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

The seventh annual Six-man Shootout game, pitting the best six-man players from Wyoming and Nebraska in an interstate showdown, will be played Saturday.

The game is set for a 2 p.m. kickoff in Albion, Nebraska.

The Wyoming roster includes:

BURLINGTON: Tallon Wiles.
DUBOIS: Matt Codevilla.
FARSON: Cruz Lucero.
GUERNSEY-SUNRISE: Garret Oneyear.
HULETT: Josh Stevens.
KAYCEE: Brice Austin; Hunter Elmer; Atticus Garrett; Mark Largent; Danny Ramirez.
MEETEETSE: Braenn Smith.
MIDWEST: Kayden Best; William Chapman.
RIVERSIDE: Justen Miller.
SNAKE RIVER: J.D. Corson; Kameron Evans; Trenton Jeannerett; Tyler Jensen.
Coaches: Tony Rouse, Kaycee, head coach; Trent Aagard, Burlington; Ken Swieter, Midwest; Jason Humble, Kaycee.

The Nebraska roster includes Issac Buitron of Arthur County; Brody Davis and Garrett Egger of Cody-Kilgore; Derrick Buescher of Deshler; Caleb Werger of Elwood; Tyler Wall of Hampton; Austin Bell, Jaydan Callahan and Tycker Scherbarth of Harvard; Trystin Gielssen of Hyannis; Riley Swerczek of Riverside; Mark Thurston of Silver Lake; and Dan Carraher, Paul Diessner and Spencer Leslie of Spalding Academy. The coaches are head coach Joe Imus of Riverside and assistants Troy Kleffner of Spalding Academy, Landon Miller of Cody-Kilgore and Scott Trimble of Harvard.

The series is tied at 3-3, but Nebraska has won the last three games, including last year’s game 58-38.

–patrick

The Wyoming team will take the field today for the fifth annual Six-man Shootout against the Nebraska all-star team in Albion, Nebraska.

The game will kick off at 1 p.m. (noon MDT). A live video stream will be available here.

The Wyoming roster is as follows:

DUBOIS: Zak Rose.
FARSON: Neale Jones.
GUERNSEY-SUNRISE: Forest Foos, Jonah Girard.
HANNA: Wyatt Phillips.
HULETT: Curtis Cornett, Reece Jolley.
KAYCEE: Hayden Fauber, Rio Stafford.
MEETEETSE: Carter Johnson, A.J. Merz, Scott Sessions, Shawn Shepperson.
SNAKE RIVER: Braden Duncan, J.P. Ely, Irving Ortega.
TEN SLEEP: Quentin Fettig, J.D. Nelson.

Wyoming is coached by Meeteetse’s Matt Jensen. Meeteetse’s Dale Query, Dubois’ David Trembly and Hulett’s Boz Backen and Ryan Neiman are the assistant coaches.

Nebraska’s roster includes Michael Buitron and Ben Miles of Arthur County; Logan Schultz of Deschler; Austin Anthony, Gabe Haney and Wyatt Rowe of Hyannis; Calyn Werkmeister of Maywood/Hayes Center; Yovan Perez of Minatare; Jake Kennedy and Tanner Hudson of Riverside; Bryce Hoffmeister, Brandon Miller and Drake Shanle of St. Edward; Quentin Journey of Silver Lake; Garrett Ellis of Sioux County; Brock Leslie of Spalding Academy; Trey Brown of Walthill; and Triston Farley of Wilcox Hildreth. Nebraska’s head coach is Joe Imus of Riverside.

Wyoming is 3-1 all-time in the series. Nebraska won last year’s game 34-8.

–patrick

 

 

 

Burlington has forfeited all but one of its 11-man football games in 2015 and has added four six-man games to close out the season.

Burlington is scheduled to move to Class 1A six-man officially in 2016. The Huskies are a part of the Class 1A 11-man West Conference this season but have failed to play a single conference game due to a lack of players.

Burlington AD Mike Aagard said via email the program was down to nine players, but a few more have joined the team. He said the program is taking a “week by week” approach.

However, three of Burlington’s upcoming opponents — Cokeville (Oct. 2), Shoshoni (Oct. 16) and Rocky Mountain (Oct. 23) — have all scheduled games to take Burlington’s place. Burlington will forfeit those games.

For now, Burlington’s game with Saratoga on Oct. 9 is still scheduled, Aagard said.

The Huskies previously forfeited games to Riverside, Wyoming Indian and Wind River. The only 11-man game Burlington played this season was in Week 1, a 52-0 loss to Lusk.

The Burlington school website calendar says the Huskies have scheduled the following six-man games:

Saturday, Sept. 26 at Custer, Mont., 1 p.m. (Burlington lost this game 60-37.)
Monday, Oct. 12 at Meeteetse, 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 17 at Midwest, TBA
Saturday, Oct. 24 at Kaycee, TBA

Replacement games have been set by Cokeville, Shoshoni and Rocky Mountain.

The Cokeville school calendar indicates a game with the Evanston JV at 4 p.m. Thursday in Cokeville.

Shoshoni AD Max Mills said via email the Wranglers will host the Natrona sophomores at 6 p.m. Oct. 15.

The Rocky Mountain school calendar indicates a game with the Gillette JV at 5 p.m. Oct. 22 in Sheridan.

Meanwhile, Saratoga’s school calendar indicates a game with the Wheatland JV at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 12 in Saratoga as a potential replacement if the Burlington game falls through.

–patrick

Riverside will petition the WHSAA to play in the six-man football division of Class 1A in 2016 and 2017.

Rebels coach Sam Buck and activities director Shane Schaffner verified the decision via an email to Wyoming-football.com Thursday.

“We were looking at having 13-15 players over the next couple of years and after dealing with low numbers the last couple of years I think it’s only fair for the players,” Buck wrote. “I think safety is the top priority. Having to play younger players who are not physically ready to compete against 17-18 year olds isn’t safe. Over the next couple of years the number of young players we will have to depend on will only increase.”

Buck and Schaffner also noted that Riverside’s current problems in fulfilling its schedule played a hand in the decision. The Rebels forfeited its Week 1 game to Greybull and won last week after Burlington forfeited to Riverside.

Buck said the move may be temporary.

“While I love the 11-man game and hope Riverside will be able to get our numbers back to the numbers to field an 11-man team, we’re going to embrace the opportunity positively and work like crazy to learn the 6-man game so we can compete,” he said.

Schaffner said it was important for Riverside to maintain football at the school, as it is the only fall sports option for boys at the school.

Riverside may not be eligible for the six-man playoffs; in the enrollment numbers used by the WHSAA to determine classification for the next two seasons, Riverside is still classified as an 11-man school. Lingle, which made a similar decision last week, is in the same position with its enrollment, as well; the Doggers will be classified as an 11-man school and may not be eligible for the playoffs.

–patrick

Lingle will move to the six-man football division for the 2016 and 2017 seasons, the Torrington Telegram reported today.

Lingle coach Kevin Derby told the Casper Star-Tribune the move was necessary to keep the program afloat, as the Doggers will only have about 15 or 16 players the next few years.

Lingle last played sub-11-man football in 1990, when it won the state nine-man championship. Prior to that, the school played six-man and eight-man football through the 1950s and 1960s, last playing six-man in 1956.

–patrick

Even in 2009, we knew the 2009 season represented an important turning point for Wyoming high school football.

The introduction of six-man football created seismic changes, and not only for Wyoming’s small schools. The ripples of six-man were felt throughout the state; as six-man came, so did reclassification, which gave us the 4A round-robin schedule, the massive conferences in other classifications and the schedules we continue to see today. (Let’s not forget that 2009 was the first year of the state championship games’ move to Laramie. But that’s a conversation for another time.)

But what if the addition of six-man had been voted down by the Wyoming High School Activities Association? What if Wyoming had remained an 11-man-only state?

The hypothetical ramifications are numerous.

No Patriots: You don’t see an Upton-Sundance co-op. With the enrollment cutoffs at where they would hypothetically be in 2014, the Upton-Sundance co-op would probably be ineligible for the 2A playoffs and would have to play in Class 3A. It’s more likely with that alternative that they’d stay split — and it’s possible that one or the other, or both, could forfeit a season due to low numbers.

No seasons: Hulett, Guernsey, Midwest and Dubois could also potentially forfeit seasons; each one of those four schools has fought numbers problems the past six seasons. Hulett actually did this while still in 11-man in 2010 before moving to six-man in 2011, and Guernsey’s six-man championship run in 2009 was completed with a roster of just 11 players. Actually, Hulett and Dubois in particular might have to end up dropping the sport entirely.

No future: Ten Sleep and Meeteetse found temporary refuge in Montana, as did a couple of Idaho schools. However, when Wyoming formed its six-man league, Montana reorganized its six-man play to include only Montana teams. Whether Montana would have done the same without Wyoming’s shifts in 2009 is uncertain; either way, Meeteetse and Ten Sleep wouldn’t be playing in any Wyoming leagues right now if not for six-man’s introduction in 2009.

No teams: Snake River, Farson, Kaycee, St. Stephens, Rock River? Those five programs never see the field without six-man.

The look in 2014, minus six-man: The addition of Cheyenne South in 2011 does create some shifts, most notably bumping Riverton to 3A and Wheatland to 2A. Otherwise, most conferences remain fairly close to their 2008 statuses, with only minor juggling to adjust for enrollment changes.

With 58 football schools (instead of the 64, including 51 11-man and 13 six-man schools), all playing 11-man, the WHSAA has an easier time making a schedule that fits school needs. Of course, that assumes no schools will forfeit seasons or drop the sport….

Last, if all the shifting that happened in 2009 doesn’t happen, Wyoming might have stay with the alignments it had in 2008: with 11 schools in 5A and 4A; 12 in 3A and 2A and the rest in 1A. (Remember, in 2008, Wyoming Indian was opting down from 3A to 1A.)

Here’s what I think would be the current conferences without six-man:

Class 5A North: Gillette, Natrona, Kelly Walsh, Sheridan, Cheyenne South
Class 5A South: Rock Springs, Cheyenne East, Cheyenne Central, Laramie, Evanston, Green River
Class 4A East: Riverton, Douglas, Rawlins, Torrington, Buffalo
Class 4A West: Star Valley, Jackson, Cody, Powell, Worland, Lander
Class 3A East: Wheatland, Burns, Newcastle, Glenrock, Lovell, Greybull
Class 3A West: Pinedale, Mountain View, Lyman, Big Piney, Kemmerer, Thermopolis
Class 2A East: Wright, Moorcroft, Lusk, Pine Bluffs, Sundance, Southeast
Class 2A West: Big Horn, Tongue River, Wyoming Indian, Wind River, Rocky Mountain, Shoshoni
Class 1A East: Upton, Lingle, Guernsey, NSI, Midwest, Hulett
Class 1A West: Saratoga, Riverside, Burlington, Cokeville, Hanna, Dubois

Football survives, and thrives, in Wyoming without six-man. Football expands, and diversifies, in Wyoming with six-man.

One of those two options sounds better to me.

–patrick

Team Wyoming will play for its third consecutive victory in the Six-man Shootout when it plays Team Nebraska on Saturday.

Wyoming won last year’s game 40-26 and won the inaugural game 54-52 in 2012.

The game will be at noon (MDT) Saturday in Bladen, Nebraska.

Rosters for the game are here. Wyoming will play the game with 17 players, as Hulett’s Wyatt Bears will not play in the game.

–patrick

The rosters have been set for the third annual Six-man Shootout, the six-man all-star football game between Wyoming and Nebraska.

The game will be played at noon June 28 in Bladen, Neb. Bladen is in south-central Nebraska, about 60 miles south of Grand Island.

Wyoming has won both all-star games so far, beating Nebraska 54-52 in 2012 and 40-26 last year in Dubois.

Matt Jensen, who led Meeteetse to a state championship in November, is the Wyoming head coach. The Wyoming team features six players from state runner-up Midwest and three players each from Meeteetse and Hulett.

The rosters are as follows:

Wyoming
Dubois: Sterling Baker; Austin Tharp.
Hanna: Roy Tomkins.
Hulett: Wyatt Bears; Story Penning; Keaton Stevens.
Kaycee: Peter John Bennett.
Meeteetse: Seth Bennett; Zach Bragg; Jasper Smith.
Midwest: Andrew Engleman; Tucker Even; Kasey Guseman; Josh Lindsay; Cameron Ray; Landon Rodabaugh.
Saratoga: Ryan Malone; Tate Stinson.
Head coach: Matthew Jensen, Meeteetse.
Assistant coaches: Dale Query, Meeteetse; Kenneth Swieter, Midwest; David Trembly, Dubois.

Nebraska
Arcadia: Cameron Charles.
Arthur County: Lane Vasa.
Cody/Kilgore: Logan Fay; Taryn Ostransky.
Elkhorn Valley: Omar Lopez.
Hyannis: Joe Hebbert; Travis Hoover.
Maywood: Jacob Dibbern; Jericho Vieyra.
Minatare: Tylor Grumbles.
St. Edward: Austin Miller; Daniel Stock.
Silver Lake: Zac Petersen; Austin Woodard.
Sioux County: Phillip Parker; Connor Rodenbaugh.
Wauneta/Palisade: Wes Anderjaska; Hayden Pollman.
Head coach: Duane Arntt, Silver Lake.
Assistant coaches: Terry Bauer, Silver Lake; Barry Swisher, Sioux County; Charles Jones, Maywood.

–patrick

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