One sure thing about championship weekend? We’ll have five new state champions this year.

None of the five state champs from 2019 made it to the 2020 championships, the first time that’s happened since 2015.

Some consistent championship winners aren’t here — in fact, none of the 10 teams remaining is among the group of seven Wyoming programs with double-digit football championships to their name.

But that doesn’t mean the fields will be peppered with teams who don’t know their way around a title game.

Of the 10 teams playing this weekend, only Jackson (last title in 2007) hasn’t played in a title game in the past decade. Thunder Basin was here last year; Torrington and Farson each made it this far two years ago.

Another added twist to the 2020 title games is their locations — Cheyenne, Cody, Torrington, Yoder and Farson, not Laramie. The officials in charge of developing COVID-19 protocols rightly decided large gatherings of people from all over the state may not be the best idea, so, for at least one year, championship games are at host sites — another wrinkle in a season full of them.

Here are breakdowns for each championship game, as well as my choices:

Class 4A, 1 p.m. Saturday
Thunder Basin (3, 9-2) at Cheyenne East (1, 10-1)
Series record: Thunder Basin leads 4-1.
Last meeting: Thunder Basin beat Cheyenne East 34-28 on Aug. 28 in Gillette.
Last playoff meeting: Thunder Basin beat Cheyenne East 27-21 on Nov. 8, 2019, in a Class 4A semifinal in Gillette.
State championships: Thunder Basin zero. … Cheyenne East four, most recently in 2013.
Previous title game record: Thunder Basin, 0-1. … Cheyenne East, 4-3.
The path to the title game: Thunder Basin eked out a 19-14 victory against Natrona in the quarterfinals before thumping Kelly Walsh 55-14 in the semifinals. … Cheyenne East blew out Laramie 49-7 in the first round and topped Sheridan 31-21 in the semifinals.
The case for the ‘Bolts: Thunder Basin is consistent on both sides of the ball — the ‘Bolts are second in Class 4A in both offense and defense. The offense has great balance, with RB Jaxon Pikula and QB Ryan Baker forming a dangerous backfield pairing. They got their wake-up call in Week 8 against Sheridan, so they’re playing with urgency, not overconfidence. And they’re the only team to beat East this year.
The case for the Thunderbirds: Behind QB Graedyn Buell, East has 4A’s top offense, and it’s not even close. The defense, ranked third in 4A, has been the T-Birds’ silent saviors. And ever since that loss in the opening week to Thunder Basin, East has notched 10 consecutive victories, including their last six by more than 27 points per game.
The pick: If East was playing any other team in the championship, I’d worry about overconfidence. But since the Thunderbirds are playing the only team to beat them this year, I think they’ll come out with the requisite focus needed. Thunder Basin will make it tough on them, though — and if the ‘Bolts can get a defensive or special teams touchdown, the score could flip-flop quickly. … Cheyenne East 38, Thunder Basin 30.

Class 3A, noon Saturday
Jackson (2W, 9-2) at Cody (1W, 9-1)
Series record: Cody leads 21-8.
Last meeting: Cody beat Jackson 48-6 on Oct. 23 in Jackson.
Last playoff meeting: Jackson beat Cody 38-12 on Oct. 26, 2007, in a Class 4A quarterfinal in Jackson.
State championships: Jackson three, most recently in 2007. … Cody five, most recently in 2017.
Previous title game record: Jackson, 3-1. … Cody, 5-5.
The path to the title game: Jackson beat up on Riverton 61-38 in the quarterfinals and scored late to beat Douglas 21-14 in the semifinals. … Cody bopped Worland 51-7 in the quarterfinals and shut out Powell 21-0 in the semifinals.
The case for the (Jackson) Broncs: I’ll say this slowly and clearly so everyone can understand its significance: Jackson leads Class 3A in both rushing and passing offense. That diversity, led by RB Brody Hasenack and QB Sadler Smith, keeps defenses honest. The defense has given up its share of yards, but that unit is better than the numbers show. And after losing big to Cody three weeks ago, Jackson has to be ready for revenge.
The case for the (Cody) Broncs: Cody has the kind of consistency coaches dream of; the Broncs are second in Class 3A in both offense and defense. That’s led to a lot of victories. Moreover, Cody doesn’t rely on any one player or unit to get the job done — eight running backs and six receivers have triple-digit yards this year. And after winning big against Jackson three weeks ago, Cody has to be confident.
The pick: I’m only guaranteeing one thing in this game — it’ll be much closer than 48-6, the score between these two teams in Week 8. Jackson will play much better this time around. The black-and-orange Broncs will keep the pressure on from the start. All that said, the blue-and-gold Broncs, at home, have the edge. … Cody 31, Jackson 24.

Class 2A, 1 p.m. Saturday
Lyman (1W, 10-1) at Torrington (1E, 8-2)
Series record: First meeting.
State championships: Lyman four, most recently in 2012. … Torrington three, most recently in 1990.
Previous title game record: Lyman, 4-1. … Torrington, 2-11.
The path to the title game: Lyman won big a couple times, beating Big Horn 42-7 in the quarterfinals and Upton-Sundance 37-15 in the semifinals. … Torrington topped Cokeville 34-14 in the quarterfinals and beat Mountain View 31-20 in the semifinals.
The case for the Eagles: Lyman wins with a simple formula: overwhelming defense, enough offense. The Eagles lead Class 2A in scoring defense and have allowed the fewest yards of any team in the classification. The offense relies on the run first, but timely passing keeps defenses from committing fully to stopping the run. Aside from a 6-0 loss to Big Piney, Lyman has used that formula to be almost unbeatable.
The case for the Trailblazers: With a junior-heavy roster, and coming off a 1-7 season, I honestly thought Torrington was a year away from competing for a state title. But the Trailblazers have been really consistent all year. Like, scary consistent — you know exactly what you’re getting from this group on a weekly basis. Losing QB Beau Bivens to injury in the semifinals hurts Torrington’s chances, but inspiration — and momentum — are always tough things to track in the minds of teenagers.
The pick: Of the five games this weekend, this is the one I’ve waffled on the most. With 2A’s parity, it’s no surprise that we have such an evenly matched championship game. I’m leaning on an old cliche here, so forgive me, but defense wins championships. … Lyman 20, Torrington 19.

Class 1A nine-man, 5 p.m. Friday
Lusk (2E, 8-2) at Southeast (1E, 10-0)
Series record: Lusk leads 25-20.
Last meeting: Southeast beat Lusk 35-16 on Oct. 16 in Yoder.
Last playoff meeting: Southeast beat Lusk 40-6 on Nov. 10, 2012, in the Class 1A 11-man championship at Laramie.
State championships: Lusk five, most recently in 2002. … Southeast nine, most recently in 2012.
Previous title game record: Lusk, 5-9. … Southeast, 9-2.
The path to the title game: Lusk bombed Greybull 54-0 in the quarterfinals and outscored Rocky Mountain 52-35 in the semifinals. … Southeast blasted Riverside 63-6 in the first round and beat Shoshoni 44-18 in the semifinals.
The case for the Tigers: Nine-man’s most high-powered offense averages 500 yards and more than 50 points per game — and if that isn’t enough for you, what is? With 166 more rushing yards, RB Drake Lamp will crack 3,000 yards rushing this season (yes, you read that right) and is on track to be just the third four-time all-state pick in Wyoming history. Conversely, the defense has been on the field a lot; if the offense weren’t such a quick-striking unit, the Tigers’ D would look a lot better.
The case for the Cyclones: Anyone paying attention saw this coming. Deep and experienced, Southeast has been mowing over everyone in its way — including Lusk, 35-16, in Week 7. Southeast rolls up almost 200 more yards per game than it allows, and they do so with a team approach that spreads out the responsibilities on both sides of the ball.
The pick: It’ll be easy to look at this and concentrate on Lusk’s offense vs. Southeast’s defense. When those kind of matchups happens, look the other way, too: Southeast’s offense vs. Lusk’s defense. I think the Tigers will put up more points than they did a month ago, but Southeast still has the edge. … Southeast 38, Lusk 28.

Class 1A six-man, 1 p.m. Saturday
Meeteetse (2W, 8-1) at Farson (1W, 10-0)
Series record: Meeteetse leads 7-6.
Last meeting: Farson beat Meeteetse 35-16 on Oct. 17 in Farson.
Last playoff meeting: First playoff meeting.
State championships: Meeteetse two, most recently in 2013. … Farson one, in 2018.
Previous title game record: Meeteetse, 2-2. … Farson, 1-2.
The path to the title game: Meeteetse thumped Guernsey 63-7 in the quarterfinals and then nudged out Kaycee 46-38 in the semifinals. … Farson shut out Hanna 70-0 in the quarterfinals and came back to beat Encampment 42-41 in the semifinals.
The case for the Longhorns: Meeteetse has been one of six-man’s most surprising teams this fall. With only one loss — to Farson in Week 7 — the Longhorns have shown a penchant for both pluckiness and toughness. A defense that’s shallow but consistent deserves a lot of praise, and Dace Bennett keys the offense both with his arms and his legs.
The case for the Pronghorns: Let’s start with 10-0: Farson’s record this year. Behind an offense and a defense that both rank second in 1A six-man, few teams have challenged the Pronghorns. When they have been challenged, they’ve responded well, including in last week’s 42-41, come-from-behind victory against Encampment. Farson also has one of six-man’s deepest rosters.
The pick: Historically, undefeated teams do really well in six-man championship games. Farson has the depth and the experience to win their second title in three years — but Meeteetse won’t be patsies. … Farson 48, Meeteetse 37.

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Here are the results of my picks from last week and this season:

Last week: 8-2 (80 percent). This season: 235-62 (79 percent).

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Who you got winning the five title games happening this week? Leave a comment here, or hit me up on the Facebook page or on Twitter.

If you like what you see here, consider a page sponsorship

–patrick

The 2019 season is done, and we have five more champions.

Four went undefeated — Snake River in 1A six-man, Big Horn in 1A 11-man, Mountain View in 2A and Star Valley in 3A. Sheridan, meanwhile, won the 4A title with an 11-1 record after beating previously unbeaten Thunder Basin 35-26.

There are a host of places where you can read about these games, with info from people who were at the games. That wasn’t me — in case you weren’t aware, I live in California these days, and making it to Laramie in mid-November with work is tough — but I watched as much as I could of the championships via the live video streams online. I do miss attending championship weekend in Laramie, but I don’t miss the snow.

Things I noticed from the title games, and the season:

Both Big Horn and Star Valley will carry long winning streaks into next season. Big Horn has won 22 games in a row, including its 55-7 demolition of Cokeville in the Class 1A 11-man title game, while Star Valley has won 21 in a row with its 49-13 thumping of Powell in the Class 3A championship.

Big Horn has also won 15 consecutive home games, as well as 15 consecutive road games. The Rams’ 15 straight road victories is within sniffing distance of the top five such streaks all-time; however, Natrona has won 18 straight home games and Mountain View has won 17 straight at home.

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With its 71-38 victory in the Class 1A six-man title game, Snake River has now scored in 105 consecutive games, the best active streak in the state but still well short of the state record of 175, set by Cokeville. Snake River hasn’t been shut out since resurrecting its program in 2009.

Snake River was scored on in the title game, leaving the Rattlers tied for the state’s longest shutout streak at nine with three other programs. However, the Rattlers are the only team to have ever done so at six-man, and the only one to have ever done so after World War II. It’s an unbelievable run that I don’t know we’ll ever see again.

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Even though they lost the Class 1A 11-man title game, the Cokeville Panthers notched their 32nd consecutive winning season, a total that’s twice as good as any other program in the state. Meanwhile, Laramie finished with its 19th consecutive losing season, the second-longest such streak in state history.

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Despite losing the 1A six-man title game, Hanna finished the season with 795 points, second-best all-time. The Miners also finished with 72.27 points per game, the highest mark in state history.

Class 2A champ Mountain View didn’t score a lot in the title game, beating Buffalo 24-14, but the Buffalos finished with 549 points this season, second-best all time for 11-man teams. Their average of 49.91 points per game is third-best all time. Meanwhile, Class 1A 11-man champ Big Horn averaged 49 ppg, fourth-best all time, and had 539 total points, tied for fourth-highest in the state’s 11-man annals.

Several other efforts — some good, some not so good — ended up on the list of scoring records.

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Cokeville coach Todd Dayton will reach a heck of a milestone in the first game of the 2020 season. Right now, Dayton has 399 games to his credit; the first of 2020 will be his 400th as a head coach. Similarly, Natrona coach Steve Harshman needs seven more games to reach No. 300 in his Wyoming career. Dayton and Harshman rank 1-2 in Wyoming history in career victories, with Dayton way out in front with 335 and Harshman second with 207. This season, Harshman passed John E. Deti, who has 205 victories, for the No. 2 spot. They’re the only three coaches in state history with more than 200 career victories.

Meanwhile, Lander coach John Scott now has 102 victories in his Wyoming career; he became the 27th coach to join the 100-victory club. Two more coaches could join that group in 2020, as Upton-Sundance’s Andy Garland finished this season with 93 career victories and Cheyenne East’s Chad Goff emerged with 92.

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Here are the results of my picks from title-game weekend, this season and my “career”:

Last week: 5-0 (100 percent). This season: 250-57 (81 percent). The past 15 years: 3,584-887 (80 percent).

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Just because the 2019 season is done doesn’t mean we’re done here. Be sure to follow wyoming-football.com on Facebook or Twitter, or both. I’ll be sharing all kinds of offseason news, including coaching changes and peeks ahead to 2020, as well as all kinds of nerdy stuff related to Wyoming high school football (and occasionally other stuff I hope you find interesting).

The site has been updated with all the information I have available for 2019. Postseason recognition is yet to come — the all-state, Super 25 and all-America listings will be updated with that info when it becomes available — and I’m planning a couple other small tweaks to what’s here, too. If you see anything that’s incorrect or missing, let me know.

Finally, if you like what you see here, consider a page sponsorship. I truly appreciate all the sponsors who have already supported the site, but I also have room for more. I have to pay for my web space, and sponsorships help keep me from having to pay for the site out of my own pocket. For $20 a year, you can sponsor a page. If you like having on-demand results of 25,007 Wyoming high school football games across 5,449 team seasons — and you appreciate the work that went into it — then toss me a Jackson.

–patrick

You know what we’re here for — a breakdown of this week’s title games. So why put that off any longer?

Class 2A, noon Friday
Mountain View (1W, 10-0) vs. Buffalo Bison (1E, 10-0)
Series record: Buffalo leads 4-3.
Last meeting/last playoff meeting: Buffalo beat Mountain View 43-18 in the Class 2A championship on Nov. 10 in Laramie.
State championships: Mountain View five, most recently in 2017. … Buffalo six, most recently in 2018.
Previous title game record: Mountain View, 5-7. … Buffalo, 6-10.
The path to Laramie: Mountain View whitewashed Wheatland 72-0 in the quarterfinals before thumping Burns 56-12 in the semifinals. … Buffalo fought past Lovell 28-6 in the first round and outlasted Thermopolis 45-22 in the semifinals.
The case for the Buffalos: My goodness, Mountain View has been on a tear this season. The Buffs haven’t been in a single close game this year and have outscored opponents more than tenfold, 525-37. Their diverse offense can beat you in a thousand different ways; their defense allows fewer than 100 yards per game. For a senior class who knows its way around War Memorial (in its third consecutive title game) and knows its way to victory, a championship makes a lot of sense.
The case for the Bison: Knock, knock. Hi. Buffalo is the defending 2A champs. The Bison have won 20 games in a row. Rowen Ruby has been all but unstoppable at running back with 1,699 yards. The defense has bent a bit but hasn’t broken. And when they’ve been pushed, as they were both early in the season and in the playoffs, the Bison pushed back — and kept on winning.
The pick: Last year’s game ended up being great for Buffalo, not so great for Mountain View. If nothing else, this game should be a better game — but the Buffalos have shown all season they’re ready for a different result. … Mountain View 34, Buffalo 28.

Class 3A, 3 p.m. Friday
Powell Panthers (4W, 7-4) vs. Star Valley Braves (1W, 11-0)
Series record: Star Valley leads 29-13.
Last meeting: Star Valley beat Powell 36-0 on Oct. 4 in Afton.
Last playoff meeting: Star Valley beat Powell 28-10 on Nov. 11, 2016, in the 3A championship game.
State championships: Powell eight, most recently in 2013. … Star Valley 11, most recently in 2018.
Previous title game record: Powell, 6-3. … Star Valley, 10-10.
The path to Laramie: Powell won a pair of road games, beating Lander 41-14 in the first round and Park County rival Cody 20-13 in the semifinals. … Star Valley won a pair of games at home, topping Douglas 45-12 in the first round before beating Jackson 42-21 in the semis.
The case for the Panthers: In short, #ethanstrong. To be honest, Powell’s 5-4 regular season was nice but easily forgettable. But the Panthers have gone to another level in the playoffs. Attribute that to any number of reasons, sure, but the emotion of playing for someone who can’t has to be in the back of the mind not only of everyone in uniform, but everyone on Powell’s side of the field.
The case for the Braves: Star Valley has the favorite to win the 2019 3A title since about halfway through the 2018 season. Deep, talented, experienced… what more could you want? The Braves lead 3A in yardage defense and scoring defense; they control the pace of the game; they get stronger, not weaker, as games move along. Even with plenty of individual talent, it’s the Braves’ team chemistry that really sets them apart.
The pick: The emotional pick is for Powell to complete its incredible run. The logical pick is for Star Valley to complete its incredible run. Either way, whoever wins this game will absolutely, positively deserve it after a season that’s been memorable for divergent reasons, leading to the same concluding point. … Star Valley 35, Powell 20.

Class 1A six-man, 10 a.m. Saturday
Hanna Miners (1E, 10-0) vs. Snake River Rattlers (1W, 9-0)
Series record: Snake River leads 8-7.
Last meeting/last playoff meeting: Snake River beat Hanna 75-13 on Oct. 27, 2017, in a 1A six-man quarterfinal game in Hanna.
State championships: Hanna three, most recently in 1989. … Snake River two, most recently in 2011.
Previous title game record: Hanna, 3-3. … Snake River, 2-1.
The path to Laramie: Hanna’s offense took care of business in the playoffs, rolling up big numbers in beating Meeteetse 73-36 in the first round and Lingle 92-58 in the semifinals. … Snake River shut down Kaycee 59-0 in the quarterfinals and did the same to Hulett 61-0 in the semis.
The case for the Miners: The offense is diverse and can score seemingly at will. With 34 points in the title game, Hanna will set the record for highest scoring offense in state history, topping Farson’s 71.82 ppg from last season. Senior twins Conor McGraw and Shane McGraw are both over 1,000 rushing yards for the season, and Shane McGraw has thrown for more than 1,000, too. The defense hasn’t always been perfect, but, hey, 10-0 is 10-0.
The case for the Rattlers: Nine games. Zero points allowed. That’s what Snake River’s defense has done this year. That record-setting pace is unheard of, but at six-man? That’s just banana pants crazy. And the offense? Super efficient, with Riggen Myers consistently breaking defenders’ hearts, and ankles.
The pick: Yes, everyone will look at the Miners’ offense vs. the Rattlers’ defense, and that might be the most fun matchup to watch this weekend. But this game may be decided by the Rattlers’ offense vs. the Miners’ defense, and that’s where Snake River has the edge. … Snake River 50, Hanna 38.

Class 1A 11-man, 1 p.m. Saturday
Cokeville Panthers (1W, 10-1) vs. Big Horn Rams (1E, 10-0)
Series record: Series tied 3-3.
Last meeting/last playoff meeting: Big Horn beat Cokeville 56-3 on Nov. 10, 2018, in the 1A 11-man championship in Laramie.
State championships: Cokeville 22, most recently in 2014. … Big Horn six, most recently in 2018.
Previous title game record: Cokeville, 21-7. … Big Horn, 6-10.
The path to Laramie: Cokeville held off Wright 20-16 in the first round and held strong to beat Upton-Sundance 16-7 in the semifinals. … Big Horn rolled through Wind River 82-0 in the first round and beat Southeast 48-7 in the semifinals, both at home.
The case for the Panthers: I’ve heard rumors that UW will install a third locker room at War Memorial — one for home teams, one for visiting teams, and one for Cokeville. Because the Panthers have made trips to title games a habit over the past four decades. Who else but Cokeville would you expect in this game? Even with a team that started inexperienced, decimated by graduation, Todd Dayton and the Panthers have lost only to 2A Mountain View and blown out almost everyone else behind a surprisingly diverse offense and a defense that can stand up to pretty much anyone.
The case for the Rams: Where to start? Big Horn racks up more yards and more points than anyone in 1A 11-man, and it’s not even close. The Rams also allow fewer yards than anyone in 1A 11-man. Can’t get much better than that. Oh, and they beat Cokeville in last year’s championship by 53 freakin’ points — one of 21 consecutive victories, Big Horn’s longest in program history and the longest active winning streak in the state.
The pick: No one’s winning this by 53. But Big Horn is still the favorite, and Cokeville will need to play not just flawless to win — the Panthers will have to create opportunities they didn’t even know existed. The Rams won’t allow that. … Big Horn 38, Cokeville 21.

Class 4A, 4 p.m. Saturday
Sheridan Broncs (2, 10-1) vs. Thunder Basin ‘Bolts (1, 11-0)
Series record: Series tied 2-2.
Last meeting: Thunder Basin beat Sheridan 37-30 on Sept. 20 in Gillette.
Last playoff meeting: Sheridan beat Thunder Basin 14-7 on Nov. 2, 2018, in a 4A semifinal in Gillette.
State championships: Sheridan 26, most recently in 2017. … Thunder Basin zero.
Previous title game record: Sheridan, 16-7. … Thunder Basin, 0-0.
The path to Laramie: Sheridan put up a pair of 62s, beating Kelly Walsh 62-14 in the quarterfinals and Cheyenne Central 62-35 in the semifinals. … Thunder Basin played in a pair of tight games, beating crosstown rival Gillette 24-20 in the quarterfinals before topping Cheyenne East 27-21 in the semifinals.
The case for the Broncs: This is familiar territory for Sheridan. Since the title games moved to Laramie in 2009, the Broncs have won five championships and finished as runners-up twice, and this is their fifth title game appearance in a row. Led by Garrett Coon, their rushing game is strong; the rush defense, though, could be even stronger — and that sets up well for success in mid-November.
The case for the ‘Bolts: To be honest, a lot of the ‘Bolts’ success may ride on Mason Hamilton’s shoulders — er, shoulder, which he injured in last week’s semifinals. With him in the first half, Thunder Basin scored 27 points; without him in the second half, zero. If he can go, watch out. If he can’t, the ‘Bolts will need to rely on its defense (tops in 4A in yards allowed, by the way) to complete an undefeated season and win the program’s first 4A title.
The pick: The last game of the weekend should be the closest of the weekend. Both teams have defenses upon which they can rely. And both have offenses capable of controlling the clock AND striking for fast scores. I really like how Sheridan is looking right now, though, and as the underdogs, they have a little less pressure on them. … Sheridan 28, Thunder Basin 27.

Here are the results of my picks from last week and this season:

Last week: 8-2 (80 percent). This season: 245-57 (81 percent). 

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Which five teams do YOU see leaving Laramie with championship trophies? Leave a comment here, or hit me up on the Facebook page or on Twitter.

If you like what you see here, consider a page sponsorship

–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

Class 2A, noon Friday
Mountain View Buffalos (1W, 8-2) vs. Glenrock Herders (1E, 9-1)
Series record: Mountain View leads 8-5.
Last meeting/last playoff meeting: Glenrock beat Mountain View 37-0 in a 2A quarterfinal game on Oct. 30, 2015, in Glenrock.
State championships: Mountain View four, most recently in 2014. … Glenrock eight, most recently in 2008.
Previous title game record: Mountain View, 4-6. … Glenrock, 6-5.
The path to Laramie: Mountain View beat Thermopolis in the quarterfinals and Wheatland in the semifinals by identical 45-0 scores. … Glenrock blasted Lovell 61-6 in the quarterfinals and held off Big Piney 30-27 in the semifinals.
The case for the Buffalos: Let’s throw out Mountain View’s loss to Greybull in Week 8, which happened after the Buffalos had already secured the top seed from the West. Since Week 3, without the Greybull game, the Buffalos have outscored their opponents 284-6, including 90-0 in the playoffs. No team in 2A is hotter than Mountain View, and nothing in the playoffs has given anyone any reason to doubt their capability to win it all.
The case for the Herders: The Herders have won seven straight, and they’ve already had their playoff scare — last week’s 30-27 thriller against Big Piney. That loss should help focus the squad. Also, everyone knows what the Herders will do on offense: run. Tucker Bopp and Ian Arnold will get the bulk of the carries, and the Herders dare you to stop them. So far, even in the Herders’ one loss, no one has done that.
The pick
: This one will be billed as a battle between Glenrock’s top-ranked offense against Mountain View’s top-ranked defense. In cases like this, it’s almost always the other matchup that wins the game — and I like what I see from the Buffalos’ offense. Maybe there’s a game-winning drive in it. … Mountain View 26, Glenrock 22.

Class 3A, 3 p.m. Friday
Cody Broncs (3W, 6-3) vs. Torrington Trailblazers (1E, 9-1)
Series record: Cody leads 5-3
Last meeting: Cody beat Torrington 47-0 on Sept. 17, 2010, in Torrington.
Last playoff meeting: Cody beat Torrington 19-6 in a 3A quarterfinal game on Oct. 30, 2009, in Cody.
State championships: Cody four, most recently in 2014. … Torrington three, most recently in 1990.
Previous title game record: Cody, 4-5. … Torrington, 2-9.
The path to Laramie: Cody won two road games, beating Buffalo 27-0 in the quarters and West top seed and two-time defending champ Star Valley 31-21 in the semifinals. … Torrington beat up on Worland 46-21 in the first round and squeaked past Green River 17-13 in the semifinals.
The case for the Broncs: Cody’s here for one reason: defense. No one has scored more than 22 points against the Broncs all season — and that was Jackson who scored 22 in a big blowout loss. So if Cody heads back to Park County with the first-place trophy, it will have to hold Torrington’s versatile offense in check. Ian Crawford and Matthew Skinner, Cody’s sack leaders, will be key in that effort.
The case for the Trailblazers: Torrington’s offensive flexibility is about as good as it gets at the 3A level, with the team’s running and passing yards pretty close to even. Bryan Lemmon’s legs and Breyden Biven’s arm give the ‘Blazers options most teams don’t have. Oh, and Torrington is getting about double the yards and more than triple the points of their opponents. Not a bad ratio.
The pick
: When a team pulls a big upset like Cody pulled last week against top-ranked Star Valley, one of two things usually happens: The winning team carries that momentum into the following week and keeps on winning, or that team can’t keep up the emotion from that victory and gets absolutely thumped the following week. I’m really tempted to pick Cody to keep the momentum, and I think it’ll be a close one. Still… … Torrington 30, Cody 24.

Class 1A six-man, 10 a.m. Saturday
Farson Pronghorns (1W, 9-1) vs. Kaycee Buckaroos (1E, 9-0)
Series record: Kaycee leads 4-0
Last meeting/last playoff meeting: Kaycee beat Farson 41-30 in the 1A six-man title game on Nov. 11, 2016, in Laramie.
State championships: Farson none. … Kaycee two, most recently in 2016.
Previous title game record: Farson, 0-1. … Kaycee, 2-1.
The path to Laramie: Farson thumped Guernsey 73-24 in the first round and exacted revenge on Snake River 50-32 in the semifinals. … Kaycee destroyed Meeteetse 77-0 in the quarterfinals and survived a challenge from Burlington 47-38 in the semifinals.
The case for the Pronghorns: As noted by one of this site’s readers last week, the Pronghorns were under the weather for their only loss of the season in Week 8 to Snake River. The turnaround Farson showed last week proved that they’re ready for the challenge Kaycee will throw their way. Juniors Lain Mitchelson and Clancy Gines are a nice 1-2 punch, but a host of supporting players have turned the Pronghorns into a true team.
The case for the Buckaroos: One pair of stats shows just how dominant Kaycee has been this season: The Buckaroos average 11.2 yards per play on offense and allow just 2.6 yards per play on defense. Read that stat again, and think about it. Both are tops in six-man. With a senior class that has more players (nine) than some entire six-man teams, and the momentum of 29 consecutive victories and two consecutive state championships behind them, Kaycee is setting a standard for all six-man teams for years to come… if they win on Saturday.
The pick
: Farson has a great team this year. Kaycee has one of the greatest six-man teams the state has ever seen. … Kaycee 60, Farson 44.

Class 1A 11-man, 1 p.m. Saturday
Big Horn Rams (2E, 9-1) vs. Pine Bluffs Hornets (1E, 10-0)
Series record: Tied 1-1
Last meeting: Pine Bluffs beat Big Horn 22-21 in overtime on Sept. 15 in Big Horn.
Last playoff meeting: Big Horn beat Pine Bluffs 41-14 in a 2A semifinal on Oct. 31, 2003, in Big Horn.
State championships: Big Horn five, most recently in 2016. … Pine Bluffs one, in 2016.
Previous title game record: Big Horn, 5-9. … Pine Bluffs, 1-3.
The path to Laramie: Big Horn topped Wind River 51-0 in the first round and edged past Cokeville 12-7 in the semifinals. … Pine Bluffs shut out Saratoga 58-0 in the quarterfinals and topped Upton-Sundance 14-7 in the semifinals.
The case for the Rams: We don’t need to look any further than last week. Cokeville had one of its best teams in school history, and even that Panther team couldn’t get past the Rams. With running back Kade Eisele, quarterback Quinn McCafferty and one of 1A’s best lines, Big Horn has by far 1A’s best offense. And the defense has been solid, with a lot of opposing teams scoring their points in garbage time.
The case for the Hornets: Let’s lay out the facts: Pine Bluffs is undefeated. It is a defending state champion. And it already beat Big Horn once this year, in Big Horn, in overtime. The mix of skills the Hornets have is all but unparalleled at 1A, with talent in the backfield (Isaiah Montanes, Haize Fornstrom), on the edges (Andrew Fornstrom, Ishmael Depaulitte) and up front (Hunter Jeffres, Wyatt Fornstrom, James and John Merryfield, Brad Shmidl). What more can you ask for?
The pick
: The question here isn’t who won the last game. It’s who’s improved more since that last game. I think the Rams flip the result from the last meeting, but dang if the Hornets don’t make it difficult — and maybe make the Rams go for two late in the game to secure the win. … Big Horn 14, Pine Bluffs 13.

Class 4A, 4 p.m. Saturday
Natrona Mustangs (2, 10-1) vs. Sheridan Broncs (1, 11-0)
Series record: Natrona leads 56-46-6
Last meeting: Sheridan beat Natrona 37-34 in overtime on Sept. 8 in Sheridan.
Last playoff meeting: Sheridan beat Natrona 56-28 in the 4A championship on Nov. 12, 2016, in Laramie.
State championships: Natrona 17, most recently in 2014. … Sheridan 25, most recently in 2016.
Previous title game record: Natrona, 10-6. … Sheridan, 15-6.
The path to Laramie: Natrona beat Laramie 44-7 in the quarterfinals and shut out Cheyenne East 44-0 in the semis. … Sheridan posted a 54-7 victory against Cheyenne Central in the quarterfinals and beat Kelly Walsh 28-7 in the semifinals.
The case for the Mustangs: How many schools — ever — can claim to have both the top rusher and the top passer in a classification? But that’s what Natrona has in running back Brett Brenton and quarterback Jesse Harshman. The defense is rock-solid and ranked second in Class 4A in yards per game. And moreover, most of this year’s contributors were also key on last year’s title-game run. Deep, experienced, versatile and unintimidated: The Mustangs are primed for a championship.
The case for the Broncs: How can you go against a team that is undefeated and going for its third consecutive 4A championship? Sheridan is on a run that hasn’t been seen since… well, since Sheridan made its run of four straight titles in 1990-93. The offense, like Natrona, is versatile, and the defense is opportunistic. The Aaron (or is it Airin’?) duo of quarterback Aaron Woodward and receiver Aaron Sessions gives the Broncs quick-strike capabilities, and lineman Blayne Baker, a UW commit, may be the state’s best player. 
The pick
: These two programs have met in seven previous title games (1933, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1996, 2010, 2016) and three de-facto state title games in years without playoffs (1939, 1952 and 1957). And they met last year. This isn’t new. Much like the 1A 11-man title game, this game pits an undefeated team against a one-loss team with a regular-season game that went into overtime. They’re familiar with each other as two programs can possibly be. It simply boils down to who can execute their plans better. Two of the state’s best coaching staffs — not just the head coaches, but everyone from the top down — will have their guys ready to go. This could be one for the ages. … Sheridan 36, Natrona 32.

Here’s how my picks went last week… which just goes to show that my picks aren’t always perfect and should be taken with a grain of pepper (because salt is for chumps).

Last week: 7-3 (70 percent). This season: 256-44 (85 percent).

We are here! The last week of the 2017 season. Who are your picks for the five title game winners? Leave a comment with your picks, and I can almost guarantee that no matter who wins and who loses, we’re going to have a great time seeing how these games play out on Friday and Saturday. Can’t wait!

–patrick

At War Memorial Stadium, Laramie
Friday, Nov. 10
Class 2A championship, (1W) Mountain View vs. (1E) Glenrock, noon
Class 3A championship, (3W) Cody vs. (1E) Torrington, 3 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 11
Class 1A six-man championship, (1W) Farson vs. (1E) Kaycee, 10 a.m.
Class 1A 11-man championship, (2E) Big Horn vs. (1E) Pine Bluffs, 1 p.m.
Class 4A championship, (2) Natrona vs. (1) Sheridan, 4 p.m.

–patrick

Individual schools lost the ability to host state football championship games in 2009 — a fact with which some folks around the Equality State still haven’t reconciled.

However, there’s some consolation in knowing that almost every school in the state had a chance to host at least one championship game before the state’s move to a neutral championship site eight years ago.

In all, 52 Wyoming high schools (and 50 separate cities) have hosted at least one state championship game; only 13 haven’t, and of those 13, eight are at the six-man level.

The five 11-man programs who haven’t hosted a state title game in their program history are Cheyenne South, Newcastle, Saratoga, Wright and Wyoming Indian. South’s inclusion makes sense, having joined the varsity ranks in 2011 after title games had already been moved to Laramie. Of the remaining four, Wyoming Indian has yet to play in a state football title game; Newcastle’s one title-game appearance in 1981 came on the road; Wright has played in two title games, both on the road; and Saratoga has played in two title games and “hosted” the 1975 B title game, but opted to play it in Rawlins instead of Saratoga.

Of the eight six-man programs who haven’t hosted a title game, two have the entirety of their histories since 2009, when six-man came back fully (Kaycee, Rock River) and two others (Farson and Snake River) had sparse histories prior to 2009. The other four include Ten Sleep, which hasn’t yet played in a title game; St. Stephens and Normative Services, who have each played in one title game, each on the road; and Dubois, who’s played three title games on the neutral field in Laramie and a fourth on the road.

+++

In terms of host cities, Laramie, with 44 title games hosted (including all 40 since 2009), obviously leads the way. Casper also hosted neutral-site Class AA title games in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and has hosted 15 title games in all. Other towns around the state have hosted neutral-site title games for smaller-classification teams, mostly in the mid- to late 1970s. The total number of title games per town (not necessarily per school) includes:

Laramie: 44
Cokeville: 16
Casper: 15
Cheyenne: 10
Byron, Sheridan, Torrington: 8
Afton: 7
Big Piney, Evanston, Worland: 6
Big Horn, Douglas, Mountain View, Rawlins, Rock Springs, Thermopolis: 5
Buffalo, Cody, Lovell, Lusk, Midwest: 4
Burlington, Burns, Gillette, Hanna, Kemmerer, Riverton: 3
Dayton, Glenrock, Green River, Guernsey, Hulett, Jackson, Meeteetse, Powell, Sundance, Wheatland, Yoder: 2
Basin, Greybull, Lander, Lingle, Lyman, Moorcroft, Pavillion, Pine Bluffs, Pinedale, Shoshoni, Upton: 1

For more, dive into the newly rebuilt state championship game listings.

–patrick

The Wyoming state football championships — or, as I’m now calling it, War MemoriBowl VIII (but that’s a name I came up with while sleep deprived, and it’s awful) — start Friday in Laramie. I see four amazing games and one decent game in the works for the weekend. Now, which is which? Well, here’s the breakdowns for each five games, in chronological order, as well as my choice for who I think will win:

Class 1A six-man, noon Friday
Kaycee Buckaroos (1E, 10-0) vs. Farson Pronghorns (1W, 10-0)
Series record: Kaycee leads 3-0.
Last meeting: Kaycee beat Farson 65-6 on Sept. 7, 2012, in Farson.
Last playoff meeting: First playoff meeting.
State championships: Kaycee one, in 2015. … Farson zero.
Previous title game record: Kaycee, 1-1. … Farson, 0-0.
The path to Laramie: Kaycee beat up on Burlington 60-18 in the quarterfinals and Meeteetse 56-21 in the semifinals. … Farson ousted Hanna 85-26 in the first round and Guernsey-Sunrise 61-25 in the semis.
The case for the Buckaroos: They’re undefeated. They’ve got the longest winning streak in the state, regardless of classification, at 19 games. They’ve won every game this season by at least 35 points. They’ve got a diverse offense with a game-breaking running back in Danny Ramirez (more than 15 yards per rush, 26 TDs) and an efficient passing game — entering the semis, sophomore QB Hunter Rouse had completed 83 percent — EIGHTY THREE PERCENT! — of his passes and had a 29-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio. The bottom line is Kaycee knows how to win, knows how to win in Laramie, and knows how to win with the talent it has.
The case for the PronghornsAs noted last week, Farson’s growth has been a slow burn, not a sudden explosion. The growth is predicated mostly on sophomores, as Lain Mitchelson has notched 1,552 rushing yards, tops in six-man; Clancy Gines has 10 rushing TDs, leads the team in receiving yards and is third on the team in tackles; and Cortland Barker is tied for the team lead with seven sacks. And seniors Thomas Rezzonico (leading tackler) and Ed Barlow have provided leadership and stability. The Pronghorns have the right mix of talent and potential to be champions for the first time in program history.
The pick
: No matter who wins, we may be seeing the birth of a couple dynasties. Both squads are young (Kaycee has just two seniors, Farson four), and the young players are talented; they’re both loaded for success both Friday and beyond. Honestly, neither team has an advantage on paper. When that’s the case, go with the team that’s been here before and won’t be overwhelmed by the setting. And it wouldn’t be a stretch to look ahead to the rematch in Laramie in November 2017. But first… Kaycee 52, Farson 44.

Class 3A, 3 p.m. Friday
Star Valley Braves (2W, 10-1) vs. Powell Panthers (1W, 8-3)
Series record: Star Valley leads 25-13.
Last meeting: Powell beat Star Valley 22-14 on Sept. 30 in Powell.
Last playoff meeting: Powell beat Star Valley 13-10 in the 3A title game on Nov. 9, 2012, in Laramie.
State championships: Star Valley nine, most recent in 2015. … Powell eight, most recent in 2013.
Previous title game record: Star Valley, 8-10. … Powell, 6-2.
The path to Laramie: Star Valley outscored Riverton 35-27 in the first round and Douglas 61-42 in a semifinal shootout. … Powell held down Lander 58-6 in the quarterfinals and Green River 27-10 in the semifinals.
The case for the Braves: Star Valley has done this before. The defending 3A champions have been remarkably consistent this fall, and they’ve proven they can win games by grinding it out or by shooting it out. That versatility and that consistency is sparked by 3A’s top rushing offense — by far — with Kellen Hansen, Colin McGinley and Josh Dawson all capable game-breakers, and 3A’s top rushing defense, with McGinley, Dawson, Conner Smith, McCabe Smith and a host of others in there screwing things up for opponents. Last year’s MO was different, but first-year head coach McKay Young has shown the Braves can adapt to the talent they have. That sets up well for a repeat run.
The case for the Panthers: No team in the state may have improved more between Week 1 and Week 8 than Powell. The Panthers had a bad loss to Douglas (41-6), followed up by a now-head-scratching loss to Buffalo (7-6), in Weeks 1 and 2, respectively; only a 23-18 victory against Riverton kept Powell from losing four in a row. But the season turned around after beating — guess who? — Star Valley in Week 5. Since then, Powell hasn’t lost, winning six consecutive games, currently the longest winning streak in the state in 11-man. Oh, and the Panthers have the talent to make the individual play when it’s needed. T.J. Abraham is a beast on both sides of the ball; Mason Olsen plays off him and is a versatile threat under center; Brooks Asher, Nathan Magill and Max Gallagher consistently frustrate opposing offenses up front.
The pick
: When you look at title games like this, you throw out the first half of the season. You realize that Powell defeating Star Valley was no fluke. You try to find where another team has an advantage, on either side of the ball. You stare until you feel cross-eyed. Then you realize it’s a toss-up. Star Valley 28, Powell 27, in overtime.

Class 2A, 10 a.m. Saturday
Big Horn Rams (2E, 9-1) vs. Greybull Buffaloes (2W, 9-1)
Series record: Big Horn leads 14-5.
Last meeting/last playoff meeting: Greybull beat Big Horn 27-25 in a 2A quarterfinal game on Oct. 30, 2015, in Greybull.
State championships: Big Horn four, most recent in 2013. … Greybull one, in 1960.
Previous title game record: Big Horn, 4-9. … Greybull, 1-1.
The path to Laramie: Big Horn squeaked past Pinedale 20-14 in overtime in the quarterfinals and beat Newcastle 27-7 in the semis. … Greybull blasted Wheatland 61-22 in the first round and shut out Glenrock 26-0 in the semis.
The case for the Rams: The Rams have the experience to play in the pressure of a title game — this is their third visit to Laramie the past four years. Big Horn isn’t here by fluke: Its offense is the best in 2A, averaging 400 yards per game, and its defense gives up just 214. Colton Williams can beat teams by rushing (1,660 yards, 25 TDs), catching (416 yards, 4 TDs) or on special teams (leads 2A with 24.3 yards per punt return). Nolan McCafferty fronts a defense that has a plus-14 turnover ratio, best in 2A. Talented, experienced, motivated? That’s a tough combo to stop, and that’s the combo Big Horn is bringing to Laramie.
The case for the Buffaloes: Greybull is one successful two-point conversion away from entering this week undefeated. All season, the offense has been salty (47.9 points per game, best in 2A), but it’s the defense that’s carried the load. The Buffs have 2A’s top run defense, giving up just 71.3 yards per game, and stopped cold undefeated Glenrock’s heavy-duty rushing game last week in the semis. Six players average at least 10 defensive points per game. The offense is predicated on Dawson Forcella and his ability to run (1,483 rushing yards) and score (23 TDs), but he’s got help from an efficient-enough passing game that can do the job when needed. And the senior class is massive and focused.
The pick
: The big question entering this week is if Greybull spent all its playoff mojo in Glenrock last week. The victory against the previously undefeated Herders proved Greybull belongs here, but often we see teams who gear up and play beautifully a semifinal game like that have difficulty going to the well one more time the next week. That’s why I think the Buffs won’t dominate the Rams like they did the Herders. Still, that doesn’t change the fact that Greybull is deep, senior-laden and motivated to get the school’s first football title in 56 years. Greybull 30, Big Horn 24.

Class 1A 11-man, 1 p.m. Saturday
Pine Bluffs Hornets (3E, 8-2) vs. Tongue River Eagles (2E, 8-2)
Series record: Tongue River leads 3-0.
Last meeting: Tongue River beat Pine Bluffs 28-14 on Oct. 14 in Dayton.
Last playoff meeting: First playoff meeting.
State championships: Pine Bluffs zero. … Tongue River five, most recent in 1974.
Previous title game record: Pine Bluffs, 0-3. … Tongue River, 1-5.
The path to Laramie: Pine Bluffs beat Rocky Mountain 23-14 in the first round and Upton-Sundance 19-13 in the semis in back-to-back road games. … Tongue River topped Cokeville 27-12 in the opening round and Shoshoni 37-6 in the second round.
The case for the Hornets: By statistical measure, Pine Bluffs is the superior team in this matchup. The Hornets gain more yards than the Eagles (350.4 ypg to 317.4) and give up fewer (188.3 to 198.1). The talent is there: No Class 1A 11-man running back in the state has more rushing yards than Ruger Lewis’ 1,703, and he reached that total without playing in every game. Of the team’s two losses so far this season, the Hornets have already avenged one; they can avenge the other on Saturday. And Pine Bluffs, as noted above, has the added inspiration of playing to earn the school’s first state football championship.
The case for the Eagles: The Eagles have been here before, coming up short in last year’s 1A 11-man title game, so they won’t be awed by the War or thrown off by the unexpected twists the experience of a title game will bring. They’ll be prepared. It doesn’t really show on the stat sheets, but Tongue River has been one of the state’s most consistent teams, and that also means consistently improving. Brennan Kutterer has been a triple threat as a runner (1,452 yards, 21 TDs), passer (524 yards) and tackler (team-high 206 defensive points). However, he bears a disproportionate load for his team, and he’ll need more help than usual to hold off the Hornets. If TR’s role players make plays when they have the opportunity, then watch out.
The pick
: When these teams played less than a month ago, it was a tight one; the game was tied 14-14 entering the fourth quarter. To boot, Pine Bluffs played without Lewis in that game. With him ready to play in the title game, there’s absolutely no reason to think the Hornets can’t beat the Eagles. If the Eagles can adjust to Lewis’ presence quickly, then they’ll be able to control the pace and play to their style. If not, the Hornets are in prime position to hoist their first state football title trophy. This one may come down to a late fourth-quarter drive and either a big score or a big stop. May be the best game of the weekend — and that’s saying something. Tongue River 28, Pine Bluffs 21.

Class 4A, 4 p.m. Saturday
Natrona Mustangs (5, 6-5) vs. Sheridan Broncs (2, 10-1)
Series record: Natrona leads 56-44-6.
Last meeting: Sheridan beat Natrona 37-13 on Oct. 14 in Casper.
Last playoff meeting: Sheridan beat Natrona 35-10 in a 4A semifinal game on Nov. 6, 2015, in Sheridan.
State championships: Natrona 17, most recent in 2014. … Sheridan 24, most recent in 2015.
Previous title game record: Natrona, 10-5. … Sheridan, 14-6.
The path to Laramie: Natrona beat Kelly Walsh 37-21 in the first round and upset Gillette 30-28 in the semifinals. … Sheridan handled Cheyenne East 34-17 in the quarterfinals and Rock Springs 35-6 in the second round.
The case for the Mustangs: No team in 4A started slower than Natrona, which posted shutout losses to Cheyenne Central and Cheyenne East the first two weeks of the season. Since then, Natrona hasn’t been a crew of world-beaters, but the Mustangs won the right games — the playoff games. All of a sudden, the team that started the season as the team couldn’t score is finishing the season as the team that can’t be stopped. Brett Brenton and Jesse Harshman make a nice 1-2 combo on offense; Thomas Robitaille leads a wrecking crew on defense; Riley Shepperson might have the best kicking leg in the state. Most importantly, the gears are meshing at exactly the right time.
The case for the Broncs: We knew all season long Sheridan would be a prime contender to repeat. And aside from a 24-21 loss to Gillette in the Energy Bowl, Sheridan has made good on that assumption. They have 4A’s top defense and top passing offense. They protect the ball: QB Drew Boedecker has a 25-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio and the team averages less than one turnover per game. Coy Steel is one of the best deep threats in Wyoming, and the defense plays well as a unit. A flexible, diverse and deep offense; an opportunistic, fundamentally sound defense. Sounds like the recipe for a state champ.
The pick
: Class 4A has had remarkable parity the last 20-some years: Only one program, Rock Springs in 2001 and 2002, has repeated as the big-school champion since 1994. And Natrona has won the 4A title every even-numbered year this decade (2010, 2012 and 2014). So the historical precedents against the Broncs are definitely there. But history doesn’t dictate destiny. Natrona proved that last week; now Sheridan can prove that this week. In a little bit of a shootout… Sheridan 42, Natrona 30.

If I picked against your favorite squad this week, no worries. My picks clearly don’t mean much, at least not after last week:

Last week: 6-4 (60 percent). This season: 244-56 (81 percent).

So… who do YOU have winning the five title games this weekend? Leave a comment and let’s chat about all the fun that might go down in the Gem City this weekend.

–patrick

When the Class 1A six-man and 3A championship games are played Friday in Laramie, the teams will revive a state tradition dating back to just after World War I — a tradition started by that very war.

Friday is Nov. 11. Through 1954, Nov. 11 was known across the country as Armistice Day, the day the Great War ended on the Western Front in Europe in 1918.

In Wyoming, the day quickly became synonymous with high school football. Armistice Day football games were a Wyoming tradition from the state’s first full season in 1921. Coincidentally, Nov. 11 in 1921 came on a football Friday, and eight games were played on that date — including the first meetings between Natrona and Sheridan and between Cody and Powell.

The tradition of Nov. 11 games continued every year forward from 1921, no matter what day of the week Nov. 11 was, with one exception: In years where Nov. 11 was a Sunday, teams scheduled games for Nov. 10 or Nov. 12.

Armistice Day became the default date for rivalry games across the state. Rock Springs and Green River, Worland and Thermopolis, Laramie and Cheyenne Central, Cody and Powell, Riverton and Lander, Greybull and Basin and others consistently scheduled their annual showdowns for Nov. 11.

The tradition grew year by year, with between 10 and 17 games played per year statewide on or around Armistice Day, up to as many as 20 on Armistice Day in 1941.

However, after World War II, the tradition faded fast. Only 10 Armistice Day games were played in 1947, and by 1948, that number was down to five. In the seven seasons between 1951 and 1957, only 10 total non-playoff Armistice Day games were played.

In part, the fall was precipitated by the addition of playoffs for Class A and Class B schools, which mandated that teams end their seasons earlier so playoffs could be played into the second and third weeks of November.

The last true Nov. 11 regular-season games came in 1963, when Torrington beat Rawlins, and 1964, when Torrington lost to Gering, Neb.

Like the football tradition tied to it, Armistice Day itself didn’t survive long past World War II; it was renamed Veterans Day in 1954.

Between 1964 and 2005, only one game — the 1978 Class AA championship game — was played on Nov. 11. Since 2005, though, eight championship games (Class 5A in 2005, all classes in 2006 and 2A and 3A in 2011) have been staged on Nov. 11. Two more are scheduled for Friday: the 3A title game between Star Valley and Powell and the 1A six-man title game between Kaycee and Farson.

Oh, by the way? In case you forgot? Friday, Nov. 11, 2016, is Veterans Day. And those title games will be played in a venue called, appropriately, War Memorial Stadium.

I’m thankful to see the old tradition revived, even if it’s only coincidence.

Playing on that day allows us to keep our little game in a greater perspective. We can be thankful we’re fighting for a trophy and not our lives.

Even though the Armistice Day tradition has all but ended, we’d do well to keep that perspective going, no matter what day the games are played.

–patrick

Wyoming high school football state title game matchups:

Friday, Nov. 11
Class 1A six-man championship, Kaycee vs. Farson, noon
Class 3A championship, Star Valley vs. Powell, 3 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 12
Class 2A championship, Big Horn vs. Greybull, 10 a.m.
Class 1A 11-man championship, Pine Bluffs vs. Tongue River, 1 p.m.
Class 4A championship, Natrona vs. Sheridan, 4 p.m.

–patrick

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