wyoming football MacGuffin games, as of the end of the 2022 season. In all, 24 different teams will have held the trophy, and 38 programs will have played in MacGuffin games.

Since 1908, the trophy would have logged some significant miles in every corner of the state. Every Class 4A team except Cheyenne South would have had it at least once. And, oddly enough, it would have been up for grabs in every 4A/5A championship game since 1987.

Here’s a breakdown of the teams who would have had the trophy in their possession, with tallies of how many times they defended the trophy and how many times they beat teams with the MacGuffin to steal it for themselves:

SchoolGames defendedTimes won
Sheridan17628
Natrona11529
Laramie9520
Cheyenne Central8016
Worland724
Campbell County5013
Rock Springs469
Cheyenne East3515
Kelly Walsh196
Thermopolis154
Lander114
Cody103
Powell101
Lovell83
Thunder Basin72
Douglas61
Evanston53
Cowley51
Rawlins42
Torrington21
Green River12
Riverton02
Kemmerer01

For the Wyoming high school version, I limited the potential transfer of the trophy to in-state, varsity teams; we can’t have some out-of-state team taking Wyoming’s MacGuffin with them, and we can’t be giving it to a town team, JV team or college team, either. So it’s only up for grabs in varsity vs. varsity, in-state games.

And here’s a look at how those games have gone, and who’s played in those games:

TeamMacG WinsMacG LossesMacG GamesLast MacGameLast held
Sheridan1727224420222022
Natrona1458022520222019
Laramie1158119620222000
Cheyenne Central918117120222020
Rock Springs557513020222021
Campbell County636412720222016
Cheyenne East507112120222021
Worland76138919771959
Kelly Walsh25487320222005
Cody13304320041977
Thermopolis19214019741947
Rawlins6333919881974
Evanston8253320162007
Lander15163119881974
Riverton2293120081972
Green River3242720102007
Powell11162719771958
Lovell11142519591947
Buffalo018181984never
Torrington3151819661952
Thunder Basin971620222021
Douglas761319841952
Cowley671319351934
Cheyenne South011112022never
Greybull011111959never
Basin0771934never
Newcastle0661932never
Kemmerer14519401932
Star Valley0441998never
Midwest0441952never
Lusk0331969never
St. Mary's0221952never
Superior0221936never
University Prep0221909never
Jackson0111974never
Ten Sleep0111933never
Manderson0111928never
Sundance0111935never

One of the challenges of a traveling trophy like this is that it needs to travel. Due to Class 4A’s round-robin schedule, the MacGuffin has been, and will continue to be unless the schedule changes, the exclusive domain of Wyoming’s big schools. The last interclass game where the MacGuffin was up for grabs was in 1998, when Evanston held onto the trophy by nudging Star Valley 13-7.

Here’s a more detailed breakdown of all 907 Wyoming football MacGuffin games.

Even though Slim’s presence in any school’s trophy case is still just theoretical, it’s still fun to look at where Slim may have gone on his travels around the state and which schools, even if only for a week, got to have him in their possession.

–patrick

Here’s a quick overview of some of the pages on wyoming-football.com that saw updates at the conclusion of the 2022 season:

Scoring records: For just the 18th time in state history, two 11-man teams combined to score triple digits, as Cheyenne Central (42) and Sheridan (63) finished just outside the top 10 with 105 combined points scored. It did mark the third highest combined point total in an 11-man playoff game, though, just four points shy of the record.

Burlington finished in the top 10 all-time in single-season scoring with 659 total points, good for ninth.

Cheyenne East and Cody both reached the top 10 in points scored in an 11-man season. East was No. 2 all-time with 553 total points, while Cody was eighth at 531. Oddly enough, neither one won a state title. Cody’s 48.27 points per game, meanwhile, finished fifth in state history for 11-man teams.

On the flipside, Guernsey-Sunrise’s 66.13 points allowed per game ranked 10th all-time in most points allowed in a season.

Streaks: Cody’s 26-game winning streak, which came to an end in the Class 3A title game, finished tied for eighth among Wyoming’s longest winning streaks. And Lyman’s 20-game winning streak, which ended early in the season, finished in a tie for the 22nd longest. Snake River, meanwhile, enters the 2023 season on a 21-game winning streak, good for 19th-longest in state history.

Cheyenne South’s 29-game losing streak, however, is tied for the sixth-longest losing streak in state history. Pinedale has now lost 22 games in a row, a streak that’s tied for 20th-longest.

Snake River’s scoring streak moved up to second-longest in state history at 137 games; however, the Rattlers have a ways to go to break the state record of 175. Sheridan, meanwhile, has scored in 95 straight games entering 2023, the eighth-longest scoring streak in state history.

Cokeville had its 35th consecutive winning season and its 37th consecutive non-losing season, both continuing state records. Sheridan’s 16th consecutive winning season, though, moved the Broncs up into a tie for second-longest such streak in state history behind Cokeville.

Laramie’s 22nd consecutive losing season moved the Plainsmen into a tie for the longest streak of consecutive losing seasons. Moorcroft is now tied for fourth on that list with 14 losing seasons in a row, with Worland and Wyoming Indian tied at sixth with 13 and Cheyenne South and Wright tied for ninth with 12.

Individual records: Several players notched games or seasons worthy of the individual records page. They included:

  • Receiving yards in a season: Star Valley’s Wyatt Crogg set a new individual single-season receiving record with 1,253 yards, beating the old record set by Jackson’s Nate Keipert last year by 43 yards. And Thunder Basin’s Kayden LaFramboise put up the No. 3 season all-time with 1,151 yards. In nine-man, Pine Bluffs’ Ryan Fornstrom also broke the single-season record with 1,084 yards. Three other players made the top eight with Shoshoni’s Trey Fike (509), Lingle’s Louden Bremer (482) and Moorcroft’s Chaz Dewey (478). Nine-man records are from 2020-22 only.
  • Passing yards in a season: Three players cracked the top 10, including Star Valley’s Taft McClure in second (3,294 yards), East’s Cam Hayes in sixth (2,867 yards) and Thunder Basin’s Alonso Aguilar in ninth (2,575 yards). In nine-man, Pine Bluffs’ Stu Lerwick broke the single-season record with 2,226 yards, breaking his own record from last year by 11 yards. Shoshoni’s Alex Mills was fifth with 1,403 yards, while Rocky Mountain’s Carsyn Weber was seventh at 1,190 yards. In six-man, Burlington’s Seth Wardell posted the No. 9 season all-time with 1,469 yards.
  • Rushing yards in a season: Dubois’ Wyatt Trembly set a single-season rushing record in six-man with his 2,502-yard effort of a season, beating the old mark by 194 yards. Sheridan’s Colson Coon finished fourth all-time in 11-man with 2,195 rushing yards. In nine-man, Shoshoni’s Pehton Trueumpler had the No. 2 all-time season with 2,080 yards, while Wind River’s Cooper Frederick was No. 3 all-time with 1,919 yards.
  • Rushing yards in a game: Sheridan’s Colson Coon and Wind River’s Cooper Frederick each set rushing records in their respective areas. Coon’s 29 carries for 517 yards against Cheyenne Central set the state’s all-time 11-man rushing mark, while Frederick’s 549 yards on 61 carries against Southeast set the state’s all-time nine-man rushing record.
  • Passing yards in a game: Five of the top 10 single-game passing performances in 11-man history came in 2022. Three came from Star Valley’s Taft McClure, who finished in third (480 yards), fourth (448 yards) and fifth (429 yards) for his performances against Powell, Cody and Riverton, respectively. East’s Cam Hayes had the No. 9 performance all-tie with 420 yards against Sheridan, while Thunder Basin’s Alonso Aguilar tied for 10th with a 419-yard game against East. Pine Bluffs’ Stu Lerwick finished with the No. 4 and No. 5 all-time passing games in nine-man with 314 and 312 yards against Lusk and Moorcroft, respectively.
  • Receiving yards in a game: East’s Garet Schlabs set a single-game record for receptions with 19 catches against Sheridan. Thunder Basin’s Kayden LaFramboise finished tied for fifth all-time in single-game receiving yards with 242 yards, on 16 catches, against East. In nine-man, Pine Bluffs’ Ryan Fornstrom was fourth all-time with 187 yards against Moorcroft, while Moorcroft’s Chaz Dewey was fifth with 163 yards against Saratoga.

Coaching: Four coaches cracked the 50-victory barrier for their careers and entered Wyoming’s top 100 list for total victories for coaches — Shoshoni’s Tony Truempler, Buffalo’s Rob Hammond, Sheridan’s Jeff Mowry and Snake River’s Jack Cobb. They are all among the top 18 active coaches in the state in career victories in Wyoming. Barring retirements, Natrona’s Steve Harshman (227 victories), Southeast’s Mark Bullington (165 victories) and Douglas’ Jay Rhoades (130 victories) will enter 2023 as Wyoming’s top three active coaches in career in-state victories.

State champions: Sheridan’s 29th state championship continued a Bronc state record.

Weekly rankings: Of the five state champions, only Class 1A six-man Snake River completed a wire-to-wire run as the No. 1-ranked team in the state. Meanwhile, both Class 2A Big Horn and Class 3A Star Valley won a title despite not being ranked first at any point during the season.

Finally, Wyoming’s newest football program, the Casper Christian Mountaineers, saw their team page go up at the end of the 2022 season — too late for the season but just in time to start chronicling their history.

–patrick

See part 1 of this series here.

Last week, five teams — Sheridan, Cody, Lovell, Pine Bluffs and Snake River — entered the playoffs as the No. 1 ranked team in their classification.

By default, that means they’re the favorites to win the state championships.

And while the chances of the top-ranked team entering the playoffs actually winning the championship is barely above half, the chances that the eventual champion will come from one of the teams ranked either first or second is extremely high.

Since 1984, the start of the “one poll” era, teams ranked No. 1 entering the playoffs have won the state championship 52% of the time.

If it’s not No. 1 winning it all, it’s usually No. 2. Together, teams ranked either No. 1 or No. 2 entering the playoffs win a title 83% of the time. (Do the math, and the No. 2 ranked team wins the state title 31% of the time.)

The No. 3 team wins the title 10% of the time; teams ranked fourth, almost 4% of the time.

The remaining 3% of championships is evenly divided between teams ranked fifth and teams not ranked at all. A team entering the playoffs ranked fifth or unranked and winning a state championship hasn’t happened since 2011.

The six teams to win championships ranked either fifth (three titles) or not at all (three titles) entering the playoffs?

First, the three teams ranked No. 5 all entered the playoffs on a low but were at some time during their championship season ranked in the top two:

  • Powell, Class 3A 2011 (Highest rank during the season: No. 1)
  • Cheyenne Central, Class 5A 2005 (Highest rank during the season: No. 2)
  • Glenrock, Class 3A 2003 (Highest rank during the season: No. 1)

Meanwhile, of the three teams that won titles after entering the playoffs unranked, two were previously No. 1 during the season:

  • Big Piney, Class 3A 2006 (Highest rank during the season: No. 1)
  • Powell, Class 3A 1987 (Highest rank during the season: No. 5)
  • Jackson, Class 3A 1986 (Highest rank during the season: No. 1)

The seven teams to win titles that went into the playoffs as the No. 4 ranked team are dominated by 3A teams, including Cody in 2017, Worland in 2001, Star Valley in 1995 and Riverton in 1994. Other No. 4-ranked champs are Cheyenne East (4A, 2013), Glenrock (3A, 2002) and Cokeville (1A, 1986).

Either the No. 1 or No. 2 team entering the playoffs has won every title in each of the past four seasons. It’s the longest such streak since playoffs restarted in 1975.

And it just so happens that the five No. 1 teams all won last week.

See each week’s poll by clicking on each year’s set of rankings here.

–patrick

Evanston and Green River played the 100th game in their series on Friday, becoming just the seventh series in Wyoming to reach that milestone.

Other series with more than 100 games played are:

  • Cheyenne Central-Laramie: 138 games
  • Lander-Riverton: 126 games
  • Cody-Powell: 125 games
  • Natrona-Sheridan: 116 games
  • Central-Natrona: 109 games
  • Big Piney-Pinedale: 107 games

Of those rivalries, only Big Piney-Pinedale won’t be played or has not been played this season. Other series close to the 100 milestone are:

  • Torrington-Wheatland: 99 games
  • Worland-Thermopolis: 97 games
  • Douglas-Wheatland: 96 games
  • Green River-Rock Springs: 96 games
  • Evanston-Star Valley: 95 games
  • Douglas-Torrington: 94 games
  • Lovell-Greybull: 92 games
  • Laramie-Natrona: 92 games

In the Evanston-Green River series, Green River leads 59-35-6. Of all series with at least 100 games played, it’s the most lopsided.

–patrick

Only two weeks remain in the 2022 regular season for Wyoming high school football teams. Here’s who’s in, who’s out and who’s on the fence entering those last two weeks, as well as a quick breakdown of what’s possible, with a more detailed breakdown of all possible scenarios to come after Week 7’s action:

Class 4A
In: Sheridan, Cheyenne East, Natrona, Campbell County, Cheyenne Central, Thunder Basin.
Neither in nor out: Rock Springs, Kelly Walsh, Laramie, Cheyenne South.
Out: No one.
Can the top seed be decided this week? Yes. Sheridan can earn the No. 1 seed if the Broncs earn a victory against Natrona.
Break it down for me: Sheridan, East and Natrona have all but wrapped up the top three seeds, but after that it gets messy. Campbell County, Central and Thunder Basin are all 4-3 — in the postseason, but still slugging it out for the one remaining home game in the first round — while the remaining four teams are scrapping it out for the scraps, with 2-5 Rock Springs in the best shape.

Class 3A East
In
: Douglas.
Neither in nor out: Lander, Buffalo, Worland, Riverton, Rawlins.
Out: No one.
Can the top seed be decided this week? Yes, but only if Douglas beats Rawlins and Lander loses to Worland. If that happens, Douglas will be the top seed.
Break it down for me: Douglas is in the catbird seat at 3-0 and Rawlins in the opposite of that at 0-3. In the middle, anything is possible, as a certain amount of uncertainty plagues the East this year.

Class 3A West
In
: Cody.
Neither in nor out: Star Valley, Powell, Jackson, Green River, Evanston.
Out: No one.
Can the top seed be decided this week? Yes, but Cody has to beat Evanston and Powell has to lose to Jackson for Cody to take the No. 1 seed.
Break it down for me: Cody and Star Valley have the advantages for the top spots, while Powell is also in good shape at 2-1. Green River’s victory against Jackson looms large for the No. 4 seed, while Evanston needs some help to stay in the race.

Class 2A East
In
: Tongue River, Big Horn.
Neither in nor out: Burns, Newcastle, Torrington, Wheatland, Upton-Sundance, Glenrock.
Out: No one.
Can the top seed be decided this week? It will be decided this week, as the winner of the Thunder Bowl between Big Horn and Tongue River will be the East top seed.
Break it down for me: After the two Sheridan County schools, the 2A East is full of potential scenarios. Burns, at 3-2, is in the best shape of the bunch, but a mishmash of 2-3 schools (Newcastle, Torrington, Wheatland) and Upton-Sundance at 1-4 but with a bit of momentum will mean this conference’s playoff scenarios will be a bear to work through next week.

Class 2A West
In
: Lovell, Lyman.
Neither in nor out: Cokeville, Kemmerer, Mountain View, Thermopolis.
Out: Pinedale.
Can the top seed be decided this week? Yes. A Lovell victory against Kemmerer this week will assure the Bulldogs of the No. 1 seed from the West.
Break it down for me: Of the not-quite-in teams, 3-1 Cokeville is sitting the best. Meanwhile, 2-2 Kemmerer is in good position, but Mountain View and Thermopolis are lurking at 1-3. They both need Ws and help, and fast — and the Kemmerer-Mountain View Week 8 game is potentially a season-maker for one.

Class 1A nine-man East
In
: Pine Bluffs, Southeast.
Neither in nor out: Lingle, Saratoga, Lusk, Wright.
Out: Guernsey.
Ineligible: Moorcroft.
Can the top seed be decided this week? No. With Pine Bluffs and Southeast not meeting until the final week, no definitive top seed can be drawn from this week’s action.
Break it down for me: The Cyclones and Hornets will meet in the final week, but Pine has to overcome Lingle this week for the meeting with Southeast to be for all the marbles. Saratoga is 2-2 but also lost to Lusk, which is 1-3 and has a more favorable remaining schedule (Guernsey, Wright) than Saratoga does (Southeast, Lingle). Wright is hoping for something wacky.

Class 1A nine-man West
In
: Shoshoni, Wind River.
Neither in nor out: Big Piney, Rocky Mountain, Riverside, Greybull.
Out: St. Stephens.
Ineligible: Wyoming Indian.
Can the top seed be decided this week? Yes. The winner of Shoshoni-Wind River this week will be the top seed no matter what Week 8 shenanigans unfold.
Break it down for me: After the top two, anything’s possible. Big Piney (3-2) is basically in, and Rocky Mountain (2-2) is in the best shape for the last spot. Riverside (1-3) is still alive but has to find a way to win two games in a row, while Greybull has to beat Riverside this week to stay alive at all.

Class 1A six-man conference games end in Week 7, so playoff seeds for that classification will be set by the end of the day Saturday. Non-conference and games against JV teams dot the Week 8 schedule as teams prepare for the playoffs. Both the breakdowns and all the scenarios entering the final week of conference play are lined out below.

Class 1A six-man North
In
: Burlington, Kaycee.
Neither in nor out: Hulett, Meeteetse, Midwest.
Out: Ten Sleep.
Can the top seed be decided this week? It’s already decided; Burlington secured the top seed last week and will carry the No. 1 designation into the playoffs.
Break it down for me: The final two teams and the final three seeds will be decided in some way this week as Kaycee plays Hulett and Meeteetse plays Midwest. Midwest is the only team in a true lose-and-out scenario depending on what happens in the other games.

North scenarios
Week 7 games affecting playoff seeding: Midwest at Meeteetse; Hulett at Kaycee (Saturday).
Burlington: In. No. 1 seed.
Kaycee: In. No. 2 seed with victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (score differential to break) with loss and Meeteetse victory. No. 3 seed with loss and Midwest victory.
Hulett: Neither in nor out. No. 2 seed with victory and Midwest victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (score differential to break) with victory and Meeteetse victory. No. 4 seed with loss and Meeteetse victory. Tie for 3-4-out seeds (score differential to break) with loss and Midwest victory.
Meeteetse: Neither in nor out. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (score differential to break) with victory and Hulett victory. No. 3 seed with victory and Kaycee victory. Tie for 3-4-out seeds (score differential to break) with loss and Kaycee victory. Out with loss and Hulett victory.
Midwest: Neither in nor out. No. 4 seed with victory and Hulett victory. Tie for 3-4-out seeds (score differential to break) with victory and Kaycee victory. Out with loss.
Ten Sleep: Out.

Class 1A six-man South
In
: Snake River, Dubois, Encampment, Farson.
Neither in nor out: No one.
Out: Hanna.
Can the top seed be decided this week? Too late; Snake River’s victory over Encampment last week secured the Rattlers’ No. 1 spot.
Break it down for me: This one’s easy. With two weeks to go in the regular season, the West’s seeds are sealed up. Even in the case of a tie between Dubois, Encampment and Farson, or even just Encampment and Farson, Dubois always beats the other two and Encampment always beats Farson in tiebreakers. And Farson has the tiebreaker on Hanna if it were to come to that. So the order will be Snake River-Dubois-Encampment-Farson in the 1-2-3-4 spots.

South scenarios
Snake River: In. No. 1 seed.
Dubois: In. No. 2 seed.
Encampment: In. No. 3 seed.
Farson: In. No. 4 seed.
Hanna: Out.

–patrick

The Week 5 game between Riverton and Lander ended about 74 hours after it began.

Fortunately for both teams, about 72 of those 74 hours were spent with the game under suspension.

The action started Friday night, as is common for a high school football game, and Riverton took a 7-0 lead. However, with 2:36 remaining in the first quarter, lightning delayed the game. With the storm not dissipating, the two teams agreed to restart the game at 6 p.m. Monday.

The final three-plus quarters happened Monday, including an extra bit of overtime in which Lander scored on a 2-point conversion pass on the final play to win 29-28.

This was not the first time in Wyoming’s history that a game stretched across more than one day. It’s happened twice before:

The first came in 1951, when Greybull and Powell played to a 0-0 tie on Oct. 19, then met 11 days later to play the overtime period. The overtime had to be played to decide the conference champion, and Greybull officially won 2-0 by gaining more yards on five plays during the overtime frame than Powell did on its five plays.

The other instance of a Wyoming high school football game lasting more than one day came in 1967. On Oct. 27, Basin defeated Byron 40-34 by scoring in the final minute. But Byron protested the game’s final 2 minutes, 24 seconds after claiming that an official mistakenly applied a rule about fumbles and mistakenly awarded possession to Basin. The WHSAA upheld the protest, and the two teams met three days later to play the final 2:24. In the replay, neither team moved the ball much and neither scored, and the game finished officially as a 34-34 tie.

–patrick

Whenever Sheridan returns a kickoff for a touchdown, I think the same thing — man, no one does this better than the Broncs.

It happened again on Friday:

But that was never more than just a hunch.

Until now.

In looking at the past four years (2018-21) of kickoff and punt return touchdowns, the only four years where such data is immediately available, the Broncs are indeed Wyoming’s return kings. And it isn’t even close.

With 14 such touchdowns, nine via kickoff and five via punt return, no other team has been able to match Sheridan’s efficiency with special teams touchdowns.

Only two other teams are in double digits, and they both played six-man in that time. Burlington had 11 return touchdowns, nine via kickoff and two via punt, while Guernsey had 10, with nine by kick and one by punt.

Big Horn, Riverside and Douglas are tied for the fourth spot with eight returns apiece; Big Horn and Riverside each had six kickoffs and two punts that they returned for touchdowns, while Douglas flipped that with six punt return and two kick return touchdowns.

Dubois, Mountain View, Snake River and Star Valley have had seven apiece.

Conversely, six programs — Cheyenne Central, Green River, Newcastle, Tongue River, Wyoming Indian and Ten Sleep — haven’t returned a kick or punt for a touchdown in the last four seasons. Ten Sleep, though, sat out three of those seasons, while Wyoming Indian missed one.

Check out the full spectrum of kick and punt return touchdowns over the past four years below. Note that the totals are taken from the official stat sheets, so there is a chance that something might be missing if original stats were off, and that these totals do not include the 2022 season:

TEAMPUNTKICKTOTAL
Sheridan5914
Burlington2911
Guernsey-Sunrise1910
Big Horn268
Riverside268
Douglas628
Dubois077
Mountain View347
Snake River347
Star Valley437
Meeteetse066
Hanna066
Buffalo156
Worland156
Upton-Sundance156
Kaycee156
Wheatland336
Cokeville516
NSI055
Big Piney145
Wright145
Thunder Basin235
Pine Bluffs235
Midwest325
Lingle044
Natrona134
Glenrock134
Encampment134
Rocky Mountain224
Wind River224
Cheyenne South033
Pinedale033
Thermopolis033
Hulett033
Laramie123
Rock Springs123
Jackson123
Lusk123
Burns213
Saratoga213
Kelly Walsh022
Evanston022
Torrington022
St. Stephens022
Lander112
Greybull112
Farson112
Lyman202
Cheyenne East011
Cody011
Powell011
Rawlins011
Riverton011
Kemmerer011
Lovell011
Shoshoni011
Moorcroft011
Southeast011
Campbell County101
Cheyenne Central000
Green River000
Newcastle000
Tongue River000
Wyoming Indian000
Ten Sleep000

Got any statistical hunches you think might be true that you’d like for me to explore? Let me know in the comments!

–patrick

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