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…
… 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.
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.
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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
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.
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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