Cover of the Wyoming high school football preview magazine.

The 2023 edition of the Wyoming high school football magazine is out now! It’s the most complete and comprehensive preview of the 2023 football season you’ll find anywhere in the state.

This is the 12th year of the magazine, which includes previews of every team in the state. This year, I interviewed every coach in the state (except one… can you find it?) for this magazine. Thanks to the coaches for all their help!

Printed copies will be shipped to the locations of the advertisers in the magazine in the next week or so. You’ll be able to pick up a free print copy of the magazine at their locations. Please support the advertisers who support the magazine — we can’t do it without them!

And, in case you missed it: Click or tap here to read the magazine online.


Four questions to answer

Can we expect the usual suspects again in 4A this year? Yes, but parity is slowly creeping its way in. It’s Sheridan, Cheyenne East and Natrona, per usual, who are among the favorites. However, Cheyenne Central has reached the semifinals twice in the past four years, and Thunder Basin is eager to re-establish itself as a title threat after two consecutive quarterfinal exits. Meanwhile, both Rock Springs and Campbell County have been mentioned as programs who could surprise depending on how they find their footing with new head coaches.

Where does defending champ Sheridan have an advantage? The offensive line. Two of Sheridan’s closest competitors, East and Natrona, will have all-new starters on the line; Sheridan, meanwhile, returns beaucoup experience up front, including all-stater Alex Haswell. Thunder Basin is the only other 4A team that returns linemen with comparable experience, and even there the Broncs still have the edge.

Is this the year of the quarterback in 4A? Potentially, but it’ll also have to be the year of the pass-catcher. The five players who had the most passing yards per game in Class 4A all return — Thunder Basin’s Alonso Aguilar, Cheyenne East’s Cam Hayes, Campbell County’s Mason Drube, Rock Springs’ Michael Faigl and Laramie’s Ben Malone. All of them are seniors except for Drube, a junior. The challenge across the board will be bringing less experienced receivers up to speed; each team except for Rock Springs lost, at minimum, its top receiver from 2022.

What else is it the year of? The tackler. Of the top eight players in defensive points last season, six of them are back — Campbell County’s Levi Palmer, Sheridan’s Dane Steel and Alex Haswell, Cheyenne East’s Colby Olson and Kolbe Dierks and Cheyenne South’s Damien Pino. (Kelly Walsh’s Kadon Boyce would have also made the list, but KW coach Aaron Makelky said Boyce transferred away this summer, and it’s not clear at this point who Boyce will play for this fall.)

Preseason class MVP

Drew Jackson, Cheyenne East. The East Conference offensive player of the year in 2022, Jackson has to be accounted for on every play no matter what side of the ball he’s on. He ran for 1,017 yards and 11 touchdowns and also had 601 receiving yards and six more TDs; he’s East’s leading returner in both rushing and receiving. Defensively, he was sixth for the T-Birds with 55.5 tackles and led East with five interceptions.

Preseason class breakout player

Noah Sides, Natrona. Technically, Sides’ breakout season came last year, when he led Natrona’s defense with 76.5 tackles. As Natrona’s only returning first-team all-conference selection, though, Sides’ presence on an experienced Mustang defense will be accentuated as a senior leader, and his productivity could reach even greater heights this fall because of that.

Other players to watch

Cam Hayes, Cheyenne East. One of Wyoming’s most complete quarterbacks entering 2023, Hayes can do it all. He’s got the accuracy, completing 216 passes on 309 attempts last year; he’s got the ability to move the ball, throwing for 2,867 yards and running for 621 more; he’s got the nose for the end zone, running for seven TDs and throwing for 40. You can’t ask for much more from a quarterback — and he still has his senior season to go.

Dane Steel, Sheridan. The reigning West Conference defensive player of the year, Steel led the Broncs with 103.5 tackles last season; he notched 10 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and two interceptions. He was nearly as busy on offense, reeling in 22 catches for 390 yards and leading the Broncs with six receiving touchdowns.

Alex Haswell, Sheridan. The Bronc lineman was doing a man’s job as a junior, controlling the Broncs’ defense up front — and he put up some big numbers in doing so. His 15.6 defensive points per game ranked him fifth among all players in Class 4A. He finished with 13 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks to lead 4A in both categories, and added two fumble recoveries, four pass deflections and a blocked kick to all that.

Levi Palmer, Campbell County. It’s hard to talk defense in Class 4A without talking about Palmer, the only player in the classification last year to average more than 10 tackles per game. Palmer’s 10.4 tackles per game — 104 over 10 games — led 4A last year. He also had five tackles for loss, two sacks and three interceptions to go with his seemingly omnipresent tackling abilities.

Four key games

Cheyenne Central at Natrona, Sept. 8. Both the Indians and Mustangs have been on the edge of breakthroughs the past couple years, but neither one has players who knows what it feels like to be in a championship game. The frustrating part for both is that to make that jump, they’ll have to go through the other.

Thunder Basin at Cheyenne East, Sept. 8. After two consecutive quarterfinal playoff exits, the ‘Bolts are eager to prove they belong in the championship conversation. Well… what better opportunity to do so than on the road against the Thunderbirds early in the season? The precedent exists: The ‘Bolts have won their last two regular-season games on the road at East.

Sheridan at Cheyenne East, Sept. 29. The consensus top two teams in Class 4A this year meet in Week 5 in the Capital City. Whether they’ll still be 1-2 by this time remains to be seen, but it will still represent a rematch of last year’s title game.

Natrona at Sheridan, Oct. 13. In a rivalry that speaks for itself, the annual game between the Mustangs and Broncs has typically been key in deciding playoff seeding and, eventually, home-field advantage in the playoffs. This Week 7 matchup figures to have similarly high stakes this year, but that’s nothing new for either program.

Predicted order of finish

Cheyenne East; Sheridan; Natrona; Cheyenne Central; Thunder Basin; Rock Springs; Campbell County; Kelly Walsh; Laramie; Cheyenne South.

Way-too-early title game score prediction

Cheyenne East 40, Sheridan 32. The Thunderbirds’ talent on offense should be enough to make other defenses nervous, and that’ll draw a lot of early attention, but East’s defense is also top-notch. They’ll start the season with the edge, but they’ll have to improve to keep it.

Is this East’s year, or will someone else bring some surprises to 4A this season? Leave a comment, or drop a line on Twitter or Facebook.


Four questions to answer

Who will it be — Cody or Star Valley? Early advantage, Star Valley. These two programs have combined to win the past nine Class 3A championships — five for Star Valley, four for Cody — and they played against each other in last year’s 3A title game. So it makes sense that the early eyes are on the two most consistent programs. Moreover, they have proven their dominance by beating everyone but each other: Five of Cody’s six most recent losses dating back to 2018 are to Star Valley, and Star Valley’s three most recent in-state losses are all to Cody.

Does anyone else have a chance? Yes, but statistically there’s always a chance. Programs like Douglas, Buffalo and Powell have the most realistic chances of breaking through the Cody/Star Valley championship monopoly this year, in part because they’re the programs that return the most players from teams that had some success last year; Douglas and Buffalo actually lead 3A in returning all-conference players this year with four apiece.

How much will four new coaches change the look of 3A? Maybe not much in the first year, but look out long-term. Four Class 3A programs will have new head coaches, including three of the four programs that failed to make the playoffs last year. Jim Burton makes the move from Evanston to Lander, and former assistant Steve Moore takes over as Evanston’s head coach. Mark Lenhardt jumped into the open position at Riverton, leaving 4A Rock Springs to do so, and Blaine Christensen left an assistant’s spot at Rock Springs to become the head coach at Green River. Combined, those four teams were 10-26 last year, and Lander was the only one of the bunch to make the playoffs.

And how’s the rest of the classification looking? Better than usual. To be honest, conversations with basically every 3A coach this summer left me feeling like every one of them was a darkhorse to do some damage in the standings this season. The bottom half of 3A could make some significant strides this year, and several teams — including all the teams with first-year coaches, as well as Jackson, Rawlins and a handful of others, could be teams that give the top-tier teams true challenges this fall.

Preseason class MVP

Tegen Seeds, Douglas. It’s not often that a lineman earns this spot, but Seeds’ play demands this kind of attention. The Class 3A East lineman of the year last year as a junior has been tearing it up on both sides of the ball for a while now. His defensive statistics — 59.5 tackles and a team-high three sacks — put him among Douglas’ top defenders last year, and his prowess as an offensive linemen is already well-known by opposing coaches.

Preseason class breakout player

Daniel Lopez, Worland. Lopez split time between Worland and Colorado last year and only got to play about half his sophomore year with the Warriors. But he made an immediate impact on Worland’s offensive and defensive lines, and he could be the team’s most formidable big man as a junior.

Other players to watch

Trey Stenerson, Powell. Class 3A’s top returning receiver isn’t just an offensive threat. Sure, he can frustrate an opposing defensive backfield — his 54 catches for 813 yards and 10 touchdowns shows that — but he also caused chaos on defense as well. He was one of Powell’s most opportunistic defenders, with three interceptions and six pass break-ups, a pair of fumble recoveries and 24.5 tackles.

Jayden Crook, Star Valley. On a Star Valley defense that returns just four of its top 15 tacklers from last year’s championship team, Crook will be the focus. He was third on the team in 2022 with 65.5 tackles and had a team-high five interceptions. He’s also Star Valley’s top returning receiver, although those numbers (three catches, 63 yards) aren’t quite as impressive.

Trey Rinn, Douglas. No other returning 3A quarterback threw for more yards (1,789) or touchdowns (23) as Rinn did last season. He also added 543 rushing yards and leads Douglas’ returners in that category, as well. His ability to make plays in a variety of ways will make him tough for opposing defenses to stop.

Cohen Morrow and Brady Roberts, Evanston. For a team constantly trying to earn its place in a tough 3A West, the backfield pairing of Morrow and Roberts gives the Red Devils a fighting chance. They combined for 1,126 rushing yards (Roberts 650 from the running back spot, Morrow 526 at quarterback) and 137 tackles (Morrow 81, Roberts 56). They’re key pieces of what could be 3A’s most improved team this fall.

Four key games

Lander at Evanston, Sept. 15. Don’t call it the “Burton Bowl” just yet, but it will be interesting to see how coach Jim Burton’s new team, Lander, matches up against his team from last year, Evanston, in Uinta County.

Riverton at Star Valley, Sept. 15. New Riverton coach Mark Lenhardt starts his Wolverine tenure with a murderer’s row of West Conference opponents — Powell, Cody, Evanston and Star Valley — in the first four weeks. The last of those games, against the defending state champions in Afton, will say a lot about how the Wolverines might fare in the East Conference race in Lenhardt’s first year.

Buffalo at Douglas, Sept. 29. All signs point to this game being the one that will eventually decide the East Conference title. And although four other teams will have a say in that presumption, that doesn’t make this one any less valuable of a victory for both teams.

Star Valley at Cody, Oct. 6. I mean, come on.

Predicted order of finish

East Conference: Douglas; Buffalo; Worland; Riverton; Lander; Rawlins.

West Conference: Star Valley; Cody; Powell; Evanston; Jackson; Green River.

Preseason top five: 1. Star Valley; 2. Douglas; 3. Cody; 4. Powell; 5. Buffalo.

Way-too-early title game score prediction

Star Valley 28, Douglas 20. The Braves’ depth is a feature not many 3A teams can match. Though many of the challengers (Douglas, Buffalo, Cody, Powell) are on the same step, the Braves still stand a smidge taller than the field.

Is Class 3A the purview of old favorites, or is this the year somebody breaks up the Cody/Star Valley bi-opoly? Leave a comment, or drop a line on Twitter or Facebook.

Next Thursday: Class 4A preview.


Four questions to answer

Does Class 2A have a clear-cut favorite? Absolutely not. Class 2A may give us one of the most even title races in recent memory. Several teams are legitimate title contenders, among them Big Horn, Tongue River, Lovell, Lyman, Mountain View, Cokeville, Torrington… the list goes on and on. Two teams that got bumped in the quarterfinals last year (Tongue River and Mountain View) have drawn a lot of attention due to their returning talent, but they, along with Big Horn and Lyman, all have two returning all-state selections apiece.

So, quit playing, who’s it really going to be? Probably somebody from Uinta or Sheridan counties. The four teams getting the most attention from coaches this offseason are the two Uinta schools (Lyman and Mountain View) and the two Sheridan schools (Tongue River and Big Horn). Mountain View and Tongue River have the most returning talent from quarterfinal-exit finishes last year, while Lyman and Big Horn have the pedigree from recent championships, Lyman in 2020 and 2021 and Big Horn in 2022, to drive preseason respect.

And what about Lovell? Hmmm. Well, the Bulldogs — runners-up in 2A each of the past two season — present an interesting conundrum. They clearly know how to develop success, and they have a large senior class. But they also lost five all-staters to graduation, a loss that’s going to be difficult to overcome. At least the Bulldogs have a chance to prove themselves right out of the gate, by hosting defending champ Big Horn in Week 1 and 2020/2021 champ Lyman in Week 3 with a trip to Cokeville sandwiched between. If Lovell survives that, watch out.

Anyone else a threat? No, but it’s going to be fun to see how programs develop. Wheatland, Glenrock and Thermopolis all have new head coaches, while coaches in Burns, Pinedale and Cokeville are in their second years. Cokeville and Burns were playoff qualifiers last year, and it will be interesting to see if they can keep that momentum rolling.

Preseason class MVP

Colter Hanft, Tongue River. Not too many players lead their teams in both receiving and tackles, but that’s exactly what Hanft did last season — as a junior, no less. His 29 catches for 481 yards led all of Tongue River’s receivers, and his exactly 100 tackles also put him at the head of the Eagles’ lists, too. Among those tackles? Seven sacks.

Preseason class breakout player

Justus Platts, Mountain View. Never heard of him? That’s OK. Platts is a sophomore who’s never taken a snap for the Buffalos. A transfer from Texas, Platts has the potential — always a dangerous word — to take over as Mountain View’s quarterback this season. Coach Brent Walk came away impressed, though, after seeing Platts work with the returning Buffs at summer camps.

Other players to watch

Carter Bradshaw, Lyman. The Eagles’ option offense is predicated heavily on decisions made by the quarterback, and Bradshaw proved to be an effective decision-maker last season in season-long relief. He carried 241 times for 1,013 yards and scored 11 touchdowns and also chipped in 23 pass completions for 248 yards for an offense that doesn’t throw much.

Jayce Schultz, Mountain View. Schultz was the Buffalos’ top rusher and tackler in 2022, carrying for 901 yards and seven TDs while notching 87 tackles and four sacks on defense. On a defense that returns 12 of its top 14 tacklers, Schultz remains the leader of the unit ready for big strides this season.

Kiefer Dunham, Big Horn. The defending state champs have a leader on the line in Dunham. An all-state pick last year, Dunham is Big Horn’s top returning tackler, and it’s not really that close. He was a half-tackle shy of 100 last year and had 11.5 tackles for loss. He will be paramount in the Rams’ attempt at a title defense.

Ty Bennick, Torrington. Speaking of linemen, the Trailblazers have a good one in Bennick, who led the team in defensive points last season. He had 72 tackles last year, four of those sacks, and was Torrington’s only all-state selection last season. He also leads the ‘Blazers’ offensive line — no small role on a team that likes to run.

Four key games

Lovell at Cokeville, Sept. 8. The Bulldogs unceremoniously dumped the Panthers out of the playoffs last year in the semifinals, and Cokeville — in the conference opener for both teams — would love to get their revenge early in the season. A loss for either team so early in the conference schedule could be devastating to conference title hopes.

Mountain View at Lyman, Sept. 22. The Bridger Valley rivalry is always important, but in 2023 it could be the game that decides the West Conference in addition to regional bragging rights. And don’t think the fact that Lyman has won the last three in the series isn’t on the Buffalos’ minds.

Big Horn at Tongue River, Oct. 13. The Thunder Bowl, in Week 7 this year, might just lead to an attendance overflow in Walt Gray Field in Dayton. In a year where the Rams and Eagles — despite plenty of threats — could be the best two teams in the East, this rivalry game could be the game that ultimately decides it all.

Newcastle at Torrington, Oct. 20. These two bypassed each other in the East Conference standings last year — Newcastle ascending, Torrington descending. And if the rest of the conference comes together in the way that last year did, this one could be critical for postseason momentum. Or postseason access.

Predicted order of finish

East Conference: Tongue River; Big Horn; Torrington; Upton-Sundance; Newcastle; Wheatland; Burns; Glenrock.

West Conference: Lyman; Mountain View; Lovell; Cokeville; Thermopolis; Kemmerer; Pinedale.

Preseason top five: 1. Lyman; 2. Mountain View; 3. Tongue River; 4. Big Horn; 5. Lovell.

Way-too-early title game score prediction

Lyman 20, Mountain View 14. Sure, a Uinta County title showdown would be epic. But in 2A this year, any of the top six or seven teams are true contenders. Don’t be surprised if other teams emerge by November.

Who’s the team you see emerging from a muddled mix of favorites in Class 2A this year? Leave a comment, or drop a line on Twitter or Facebook.

Next Thursday: Class 3A preview.


Four questions to answer

What’s the biggest change to 1A nine-man this year? The lack of deep, experienced and talented senior classes. Last year, several teams were legitimate state championship threats thanks to senior classes just like that; place any one of those teams into the mix this year and they would be the automatic favorites this year. However, graduation decimated almost all of those programs. Look at it this way: Last year, 20 all-state players returned across the classification. This year, between transfers and attrition, it’s slated to be as few as four all-staters coming back.

Who’s survived the purge? Big Piney and Wind River. The Punchers were junior-heavy last year but kept up with the West Conference’s best, training that will set them up well for 2023. Meanwhile, Wind River graduated a ton but has the benefit of back-to-back big classes and will be a senior-heavy team, a rarity in 1A nine-man this season.

How different will the East Conference look this year? Quite a bit. Three East Conference programs — Wright, Saratoga and Guernsey — will have new coaches. All three teams missed the playoffs last year, but Todd Weber in Saratoga, Neal Hughes in Guernsey and Larry Yeradi in Wright, who takes back the head coaching duties after a year away, will be in positions to change the trajectories of those programs.

What about Pine Bluffs? Oh yeah. I’m not sure how we’ve made it this far without talking about the literal defending champions of the classification. The Hornets won’t be overrun with talent this year but have a system and a set of expectations in place. And they haven’t lost a conference game in two years. Cliche as it is, until someone proves they can beat Pine Bluffs, the Hornets are the team everyone else has to chase.

Preseason class MVP

Cooper Frederick, Wind River. The only two-time all-state selection playing this season at any level above six-man in the state, Frederick has proven his worth time and again to the Cougars’ fortunes. When he does well, so do the Cougars; witness his 1,919 rushing yards in Wind River’s 7-3 season in 2022. A year older, Frederick will be a handful to stop, especially for nine-man’s defenses this year that lack the experience of last year’s units.

Preseason class breakout player

Brenner Moore, Rocky Mountain. Moore was just about the only underclassmen who cracked the Grizzlies’ lineup last year. He put up solid numbers — 26 tackles, a couple pass deflections, 113 receiving yards — but will be much more of a leader on both sides of the ball for a Grizzly team that may need a minute to find itself.

Other players to watch

Louden Bremer, Lingle. As a sophomore, Bremer had a huge influence on the Doggers, leading them in receiving (25 catches for 482 yards) and tackles (71). As a junior, Bremer will play just as critical of a role as the Doggers look for their first home playoff game since 2015.

Karsyn Gurr and Ruben Stoutenberg, Big Piney. Two of Big Piney’s biggest offensive weapons are also threats elsewhere. Stoutenberg carried for 327 yards and had 184 receiving yards, but was also valuable on defense where he led the Punchers with 72 tackles. Gurr led Big Piney in receiving with 363 yards and six TDs but was also the West Conference’s special teams player of the year in 2022 thanks to his kick return abilities.

Shawn Shmidl, Pine Bluffs. Maybe this statistic, more than any, represents the value Shmidl, a junior, brings to the defending state champs: Only one player who had more than 20 tackles last year is expected back for the Hornets in 2023. Shmidl had 54. A cornerstone around which a young defense can build, Shmidl will have to transform from role player to leader to keep the Hornets’ momentum rolling.

Ty Strohschein, Riverside. The Rebels are a significantly better team with Strohschein in the lineup. His experience running the ball (684 yards, six TDs last year) and, maybe even more so, on defense (77.5 tackles, more than double any other returner for Riverside) will be key in a suddenly wide-open West Conference championship and playoff race.

Four key games

Big Piney at Wind River, Sept. 21. Big Piney has the challenge of playing the West Conference’s other three playoff qualifiers from 2022 — Rocky Mountain, Wind River and Shoshoni — all on the road this year. This one against the Cougars in Pavillion could be the biggest test for the Punchers, who play those three games in a span of five weeks to start conference play.

Shoshoni at Rocky Mountain, Sept. 23. After the past two seasons, how could we not include this one? Even though both teams will bring inexperienced rosters to the field in 2023, the advantage is that so does pretty much everyone else. And the stakes could be just as high as usual if these program’s young players have developed quickly.

Southeast at Lingle, Oct. 6. Southeast’s 36-35 victory last season against its longtime Goshen County rival was the margin by which second and third places were decided in the East Conference. With both teams in the championship discussion this fall, the stakes this year could be even higher than just a home playoff game.

Pine Bluffs at Southeast, Oct. 20. The regular-season finale for both teams will likely have some high stakes, just as it did in 2022. Chances are good, though, that the Cyclones will be much more competitive than they were last year, a game that ended 63-6 in the Hornets’ favor on their march toward an undefeated state championship.

Predicted order of finish

East Conference: Pine Bluffs; Southeast; Lingle; Saratoga; Lusk; Wright; Moorcroft; Guernsey.

West Conference: Big Piney; Wind River; Shoshoni; Riverside; Rocky Mountain; Greybull; Wyoming Indian; St. Stephens.

Preseason top five: 1. Pine Bluffs; 2. Big Piney; 3. Wind River; 4. Southeast; 5. Lingle.

Way-too-early title game score prediction

Pine Bluffs 30, Big Piney 28. Right now, the Hornets are the team to take down, but the upsides of programs like the others in the top five are ignored only by the foolhardy. The football may not be as strong as last year, but the race might be even more exciting because of that.

Who do you see taking home the title in a depleted, but incredibly competitive, classification this year? Leave a comment, or drop a line on Twitter or Facebook.

Next Thursday: Class 2A preview.


Four questions to answer

Will Snake River ever lose again? Yes, but maybe not this year. The Rattlers enter 2023 on a 21-game winning streak and have had undefeated seasons in three of the past four years. The run has been dominant: Dubois was the only six-man team to stay within 45 points of Snake River last year. When a team starts that far ahead of the pack, it doesn’t really matter how many players graduate — they start at the top of the list.

Can anyone hang with the Rattlers this year? Yep, and Snake River won’t need to look outside its conference for some of its biggest competition. Two South Conference rivals, Encampment and Dubois, return the individual firepower to make six-man waves this fall. Meanwhile, North foe Burlington, last year’s title-game victim, continues to display the kind of depth that makes most other teams envious. Any of the top four could take it all; after that, the gap widens pretty fast.

So who’s coming out of the North then? Burlington, and can we put a pin in the rest of that? The Huskies has the early edge in the North as the team that played in War Memorial Stadium to end last season and as the team that returns the bulk of the experience. However, four of the other five teams in the North — Meeteetse, Kaycee, Hulett and Midwest — all appear to be on more or less equal footing entering 2023. The chase for the North’s four playoff spots could be one of the most exciting playoff races in the state this fall.

Will six-man’s newest team be a contender? Possibly. Casper Christian played a hodgepodge of six-man games last year against a few other varsity squads as well as Natrona’s freshmen and sophomores, finishing 1-6 but going 0-4 against the other six-man teams in the classification. This year, though, the Mountaineers return every player from last year’s team, and they have an added motivation by being playoff-eligible members of the South Conference this fall, a benefit they didn’t have last year.

Preseason class MVP

Wyatt Trembly, Dubois. Class 1A six-man’s co-offensive player of the year in 2022 should be even better as a senior — and that’s as much expectation as it is praise. Trembly’s 2022 was incomparable in six-man ranks, as his 2,502 rushing yards set a state six-man record. The expectation that 2023 could be even better, stats-wise, comes in part because of Dubois’ significant losses to graduation and the Rams’ necessity to rely on six-man’s best player even more.

Preseason class breakout player

Ethan Salzman, Meeteetse. Salzman has done double duty the past couple years, playing a season of golf with Cody’s team before joining the Longhorns for the back half of the football season. However, as a senior this year, Salzman is dedicating the fall to football alone. That stability could boost the young Longhorns to success.

Other players to watch

Quade Jordan, Encampment. As the Tiger program leaves its honeymoon stage as six-man’s newest team, Jordan’s play will be a huge reason why Encampment will be looked at as a part of a consistently successful developing program and not just a fortunate interloper. Already a two-time all-state selection, Jordan broke 1,000 yards rushing (1,084) and also had 70 tackles on defense, including 14 for loss, last season.

Joseph Pina, Meeteetse. The Longhorns’ only returning all-state player did it all last year to earn his second all-state nod. He led Meeteetse in rushing, receiving and tackles. He was a four-digit back, carrying for 1,234 yards, and a triple-digit tackler with 122. The Longhorns will be thin, but they’ll be competitive thanks to Pina.

Seth Maxson and Isaiah Skalberg, Snake River. Snake River’s recent run of dominance could continue if Maxson and Skalberg continues their successful runs. Maxson led the Rattlers in tackles and defensive points, while Skalberg was a solid pass-catcher and one of Snake’s best defensive players, as well.

Vaun Pierson, Kaycee. When you lead your team in both rushing yards and tackles, you have to be doing something right. The Buckaroos’ lone returning all-state selection, Pierson ran for 991 yards last season — while averaging 9.6 yards per carry — and led the Kaycee defense with 109 total tackles, including 15.5 for loss. He may be asked to do even more this year.

Four (OK, five) key games

Hulett at Burlington; Kaycee at Meeteetse, Sept. 8. With an unpredictable North Conference race, the opening weekend of conference play will be absolutely crucial. The Northwest teams draw home field this year, and the winners will take a temporary edge in a playoff race that could be decided by the thinnest of margins.

Dubois at Snake River, Sept. 9. The West Conference title eventually has to go through Baggs and the two-time defending champs. And what better way for a Ram team with exceptional talent but no berth in the championship game since 2014 to make a statement than right here against the Rattlers? The conference opener could be the conference decider.

Encampment at Snake River, Oct. 7. The Rattlers draw a bit of luck this year by having their two toughest opponents, on paper, come to Baggs for their games. That said, the Tigers would love to beat their Carbon County rivals — something they did in 2020 but haven’t done in four tries since — and help prove that 2023 is their year.

Burlington at Dubois, Oct. 21. This is about as big as a nonconference game can get in six-man. Last year’s regular-season game was close — Dubois won 60-52 — but the Huskies took their revenge and won by 49 in the playoff semifinals two weeks later. How will both teams respond to that history? And how crazy of a season will each team have seen before this game in Week 8?

Predicted order of finish

North Conference: Burlington; Meeteetse; Kaycee; Midwest; Hulett; Ten Sleep.

South Conference: Snake River; Encampment; Dubois; Farson; Casper Christian; Hanna.

Preseason top five: 1. Snake River; 2. Burlington; 3. Encampment; 4. Dubois; 5. Kaycee.

Way-too-early title game score prediction

Snake River 49, Burlington 33. The old cliche about having to beat the best to be the best is kind of lame, but I think it applies this year in six-man. With no one team emerging as a direct threat to the Rattlers, the two-time defending champs are the ones to look out for until some other team shows otherwise.

Which team has what it takes to de-fang the Rattlers’ title hopes? Leave a comment, or drop a line on Twitter or Facebook.

Next Thursday: Class 1A nine-man preview.


It’s time to choose the annual summertime team that has become a staple of discussion in, well… my house, at least: Wyoming’s top returning high school players, as chosen by uniform number.

You’re probably reading this part last, if you read it at all. You’ve already jumped to the list by now, looking up the number of your favorite player to see if they were ignored. And I know, I know, I know… You think I “left someone off.” Trust me when I say no one was left off; every returning player was considered. And the decisions were TOUGH, just like they always are. Certain numbers are tough to choose because of an overload of returning talent; in particular this year were Nos. 1 and 8.

In the end, I had to make choices, because that’s what this exercise is really about. And how do you compare? I’ll simply say the process is different for every single number, in part because the players wearing each number bring different skills, and stats, to the discussion.

That doesn’t mean that players not on this list aren’t worthy of attention. There are returning all-state players who couldn’t crack this list, but players with single-digit defensive points last year who did. But that’s the beauty of a list like this. It narrows down your competition by 99%.

And if I’m a freshman this year, and No. 38 is available… I’m claiming that jersey like it’s worth its weight in gold.

(If you want to see how these teams have come together in the past, here are links to the 2022, 2021, 2020, and 2019 preseason teams.)

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

1Jhett SchwahnPowell
2Drew JacksonCheyenne East
3Dane SteelSheridan
4Micah PetersenCokeville
5Jared MangusLovell
6Karsyn GurrBig Piney
7Nathan MirichCheyenne East
8Alonso AguilarThunder Basin
9Mason CounterCheyenne Central
10Cooper FrederickWind River
11Hazen CaminoBuffalo
12Connor CumminsTongue River
13Jayce SchultzMountain View
14Louden BremerLingle
15Isaiah SkalbergSnake River
16Eli PattersonBuffalo
17Cam HayesCheyenne East
18Chase MillsUpton-Sundance
19Ben MaloneLaramie
20Goodness OkereRock Springs
21Wyatt TremblyDubois
22Kolbe DierksCheyenne East
23Ryan ArendsThermopolis
24Jayden CrookStar Valley
25Thomas PrellNewcastle
26Brady RobertsEvanston
27Wyatt RamsbottomKaycee
28Noah SidesNatrona
29Trevon AbrahamPowell
30Jason MoodyMeeteetse
31Ty StrohscheinRiverside
32Nate BradyLyman
33Quade JordanEncampment
34Terran GroomsSheridan
35Jonah OardDubois
36Cole HansenSheridan
37Kaison MacyFarson
38No returners identified
39Jack MelgerTongue River
40Zane GraftPowell
41Justin CastagnoJackson
42Carter ArchuletaDouglas
43Alex BarkerTongue River
44Eli GillUpton-Sundance
45Randal ReddonFarson
46Caiden RobertsBuffalo
47Logan ClassCody
48J.D. HolmanGlenrock
49Jackson AsayCody
50Morgan HatchLyman
51Peyton Brown*Thunder Basin
52Colby OlsonCheyenne East
53Max GregoryLyman
54Zaryc ProsserRiverton
55Caden ParkerThunder Basin
56Caleb RuffCheyenne East
57Clay MerrittStar Valley
58Zaim CabrialesLander
59Nico McQueeneyCheyenne East
60Jethro AwtreyCokeville
61Colter PercifieldCampbell County
62Jesse GibsonStar Valley
63Colten PrindleCheyenne Central
64Malachy LehnenDouglas
65David MerryfieldPine Bluffs
66Jimmy DeesPowell
67Wesley DownesLander
68Tyler MairMountain View
69Noah WilliamsonSheridan
70Ty BennickTorrington
71Tiegen ThompsonSoutheast
72Noah ManevalTongue River
73Royal OlsenHanna
74Miles PackardBuffalo
75Lance RabelBuffalo
76Coby JonesMountain View
77Cooper SmithLingle
78Alex HaswellSheridan
79Tegen SeedsDouglas
80Mickey MaroniBurlington
81Vaun PiersonKaycee
82William Beastrom*Newcastle
83Prescott VeigelStar Valley
84Jacob OrmsethSheridan
85Beau WeaverShoshoni
86Brenner MooreRocky Mountain
87Nolan HottellThunder Basin
88Colter HanftTongue River
89Joe BassettBurlington
90Vaughn GrantRawlins
91Isaac GardnerWind River
92-98No returners identified
99Tyler EnnistLaramie

*-Brown also wore #84; Beastrom also wore #85.


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

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

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

That doesn’t mean we can’t speculate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Trying to pick a state champion before a single down has been played sometimes feels like a fool’s errand.

That doesn’t stop people from trying.

The WyoPreps preseason football poll of coaches and media, which came out Wednesday, tabbed Sheridan, Cody, Lyman, Shoshoni and Snake River as the teams to beat in their respective classifications. (Full disclosure, I vote in this poll.)

But the historical chances of those five teams winning a championship are barely better than one-third of the time.

Since 1984 and the start of the one-poll era, only 36% of teams ranked No. 1 to start the season end up as state champions. However, 56% of state champions start the season ranked either No. 1 or No. 2. Cheyenne East, Star Valley, Lovell, Pine Bluffs, Dubois and Encampment are in the No. 2 spots in this year’s preseason poll, with the last two tying for second in the 1A six-man poll.

Historically, chances are good that more than half your 2022 state champs will come from that list of 11 teams.

However, 17% of state champs start ranked at No. 3, 7% at No. 4 and 6% at No. 5. But nearly 14% of state champions start the season unranked. Since 1984, they’ve included:

  • Lyman, Class 2A 2020
  • Cody, Class 3A 2017
  • Pine Bluffs, Class 1A 11-man 2016
  • Star Valley, Class 3A 2015
  • Snake River, Class 1A nine-man 2010
  • Thermopolis, Class 2A 2009
  • Jackson, Class 4A 2007
  • Kemmerer, Class 3A 2005
  • Rock Springs, Class 5A 2001
  • Big Piney, Class 2A 1998
  • Evanston, Class 4A 1997
  • Riverton, Class 3A 1997
  • Wind River, Class 1A Division II 1997
  • Natrona, Class 4A 1996
  • Sheridan, Class 4A 1995
  • Laramie, Class 4A 1994
  • Rocky Mountain, Class 1A 11-man 1992
  • Burlington, Class 1A nine-man 1992
  • Lingle, Class 1A nine-man 1990
  • Hanna, Class 1A 1989
  • Big Piney, Class 2A 1988
  • Lovell, Class 2A 1987
  • Lusk, Class 2A 1986
  • Laramie, Class 4A 1984
  • Mountain View, Class 2A 1984

As you may have noticed, four consecutive Class 4A champions in the mid-1990s were unranked to start the season — Evanston in 1997, Natrona in 1996, Sheridan in 1995 and Laramie in 1994. But a preseason unranked team winning a state title hasn’t happened since at Wyoming’s big-school level since 2001 and Rock Springs.

Big Piney (1998, 1988) and Laramie (1994, 1984) are the only programs since 1984 to twice win championships after starting a season unranked.

No team since 1984 has been both unranked in the preseason AND unranked at the end of the regular season, then gone on to win the state championship. Eight of the 25 teams that started a season unranked but won a state championship were ranked No. 1 by the time the postseason started.

(Note: Preseason polls were not conducted in 2000 and are excluded here.)

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

Watch for another breakdown of teams’ rankings at the end of the regular season and their championship chances after Week 8.


The cover of the 2022 Wyoming High School Football Guide magazine. Click it to see the good stuff inside.

The 2022 edition of the Wyoming High School Football Guide magazine is out now!

Click here to read full team previews on every team in the state. This comprehensive guide to the 2022 season details key players and games and includes interviews with every single head coach in Wyoming. You won’t find that anywhere else in one place, no matter how hard you look.

Hard copies of the magazines should be available FOR FREE (!!) in the next week at the locations of the advertisers. Please support the businesses and organizations that support the magazine — we couldn’t do it without them.

This is the 11th year of the magazine, and it’s definitely a team effort. A massive thanks to the publishers, CNS Inc., for putting it all together — they do they layout, sell the ads and handle distribution.



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