Inspired by a previous post outlining the highest-scoring and lowest-scoring playoff teams, this post will look at the opposite — Wyoming high school football teams that won titles with historic defensive efforts or lackluster playoff defense.

Here are the teams that have allowed the fewest points in a three-game title run since the eight-team bracket came into play in 1990, with the number of points allowed per game (quarters, semis, championship) in parentheses:

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

A handful of teams have also won state titles without giving up a single point in a two-game/four-team playoff bracket. Those teams are:

Star Valley, 3A 1996
Midwest, 1A nine-man 1991
Cheyenne Central, 4A 1989
Cokeville, 1A 1988
Lusk, B 1981
Star Valley, A 1961
Sheridan, all-class 1938
Sheridan, all-class 1936

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Conversely, the most points given up in a championship playoff run was set by a squad that had little competition for the top spot. Star Valley’s 2016 3A championship team allowed 79 points during its title run, giving up 27 points to Riverton in a 35-27 quarterfinal win, 42 points to Douglas in a 61-42 semifinal shootout and 10 points to Powell in a 27-10 championship-game victory.

Star Valley’s 79 points allowed was 21 points more than any other 11-man championship squad. The 11-man teams that allowed more than 50 points in their championship runs included 10 squads:

79 points: Star Valley (27, 42, 10), 3A 2016
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: Cheyenne Central (20, 20, 14), 5A 2005 … Rocky Mountain (12, 22, 20), 1A DI 1997
51 points: Sheridan (17, 6, 28), 4A 2016

The most points given up in a two-game bracket is 41 (14, 27), allowed by Riverton in 1994 on its way to the 3A title.

–patrick

It’s way too early for this. That’s never stopped us before. Let’s take a look at 2019’s top five teams in each class, way too early before it’s practical to do so:

Class 4A
1. Thunder Basin: The state’s most dynamic offensive duo will likely be on Gillette’s south side in 2019, with quarterback Mason Hamilton (4A’s top passer last year) and wideout Blaine Allen (4A’s top receiver last year) ready to lead the ‘Bolts to unprecedented heights in 2019. The lines lost several key players, though.
2. Natrona: Running back Dante Wallace highlights a senior class that’s done a lot of winning, including last year’s state title. The Mustangs will be tough to stop with a balanced group of players coming back.
3. Cheyenne East: Class 4A’s most diverse offense in 2019 may belong to the Thunderbirds. Between seniors Christian Anderton and Chance Aumiller and junior Graedyn Buell, East will present troubles for any opposing defense.
4. Sheridan: The Broncs only return one all-state player, senior Garrett Coon, but few programs rebuild as efficiently as Sheridan does. Count on Sheridan being in the championship chase again.
5. Cheyenne Central: New coach Mike Apodaca took some lumps in his first year at Central, but the Indians showed great potential at times. With three returning all-conference players, the Indians return a solid chunk of contributors that could make Central a threat.
Dark horse: Laramie. The Plainsmen were a solid five seed in 4A last year but need to replace a good group of seniors. If that happens as efficiently as coach Clint Reed hopes, Laramie could be a challenger again.

Class 3A
1. Star Valley: By accident or by design, the Braves’ juniors got a ton of experience last year. Five all-state players will be back this fall, including Super 25 pick Chase Merrell and three starting linemen. That will put Star Valley in perfect position to repeat.
2. Cody: The Broncs get back four all-state selections, second only to Star Valley, as well as six total all-conference picks. RB Charlie Beaudrie will be tough to stop, and lineman Keith Conner was a Super 25 pick.
3. Jackson: Jeydon Cox — who broke the 2,000-yard barrier last season — will probably be the most exciting running back in the state next year. But he can’t do it alone. The Broncs lose a big chunk of contributors but should have enough back to prove last year was no fluke.
4. Douglas: I like what the Bearcats have coming back next fall, and it starts with an experienced all-state quarterback in A.J. Yeaman. There are some other holes to fill, but the Bearcats should be competitive.
5. Torrington: The Trailblazers lost a huge senior class, so staying in the title hunt will be challenging. However, they do return a pair of all-conference linemen in seniors Corbin Harris and Tyler Schaub, and that’s a good place to start.
Dark horse: Lander. In a sentence: Don’t discount coach John Scott’s ability to quickly build a competitive program.

Class 2A
1. Mountain View: Almost all of the Buffalos’ key contributors are back in 2019. This includes four two-time all-state choices (Briggin Bluemel, Hunter Gross, Kimball Madsen and Braeden Walk). No team in 2A can match that.
2. Buffalo: The defending 2A champs aren’t going anywhere. The Bison have five returning all-state choices, tied with Mountain View for the most in the class — and those returners aren’t concentrated in any one specific area.
3. Thermopolis: After a couple years of building, the Bobcats may be ready for a breakthrough in 2019. Junior Logan Cole has proven to be a dependable running back, and he’s got a good number of key contributors surrounding him.
4. Greybull: At a glance, the 2A West seems like it doesn’t have the depth it did in 2018. However, the Buffaloes should remain competitive, with all-conference picks Ben Kraft and Felipe Gaytan leading the way.
5. Burns: The Broncs have been leading up to a breakthrough in 2019. Boe Clayson is a dynamic running back, and an experienced group of seniors will help Burns into the playoff chase.
Dark horse: Glenrock. Yeah, it seems weird to see the Herders outside the top five. But with a new head coach and a new set of leaders needing to emerge on both offense and defense, Glenrock is on the outside for now. If the program can preserve its momentum under a new coach, Glenrock should continue to be a winner.

Class 1A 11-man
1. Big Horn: Yes, the Rams lose one of the best senior classes to ever play at this level. At the same time, they return six all-state choices, more than any other program in 1A, and they’ve got momentum and confidence. A repeat will be tough, but this group has that ability.
2. Cokeville: The Panthers do lose eight all-state choices, but they also return five all-conference picks. They absolutely obliterated every other team in the West last year. And no one — no one — reloads like Cokeville reloads.
3. Upton-Sundance: All-stater Jayden Caylor and all-conference pick Kye Taylor have to lead the task of carrying on the Patriots’ tradition. There’s work to do, but U-S has depth and has shown throughout the history of its co-op that it can get players to step up when needed.
4. Pine Bluffs: Brian Steger, an all-state pick, and Donte Jacobsen, an all-conference selection, will be the leaders on a less-experienced but still dangerous Hornet team. They’ll need to build some depth, but if that can happen quickly, they’ll be in the hunt come November.
5. Lusk: The Tigers return four all-conference choices, second to Big Horn in the East, and junior Drake Lamp and senior Damien Molzahn will create a backfield duo most 1A teams would envy.
Dark horse: Rocky Mountain. The Grizzlies had seven all-conference choices in 2018: one senior, five sophomores and a freshman. If Rocky’s youth can prove itself against tougher competition, it could be the team to challenge Cokeville in the West.

Class 1A six-man
1. Hanna: Twins Connor and Shane McGraw are just the starting point for the Miners, who return five all-conference choices and are poised to build on last year’s unbeaten regular season with some postseason victories this time.
2. Snake River: The Rattlers were really competitive last season despite having a senior class small enough to fit on a motorcycle. Riggen Myers provides dynamism, and a host of others from what will be a deep senior class will make Snake River a title threat.
3. Meeteetse: This year’s deep senior class will be gone, but the Longhorns still return enough depth to stay competitive. That charge will be led by a pair of all-conference picks, Asa Eldredge and Kaden Redding.
4. Farson: Ready to play a game of “Who’s that”? The Pronghorns’ senior class will be pretty thin in 2019, but its upcoming junior class is deep and ready to fill the spots vacated by this year’s graduating class.
5. Burlington: Senior Jarom Davidson will be the lone all-conference holdover from last year’s runner-up squad, so the Huskies have some clear rebuilding to do. But the 2018 season should give the program momentum.
Dark horse: Guernsey. The Vikings return three all-conference choices (seniors Alex Delgado, Jeremy Hartt and Justin Malcolm), and all three were key contributors on defense. If the defense can hold up early, the offense could come around late and help the Vikings win in the postseason.

What do you think? Who’s ready for a breakout season in 2019? Which teams are too low? Leave a comment and let’s discuss what might be on the way by the time the 2019 season starts.

–patrick

If you’re not sure who to root for in Wyoming high school football next season, or if you just want to confirm that you’re rooting for the right team given your temperament and preferences, then we’ve got you covered.

In development for literally hours, the Rooting Interest Generator — or RIG — takes answers to questions provided and helps you figure out which Wyoming high school football team you should be rooting for.

Test it out and see who you should be rooting for, and how that compares to who you actually root for.

Play the game here. And let us know who you’ll be cheering on this fall.

–patrick

It’s been almost a month now since Big Horn finished an unbeaten season by demolishing Cokeville 56-3 in the Class 1A 11-man championship game.

Big Horn’s 11-0 season was indeed historic, but until now I hadn’t really considered the true proportions of the Rams’ playoff run.

The Rams lambasted their postseason opponents, beating Wind River 67-8 in the quarterfinals and Pine Bluffs 68-13 in the semis before thumping Cokeville by 53 in the title game. And you get the feeling it could have been worse.

Big Horn’s 191 total points in three playoff games — an average of 63.67 ppg — was impressive regardless. But dig this:

Prior to this year, only one other 11-man team in an eight-team playoff bracket — Cokeville in 2002 — had ever averaged more than 50 points per game in the playoffs on their way to a state title. The Panthers in 2002 were a bit weird, as they scored 54 points in every playoff game (winning 54-0, 54-8 and 54-0). Even I can figure out that that’s an average of 54 ppg; Cokeville totaled 162 points. No other team to win a state title in an 11-man eight-team bracket, instituted in 1990 for most classes, had scored even 150 points total in their three games.

Well, prior to Big Horn’s 191 this year.

The list of teams that have scored at least 45 points per game in the playoffs on their way to a title (in an 11-man eight-team bracket) is pretty short. The Rams rank so high above them all that it seems weird to have them on the same list.

Team Class Year Total Average
Big Horn 1A 11 2018 191 63.67
Cokeville 1A 2002 162 54
Buffalo 2A 2018 149 49.67
Sheridan 4A 1993 149 49.67
Mountain View 2A 1995 148 49.33
Lusk 1A DI 1999 145 48.33
Southeast 1A 2007 144 48
Mountain View 2A 2014 140 46.67
Douglas 3A 2009 140 46.67
Rocky Mountain 1A DI 1998 139 46.33
Big Horn 2A 2004 135 45

Another way to think of it is like this: The Rams averaged 63.67 points per game; 10 other programs have won state titles without even scoring 60 TOTAL points in three games in an 11-man eight-team bracket.

The biggest anomaly in that group is Cokeville’s 1994 Class 1A 11-man title team, which scored only 31 total points in three games — an average of 10.33 per game — but won the title. Cokeville won playoff games that year by back-to-back 7-6 scores in the quarterfinals and semifinals before winning the title game 17-8.

The programs scoring less than 60 points in an 11-man eight-team bracket title run are:

Team Class Year Total Average
Cokeville 1A 11 1994 31 10.33
Glenrock 3A 2003 43 14.33
Natrona 4A 1996 44 14.67
Riverside 2A 2007 48 16
Big Piney 3A 2006 49 16.33
Pine Bluffs 1A 11 2016 52 17.33
Southeast 1A 2008 53 17.67
Guernsey 1A 2006 54 18
Cheyenne East 4A 2013 55 18.33
Cokeville 1A DII 1998 59 19.67

In short: We all knew Big Horn’s 2018 playoff run was impressive. But when we stack it up against other high-scoring playoff runs, the Rams of 2018 clearly stand alone, setting a standard that may go unmatched for years to come.

–patrick

The 2018 season is done. All 310 games.

And I feel unfulfilled.

Maybe that’s just because of how the season ended. Natrona, Star Valley, Buffalo, Big Horn and Farson all won state championships, but none of the title games were all that thrilling. Natrona built a 21-0 halftime lead on its way to beating Sheridan; Star Valley had little trouble in wiping out Torrington 35-14; Buffalo led Mountain View by 29 after two quarters and won 43-18; Big Horn blew out Cokeville in every conceivable way to win 56-3; Farson toyed with Burlington for a quarter before running away to its first title and a 73-38 victory.

If you’re a fan of one of those five programs, that’s awesome. If you’re a fan of exciting football at the highest level the state has to offer, not so much. After all, last year we had Mountain View and Glenrock going down to the wire in 2A, and Pine Bluffs and Big Horn doing the same in 1A 11-man… in 2016, we had Big Horn and Greybull in 2A and Pine Bluffs and Tongue River in 1A 11-man provide nail-biters… in 2015, it was Gillette and Sheridan staging a 4A classic.

This year’s title games, by contrast, were all but anticlimactic at the end. Five deserving teams won state championships, and in a way the way they won proved that dominance. You won’t hear the winners complaining, anyway.

Honestly, maybe I’m just going to miss having football to look forward to every Friday.

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With the culmination of the 2018 season, high-scoring offenses from Farson and Big Horn set a few scoring records:

Farson’s 790 points finished second all-time in points in a season, finishing just short of Meeteetse’s 803 in 2013; however, Farson’s average of 71.82 points per game ranks first all-time. Also, Farson’s 90 points scored against Hulett in the quarterfinals of the six-man playoffs was the second all-time single-game playoff total.

Big Horn, meanwhile, finished with 577 points and an average of 52.45 points per game — both tops all-time among 11-man programs.

On the other side of the records was Dubois, whose 611 points allowed was the most ever from a Wyoming football program in a single season. The Rams’ 76.38 points allowed per game is No. 3 all-time.

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Speaking of scoring, and of streaks, Snake River has now scored in 95 consecutive games, which ranks sixth all-time. Big Horn has scored in 75 consecutive games, which is good enough for the top 20.

Meanwhile, Cokeville notched its 31st consecutive winning season and its 33rd consecutive non-losing season, extending the Panthers’ existing state records in both categories. And Laramie finished its 18th consecutive losing season, the second-longest such streak in state history.

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In the coaching ranks, Natrona coach Steve Harshman notched victory No. 200 in the semifinals and finishes the season with 201 in-state victories. He ranks third all-time in in-state victories and now needs just five victories to pass legendary Laramie coach John E. Deti for second place. Of course, Cokeville coach Todd Dayton leads all in-state coaches with 325 victories.

(A quick note on Dayton: He suffered the worst loss of his career, point-spread wise, in Saturday’s 53-point loss to Big Horn. Prior to that, Dayton’s worst loss at Cokeville had been by 32 points. That’s an amazing stat to me — that in 38 years, a Cokeville team had never lost by more than 32 until the Rams dumped them by 53. There isn’t another team in the state that can claim a run like that.)

Also this season, Douglas coach Jay Rhoades passed the 100-victory milestone this season; he now has 101 victories in Wyoming and ranks fifth among active coaches — fourth by 2019 when Glenrock’s Ray Kumpula makes his retirement official.

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If you take a look around the site, you should see that the 2018 season results are now a part of all the listings I have. (If they’re not, let me know!) I’m not done with 2018 yet, though. There’s still more to update here — the all-state, Super 25 and all-America listings will be updated when information is available to do so, and the individual records will be updated when final season stats are released.

The 2019 schedule, meanwhile, will most likely be mostly an inverse of the 2018 schedule. The statewide scheduling meeting is coming up this week in Casper, and I’ll post the 2019 schedule after I receive schedules from schools statewide.

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My picks for the title games went well… as in perfect. That helps me overcome a slow start and finish above 80 percent correct for the year. This means something only to me, I’m sure, but indulge me:

Last week: 5-0 (100 percent). This season: 245-58 (81 percent). 14-year overall record: 3,334-830 (80 percent).

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Finally, if you like what you’ve seen from this site, consider a page sponsorship. I have to pay for my own web space, and page sponsorships are my way of making sure that I don’t pay out of my own pocket to keep the site running. Sponsorships for single pages run $20 per year — a small contribution to a labor of love that provides me a lot of happiness. I hope it provides you the same. Thanks for your support all season, and in seasons past; it’s a lot more fun to share my passion with others who share it with me.

Now, on to wyoming-basketball.com. …

–patrick

The theory about championship games is that the hot team, not the best team, will come away with the title.

But if “hot” is measured by a semifinal performance, that theory may be misleading.

Inspired by this post, I looked into the margins of victory for semifinal playoff games to see if the teams that won by bigger margins in the semifinals were more likely to win the state championships.

I found that, since 2009 when title games moved to the neutral War (isn’t that an oxymoron?), the teams that win big in the semis are actually LESS likely to win the title game — but just barely.

Since 2009, the team that has won its semifinal game by fewer points is actually more successful in the title game, going 23-22. However, teams that win their semifinal games by wide margins that play teams that won their semifinal games by small margins do have an advantage.

Of the 11 instances since 2009 when a team that won its semifinal game by more than 25 points played a team that won its semifinal game by single digits, the team that won by 25-plus is 9-2 in those title games. The only teams not to uphold this were Douglas in 2014 (won its semifinal by 27, lost the title game to Cody, which won its semifinal by 8) and Tongue River in 2016 (won its semifinal by 31, lost the title game to Pine Bluffs, which won its semifinal by 6). This weekend, this scenario applies to Star Valley (won by 33; opponent Torrington won by 1).

However, simply winning big in a semifinal is no guarantee of title-game success. Of teams that won their semifinal games by at least 30 points, those teams are just 14-11 in title games. This includes five instances of each team playing in the title game after winning their semifinals by at least 30 points, four of those in six-man. This year’s six-man title game matches this scenario.

Looking ahead to this weekend, don’t be fooled by conventional wisdom. Even though it would seem that Star Valley, Buffalo, Big Horn and Farson would have the advantage, having won their semifinals by a wider margin than their opponent, we’ve seen that winning big in the semis guarantees nothing a week later.

–patrick

As you may have heard by now, Torrington reached its second consecutive Class 3A title game by beating Jackson 22-21 on Friday, scoring a touchdown as time ran out before notching the game-winning two-point conversion.

You may have also heard that Jackson supporters were not happy about the way in which the clock was turned on or off in the final few moments of the game — specifically, the final six plays.

Local News 8, the ABC station in Idaho Falls, covered this controversy. Kind of. Unfortunately, the story posted doesn’t match the video of what actually happened. (For example, the story says Torrington never went out of bounds in the final six plays, when Torrington did on its third play of the six; it also notes a fumble “blown dead” that could have happened on the same play, but player and official reactions show that the play was clearly over before the ball came loose.)

So let’s set the record straight.

Well, as straight as we can with gifs.

For this post, I watched the NFHS Network replay of Friday’s game. I timed each play in Torrington’s final drive and compared the announced times on the KGOS/KERM radio broadcast that accompanied the video feed to times I compiled by hand. (The images in this post come from that NFHS Network feed and are used here under fair use journalistic purposes.)

On its final drive, Torrington went 67 yards in 17 plays in 1 minute, 10 seconds. The first 11 plays were pretty standard, with no huge timing problems that I noticed.

The dispute really centers on the final six plays of the game, which Torrington ran in 10.4 seconds without the use of a timeout. (Neither team had any timeouts remaining by this point.) The first two plays were incomplete passes, each running about two seconds off the clock. Let’s take a look at gifs of those two plays.

Play 1

Play 2

 

So far, so good. No controversy. After the first two plays, the announcers from KGOS/KERM radio say the clock is down to 6.3 seconds. I hand-timed these two plays myself and ended up with a similar number of where the clock should be (I had it at 6.0, an acceptable range of difference).

Play 3 is where things start to go a little haywire. On this play, Torrington’s Bryan Lemmon catches a swing pass and is knocked out of bounds. The play takes about 4.6 seconds, according to my stopwatch.

Play 3

This should put the game clock at about 2.2 seconds remaining. (We don’t know what the clock read at this point, because it’s not announced on the audio feed. However, we can assume the clock read more than 2.2 seconds, based on the play call that follows and the reaction of the players after that play.)

Play 4 in the sequence adds to the questions. On fourth-and-1, Lemmon takes a pitch and plows for three yards, reaching the 2-yard line for a first down. The clock stops at this point to reset the chains. By my watch, this play takes 4.1 seconds.

Play 4

The clock starts before Play 5 begins. Play 5 is a spike to stop the clock after the chains are set for the first down. And Torrington does so nice and fast — in 0.9 seconds, according to my watch, from the signal to start the clock to when the ball hits the ground. (In this gif, watch the white hat ref on the right side; also watch the umpire stopping the ball from being snapped until the signal is given to go. This follows proper timing rules.)

Play 5

Play 6 is Lemmon’s 2-yard touchdown. The radio announcers say that, prior to this play, 1.6 seconds remained on the clock. And it doesn’t matter how long this play takes, because (as every player and coach knows) scoring on a play after time has run out is OK as long as the snap happens before the clock runs out.

Play 6

After this touchdown, Lemmon scored on the 2-point conversion to send Torrington back to the 3A title game.

The five plays prior to the game-winning touchdown took, by my stopwatch, 15.4 seconds. The Torrington clock operator said those same five plays took 8.8 seconds.

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Ultimately, Torrington won the game, and Torrington will play for a state championship. As Local News 8’s Max Cohan noted on Twitter (via a screencap of an email Cohan says is from Jackson AD Mike Hansen), the WHSAA isn’t in the habit of overruling game officials.

The WHSAA has rarely intervened in cases like this. In fact, I can find only one instance in which the WHSAA has overruled game officials. That came in 1967 in a game between Basin and Byron. Basin originally won 40-34 by scoring in the final minute of their game on Oct. 27, but Byron protested the game’s final 2 minutes, 24 seconds after claiming the officials mis-applied the rules on a fumble. The WHSAA upheld the protest, and the WHSAA forced the two teams to re-play the final 2:24 three days later. No one scored and the game finished as a 34-34 tie, officially.

The only other high-profile questionable timing incident I know of came even further back than that: the final game of the 1955 season between Laramie and Cheyenne Central. Laramie won 18-14 on its home field to claim the Class AA championship, but Cheyenne filed a protest claiming “timing irregularities” gave Laramie an unfair advantage. Two Cheyenne players also punched and tackled an official after he ejected a Cheyenne player. Although the protest was eventually tossed, the timekeeper that day, Edwin Hitchcock, died just days after the game due to a heart attack.

More recently, the most controversial final-play playoff finish came in a Class 5A semifinal game in 2006. In that game, Natrona kicker Garrett Hill’s field goal attempt on the final play of the game was ruled wide left, despite video showing that the kick may have actually gone between the uprights as it went over the top of the left post. Cheyenne East won that game 5-3. Then as now, the WHSAA delegated that responsibility to the officials on the field and supported the ruling the officials made on the field.

The same standard applies here. If Jackson fans have a beef, it’s with the officials, not with the WHSAA. I daresay the beef isn’t even with the timer, who I don’t want to name here (and couldn’t even if I wanted to, because I haven’t asked and don’t plan to). However, if you think you can do better than the officials, prove it by becoming a WHSAA official. It’s a hard and thankless job, especially when we (you and me) can watch replay after replay and critique tenths of a second of their in-the-moment calls and decisions. I thought hard about whether to even post this, because I think many people will use this post as an excuse to trash the game officials and timer even more. Please don’t be that person.

In the course of a 48-minute game, 6.6 seconds slips off the clock, or stays on the clock, easily. To Torrington’s benefit, and Jackson’s dismay, it just so happened these 6.6 seconds came when they did.

–patrick

Here’s a quick look at broad playoff scenarios entering Week 7 of the 2018 Wyoming high school football season:

Class 4A
In: Cheyenne East, Natrona, Thunder Basin, Sheridan, Laramie.
Neither in nor out: Rock Springs, Cheyenne Central, Kelly Walsh, Cheyenne South, Gillette.
Out: No one.
Can the top seed be decided this week? HAHAHAHAHAHA no. There’s WAY too many scenarios possibly happening to make this a reality in Week 7.

The key game for seeding in the lower half keeps looking like the South-Central matchup in Week 8. The top half, meanwhile, looks like it’s going to end with a coin flip deciding the top three seeds. There’s parity, but it’s split in two.

Class 3A East
In: Torrington.
Neither in nor out: Douglas, Lander, Worland, Riverton.
Out: Rawlins.
Can the top seed be decided this week? Yep. Torrington can earn the top seed by beating Worland in Week 7.

Even if Rawlins wins its final two games, the Outlaws would tie with teams they’ve already lost to, so they’re out. Riverton still has a wide outside chance to make it, but the Wolverines would need to pull an upset over Douglas in Week 8 and get some help (not to mention beating Rawlins next week.

Class 3A West
In: Star Valley.
Neither in nor out: Evanston, Cody, Jackson, Powell, Green River.
Out: No one.
Can the top seed be decided this week? Yep. Star Valley can wrap up the No. 1 seed if it beats Cody and if Jackson beats Evanston.

Powell and Green River are both on the outside looking in, and each needs to win next week (against each other) to stay in consideration. The top is messy, though, as an “upset” in any of the remaining games between the top four teams (Star Valley faces Evanston and Cody and Evanston faces Jackson in the final two weeks) could make this a mess.

Class 2A East
In: Buffalo.
Neither in nor out: Glenrock, Wheatland, Thermopolis, Burns, Moorcroft, Newcastle.
Out: No one.
Can the top seed be decided this week? Actually, this one’s already been decided. Buffalo is the No. 1 seed.

Newcastle is the longest of the long shots, needing a lot to go right to keep hope alive. Glenrock has the best chance at the No. 2 seed and can wrap that up by beating Thermopolis this week. And Wheatland can secure the No. 3 seed by beating Moorcroft this week (and maybe move up to No. 2 if some wild things go down).

Class 2A West
In: Mountain View.
Neither in nor out: Greybull, Big Piney, Kemmerer, Pinedale, Lyman, Lovell.
Out: No one.
Can the top seed be decided this week? Yep. Mountain View wins the conference with a victory against Kemmerer combined with a Greybull loss to Lyman.

In between Mountain View at 4-0 and Lovell at 0-4, this whole conference is just a dang mess. I don’t even want to think about it until Week 8 is done, and then I’ll break out my tiebreaking guidelines.

Class 1A 11-man East
In: Big Horn, Upton-Sundance.
Neither in nor out: Pine Bluffs, Lusk, Wright, Tongue River, Southeast.
Out: No one.
Can the top seed be decided this week? Yep. Big Horn will be the top seed with a victory against Lusk this week.

This one could get either really messy or really simple really fast. Really. Big Horn and Upton-Sundance are in, and the game between Upton-Sundance and Pine Bluffs this week will help sort out the second and third seeds. After that, it’s a chase for No. 4, with Lusk, Wright and Tongue River (and barely Southeast) all going after that final playoff slot.

Class 1A 11-man West
In: Cokeville, Wind River, Shoshoni.
Neither in nor out: Rocky Mountain, Wyoming Indian.
Out: No one (except Saratoga, who’s ineligible).
Can the top seed be decided this week? Nope. That’s a Week 8 discussion.

Pretty simple here: The Cokeville-Wind River game in Week 8 will likely decide 1 and 2. Shoshoni’s probably 3. The winner of Rocky Mountain-Wyoming Indian in Week 8 is likely 4. The only way that isn’t the case is if Rocky upsets Wind River this week.

Class 1A six-man East
In: Hanna, Kaycee.
Neither in nor out: Guernsey, NSI, Lingle, Hulett.
Out: Midwest.
Can the top seed be decided this week? Yep, in a couple ways. Kaycee can win the conference outright with a victory against Hanna. Hanna can win the conference with a victory AND a Guernsey loss to Lingle.

There’s a weird scenario where Guernsey, NSI and either Lingle or Hulett could tie for the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. Meanwhile, Hanna hosts Kaycee this week, with Guernsey lurking to potentially force a three-way tie in Week 8 (or potentially win the conference outright) if Hanna wins in Week 7.

Class 1A six-man West
In: Farson, Meeteetse, Snake River.
Neither in nor out: Burlington, St. Stephens.
Out: Riverside (ineligible), Dubois.
Can the top seed be decided this week? Yep. Farson wins the No. 1 seed with a victory against Burlington in Week 7.

St. Stephens is the team on the outside looking in right now, needing two victories and two Burlington losses to sneak into the fourth spot. Farson is the likely top seed, with Meeteetse needing only to beat winless Dubois this week to secure the No. 2 seed. Snake River’s in as the third seed if it beats Dubois in Week 8.

Wanna see the standings for yourself? Click here.

Updated at 4:44 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, to reflect updated Class 1A six-man West possibilities after Saturday’s game between Meeteetse and Riverside finished.

–patrick

I always take note when I recognize a name for a new high school coach.

Generally, when I recognize a name of a new coach, it’s because I remember that coach as a player. That’s what happened a bunch this summer, with new coaches like Cody Bohlander, Clayton McSpadden and Eli Moody among others sparking memories of their playing days.

Those memories got me thinking — how many of Wyoming’s head football coaches graduated from a Wyoming high school? Or a Wyoming college?

So, as part of the Wyoming High School Football Preview Magazine, I asked every coach about their alma maters, both high school and college. And here’s what I found:

Of the 64 Wyoming high school football coaches entering the 2018 season, 34 went to Wyoming high schools, while 30 did not. Wyoming coaches also graduated from high schools in Montana (6), Colorado (4), Idaho and Nebraska (3 each), California, Utah and Washington (2 each) and Alaska, Arkansas, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oregon, Texas and the District of Columbia (1 each).

The only bordering state not to have at least one head coach in Wyoming is South Dakota.

In all, 27 different Wyoming high schools were represented on the alma mater list of Wyoming coaches. Nine coaches (Burlington’s Trent Aagard, Cheyenne Central’s Mike Apodaca, Cokeville’s Todd Dayton, Evanston’s Pat Fackrell, Farson’s Trip Applequist, Hulett’s Boz Backen, Lusk’s Ryan Nelson, Rawlins’ Clayton McSpadden and Snake River’s Jack Cobb) are the head coach at the high school from which they graduated. Similarly, Hanna’s Zack Scott is an alumnus of nearby and now closed Medicine Bow, while Thunder Basin coach Trent Pikula graduated from Gillette in the days before TBHS existed.

Eight high schools graduated more than one Wyoming high school coach; Cheyenne Central, Douglas, Hulett, Lander, Lovell, Lusk, Midwest and Chadron (Nebraska) each have two alumni as head football coaches in Wyoming. The city of Cheyenne leads all cities with three coaches from that city claiming alumni status from one of that city’s high schools.

+++

For college, the most popular undergraduate alma mater was the University of Wyoming, from which 19 Wyoming coaches graduated. Even so, 42 of the remaining 43 coaches went to out-of-state locales to finish their bachelor’s degrees.

Next was Black Hills State with eight alumni and Chadron State with four. After that, coaches graduated from Sioux Falls and Montana State (3 each), Colorado Mesa, Montana-Western, MSU-Billings and Weber State (2 each), and Arkansas, Augustana, Colorado State, CSU-Sacramento, Dakota Wesleyan, Dickinson State, Kansas State, MSU-Northern, Northern Michigan, South Dakota Mines, Southern Utah, Sterling (Kansas), Southwest Minnesota State, Tabor (Kansas), Texas, UNLV and Utah State (1 each). (Two coaches have not finished their undergraduate degrees.)


–patrick

A few weeks ago, before the season officially got going, I was on KNYN radio in Evanston with Jake Hibbard to talk about the 2018 season (the program is here in case you want to listen). We got to talking about programs and coaches and all kinds of fun stuff, and I made the point that, most of the time, it takes about three years for a new coach to really put their mark on a program and win with their approaches.

But then I got to thinking about it and started to wonder — statistically, is that actually the case? Do coaches really do their best, in terms of winning games, in their third season? And did I just lie to a bunch of radio listeners in Uinta County????

To test this hypothesis, I tracked down the results of every Wyoming high school football coach who spent at least four consecutive years in their position since 1980 and looked at which of the first three years was the best. (Why four years? You’ll see soon.) I found 194 coaches who fit this description. Of those 194:

  • 58 (29.9 percent) had their best year in their first year
  • 64 (33 percent) had their best year in their second year
  • 72 (37.1 percent) had their best year in their third year*

So, yes, there is a connection here — teams get better as the coach stays longer, at least through the first three years. My hypothesis was right — but not by the margin I thought. I thought it’d be much higher.

But I wasn’t done thinking about this topic. If it really takes three years to get up to speed, then shouldn’t the fourth year be the best of them all? So I decided to look at the fourth year, trying to answer the question of how many coaches have a season in their fourth year that’s better than any one of their first three years.

The answer: 46 of those 194 coaches (23.7 percent) had that fourth year be better than any of the previous three.

Even at random, a fourth-year coach should have a 25-percent chance of having their best year be their fourth year. Fourth-year coaches are below that. I’m not totally sure what that means, but I found it interesting nonetheless.

Finally, some light statistical breakdowns help show the (weak) trend that I inherently believed to be true but had never tested.

The third year really is the best — at least 37.1 percent of the time. That’s 37.1 percent good news for the nine head coaches starting their third year in 2018: Dan Gallas at Cheyenne South, McKay Young at Star Valley, Matt McPhie at Thermopolis, Mitch Espeland at Pinedale, Richard Despain at Rocky Mountain, Curtis Cook at Guernsey-Sunrise, Matthew Cornelius at Lingle, Doug Spriggs at Rock River and Trent Aagard at Burlington.

Answering the question WHY the third year is the best, though, is much more difficult. Still working on that one. 🙂

*-Note that in cases of ties, I went with the first year in which a record was reached. Rankings were by winning percentage.

–patrick

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