Evanston head football coach Pat Fackrell has resigned after nine seasons leading the Red Devils.

Fackrell confirmed his resignation via email Monday with wyoming-football.com. The resignation was listed last week on the Football Scoop website.

A replacement has not yet been named, Fackrell said.

Fackrell took over the Red Devils in 2010. He led the program to six consecutive Class 4A playoff berths from 2010-15. Evanston transitioned to Class 3A in 2017; last year, the Red Devils finished 6-4 and made the 3A playoffs.

In nine seasons, Fackrell’s teams went a combined 32-55. His nine-year stay as Evanston’s head coach is tied for the second-longest tenure in school history behind the 18-year tenure of Kay Fackrell, Pat Fackrell’s father.

Fackrell teaches physical education at Evanston High School.

Evanston is the first Class 3A football program to make a change at its head coaching position this offseason. Other programs seeking new coaches for 2019 include Gillette, Kelly Walsh, Rock Springs and Wyoming Indian. Additionally, Glenrock and Lovell have named new head coaches for 2019. If you know of other head coaching changes statewide, please email me at pschmiedt@yahoo.com.

–patrick

The Wyoming Chapter of the National Football Foundation has named 10 Wyoming high school football players as finalists for the state’s top football scholar-athlete award.

The winner of the award will be announced at the chapter’s annual banquet, which will be March 16 in Laramie, a release from event organizers sent out Friday said.

In addition, two University of Wyoming football players will be honored as scholar-athletes, while three other high school players will receive other awards from the chapter. Nine others will receive awards recognizing contributions in coaching, officiating and supporting football across the state.

Finalists include Natrona’s Jordan Bertagnole; Sheridan’s Parker Christensen; Pine Bluffs’ Hunter Jeffres; Farson’s Clancy Gines and Lain Mitchelson; Buffalo’s Luke Glassock; Wheatland’s Clayton Iacovetto; Riverton’s Treyton Paxton; Lander’s Conrad Swenson; and Big Horn’s Kade VanDyken. One player will be chosen to win the state’s top scholar-athlete award and represent Wyoming with a chance to win national recognition.

In all, 130 players were nominated for the award.

The banquet will include three speakers — NFF Director of Membership Ron Dilatush and former scholar-athlete award winners Dr. Justin Hopkin of Burlington (now Lander) and Gavin Mills of Powell.

Now in its 25th year, the Wyoming Chapter has awarded almost $370,000 in scholarships since its inception, with $19,200 in scholarships scheduled to be awarded March 16, the release said.

Other award recipients will include:
UW Scholar-Athlete Awards: Nico Evans, Adam Pilapil
Courage Award: Wes Eyre, Lyman
Perseverance Award: Roberto Hernandez, St. Stephens; Kolby Pisciotti, Newcastle
Greatest UW Football Fan: Roy C. Miller, Laramie/Cheyenne
Greatest High School Football Fan: Deb Jacobs, Powell; Doug Potter, Green River
Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football: Pete and Linda Haman, Douglas; Eric Worden, Laramie
Ox Zellner Football Official Career Achievement: Bryon Mowry, Casper
Coaching Career Achievement: Tyrone Fittje, Casper; Bill Pentland, Wheatland

–patrick

Nine-man football may return to Wyoming by 2020, pending approval from the Wyoming High School Activities Association.

In all, 13 schools have indicated tentative interest in joining a new Class 1A nine-man classification that would replace the current Class 1A 11-man, WHSAA Associate Commissioner Trevor Wilson said in an interview with wyoming-football.com on Friday.

“It’s been overwhelmingly supported by our schools,” Wilson said.

If granted final approval, nine-man football would begin in 2020. Current 1A programs that want to continue to play 11-man would have to opt up to 2A, and current six-man programs would have the option to play nine-man instead.

Wilson said the biggest supporters of a change to nine-man have been from a variety of areas, but “especially the (programs) that have struggled already to field 11-man teams.”

Results from a WHSAA survey distributed in mid-November to current Class 2A and 1A programs showed that 17 schools were interested in playing 11-man football at the Class 2A level, 13 were interested in nine-man and 13 in six-man.

The proposal for nine-man football will see its first reading before the WHSAA Board of Directors on Feb. 5. The proposal was discussed at district meetings last week. If approved on first reading, the proposal will go back to districts before a second, final reading before the board on April 23.

The one negative Wilson said schools brought up at district meetings was about smaller 1A schools who wish to continue playing 11-man football, such as Cokeville and Pine Bluffs. Questions about the ability of teams with less depth to hold up against a 2A schedule week in and week out is “the only negative we see right now,” Wilson said.

For now, four current Class 1A programs (Big Horn, Cokeville, Pine Bluffs and Upton-Sundance) have indicated interest in moving to Class 2A to continue playing 11-man. Similarly, six-man schools Lingle, Riverside and St. Stephens have noted their interest in moving to nine-man. Riverside currently opts down to play six-man. Moorcroft is the only 2A school that has indicated its interest in moving from 11-man to nine-man.

Wilson said the classification and conference alignment is far from official and is dependent on where schools are classified in the upcoming reclassification cycle. Classifications for the 2020 and 2021 seasons will be set by enrollment numbers sent in to the state’s department of education in June and received by the WHSAA in late summer. Programs would continue to have the option to play up or down in classification, per WHSAA board approval; schools that opt down are ineligible for postseason play, though.

Wilson also said Rock River, which had played six-man football, will suspend varsity football for the 2020 and 2021 seasons. He also said Encampment will add six-man football at the sub-varsity level in 2019 and attempt to play a varsity schedule starting in 2020.

Wyoming hasn’t had organized nine-man football since 1994. That season, only six teams played in the nine-man classification. The WHSAA eliminated it after six years prior to the 1995 season.

The November WHSAA survey results showed the schools’ tentative choices for 2020. Schools can change their decisions prior to finalization of classifications and conferences during reclassification discussions this fall, and Wilson said the classification and conference assignments are far from final:

Class 2A: Big Horn, Big Piney, Buffalo, Burns, Cokeville, Glenrock, Greybull, Kemmerer, Lovell, Lyman, Mountain View, Newcastle, Pine Bluffs, Pinedale, Thermopolis, Upton-Sundance, Wheatland.

Class 1A nine-man: Lingle, Lusk, Moorcroft, Riverside, Rocky Mountain, St. Stephens, Saratoga, Shoshoni, Southeast, Tongue River, Wind River, Wright, Wyoming Indian.

Class 1A six-man: Burlington, Dubois, Encampment, Farson, Guernsey-Sunrise, Hanna, Hulett, Kaycee, Meeteetse, Midwest, NSI, Snake River, Ten Sleep.

–patrick

The final touches on the 2019 Wyoming high school football schedule are done.

The portion of the schedule set by the Wyoming High School Activities Association was released to schools during the statewide scheduling meeting in mid-November in Casper. Since then, schools have finalized dates and times and, in some cases, added games to their schedules where open weeks were available.

As expected, most of the 2019 schedule is a flip-flop of the 2018 schedule, with home and road locations switching places from 2018 to 2019 for most schools. However, a handful of games will be different for 2019, especially in nonconference games.

Class 3A, Class 2A, Class 1A 11-man and Class 1A six-man schools also have the option of scheduling Zero Week contests. Those will be updated as they are received from the schools. For now, only a small handful of schools have opted not to play in some kind of Zero Week game or scrimmage.

Saratoga will continue to play six-man and will take over the 1A six-man East Conference schedule originally held by Rock River. Rock River will not field a team in 2019; Saratoga will be ineligible for the six-man playoffs.

Encampment, which is tentatively scheduled to add a sub-varsity six-man team in 2019, is not on the schedule; the Tigers have yet to set up any games while waiting to see if the program will obtain final approval.

The 2019 schedule is available here. It will be updated with changes when received. Also, the 2019 schedules will start appearing on team pages on this site in the next couple weeks.

–patrick

The 2018 Wyoming Shrine Bowl raised $30,000 for the Shriners Hospitals for Children.

Shrine Bowl executive director Frank Selby announced the donation to the Salt Lake Shriners Hospital in a release on Wednesday.

Shrine Bowl players make a trip to the Salt Lake Shriners Hospital prior to playing in the annual all-star football game. The hospital treats children with special health needs, including burns, muscular or skeletal conditions or other needs.

Last summer’s Shrine Bowl was the 45th year for the game. The North team won its sixth straight Shrine Bowl by beating the South 13-7.

The 2019 game will be played June 9 in Casper.

–patrick

Rock River will not field a football team in 2019 and is evaluating continuing the program into future seasons, the school’s AD said.

Ty Vallier, Rock River’s activities director, said via email to wyoming-football.com on Tuesday that the Longhorns will not field a team in Wyoming’s six-man division in 2019.

“At this point we are assessing the future of the program and will revisit that next year before state scheduling,” Vallier said.

Rock River has played sub-varsity schedules the past two seasons after failing to draw enough players to field varsity squads.

The school’s six-man program started in 2012. The team played two sub-varsity seasons in 2012 and 2013 before fielding varsity teams in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Saratoga, which played a patchwork six-man schedule last season after opting down from 11-man, will pick up Rock River’s games in the Class 1A six-man East Conference schedule in 2019.

–patrick

After five seasons as the head football coach at Wyoming Indian, Todd Ghormley has resigned.

Ghormley confirmed his resignation via email Friday to wyoming-football.com.

Ghormley said he was planning to stay at WIHS, where he teaches science and is also the head wrestling coach. He said a replacement has not yet been named.

The past two seasons, the Chiefs have played mostly sub-varsity opponents in an effort to gain experience and keep the program running. The team is 3-34 the past five years, including 1-4 last season.

Wyoming Indian joins Lovell and Glenrock as schools looking for new head coaches for 2019. If you know of other head coaching changes statewide, please email me at pschmiedt@yahoo.com.

–patrick

Lovell’s Jeny Gardner was let go as the Bulldogs’ head football coach on Wednesday.

Gardner said via Twitter direct message with wyoming-football.com that the decision to change coaches was not her choice.

In a tweet, Gardner thanked her players “for believing in what we were trying to do with Lovell Football.”

The Bulldogs finished 1-8 last season. In a Twitter message, Gardner — an assistant with Lovell for three years before she became the state’s first female head coach — said she feared the Bulldogs’ record this year could be used as an excuse to keep other women from coaching football teams. Gardner did say she hopes to continue coaching football.

Lovell joins Glenrock as schools looking for new head coaches this offseason. If you know of other head coaching changes statewide, please email me at pschmiedt@yahoo.com.

–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.

+++

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

Glenrock football coach Ray Kumpula, who built a legacy of hard-nosed, championship football in two separate stints as the Herders’ head coach, will retire at the end of the season.

The Douglas Budget’s Eddie Poe first reported Kumpula’s retirement on Twitter after the Herders’ 61-8 victory against Moorcroft on Friday in Glenrock’s final regular-season game.


Heading into the Class 2A playoffs as the No. 2 seed from the East Conference, Glenrock will be trying to win its fourth championship under Kumpula. He led the Herders to state championships in 2002, 2003 and 2008.

Kumpula’s all-time record of 133-87 unofficially places him tied for 14th all-time among the state’s coaches. His victory total is fourth among active coaches statewide, behind only Cokeville’s Todd Dayton, Natrona’s Steve Harshman and Southeast’s Mark Bullington.

Kumpula started as Glenrock’s head coach in 1990. He led the Herders to three playoff appearances in seven seasons before stepping down after the 1996 season. He re-assumed the position of head coach prior to the 2002 season, winning titles in his first two seasons back as head coach.

He also led Glenrock to title-game appearances in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2015 and 2017.

Glenrock will host Big Piney in the quarterfinals of the 2A playoffs on Friday.

A replacement for Kumpula has not yet been named.

–patrick

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