Six-man football in Wyoming has a magic number: 22.

Every six-man state champion since 2009 has given up fewer than 22 points per game. And only once has a six-man team given up fewer than 22 points per game and not won the six-man title.

Re-read that last paragraph. And then think about it.

Like Bear Bryant used to say, offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships. He was talking 11-man, but nowhere else does it ring truer than in six-man.

Over the past 10 seasons, it’s held true that to win a championship, six-man defenses HAVE to allow fewer than 22 points per game. Here’s a quick breakdown of who’s met that magic number, and by how much:
Kaycee 2017 (10-0), 10 ppg (state champ)
Snake River 2010 (10-0), 15.2 ppg (state champ)
Kaycee 2016 (11-0), 15.27 ppg (state champ)
Kaycee 2015 (10-1), 15.73 ppg (state champ)
Guernsey 2014 (11-0), 15.8 ppg (state champ)
Guernsey 2009 (9-0), 16 ppg (state champ)
Snake River 2017 (8-2), 16.8 ppg
Dubois 2012 (11-0), 19.18 ppg (state champ)
Snake River 2011 (11-0), 20.5 ppg (state champ)
Farson 2018 (11-0), 21 ppg (state champ)
Meeteetse 2013 (11-1), 21.42 ppg (state champ)

Only once we wrap our heads around that magic number can we fully understand, embrace and appreciate what’s happening with Snake River this season.

Through five games, Snake River has allowed zero points.

Zero. None. Nada. Zilch. Zip-a-dee-doo-dah. An average of 0.0 ppg.

Scores of 71-0 (sorry, Saratoga), 52-0 (bye-bye, Burlington), 62-0 (mashed Meeteetse), 53-0 (sayonara, St. Stephens) and 56-0 (ripped Riverside) have put the Rattlers on a path of not only championship proportions, but of heretofore unmatched historic defensive prowess.

At one point in Kaycee’s 2017 title season — the one that capped a 30-game winning streak and three consecutive state titles while putting the Buckaroos on top of that six-man defensive list at 10 points per game — the Buckaroos notched four consecutive shutouts.

I thought we may never see that in six-man again. Yet here we are, and Snake River’s got five shutouts in its first five games.

Five consecutive shutouts is unprecedented in Wyoming’s six-man records. The closest such six-man stretch I can find, beyond Kaycee’s 2017 season, came with Byron’s six-man team in 1939, which went 5-0 and never gave up a point; the caveat is that I can’t find results for two of Byron’s games that season.

(By the way, the all-time state record for consecutive shutouts, regardless of classification, is nine. Three programs share that record. Rock Springs did that in the 1940 and 1941 seasons, including eight straight shutouts to close out its 1940 championship season; Sheridan did that in 1916-19, including a 1917 season in which they outscored opponents 300-0; and Ten Sleep had nine straight shutouts from 1935-36.)

All that said, it makes sense that Snake River is the top-ranked team in six-man.

The Rattlers’ biggest challenge to date comes Friday, when second-ranked and defending state champion Farson brings its tied-for-state-best 16-game winning streak to Baggs.

Farson has to feel overshadowed by Snake River’s success this year. How many defending state champs start a season with five consecutive victories, string together a 16-game winning streak — and, oh by the way, give up a championship-pace 13.4 points per game — and STILL can’t crack the top spot in the rankings?

Well… when the team ranked higher is on some kind of crazy record-breaking shutout streak, there’s not much Farson can do.

Except score.

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A ton of rivalries dot the schedule in Week 6, but that’s not all that’s important. After all, the Oil Bowl (Natrona-Kelly Walsh) and the Energy Bowl (Sheridan-Gillette) are both this week. Bold prediction: Neither will be all that competitive by the fourth quarter. But some other games might be….

Like Central-East in what we used to call the Capital Bowl. With South’s struggles, maybe we still can. To be honest, I thought Central was a year away from being a true competitor in 4A. Yet the Indians are 4-2 and have won four in a row. That kind of momentum builds confidence and turns a team with potential into a team with power. East is the favorite, but Central might be closer to turning the tide in this series than anyone outside their locker room thought possible in August. …

In Week 5, Worland finally showed that spark I thought the Warriors would have all season in defeating Rawlins. After an 0-4 start, it would be easy to write off Worland’s hopes. But if the Warriors can surprise Douglas at home this week — and based on last week’s performance, they very well could — they might be a surprise second-half team, and beyond. …

Jackson’s mad. And Star Valley is in the Broncs’ way. Although the Braves have the edge in this one, if you think Jackson won’t be playing like its hair’s on fire, you’ve got another thing coming. …

The Bridger Valley Bowl between Mountain View and Lyman is this week. As I’ve said before, I wholly underestimated Lyman this season. But I haven’t overestimated Mountain View… the Buffalos have been everything that everyone thought they might be this season. I’m curious to see how much of a fight the underdog Eagles might give them in a rivalry showdown. Speaking of underestimating teams….

I don’t mind admitting that the team I was most wrong about this year was Southeast. The Cyclones have won four in a row and are tied for first in the 1A 11-man East. Are they for-real championship threats? Well, they host Upton-Sundance this week. Let’s talk after that game. …

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Here are the Week 6 picks. Bold is for teams I think will win, and I use it carefully, because ink is expensive:

Thursday
Interclass

Wyoming Indian at Cody JV
Friday
Class 4A

Cheyenne Central at Cheyenne East
Kelly Walsh at Natrona
Laramie at Cheyenne South
Sheridan at Gillette
Thunder Basin at Rock Springs
Class 3A
Douglas at Worland
Evanston at Green River
Jackson at Star Valley
Lander at Rawlins
Powell at Cody
Torrington at Riverton
Class 2A
Greybull at Lovell
Kemmerer at Glenrock
Mountain View at Lyman
Newcastle at Thermopolis
Pinedale at Big Piney
Wheatland at Buffalo
Class 1A 11-man
Lusk at Wright
Cokeville at Rocky Mountain
Tongue River at Big Horn
Upton-Sundance at Southeast
Wind River at Shoshoni
Class 1A six-man
Kaycee at Lingle
Meeteetse at Riverside
Interclass
Burns at Pine Bluffs
Saturday
Class 1A six-man

Farson at Snake River
NSI at Hulett
St. Stephens at Dubois
Saratoga at Hanna
Interclass
Gillette sophs at Moorcroft
Natrona frosh at Encampment
Open: Burlington. Guernsey has already defeated Midwest this week via forfeit.

For a full schedule including kickoff times, as well as results from past weeks, go here. Click on “Week 6” 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: 30-2 (94 percent). This season: 141-39 (78 percent). 

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What’s your favorite Wyoming high school football rivalry? Leave a comment here, or hit me up on the Facebook page or on Twitter.

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–patrick

Midwest will forfeit the final four games of its football schedule for 2019, as low numbers forced the Oilers to end their season early.

A statement from the school on Facebook said the following:

Midwest will finish the season 1-7. Midwest beat NSI for its only victory of the season.

The Oilers had forfeited last week’s game with Lingle and were scheduled to play Guernsey this week. Games against Hulett and Saratoga were also upcoming.

–patrick

Ten Sleep will not field a football team for the second consecutive year.

The Pioneers’ 2019 six-man season was canceled this week, Ten Sleep AD Sarah Novak said Thursday via email to wyoming-football.com.

The season schedule on the Ten Sleep school page also noted the cancellation and also said the school’s middle school season had been canceled, too.

Novak said Ten Sleep had seven players come out for the high school team — two freshmen, three sophomores, one junior and one senior. However, the two oldest players suffered injuries, one a season-ending injury and the other significant enough to put the season in question.

“We were planning on playing, but (with) the injury bug it just will not work,” Novak wrote.

Last year’s season was also canceled, as the Pioneers only had four players who showed interest in joining the 2018 team.

Lusk native Taylen Arnett had been named the new head coach for the 2019 season.

–patrick

Three players from Wyoming will be a part of the 2019 Can-Am Bowl, a six-man all-star game.

Farson’s Clancy Gines and Lain Mitchelson and Meeteetse’s Kirwin Johnson will be a part of Team USA, Farson coach Trip Applequist said via email on Friday.

The game takes place every July in Saskatchewan. A six-man all-star team from the United States faces a six-man all-star team of players from Saskatchewan and Alberta. Full rosters are not yet available.

The game will be July 6 in Wakaw, Saskatchewan.

This will be the 23rd Can-Am Bowl. Team USA has an 18-4 series edge and won last year’s game 68-30. Wyoming players began playing in the Can-Am Bowl in 2014.

Applequist and Farson’s Scott Reed will be among the coaches for the team.

The Team USA provided by Applequist includes:

Montana: Cobe Begger, Caleb Fix, Joey Hale, Bill Hansen, Caleb Hess, Seth Prevost, Bryce Reitz, Jake Solomon, Zane Somerfeld, JR Spenser, Sawyer Thiel, Tyler Thiessen, AJ Ullmer, Colby Zentner.
Nebraska: AJ Jenkins.
Texas: Trisdon Bynum, Toby Cran, Bastion Pickens, Corbin Ruthehardt, Corbin Schrotke, Jake Weiser.
Wyoming: Clancy Gines, Kirwin Johnson, Lain Mitchelson.

–patrick

Updated 8:40 a.m. Saturday, June 29, to include the Team USA roster.

Team Wyoming‘s 45-yard pass on the final play of the game gave the Equality State a 52-50 victory against Team Nebraska in the eighth annual Six-man Shootout on Saturday in Chadron, Nebraska.

The final play saw Farson’s Lain Mitchelson toss a 45-yard bomb to Burlington’s Dontae Garza, with Garza finding the short corner of the end zone as time expired.

Wyoming led 40-20 in the fourth quarter, but Nebraska rallied and took a 50-46 lead with less than 20 seconds to go.

Wyoming leads the all-time series 5-3.

Full stats for the game are not yet available. This post will be updated when and if full stats become available.

–patrick

The eighth edition of the Wyoming-Nebraska Six-man Shootout all-star football game will be Saturday in Chadron, Nebraska.

Kickoff will be at 6 p.m. on the campus of Chadron State College. The game will be at Chadron this year and for subsequent years after alternating between Wyoming and Nebraska for the first seven years of the game’s iteration.

Wyoming leads the all-time series 4-3, including winning last year’s game 16-14.

Team Wyoming will be led by six members of the state championship team from Farson; that quintet includes Lain Mitchelson, who ran for 1,885 yards and 28 touchdowns, and Clancy Gines, who ran for 1,388 yards and 29 scores. Mitchelson was six-man’s offensive player of the year, while Gines was the defensive player of the year.

The Wyoming squad also includes Guernsey’s Dylan Rose, who led six-man with 2,121 rushing yards and 35 TDs a year ago.

Wyoming’s squad had some late changes as Kaycee coach Tony Rouse and player Hunter Rouse had to withdraw to the game due to another commitment. Farson’s Michael Gribowskas will fill that roster spot, while St. Stephens coach Billy Brost will step in as an assistant coach.

Burlington’s Dontae Garza will not play due to injury but will join the team as a student coach.

Nebraska’s team will include three players who cracked 2,000 yards rushing — A.J. Jenkins of Wilcox-Hildreth, Trent Reed of Hay Springs and Christian Timm of Eustis-Farnam. Jenkins was named the six-man offensive player of the year in Nebraska last year. The team also includes Nebraska’s six-man defensive player of the year, Colton Leslie of Spalding Academy.

Players will arrive in Chadron on Wednesday to prepare for the game and will stay in the CSC dorms. Rosters for the game are:

WYOMING
BURLINGTON: Jacob Cook.
FARSON: Cortland Barker, Clancy Gines, Michael Gribowskas, Hagan Jones, Lain Mitchelson, Cody Sloan.
GUERNSEY: Austin Albrecht, Dylan Rose.
HANNA: Tylor Goodro.
HULETT: Ethan Dykes.
MEETEETSE: Nick Anderson, Kirwin Johnson.
MIDWEST: Kaleb Smith.
ST. STEPHENS: Vincent Brown, Roberto Hernandez.
SNAKE RIVER: Thomas Duncan.
Coaches: Trip Applequist, Farson, head coach; Curtis Cook, Guernsey; Scott Reed, Farson; Billy Brost, St. Stephens.

NEBRASKA
ARTHUR COUNTY
: Kutter Rogers.
CODY-KILGORE: Brye Szakas.
DESHLER: Peyton Dubbert, Hutch Finke.
EUSTIS FARNAM: Jordan Fangmeyer, Christian Timm.
HARVARD: Hunter Wilkerson.
HAY SPRINGS: Jarret Pieper, Trent Reed.
HUMPHREY LINDSAY HOLY FAMILY: Dylan Hanzel.
HYANNIS: Zane Musgrave.
MCCOOL JUNCTION: Jaden Gonnerman.
ST. EDWARD: Trevor Rasmussen.
SPALDING ACADEMY: Mathew Bloom, Colton Leslie.
WILCOX-HILDRETH: Sidney Gruwell, A.J. Jenkins, Clayton Nichols.

Thanks to coach Applequist for providing rosters and details on the game in advance.

–patrick

The Wyoming rosters have been set for the 2019 Wyoming-Nebraska Six-man Shootout all-star football game, which will be played June 15 in Chadron, Neb.

The game has moved to Chadron permanently after rotating between various locations in Wyoming and Nebraska the past seven years, a press release sent out by team Wyoming head coach Trip Applequist of Farson. The game will be on the campus of Chadron State College.

Wyoming leads the all-time series 4-3.

Coaches for the Wyoming team include head coach Applequist and assistants Curtis Cook (Guernsey), Scott Reed (Farson) and Tony Rouse (Kaycee).

The roster for team Wyoming includes:

BURLINGTON: Jacob Cook, Dontae Garza.
FARSON: Cortland Barker, Clancy Gines, Michael Gribowskas, Hagan Jones, Lain Mitchelson, Cody Sloan.
GUERNSEY: Austin Albrecht, Dylan Rose.
HANNA: Tylor Goodro.
HULETT: Ethan Dykes.
KAYCEE: Hunter Rouse.
MEETEETSE: Nick Anderson, Kirwin Johnson.
MIDWEST: Kaleb Smith.
ST. STEPHENS: Vincent Brown.
SNAKE RIVER: Thomas Duncan.

Applequist said he was not sure when the Nebraska roster would be released.

–patrick

Rock River will not complete its 2018 football season.

The Casper Star-Tribune reported Tuesday that the Longhorns were hit by injuries, leaving the six-man football team unable to fill every spot on the field.

Rock River opened the season by playing scrimmages against Saratoga and the Natrona JV. The Longhorns had previously forfeited their Week 2 game against Kaycee.

This is the second consecutive season in which Rock River has started a season but failed to play a game.

Rock River is the second six-man team to fail to complete its season; Ten Sleep canceled its 2018 season before practice started.

Also Tuesday, Rocky Mountain announced it was forfeiting its Week 3 game against Newcastle.

–patrick

Due to declining participation numbers, Ten Sleep will not field a high school football team this fall.

Ten Sleep activities director Sarah Novak said Wednesday to wyoming-football.com that the Pioneers wouldn’t have enough players to field a team to play in the Class 1A six-man West Conference. Only four solid commitments came in over the summer and only about five students had expressed any interest in playing this fall.

Novak said school administrators made the decision Tuesday night.

“In talking with our administration, we have kind of struggled… with participation numbers over the last two or three years,” she said. “We’ve had to forfeit games or quit at halftime and we’re just not having a positive experience right now.

” … We can’t continue to play with six kids, and this year I’m not even sure we’d have six.”

Ten Sleep has gone a combined 4-26 the past four seasons, winning one game each year since 2014. The program has had three different head coaches in that span.

Ten Sleep’s middle school program will run as usual this year. Novak said she had double-digit participation numbers for that program, which incorporates grades 5-8.

Novak, who also coaches girls basketball, has seen similar problems with low participation in that sport, as well.

“You hate to give up a program because sometimes it’s hard to get it back,” she said.

Novak said the Pioneers who want to continue to play football can do so by joining the program at Worland.

“We’re sad about not having our program, but we’re pleased to have an alternative for those young men,” Novak said.

–patrick

 

Saratoga will not play its varsity 11-man football schedule in 2018.

Saratoga activities director Greg Bartlett said Wednesday the program only expected 10 to 12 players to come out this fall, not enough for pursuing a full 11-man season.

With low participation, Bartlett said, “it’s tough to keep a season together.”

Instead, the Panthers will pursue a six-man sub-varsity schedule this season, scheduling as many games as possible against nearby junior varsity squads. Bartlett said he’s already got one game scheduled but would prefer five or six games. He said the team’s schedule should be mostly in place by the end of next week, but some games may be added later depending on how the schedule comes together.

Bartlett said the move is likely temporary.

“In about two to three years, we have some elementary boys coming into the middle school where there might be 20 boys per class,” Bartlett said.

The Panthers play in the Class 1A 11-man West Conference. The program also draws players from nearby Encampment.

Bartlett said about three seniors, a couple juniors, about four sophomores and three freshmen showed interest in playing this fall. He said more may join when the season starts, but the decision to forgo the varsity season had to be made based on the numbers of committed players, not on the number of maybes.

Logan Wright, who previously coached in Rock River and taught in Laramie, will be the Panthers’ new head coach this fall. Wright will also teach PE in Saratoga.

Wright previously was a six-man assistant at Rock River, as part of the middle-school program in 2013 and the high school in 2014 and 2015.

“I’m certainly going into it looking at like were a varsity team and we’re going to put our best foot forward every day,” Wright said via telephone on Wednesday. “Whether the games count or not doesn’t matter to me.”

Saratoga played in the Class 1A six-man East Conference for one season, in 2013. Otherwise, the Panthers have fielded a varsity 11-man program every year since moving up after a two-year stint of nine-man football in 1991. The program has played a varsity schedule every season since 1955.

–patrick

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