Forty Wyoming high school football teams will play this week with state championship hopes motivating them.

In 2020, that in and of itself is reason to be grateful.

In a season where two teams couldn’t play at all due to COVID-19 and several games were rescheduled or canceled, the fact that the postseason is moving forward as scheduled can’t be overlooked.

I’ll admit it — I was not sure this would be possible.

With COVID-19 cases rising steadily across the state all season long…

Wyoming Department of Health, 10-23-20.

… and with early-season scares with Newcastle and Douglas and a late-season KO from Burns… and complete cancellations from St. Stephens and Wyoming Indian… I kept waiting for more. A more severe outbreak not localized to one community or one team. A quarantine that couldn’t be overcome. A season-ender after a season had started.

It hasn’t happened.

Yet.

COVID-19’s autumn surge in Wyoming should make everyone take note of how fragile all of this is. It should make every Wyoming football fan more vigilant, more careful, more cognizant of the risks and more responsible for the direction of the line in that chart.

Mask up. Distance apart. Wash up. Or watch a season come to an end at the least wanted time.

Football was the test balloon. Indoor winter sports like basketball and wrestling are going to require even more care. Let’s get used to it now, and keep the seasons, plural, going.

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Against the backdrop of COVID-19, the games almost seem secondary. But with state championships on the line, and with half of this week’s teams kissing those hopes adios, you can bet you’ll see some great stuff this weekend. I think the teams in bold will win, but everyone deserves some praise for just being here in one of the weirdest seasons we’ll probably ever see.

Friday
Class 4A
(8) Laramie at (1) Cheyenne East: East won their Week 3 game 56-13, and unless Laramie loads up on magic wands before the game, expect a similar result this time.
(5) Rock Springs at (4) Sheridan: After shutting out Thunder Basin 35-0 last week, there may not be a hotter team in the state right now than the Broncs.
(7) Kelly Walsh at (2) Cheyenne Central: The Indians stumbled down the stretch, going 1-2, but should still have enough in the tank to beat the Trojans.
(6) Natrona at (3) Thunder Basin: Two weeks ago, the ‘Bolts won this matchup by 40. I think it’ll be closer this time, but Thunder Basin still has the edge.
Class 3A
(4E) Worland at (1W) Cody: Man alive, was Cody’s 48-6 victory over Jackson last week an eye-opener. The Broncs are 3A’s team to beat.
(3W) Powell at (2E) Lander: Powell won their Week 2 matchup 31-0, and although Lander will fight hard, Powell is still the favorite.
(4W) Star Valley at (1E) Douglas: Even though Douglas is 7-0 and Star Valley has a losing record, I’m REALLY tempted to pick the Braves. But I still like the Bearcats at home.
(3E) Riverton at (2W) Jackson: Week 3. 57-7, Jackson. The Broncs have a definitive advantage in this one.
Class 2A
(4W) Cokeville at (1E) Torrington: These are the playoff matchups I love — ones between two programs who have never played each other before. The Trailblazers have the advantage, but the Panthers always play well in the postseason.
(3E) Wheatland at (2W) Mountain View: How badly was the Buffalos’ confidence shaken after their Bridger Valley Bowl loss last week? If it’s more than “a bit,” Wheatland could pull the surprise.
(4E) Big Horn at (1W) Lyman: The hot-and-cold Rams could be tough, but the Eagles’ defense has been on point every week, all season long.
(3W) Lovell at (2E) Upton-Sundance: Between them, these two teams have three losses by a combined 11 points. This could be the game of the week across all classifications.
Class 1A nine-man
(4W) Riverside at (1E) Southeast: Southeast averages about 44 points a game. Riverside has scored 66 points all season.
(3E) Pine Bluffs at (2W) Shoshoni: The Hornets will definitely put up a better fight than they did when they lost to the Wranglers 40-13 in Week 5. But Shoshoni still has the edge.
(4E) Saratoga at (1W) Rocky Mountain: Saratoga has been playing well of late. The only problem is Rocky Mountain has been playing well all year long.
(3W) Greybull at (2E) Lusk: Don’t let a 1-2 finish to the season fool anyone; Lusk is still a legit title contender.
Class 1A six-man
(4E) Hanna at (1W) Farson: Farson’s unbeaten record speaks for itself. The Pronghorns should advance easily to the semifinals.
(3W) Encampment at (2E) Hulett: The Tigers are in their first postseason ever. They’ll get a test from the Red Devils, but a tough West Conference schedule should make Encampment more than ready for this test.
(4W) Snake River at (1E) Kaycee: The Buckaroos’ defense has been scary consistent all season, so if Kaycee can get enough points, they should be good. Against Snake River, that’s a big if, though.
(3E) Guernsey at (2W) Meeteetse: Meeteetse has been one of six-man’s most pleasant surprises this fall. They should be able to keep the momentum going at home against the Vikings.

Non-playoff games
Thursday
Burns at Newcastle

For a full schedule including kickoff times, as well as results from past weeks, go here. Click on “Quarterfinals” on the top of the page for this week’s schedule.

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

Last week: 24-4 (86 percent). This season: 207-59 (78 percent). Does not include forfeit from last week.

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Who do you think is ready to pull a big surprise in the first round of the playoffs? 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

Burns will not play one of its final two games of the 2020 season and will reschedule the other due to COVID-19 quarantines, the school’s activities director said Monday on Twitter.

Burns AD Barry Ward said the team will also cancel scheduled JV games.

Burns High School was notified on Saturday that due to COVID-19 quarantines our football team will not be playing our last 2 Varsity football games vs. Newcastle and Torrington as regularly scheduled. We will be canceling our JV games vs. Wheatland and Mitchell, Nebraska.— Barry Ward (@BurnsBronc) October 12, 2020

On Saturday, Laramie County School District No. 2, of which Burns is a part, posted on its website that a student at Burns Junior/Senior High School had tested positive for COVID-19 and that some students had been placed under quarantine.

This is the third in-season cancellation of high school football games in Wyoming due to COVID-19 this year.

Douglas and Powell canceled a mid-September game, while Newcastle and Buffalo canceled a game in early September.

During the summer, Wyoming Indian and St. Stephens canceled their fall sports seasons.

As of Monday afternoon, Wyoming had more than 1,000 active cases of COVID-19 statewide. As of Monday, the state was averaging nearly 120 confirmed cases per day, its highest total since the outbreak tracing began on March 20.

Graph courtesy of the Wyoming Department of Health. Click the graph for more.

In all, 24% of all active statewide confirmed cases are in people 18 years old or younger.

Burns’ two remaining games were with Torrington on Friday and with Newcastle on Oct. 23.

Over the summer, Wyoming High School Activities Association Commissioner Ron Laird said games lost due to COVID-19 would be treated as cancellations, not as forfeits.

Burns is 1-5. The Broncs, at 1-4 in Class 2A East Conference play, were no longer in playoff contention.

Burns will make up its game with Newcastle on Oct. 29, Ward announced Monday afternoon via Twitter. Newcastle is also not in playoff contention.

–patrick

This post was updated at 7:02 p.m. MDT to reflect the continuing status of Burns’ season.

Douglas and Powell will not play their scheduled game on Friday after two COVID-19 cases emerged in Douglas’ schools.

The story was first reported by Wyopreps.

The Douglas High School activities website noted the cancellation of Douglas’ varsity game with Powell as well as cancellations of a freshman game with Laramie on Thursday and a JV game with Riverton scheduled for Monday.

The Converse County School District No. 1 posted additional information on the cases on its website.

A release from the Converse County Emergency Management Agency said, as of Tuesday, the county has 28 active cases and 93 people under quarantine.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Wyoming Department of Health’s COVID-19 website listed 28 lab-confirmed cases, with 12 of those 28 being confirmed in the past 24 hours. As of Wednesday, the state was averaging just more than 38 new confirmed cases per day, using a 14-day average.

Powell Tribune reporter Carson Field reported Wednesday on Twitter that Douglas’ team had multiple cases.

UPDATE: Multiple players have tested positive on Douglas’ end, according to Powell AD Scott McKenzie, leading to the cancellation.— Carson Field (@CarsonDField) September 16, 2020

Douglas is 2-0, having defeated Torrington two weeks ago and Belle Fourche, S.D., last week. Powell is 3-0. The game will be listed as a no-contest cancellation, not as a forfeit.

This is the second time this season a Wyoming football game has been canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. A Week 1 game between Newcastle and Buffalo was also canceled after Newcastle players were exposed during a game against Hot Springs, S.D.

Wyoming Indian and St. Stephens had previously canceled their fall sports seasons due to COVID-19.

–patrick

Buffalo and Newcastle will not play their scheduled game on Friday after Newcastle officials learned their players had been exposed to COVID-19 during the Dogies’ game last week.

A press release from Weston County School District No. 1 Superintendent Brad LaCroix said a player from Hot Springs, S.D., who played against Newcastle last week tested positive for the disease earlier this week.

The Dogies did not practice on Thursday, the release said, and one Newcastle player was put on COVID-19 testing protocol.

The release said no one on the Newcastle football team has yet tested positive for COVID-19. Schools remain open. Other activities will go on as scheduled.

“We suspended team activities immediately when a member of the team went into the protocol, and had hoped we would have information this morning from health officials that would allow us to life that suspension and play tonight’s game,” LaCroix said in the release. “We were able to buy a little time last night, but we simply had to make a ‘go’ or ‘no-go’ decision this morning. Without new information from health officials, we can’t justify lifting the suspension yet and sadly have to cancel tonight’s game out of caution. The health and well-being of our players and their families — both here and in Buffalo — has to be our first priority, and we just don’t have enough information at this time to go ahead and play tonight.”

The game was a nonconference game, with Buffalo in Class 3A and Newcastle in Class 2A. Previously, officials with the Wyoming High School Activities Association have said games lost to COVID-19 would be listed as no-contest games, not as forfeits.

Wyoming Indian and St. Stephens had previously canceled their fall sports seasons due to COVID-19.

This story was first reported by WyoPreps.

–patrick

Sheridan's football team from the fall of 1951, which had three games canceled due to polio. Photo courtesy of the Sheridan High yearbook.
Sheridan’s football team from the fall of 1951, which had three games canceled due to a polio outbreak. Photo courtesy of the Sheridan High yearbook.

It’s been more than 60 years since a pandemic has legitimately threatened high school football the way COVID-19 has done in 2020.

Already, two Wyoming schools — St. Stephens and Wyoming Indian — have canceled 2020 fall sports, including football.

High schools across the country are coming up with their own solutions, with many states choosing to wait until the new year for sports of any kind.

College teams across the country are scrambling as conferences postpone, cancel or reschedule games; the NFL’s direction is uncertain, too. Last week, the Mountain West — including the University of Wyoming — postponed its fall sports.

In Wyoming, COVID-19 will be the fourth wave of illness to threaten high school football. In 1918 and 1957, the culprit was influenza; in 1951, polio.

Every time, games were canceled. Every time, school leaders made hard decisions. Every time, players, coaches and teams had to sacrifice football for something bigger.

And once, a pandemic changed a team and community irreversibly, putting in perspective what it means to try to do normal things in times that are anything but.

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1918’s influenza outbreak

By far, the most severe of the previous football-delaying outbreaks came with the 1918 influenza epidemic.

That fall, Wyoming high school football teams didn’t play a single game.

In early October, schools across the state started shutting down due to the epidemic. Many did not reopen until January.

The sports affect was limited almost solely to football. Even then, only a small selection of high schools in the state had the sport. Only Sheridan, Buffalo, Cheyenne Central and Laramie fielded football teams in 1917; those same teams, plus Natrona, were the only schools to field football teams in 1919. The University of Wyoming football team also canceled its 1918 schedule.

By the late winter of 1919, the epidemic had cleared up, and the second annual state basketball tournament was played in Laramie that March.

About 675,000 people in the U.S. died from that influenza epidemic, and about 750 of those died in Wyoming between October 1918 and January 1919.

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1957’s (lighter) influenza concerns

In 1957, another influenza epidemic struck Wyoming. Although not as severe as the 1918 flu that wiped out the entire season, 18 Wyoming high school football games were lost to the flu in 1957.

The cancellations started on Sept. 27, when a game between Rock Springs and Green River was canceled. Rawlins and Evanston canceled their game the following week. Three more games were canceled the week of Oct. 11; the week of Oct. 18, the peak of the flu wave, nine games were canceled. Flu wiped out five more games after that.

The 1957 flu pandemic killed 116,000 people in the U.S. Of those, the number of flu deaths in Wyoming was quite low — reports from November 1957 indicated fewer than five.

But the caution of 1957 was informed by the tragedy of 1951.

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1951 brings polio and perspective

In 1951, the worry wasn’t the flu. It was polio.

In the 1951 calendar year, the United States had 28,386 cases and 1,551 deaths due to polio; in 1952, at the outbreak’s peak, the U.S. had 57,879 cases and 3,145 deaths.

Unofficially, eight Wyoming high school football games in 1951 were canceled due to polio. Another 11 games were canceled beyond that, although some were canceled during the first week in November, which brought a big snowstorm to Wyoming.

Sheridan was the first hotspot where multiple games were canceled. The Broncs had to give up three midseason games — games against Lead, S.D., Cheyenne Central and Riverton were all canceled after Sheridan’s schools were closed on Oct. 4. Sheridan’s schools re-opened on Oct. 22; by then, 25 people had contracted polio in the area and two people had died. The schools reopened only after no new cases were reported for a week. The Broncs finished their season, losing their final two games to finish 2-3-1. (Two other Sheridan County six-man games involving Ranchester were also canceled because of polio.)

A second hotspot was Guernsey. There, the toll was much higher — both for the football team and its players.

During the 1951 season, the Guernsey Longhorns (as they were known before combining with Sunrise in the 1960s) were in the middle of an amazing turnaround. After finishing winless in 1950, the Longhorns were a charmed team in 1951. Winning close game after close game — including 20-16 against Manville, 24-16 against Glenrock and 25-24 against archrival Sunrise on Oct. 26 — Guernsey was 7-0.

The day of the victory against Sunrise, though, the Longhorns were understandably distracted. One of their teammates, 16-year-old junior Floyd Stellpflug, had gone into the hospital in Scottsbluff, Neb., the night before. He had polio.

The Longhorns still won. On the field, a district championship and a place in the state playoffs was still nearly in reach. After beating Sunrise, the only conference game that remained was against twice-beaten Huntley on Nov. 2. With a victory, the Longhorns would reach the playoffs for the first time in program history.

The game never happened.

Four days after entering the hospital, and four days before the Huntley game, Stellpflug died.

Within 48 hours of Stellpflug’s death, Guernsey’s school board ordered the school closed for a week to limit the disease’s spread. By then, two of Stellpflug’s teammates (Johnny Hall and Johnny Sudbury) and Stellpflug’s sister-in-law (Mary Stellpflug) were also in various Wyoming hospitals being treated for what was thought to be polio, as well. However, at least one case (Mary Stellpflug’s) was pneumonia, not polio.

The closure of the school also brought about a closure to Guernsey’s football season. The Longhorns canceled their final two games, finishing 7-0 but also finishing without Stellpflug.

Two others Platte County boys — a 9-year-old from Guernsey and an 8-year-old from Wheatland — died later in November. (For perspective, Hall died in 2016 at age 82. His obituary said he struggled with the side effects of his affliction with polio for the rest of his life.)

Wyoming had 211 total polio cases in 1951, and more than 30 people died, including Stellpflug and the two other Platte County children.

Although polio peaked across the country in 1952, its effects were limited in Wyoming that year. In 1952, Wyoming only had five high school football games canceled. None of the cancellations were attributed to polio.

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Now, in 2020, Wyoming’s football players, coaches and administrators are preparing for a fight that they haven’t had to face in more than 60 years.

As of Aug. 17, Wyoming has had 3,286 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 30 attributed deaths statewide.

The disease has already had a massive effect on Wyoming high school sports.

The Class 4A/3A state basketball tournament was canceled on March 12, the morning after Wyoming had its first verified active case of COVID-19. For the first time since 1936 (and a scarlet fever outbreak), the state basketball tournament was canceled.

The 2020 spring sports seasons were canceled on April 7, when the state was averaging 13 to 14 new lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases per day.

As of Aug. 17, Wyoming is averaging nearly 30 new lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases per day.

Part of why leaders can justify returning to fall sports when the number of lab-confirmed cases per day is nearly triple what it was when spring sports were canceled is that we know much more about COVID-19 now than we did in April. We understand better how it travels. We understand better how to protect ourselves. We understand better how to manage the sickness if we are infected.

But, like polio and influenza, COVID-19 still has the potential to incapacitate and kill.

To think we won’t have cancellations or school closures this fall is naive (but I love the optimism). To think football will go on unaffected is misguided; COVID-19 has already affected sports, as we’ve seen with Wyoming Indian and St. Stephens.

It’s easy to maintain a status quo, to move forward as if nothing’s wrong. As a state, Wyoming and her citizens have to be prepared to make, and abide by, hard decisions, decisions that disrupt that status quo. In fact, some such decisions have already been made.

Teams, coaches, players and fans have to mentally commit now — if they haven’t already — to do the things that will help save the season. Be willing to wear the mask. Be willing to forgo the pregame tailgate. Be willing not to have the pep band. Be willing to give up attending a game due to distancing restrictions. Be willing to have a big rivalry game canceled. Be willing to sacrifice a perfect season or a state championship.

Players, especially, have to commit to speaking up if they exhibit symptoms. No team has any room for selfish players this fall. If symptomatic, players have to speak, and they need to be in homes, in schools and on teams that encourage them to speak — before they get others sick, before the disease ends not just that player’s season but his entire team’s, before schools close, before the curve becomes a spike, before another funeral.

Be willing to do these things, and football can continue. It won’t be “normal” football, but these aren’t normal times.

Be willing, in Floyd Stellpflug’s memory — and his lesson.

–patrick

Note: This is a breaking news story. It will be updated as necessary with new information as it becomes available. Be sure to refresh your browser to see the latest version of the story.

Wyoming Indian High School became the second school on the Wind River Indian Reservation to cancel its fall sports schedule, WIHS activities director Keith Bauder said.

In an email to wyoming-football.com, Bauder said the school will start classes online. The school will reconsider moving back to in-person classes on Oct. 1, with the earliest move to face-to-face classes being Oct. 16.

“It is sad for our students but we have to look at the safety factor first for students and families in our area,” Bauder said via email.

Wyoming Indian’s Board of Trustees voted 5-0 Tuesday to continue classes online. The school announced the decision on Twitter.

Wyoming Indian joins St. Stephens as schools that have had to cancel fall sports and move classes online to start the semester. St. Stephens’ school board made a similar move last week.

Wyoming Indian plays in Class 1A nine-man football and Class 2A in cross country and volleyball. The Wyoming Indian boys cross country program has won 22 state championships, including 13 since 2003. The girls cross country team won its first state title last year.

In an interview with wyoming-football.com on Wednesday, Bauder said the decision from the Board of Trustees helped put first the safety not only of the students but of the community.

“It’s sad because you know how important it is to the kids,” Bauder said. “Out here, families are very close and big, and their culture is family (centered).”

Both Wyoming Indian and St. Stephens are on the Wind River Indian Reservation, where a stay-at-home order has been in place for several months.

“There were so many ‘ifs’ and no answers,” Bauder said. “You can do all the planning you want, but when you’re working with ‘ifs,’ you can have every precaution you want, and (there’s a chance) it still happens.”

Bauder said students from schools closed by COVID-19 could compete for other schools for the fall sports season. When the closed schools re-open, though, those students have to choose whether to stay at their new school or return to their old school. Once students make that choice, Bauder said, they have to stick with it or be subject to traditional transfer rules.

“We haven’t crossed that bridge, but I’m sure we will,” Bauder said. “It’s sad (to lose students), but it gives the kids the opportunity to compete, which is good. We just hope we can get them all back again.”

This story will be updated as new information becomes available.

–patrick

This story was updated at 8:53 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 5, with comments from Bauder.

Note: This is a breaking news story. It will be updated as necessary with new information as it becomes available. Be sure to refresh your browser to see the latest version of the story.

St. Stephens Indian School has canceled all fall sports for 2020, including football, and will have students participate in remote learning until at least Oct. 16.

An announcement from St. Stephens Superintendent Frank No Runner announcing the changes was posted to the St. Stephens school’s Facebook page on Friday afternoon.

The post said the St. Stephens school board met Friday morning and decided to move forward with several changes to start the school year.

Those changes include no sports for high school or junior high students and online learning until at least Oct. 16.

In his post, No Runner said safety was the primary concern for the decision.

“It was hard to come to this decision, but we are thinking about student and staff safety, and for our elders, if we lose them we lose valuable cultural and traditional knowledge that cannot be replaced,” No Runner’s post said.

The full post is available here:

In an interview Friday afternoon with wyoming-football.com, St. Stephens football coach Billy Brost said he understood the decision but was also frustrated by it.

“I know they’re trying to do right by the kids and the teachers and the families, but it’s just heartbreaking to me that everyone else is going to be playing and we’re aren’t,” Brost said.

St. Stephens’ cross country and volleyball teams will also have their seasons canceled. The football team was scheduled to play in Class 1A nine-man, while volleyball was set to move from Class 1A to Class 2A this fall.

Per capita, Fremont County — where St. Stephens is located — has had more cases of COVID-19 and more COVID-related deaths than any other Wyoming county. Data from the Wyoming Department of Health shows, as of Friday, 411 laboratory-confirmed cases of the disease in the county. Of the 26 COVID-related deaths in Wyoming, 10 have been in Fremont County, the most of any Wyoming county.

Along with St. Stephens, three other high schools — Wyoming Indian, Fort Washakie and Arapaho Charter — also operate on the Wind River Reservation. Of those, Wyoming Indian is the only school to offer full varsity athletics. Other Fremont County schools, those off reservation land, include Lander, Riverton, Wind River, Shoshoni and Dubois.

Brost said while he will miss coaching, he will also miss teaching; he teaches social studies at the school.

“It’s not just about sports,” he said. “It’s so many things that high school kids should have the right to experience that they don’t now because of this pandemic. … My heart breaks for them because they so need that interaction.

“They’re being robbed of it, and fingers crossed that things calm down by the beginning of October so we can have kids in our classroom.”

This story will be updated as new information becomes available.

–patrick

An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified No Runner’s position with St. Stephens schools. He is the superintendent.

The Wyoming High School Activities Association has built several different schedules to accommodate varying start times for a 2020 football season.

Right now, games are scheduled to begin on Aug. 28. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic sparking postponements and cancellations of events across the country, and with schools themselves trying to figure out how to best accommodate students, an on-time start to the football season is not certain.

The different contingency plans established by the WHSAA, shared with wyoming-football.com by WHSAA Commissioner Ron Laird, depend on when a safe start to the season can take place. For each week lost, the plans change.

Laird said Monday that each sport has its own potential contingencies set up for the fall if the start of the season is delayed or if time is lost during the middle of the season.

“We’re trying to play,” Laird said. “That’s the key. We want kids to be able to participate, and we’re going to do everything we can to make that happen.”

Football’s contingency plans

For football, the ramifications of late starts range widely. On one of the spectrum, a week or weeks of the schedule may be canceled. The later the start to the season, though, the more challenging the changes become, including eliminating playoff rounds, changing the date and location for championship games, and finding new ways to seed teams for playoffs.

The football season would start no later than Oct. 16. Scheduling championship games for the week of Friday, Nov. 20 — which would happen if the season starts any later than Sept. 18 — is also complicated by the University of Wyoming’s home football game scheduled with Boise State on Saturday, Nov. 21. In contingencies where championships are moved to the week of Nov. 20, the higher-seeded team will host the championship game. In Class 3A and 1A six-man, the East Conference champions will be the higher seeds, while in Class 2A and 1A nine-man, West Conference champions will be the higher seeds. However, if the two teams played each other during the regular season, the winner of the game will host the championship.

Class 4A could also move to a North-South conference schedule, with Sheridan, Campbell County, Thunder Basin, Natrona and Kelly Walsh in the North and Cheyenne Central, Cheyenne East, Cheyenne South, Laramie and Rock Springs in the South. However, a move to conference play for playoff seeding is the decision of the 4A schools, not of the WHSAA, and may not come until after the season starts, Laird said.

Playoff qualification; uneven cancellations

More broadly, Laird said, if chunks of the conference schedule are lost, and teams can’t complete the conference schedule, the coaches themselves will meet to decide which teams will qualify for the playoffs.

Laird said the WHSAA members looked at a variety of power-rating or RPI methods to seed teems, including the one Wyoming used in the 2000s. Ultimately, they decided a coach seeding meeting would work best, similar to what coaches do for seeding for regional wrestling meets.

Laird said some arguments may develop — most likely between teams tied for a playoff spot — but said the coaches “would know best the teams in their conferences.”

Laird also said teams may need to prepare for uneven cancellations affecting the schedule; one district, or one county, deciding to suspend school or activities due to an outbreak does not mean other schools would follow suit. Consequently, some teams may play more games than others.

“There’s a good chance we’re not going to have competitive equity this year,” he said.

If such cancellations happen, Laird said any scheduled games would be counted as no-contest games, not as forfeits. Playoff seeding would still remain with coaches.

“We don’t want to penalize the school over something they have no control over,” Laird said.

Rescheduling games in such circumstances could also be a possibility, Laird said.

Also, schools that don’t reach the playoffs in a shortened season can schedule games with other non-playoff teams during playoff weeks.

Other considerations: Midseason changes, UW

While the contingency plans outline what would happen with late starts to the season, Laird said the WHSAA is also looking into steps to take if one week or a group of weeks midseason is lost.

“We’ve tried to ‘what-if’ it as much as we could,” Laird said.

Laird also acknowledged that if the University of Wyoming can’t play its football season as scheduled, “it’s going to be pretty tough for us to play.”

Football is not alone

Other fall sports will also feel ramifications of contingency scheduling, Laird said. For volleyball, cross country, golf and swimming, he said schedules may need to be shifted to avoid large invitational meets, where large numbers of people could mean a higher likelihood of contagion transmission.

Moving fall sports to the spring also remains a possibility, but Laird said “it isn’t as clean as that sounds. … It is basically the last, last resort. It will be a trickle-down if we move that, and then we’ve got to move other things.”

Particularly, Laird said moving fall sports to the spring would affect track and soccer for a second consecutive year, something he said he wants to avoid.

Laird said the WHSAA’s overall goal was to return students to activities “and do it safely for everybody.”

A breakdown of football’s plan

The WHSAA’s full contingency plan for football is here. Here’s a quick breakdown of how the schedule changes with each week pushed back:

  • Season starts Week 1 (Sept. 4): Zero Week contests are canceled, no make-up.
  • Season starts Week 2 (Sept. 11): Zero Week contests and Week 1 games are canceled, no make-up.
  • Season starts Week 3 (Sept. 18):
  • For 4A and 3A, Zero Week, Week 1 and Week 2 games are canceled, no make-up.
  • For 2A, 1A nine-man and 1A six-man, Week 2 games are moved to the week of quarterfinal playoffs, and no quarterfinal playoff round is played.
  • Season starts Week 4 (Sept. 25):
  • For 4A and 3A, Week 3 games move to the original week of the quarterfinal playoffs (Oct. 30). Playoff games are all shifted back one week, with championships scheduled for Nov. 20.
  • For 2A, 1A nine-man and 1A six-man, Week 2 games are moved to the week of Oct. 30 and Week 3 games to Nov. 6. There would be no quarterfinal playoffs, with semifinals on Nov. 13 and championships Nov. 20.
  • Season starts Week 5 (Oct. 2):
  • For 4A and 3A, all games are pushed back one week and week 3 games are moved to the original week of semifinals. Quarterfinal playoffs are eliminated, and semifinal games would be played Nov. 13 (the original week of championships) and championships Nov. 20.
  • For 2A and 1A nine-man, a six-game regular season, as the schedule would go Week 5-Week 6-Week 7-Week 8-Week 2-Week 3, with Week 4 games eliminated. Again, there would be no quarterfinal playoffs, with semifinals on Nov. 13 and championships Nov. 20.
  • For 1A six-man, a six-game regular season, as the schedule would go Week 5-Week 6-Week 7-Week 8-Week 2-Week 4, with Week 3 games eliminated. Again, there would be no quarterfinal playoffs, with semifinals on Nov. 13 and championships Nov. 20.
  • Season starts Week 6 (Oct. 9):
  • For 4A and 3A, a five-week regular season (with possible rescheduling in 4A), with the schedule going Week 6-Week 7-Week 8-Week 4-Week 5. Semifinals would be Nov. 13 and championships Nov. 20.
  • For 2A and 1A nine-man, a six-week regular season with a schedule of Week 6-Week 7-Week 8-Week 2-Week 3-Week 5. No quarterfinal or semifinal playoffs; conference champions would meet in the state championship on Nov. 20.
  • For 1A six-man, a six-week regular season with with a schedule of Week 6-Week 7-Week 8-Week 5-Week 2-Week 4. No quarterfinal or semifinal playoffs; conference champions would meet in the state championship on Nov. 20.
  • Season starts Week 7 (Oct. 16):
  • For 4A and 3A, five-week regular season (with possible rescheduling in 4A), with the schedule going Week 7-Week 8-Week 4-Week 5-Week 6. No quarterfinals or semifinals; conference champions would meet in state championship games Nov. 20.
  • For 2A and 1A nine-man, a five-week regular season with the schedule going Week 7-Week 8-Week 2-Week 3-Week 5. Again, no quarterfinals or semifinals, with conference champs playing in the title game Nov. 20.
  • For 1A six-man, a five-week regular season with the schedule going Week 7-Week 8-Week 5-Week 6-Week 4. Again, no quarterfinals or semifinals, with conference champs playing in the title game Nov. 20.

–patrick

Here’s a collection of Friday’s #bethelight and #bethelightwy posts in Wyoming on social media. If you’ve got one that you’d like me to consider posting here, email me at pschmiedt@yahoo.com; I’d love to have one post from each school that participated.

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Be The Light. Well done, Pinedale!?

A post shared by Altitude Drug & Wyoming Gifts (@altitudedrugandwyominggifts) on

For the first time since it began in 1974, the Wyoming Shrine Bowl all-star football game won’t be played.

The 2020 version of the game won’t be played due to risks associated with the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, a release from Wyoming Shrine Bowl executive director Frank Selby said.

“The overall well-being of our communities remains on the forefront of our minds as we weather these uncertain times,” the release said. ” … In addition to potential risks that linger as game time nears, we cannot in good conscience ask for financial support from communities as they are left reeling in economic effects associated with the outbreak.”

In the release, Selby apologized for the inability to stage the game. He said players coaches, trainers and managers — who had already been selected for the game — as well as others associated with the now-canceled game will still receive recognition.

“Our focus at this time is to ensure that the players, coaches and participants are justly recognized for their achievements and the commitment that brought us together,” the release said.

The game acts as a fundraiser for the Shriner’s Hospital for Children. The game has raised more than $450,000 since its inception, the Wyoming Shrine Bowl website said, with $30,000 raised last year.

Selby said the game will return, as the 2021 Shrine Bowl is scheduled for June 12, 2021, in Casper.

Here is the full press release.

–patrick