You know what we’re here for — a breakdown of this week’s title games. So why put that off any longer?

Class 2A, noon Friday
Mountain View (1W, 10-0) vs. Buffalo Bison (1E, 10-0)
Series record: Buffalo leads 4-3.
Last meeting/last playoff meeting: Buffalo beat Mountain View 43-18 in the Class 2A championship on Nov. 10 in Laramie.
State championships: Mountain View five, most recently in 2017. … Buffalo six, most recently in 2018.
Previous title game record: Mountain View, 5-7. … Buffalo, 6-10.
The path to Laramie: Mountain View whitewashed Wheatland 72-0 in the quarterfinals before thumping Burns 56-12 in the semifinals. … Buffalo fought past Lovell 28-6 in the first round and outlasted Thermopolis 45-22 in the semifinals.
The case for the Buffalos: My goodness, Mountain View has been on a tear this season. The Buffs haven’t been in a single close game this year and have outscored opponents more than tenfold, 525-37. Their diverse offense can beat you in a thousand different ways; their defense allows fewer than 100 yards per game. For a senior class who knows its way around War Memorial (in its third consecutive title game) and knows its way to victory, a championship makes a lot of sense.
The case for the Bison: Knock, knock. Hi. Buffalo is the defending 2A champs. The Bison have won 20 games in a row. Rowen Ruby has been all but unstoppable at running back with 1,699 yards. The defense has bent a bit but hasn’t broken. And when they’ve been pushed, as they were both early in the season and in the playoffs, the Bison pushed back — and kept on winning.
The pick: Last year’s game ended up being great for Buffalo, not so great for Mountain View. If nothing else, this game should be a better game — but the Buffalos have shown all season they’re ready for a different result. … Mountain View 34, Buffalo 28.

Class 3A, 3 p.m. Friday
Powell Panthers (4W, 7-4) vs. Star Valley Braves (1W, 11-0)
Series record: Star Valley leads 29-13.
Last meeting: Star Valley beat Powell 36-0 on Oct. 4 in Afton.
Last playoff meeting: Star Valley beat Powell 28-10 on Nov. 11, 2016, in the 3A championship game.
State championships: Powell eight, most recently in 2013. … Star Valley 11, most recently in 2018.
Previous title game record: Powell, 6-3. … Star Valley, 10-10.
The path to Laramie: Powell won a pair of road games, beating Lander 41-14 in the first round and Park County rival Cody 20-13 in the semifinals. … Star Valley won a pair of games at home, topping Douglas 45-12 in the first round before beating Jackson 42-21 in the semis.
The case for the Panthers: In short, #ethanstrong. To be honest, Powell’s 5-4 regular season was nice but easily forgettable. But the Panthers have gone to another level in the playoffs. Attribute that to any number of reasons, sure, but the emotion of playing for someone who can’t has to be in the back of the mind not only of everyone in uniform, but everyone on Powell’s side of the field.
The case for the Braves: Star Valley has the favorite to win the 2019 3A title since about halfway through the 2018 season. Deep, talented, experienced… what more could you want? The Braves lead 3A in yardage defense and scoring defense; they control the pace of the game; they get stronger, not weaker, as games move along. Even with plenty of individual talent, it’s the Braves’ team chemistry that really sets them apart.
The pick: The emotional pick is for Powell to complete its incredible run. The logical pick is for Star Valley to complete its incredible run. Either way, whoever wins this game will absolutely, positively deserve it after a season that’s been memorable for divergent reasons, leading to the same concluding point. … Star Valley 35, Powell 20.

Class 1A six-man, 10 a.m. Saturday
Hanna Miners (1E, 10-0) vs. Snake River Rattlers (1W, 9-0)
Series record: Snake River leads 8-7.
Last meeting/last playoff meeting: Snake River beat Hanna 75-13 on Oct. 27, 2017, in a 1A six-man quarterfinal game in Hanna.
State championships: Hanna three, most recently in 1989. … Snake River two, most recently in 2011.
Previous title game record: Hanna, 3-3. … Snake River, 2-1.
The path to Laramie: Hanna’s offense took care of business in the playoffs, rolling up big numbers in beating Meeteetse 73-36 in the first round and Lingle 92-58 in the semifinals. … Snake River shut down Kaycee 59-0 in the quarterfinals and did the same to Hulett 61-0 in the semis.
The case for the Miners: The offense is diverse and can score seemingly at will. With 34 points in the title game, Hanna will set the record for highest scoring offense in state history, topping Farson’s 71.82 ppg from last season. Senior twins Conor McGraw and Shane McGraw are both over 1,000 rushing yards for the season, and Shane McGraw has thrown for more than 1,000, too. The defense hasn’t always been perfect, but, hey, 10-0 is 10-0.
The case for the Rattlers: Nine games. Zero points allowed. That’s what Snake River’s defense has done this year. That record-setting pace is unheard of, but at six-man? That’s just banana pants crazy. And the offense? Super efficient, with Riggen Myers consistently breaking defenders’ hearts, and ankles.
The pick: Yes, everyone will look at the Miners’ offense vs. the Rattlers’ defense, and that might be the most fun matchup to watch this weekend. But this game may be decided by the Rattlers’ offense vs. the Miners’ defense, and that’s where Snake River has the edge. … Snake River 50, Hanna 38.

Class 1A 11-man, 1 p.m. Saturday
Cokeville Panthers (1W, 10-1) vs. Big Horn Rams (1E, 10-0)
Series record: Series tied 3-3.
Last meeting/last playoff meeting: Big Horn beat Cokeville 56-3 on Nov. 10, 2018, in the 1A 11-man championship in Laramie.
State championships: Cokeville 22, most recently in 2014. … Big Horn six, most recently in 2018.
Previous title game record: Cokeville, 21-7. … Big Horn, 6-10.
The path to Laramie: Cokeville held off Wright 20-16 in the first round and held strong to beat Upton-Sundance 16-7 in the semifinals. … Big Horn rolled through Wind River 82-0 in the first round and beat Southeast 48-7 in the semifinals, both at home.
The case for the Panthers: I’ve heard rumors that UW will install a third locker room at War Memorial — one for home teams, one for visiting teams, and one for Cokeville. Because the Panthers have made trips to title games a habit over the past four decades. Who else but Cokeville would you expect in this game? Even with a team that started inexperienced, decimated by graduation, Todd Dayton and the Panthers have lost only to 2A Mountain View and blown out almost everyone else behind a surprisingly diverse offense and a defense that can stand up to pretty much anyone.
The case for the Rams: Where to start? Big Horn racks up more yards and more points than anyone in 1A 11-man, and it’s not even close. The Rams also allow fewer yards than anyone in 1A 11-man. Can’t get much better than that. Oh, and they beat Cokeville in last year’s championship by 53 freakin’ points — one of 21 consecutive victories, Big Horn’s longest in program history and the longest active winning streak in the state.
The pick: No one’s winning this by 53. But Big Horn is still the favorite, and Cokeville will need to play not just flawless to win — the Panthers will have to create opportunities they didn’t even know existed. The Rams won’t allow that. … Big Horn 38, Cokeville 21.

Class 4A, 4 p.m. Saturday
Sheridan Broncs (2, 10-1) vs. Thunder Basin ‘Bolts (1, 11-0)
Series record: Series tied 2-2.
Last meeting: Thunder Basin beat Sheridan 37-30 on Sept. 20 in Gillette.
Last playoff meeting: Sheridan beat Thunder Basin 14-7 on Nov. 2, 2018, in a 4A semifinal in Gillette.
State championships: Sheridan 26, most recently in 2017. … Thunder Basin zero.
Previous title game record: Sheridan, 16-7. … Thunder Basin, 0-0.
The path to Laramie: Sheridan put up a pair of 62s, beating Kelly Walsh 62-14 in the quarterfinals and Cheyenne Central 62-35 in the semifinals. … Thunder Basin played in a pair of tight games, beating crosstown rival Gillette 24-20 in the quarterfinals before topping Cheyenne East 27-21 in the semifinals.
The case for the Broncs: This is familiar territory for Sheridan. Since the title games moved to Laramie in 2009, the Broncs have won five championships and finished as runners-up twice, and this is their fifth title game appearance in a row. Led by Garrett Coon, their rushing game is strong; the rush defense, though, could be even stronger — and that sets up well for success in mid-November.
The case for the ‘Bolts: To be honest, a lot of the ‘Bolts’ success may ride on Mason Hamilton’s shoulders — er, shoulder, which he injured in last week’s semifinals. With him in the first half, Thunder Basin scored 27 points; without him in the second half, zero. If he can go, watch out. If he can’t, the ‘Bolts will need to rely on its defense (tops in 4A in yards allowed, by the way) to complete an undefeated season and win the program’s first 4A title.
The pick: The last game of the weekend should be the closest of the weekend. Both teams have defenses upon which they can rely. And both have offenses capable of controlling the clock AND striking for fast scores. I really like how Sheridan is looking right now, though, and as the underdogs, they have a little less pressure on them. … Sheridan 28, Thunder Basin 27.

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

Last week: 8-2 (80 percent). This season: 245-57 (81 percent). 

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Which five teams do YOU see leaving Laramie with championship trophies? 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

It’s rivalry week in Class 3A this week.

It’s also the semifinal round of the playoffs.

In a weird twist, two of 3A’s biggest rivalries, Cody/Powell and Star Valley/Jackson, will be staged on the doorstep of a state championship game berth.

With the West sweeping the East out of the 3A playoffs with scores of 55-26, 48-6, 41-14 and 45-12, the bracket distilled down to a renewal of the Bighorn Brawl in the battle for Park County supremacy between Cody and Powell and a restaging of the Fall Brawl between western edge rivals Jackson and Star Valley.

The West’s control of 3A is nothing new — it’s been the norm for almost the entire decade.

In 2012, the West swept the East, albeit by smaller margins as two of the four games that year were one-possession games. And in 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2013, three West teams reached the semis. The only year left out of that conflagration is 2014, when the only West team to reach the semis (Cody) ended up winning the 3A title. Moreover, the past eight 3A state champs have all been West teams.

Well, make it nine, because a West team will win 3A again this year.

The question now is which one.

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I’ve made some picks, with the team I think will win in bold. However, as you can see, I’ve only picked one road team to win, which is kind of boring:

Friday
Class 4A
(4) Cheyenne East at (1) Thunder Basin: The ‘Bolts are undefeated but aren’t unbeatable. Last week showed that. A 31-30 game with East in Week 2 showed that. And it’ll take a heck of an effort from Thunder Basin to hold off a confident Thunderbird crew. (First playoff meeting.)
(3) Cheyenne Central at (2) Sheridan: Man, it seems like a LONG time ago that Sheridan beat Central 28-14. That’s because that game was in Week 1. Since then, the Broncs have been consistent but the Indians have been streaky. I like consistency, but I fear streakiness. (First playoff meeting since 2017 4A quarterfinals.)
Class 3A
(3W) Jackson at (1W) Star Valley: Don’t forget, the last time these two teams met, it was a one-score game at halftime before the Braves ran away with it in the second half. If the Broncs can put together a complete game, they can absolutely win in Afton. If. (First playoff meeting since 1990 3A quarterfinals.)
(4W) Powell at (2W) Cody: The Broncs controlled the first meeting between these teams from start to finish and won 38-14. But rivalries have a weird way of manifesting weird results when they’re staged in the playoffs. (First playoff meeting since 2013 3A semifinals.)
Class 2A
(3E) Thermopolis at (1E) Buffalo: The Bison had to rally late last week to stay unbeaten. And the Bobcats hung with the Bison in their first game before falling 28-14. Buffalo’s the favorite, but Thermop is a capable spoiler. (First playoff meeting since 2003 4A semifinals.)
(2E) Burns at (1W) Mountain View: Both teams had easy first-round victories. Despite how good and confident the Broncs might be, the Buffalos still enter as big favorites. (First playoff meeting.)
Class 1A 11-man
(3E) Southeast at (1E) Big Horn: Big Horn won the first matchup two weeks ago 49-7 in Yoder. The Cyclones might keep it closer this time around, but the Rams are in great position to move back into the title game. (First playoff meeting since 2001 2A semifinals.)
(2E) Upton-Sundance at (1W) Cokeville: Cokeville won this game last year. But that was last year, and the Patriots are looking stronger than they’ve looked in a while. Incidentally, I’m looking forward to seeing this game again in the 2A semifinals next year. (Rematch of a 2018 1A 11-man semifinal.)
Class 1A six-man
(3E) Lingle at (1E) Hanna: I know Snake River’s defense gets the attention, but how about Hanna’s offense? The Miners are averaging 73.9 points per game, which if they can keep up that pace would be an all-time state record for scoring proficiency. With a 69-24 victory against the Doggers already logged this season, Hanna’s the easy favorite in this one. (First playoff meeting since 1991 1A quarterfinals.)
Saturday
Class 1A six-man
(2E) Hulett at (1W) Snake River: The Rattlers are the favorites to win, yes. But the Red Devils’ solid performance against Farson last week has me thinking they might be the team to break Snake’s season-long shutout streak. (First playoff meeting since 2012 1A six-man quarterfinals.)

For a full schedule including kickoff times, as well as results from past weeks, go here. Click on “Semifinals” 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: 17-3 (85 percent). This season: 237-55 (81 percent). 

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Which road team do you think is most likely to win this week? 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

Let’s face it: Last year’s opening round of the playoffs was a pretty big, boring dud.

Only two out of 20 games statewide in last year’s opening round were decided by a possession or less — Cody’s 29-26 victory against Douglas and Wheatland’s 21-14 victory against Greybull. Meanwhile, eight games reached running-clock status, including all four first-round games in 1A 11-man.

Although the 2019 quarterfinals probably won’t be running clock-free, they certainly present more possibilities for close games than last year.

Finally, we have some intrigue in the first round of the playoffs.

Class 4A has a pair of intriguing games, with Natrona and East reprising a game that went Natrona won in double overtime in Week 4 and with Rock Springs and Central meeting in a game that finished 36-29 Indians in Week 2. Central is hosting a playoff game for the first time since 2009, and the Indians’ meeting with Rock Springs assures us that it won’t be the Big Four of East, Natrona, Thunder Basin and Sheridan dominating the semis again — and that’s a nice breath of fresh air for Wyoming’s big schools.

Class 3A’s most interesting first-round game matches up East Conference champ Lander, winners of six in a row, against Powell, the team that gave Lander its last, and only, loss of the season. The Panthers won 17-7 in Week 2, in Lander, and has to duplicate that feat to keep its season going — a tough task against a confident Tiger team.

In 2A, the 2-3 games are more or less toss-ups. Rising Lyman hosts a solid Thermopolis team, while Big Piney travels to Burns to play the Broncs for the first meeting between the programs. Both games provide ample opportunities for final-possession magic, because all four teams have shown potential.

Likewise in Class 1A six-man, the 2-3 games (Farson at Hulett, Lingle at Burlington) could go either way. Last year, the West swept the East in the first round, but the East has been improved this year. And with Hanna at 8-0 and Hulett at 7-1, the East has some teams thinking more than just escaping the first round — they’re thinking title.

That leaves us with… oh yeah, Class 1A 11-man, where intrigue is as rare as steak tartare.

Three of the four first-round matchups are rematches of last year’s blowouts (Wind River/Big Horn, Wright/Cokeville, Rocky Mountain/Upton-Sundance). Southeast’s venture to Shoshoni is the only thing new on the playoff schedule, but even that’s not rare — they’ve already met in the quarterfinals in 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2016. The East is the better conference, again; Cokeville is the lone exception, again; of the four teams favored to win on Friday, three are headed to 2A next year…

At least in four of the five classes, some intrigue, some unpredictability, is a nice change this year. I’d love more of it. The last couple years have been pretty predictable in the first round:

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If you’re new to the site, I predict who’s going to win every game by bolding the team I think will have more points at the end. See above; I’m pretty good at this in the quarterfinals. That said, see above; I’m ready to be surprised.

Class 4A
(8) Gillette at (1) Thunder Basin: The Camels aren’t “back,” but a playoff berth is a nice step forward for the program. Thunder Basin has bigger goals. (First playoff meeting.)
(5) Natrona at (4) Cheyenne East: The first meeting this season between these two programs was an all-timer, with Natrona winning in extra time; this one should be, too, and I think the T-Birds are ready for a bit of revenge. (Rematch of a 2018 4A semifinal.)
(7) Kelly Walsh at (2) Sheridan: The Broncs showed last week just how ready they are for a deep playoff run. Playing at Homer Scott Field helps the Broncs’ cause, too. (First playoff meeting since 2017 4A semifinals.)
(6) Rock Springs at (3) Cheyenne Central: I love this matchup. Both programs are eager to prove they belong in 4A’s upper echelon. A victory here might cement that spot for awhile to come, too. (First playoff meeting since 2007 5A quarterfinals.)
Class 3A
(4E) Douglas at (1W) Star Valley: The Braves have been scary efficient all season long. At home, expect more of the same. (First playoff meeting since 2016 3A semifinals.)
(3W) Jackson at (2E) Riverton: Riverton has been a different team since conference play started and will give Jackson a tussle in the first round. But the Broncs are still the favorites here. (First playoff meeting since 2015 3A quarterfinals.)
(4W) Powell at (1E) Lander: I love, love, love this matchup. And even though Powell beat Lander in Week 2, I think Lander’s made some big improvements since then. (First playoff meeting since 2016 3A quarterfinals.)
(3E) Worland at (2W) Cody: This one might be closer than you think. Worland is better than its 3-5 record — and its 28-14 loss to Cody in Week 2 — might imply. Still, look for Cody to move on to the semis. (First playoff meeting.)
Class 2A
(4W) Lovell at (1E) Buffalo: It’s been fun to watch Lovell’s resurgence, and if Buffalo isn’t careful, the Bulldogs could be more challenging than anticipated. The Bison will likely anticipate it, though. (First playoff meeting since 1991 2A semifinals.)
(3E) Thermopolis at (2W) Lyman: I’m torn on this one. Both these programs have legit reasons to feel overlooked, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Eagles sneak out a victory in this one. However, the Bobcats have played more good teams tough. (First playoff meeting since 2010 2A quarterfinals.)
(4E) Wheatland at (1W) Mountain View: The Buffalos have outscored their opponents 397-25 this season. Wheatland’s given up more than 25 points in six of its eight games. (First playoff meeting since 2017 2A semifinals.)
(3W) Big Piney at (2E) Burns: This game REALLY intrigues me, mostly because I love it when programs meet for the first time. Burns by a hair. (First playoff meeting, obviously.)
Class 1A 11-man
(4W) Wind River at (1E) Big Horn: Oh no. With the 8-0 and rolling Rams facing the 1-7 and outscored-160-to-6-in-their-past-three-games Cougars, this one could get ugly fast. (Rematch of a 2018 1A 11-man quarterfinal.)
(3E) Southeast at (2W) Shoshoni: After last year’s aberration, Southeast is back to being Southeast again. Even on the road, the Cyclones are the favorites in this one. (First playoff meeting since 2016 1A 11-man quarterfinals.)
(4E) Wright at (1W) Cokeville: Wright’s gonna put up a fight, but Cokeville is really tough to beat at home in the first round of the playoffs: 25-1 since 1991. (Rematch of a 2018 1A 11-man quarterfinal.)
(3W) Rocky Mountain at (2E) Upton-Sundance: These two teams have met in the first round in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018. The Patriots are 4-0 in those games. Unless the Griz’s young players grow up really fast, make it 5-0. (Rematch of a 2018 1A 11-man quarterfinal.)
Class 1A six-man
(4E) Kaycee at (1W) Snake River: Sorry, Buckaroos. The question isn’t who will win. The question is if Kaycee will even score a point. (Rematch of a 2018 1A six-man quarterfinal.)
(3W) Farson at (2E) Hulett: I desperately want to pick the Red Devils in this one, and don’t be surprised if they prove me wrong against the defending champs. This might be the best game of the week. (Rematch of a 2018 1A six-man quarterfinal.)
(4W) Meeteetse at (1E) Hanna: No one is more aware than Hanna of how easily a promising season can end abruptly. The Miners will be focused. (First playoff meeting since 1989 1A semifinals.)
(3E) Lingle at (2W) Burlington: Victories the past two weeks against Farson and Riverside help show just how improved the Huskies are since their 1-3 start. (First playoff meeting.)

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: 25-4 (86 percent). This season: 220-52 (81 percent). 

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Which first-round playoff game is the most intriguing to you? 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

In all, 19 of the 30 games on the schedule this week have an effect on playoff seeding.

Of Wyoming’s five football classifications, though, only one class has a schedule where every game matters to playoff seeding — Class 4A.

Like usual, Class 4A has two distinct strata: the top teams, and the not-so-top teams. But one game, Central’s 32-19 victory against Natrona last week, suddenly increased the ranks of the top tier by one — and Rock Springs is right there, too, being consistently competitive against top teams.

When we look at this week’s 4A schedule, that’s the dividing line. The top tier teams are trying to figure out seeds one through six, while the not-so-top tier is trying to figure out the last two teams in.

There are 32 different scenarios with these games — leading to a ton of potentially different playoff brackets. The only thing certain is that Thunder Basin will be the top seed.

After that? Chaos, but neatly aligned chaos split directly between seeds Nos. 6 and 7.

Sheridan could be seed 2 or 3; Cheyenne East could finish anywhere from 2 to 5; Cheyenne Central could finish third, fourth or fifth; Natrona could be third, sixth or anywhere in between; Rock Springs will be on the road in the first round but could be either fifth or sixth.

Games between Cheyenne East and Sheridan and between Natrona and Rock Springs will help sort the top tier.

Then we get our straddle games: Cheyenne Central facing Cheyenne South and Thunder Basin facing Laramie.

Most likely, Central and Thunder Basin win those games. But if they don’t, that’s when the scenarios on the bottom tier get, um, weird.

If Kelly Walsh beats Gillette and South and Laramie simultaneously pull two of the biggest upsets in 4A history, then we’ll finish with a four-way tie for the final two playoff spots.

The anarchist in me wants to see this happen.

Remember how the WHSAA put into place the scoring differential tiebreaker this year — an effort to curb the use of coin flips to decide playoff seeding? It doesn’t apply to four-way ties. Dimes and thumbs are how four-way ties are broken in cases like this where one team hasn’t beaten, or lost, to all of the other three.

But that’s the least likely of the 32 scenarios.

Even a three-way tie would require a monumental upset by either South or Laramie. (Although… any chance Thunder Basin rests its starters and gives up an undefeated season to avoid risking injuries to key guys before the playoffs? Probably not, but it’s a thought.)

That leaves one key game to discuss: Kelly Walsh hosting Gillette. The Camels have the advantage with the better record, but KW has home field and urgency… because the three-way tie that’s most likely is KW, Laramie and South tying for the eighth and final playoff spot, all with 1-8 records.

And in that situation… Laramie is in, with Laramie +6, KW +5 and South -11.

In a weird way, scoring differential has created more clarity entering the final week. Now, KW knows it has to win to be in.

In a 4A week where every game matters, that kind of certainty is rare.

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Other Week 8 games? Well, 14 of them have playoff implications. Here’s a quick look at some of them:

Don’t overlook the Lander-Worland game in the 3A East. The Tigers have been rolling, but the Warriors have been resurgent and are still in the mix for a conference championship themselves — and this game is in Washakie County. By the same token, Riverton at Douglas in the 3A East could also be one of the best games in the state this week, and just as much is on the line there. …

One of the games I’ve been waiting for all season finally happens Friday with Thermopolis traveling to Burns. The winner gains home field for the first round of the 2A playoffs, and to be honest both teams have proven themselves both capable and worthy of that honor. Really interested to see how it goes. …

The 1A 11-man East championship will either be a Big Horn runaway or a three-way tie; if Southeast can somehow give the Rams their first loss of the season, in Yoder, then the 1A title chase goes from predictable to chaotic. …

The best game on the six-man schedule is the regional rivalry between Burlington and Riverside in Basin — a game we won’t see next year or into the foreseeable future as the Rebels make the jump to nine-man. Last week’s Lingle-Guernsey game was played under similar circumstances. It’ll be sad to see some of those rivalries go, but new ones will emerge — like Riverside-Greybull, which will be rekindled as a conference game next year. …

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On to some picks for Week 8, the final week of the regular season and the end to the careers of about a third of Wyoming’s high school football seniors:

Thursday
Class 2A

Big Piney at Lyman
Friday
Class 4A
Cheyenne East at Sheridan
Cheyenne South at Cheyenne Central
Gillette at Kelly Walsh
Rock Springs at Natrona
Thunder Basin at Laramie
Class 3A
Cody at Green River
Evanston at Star Valley
Lander at Worland
Powell at Jackson
Rawlins at Torrington
Riverton at Douglas
Class 2A
Buffalo at Newcastle
Glenrock at Moorcroft
Greybull at Mountain View
Kemmerer at Lovell
Thermopolis at Burns
Wheatland at Pinedale
Class 1A 11-man
Big Horn at Southeast
Shoshoni vs. Upton-Sundance (at Casper)
Pine Bluffs at Lusk
Wind River at Cokeville
Wright at Tongue River
Class 1A six-man
Burlington at Riverside
Dubois at Snake River
Hanna at Guernsey-Sunrise
NSI at Kaycee
St. Stephens at Farson
Saturday
Class 1A six-man

Lingle at Hulett
Encampment’s game Wednesday was canceled; Meeteetse has an open week; in a pair of forfeits, Rocky Mountain defeated Wyoming Indian and Saratoga beat Midwest.

For a full schedule including kickoff times, as well as results from past weeks, go here. Click on “Week 8” 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: 29-3 (91 percent). This season: 195-48 (80 percent). 

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Do you like the score differential tiebreaker? 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

I want you to go through a little mental exercise right now. Think about the last time your favorite Wyoming high school football team won an outright conference championship.

For half of the state’s football programs, this doesn’t require you to think back too far — 32 programs have won an outright conference title this decade. Another 13 have won an outright conference title in the past 20 years; 13 more than that have won one in the past 40.

Now, a handful of programs (newer programs like Thunder Basin, Cheyenne South and NSI, as well as Wyoming Indian) have never won an outright conference title. And St. Stephens took a long break before bringing back football, so the Eagles haven’t won one since 1963.

That leaves one program.

Lander.

The Tigers’ last outright conference championship came 71 years ago, in 1948. Players on that team are now likely in their late 80s.

The actual conference title drought isn’t that long — Lander last shared a conference title in 1995. And the Tigers played in state title games in 1993, 1994, 1995 and 2004, so it’s not like the Tigers have been pushovers.

So why does it matter now? Well… take a look at the 3A East standings. Lander is the last remaining undefeated team in conference play. The Tigers are 3-0; Douglas, Riverton and Worland are all at 2-1, chasing a Lander team that, for the first time in a long time, controls its own destiny.

Destiny, meet Douglas.

Lander and Douglas have been in the same conference since 2011. In that time, Douglas has won all eight games between the programs, winning by an average score of 39-7. In fact, Douglas has won 12 in a row against Lander.

On Friday night, Douglas comes to Lander, where the Tigers have a chance to undo a decade’s worth of frustration against the Bearcats and come one step closer to ending more than seven decades’ worth conference shortfalls.

With the right set of circumstances — a Lander victory paired with a Torrington upset of Worland — the Tigers would be conference champs by the end of the night on Friday, although we wouldn’t know until after Week 8 if the title would be outright or shared.

Either way, 48 good minutes for Lander could help undo 71 years of delayed gratification.

+++

Other games that have me wondering if we broke the simulation:

The obvious answer for “Game of the Week” is Star Valley-Cody in the 3A West championship game. I’m not sure how anyone can doubt Star Valley’s cred after the way the Braves held down Jackson last week, but Cody presents a significant challenge (and potential Laramie lookahead). …

The week is chock full of games that will affect playoff seeding and qualification, and I absolutely love the fact that Cheyenne South-Gillette is in that conversation. Both the Bison and Camels beat Laramie this year, and for the first time in a couple years this game is for something more than just pride. If 4A is going to develop parity, it starts with these two programs, and their jumps forward this year, however small, are worth noting. …

I’m not sure when or where or how this happened, but I think Riverton might be the most improved team in the state over the past month. The Wolverines host Rawlins this week, and I’m really interested to see if Riverton keeps building on the momentum it has in its favor. …

Speaking of scary teams, Wright notched a huge victory last week against Lusk that put the Panthers in prime playoff position. Now, Wright has what might even be a bigger game against Southeast — and both these teams are aware of how critical the difference is in the 1A 11-man East to be the No. 3 seed going into the playoffs as opposed to the No. 4 seed. This could be the state’s best game this week regardless of classification. …

Burlington and Farson are meeting in a rematch of last year’s six-man title game. Funny how that means a heck of a lot less this deep into the season. Still, it’s cool to see happen. …

+++

On to some picks, where I pick ’em. But I don’t establish lines. Nah, this ain’t Vegas. So I just pick a team, put ’em in bold, and then watch the fun unfold.

Thursday
Interclass

Star Valley JV at Cokeville
Friday
Class 4A

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

Hanna at Kaycee
Saratoga at NSI
Interclass
Natrona sophs at Encampment
Tongue River at Sheridan JV
Open: Snake River. Hulett has a forfeit victory against Midwest already notched this week and won’t play this week.

For a full schedule including kickoff times, as well as results from past weeks, go here. Click on “Week 7” 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: 25-6 (81 percent). This season: 166-45 (79 percent). 

+++

What were you up to in 1948? 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

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.

+++

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. …

+++

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.

+++

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). 

+++

What’s your favorite Wyoming high school football rivalry? 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

Normally, in this space every week, I spend some time discussing what appear to be the best games in the state for that week.

Not this week.

Instead, I want to look at the weirdest conference in the state — so far — the 2A East.

Through the first half of the season, all seven teams in the 2A East have all secured at least one conference victory. That’s incredibly strange for this early in the season.

So how did we get here? Well…

Starting this week, Buffalo stands alone undefeated in conference pay at 3-0, with victories against Thermopolis, Burns and Glenrock.

Next is Wheatland at 2-1, which beat Newcastle and Glenrock but lost to Burns.

Then it’s Thermopolis at 1-1; the Bobcats lost to Buffalo but beat Moorcroft.

Then it’s four teams at 1-2: Burns, Glenrock, Moorcroft and Newcastle. Burns beat Wheatland but lost to Moorcroft and Buffalo; Glenrock beat Newcastle but lost to Wheatland and Buffalo; Moorcroft beat Burns but lost to Thermopolis and Newcastle; Newcastle beat Moorcroft but lost to Wheatland and Glenrock.

Whew.

Now, take a breath, and then try to follow this logic train as it leaves the station. … Newcastle beat Moorcroft; Moorcroft beat Burns; Burns beat Wheatland; Wheatland beat Glenrock; Glenrock beat Newcastle. At least one of those was an upset. The problem is, right now, we can’t tell which.

That leaves the 2A East with conference standings it has now, and we’re not even halfway through the conference season.

And while Buffalo and Thermopolis have seemed to separate themselves as the top two teams in the conference (at least for now, but who knows?), that leaves five others fighting it out for the conference’s final two playoff spots. This week, Glenrock and Burns face each other in an opportunity for clarity. Or more confusion.

September is barely over, and I’m already looking at the WHSAA’s tiebreaker scenarios.

If this kind of stuff keeps up, we’ll need them.

+++

Here’s the other games drawing my attention in Week 5:

Natrona’s game at Thunder Basin is the marquee matchup in 4A this week. Natrona’s star rose significantly last week after a double-OT victory against Cheyenne East that was accomplished without star running back Dante Wallace in the lineup. Thunder Basin, meanwhile, is still unbeaten and wants to stay that way. Who wouldn’t? …

Powell’s fast rise back to the upper echelon of 3A has been one of the most emotional stories of the season. There isn’t anyone in the state who isn’t rooting for the Panthers’ success this fall — unless Powell is on the opposite sideline. The Panthers’ potential will be put to the ultimate test this week with a trip to Afton to face top-ranked and defending champ Star Valley. A good showing in Lincoln County, even if it doesn’t translate into a victory, could keep Powell pointed in the right direction. …

Don’t overlook the Fremont County rivalry game this week between Riverton and Lander. It just got big. Both teams won their conference openers last week, and one of them will be 2-0 and in control of their own destiny after this game. …

When did Lovell-Big Piney become a HUGE game? Because that’s what it is in the 2A West this week. That conference has developed three distinct tiers — Mountain View at the top, four teams in the middle, and winless Greybull and Kemmerer now in spoiler roles — and both Lovell and Big Piney are in that middle tier right now. This is a great opportunity for both teams to prove they belong in the race for a home playoff game. …

Don’t look now, but Southeast is 2-0 in the 1A 11-man East and has a huge opportunity with its trip to Dayton to play Tongue River, which is 0-3. But the East Conference has proven unpredictable, too. …

The six-man game that looks like the most intriguing one to me is Hulett at Kaycee. Given how the conference is shaping up, the loser here will have a really hard time staying in contention for a home playoff game. …

+++

On to the picks. If a team is bolded, that means I think they’ll win. Sixty percent of the time, I’m right every time.

Thursday
Interclass

Cokeville vs. Natrona JV (at Green River)
Lyman at Star Valley JV
Friday
Class 4A

Cheyenne Central at Kelly Walsh
Cheyenne East at Laramie
Cheyenne South at Sheridan
Gillette at Rock Springs
Natrona at Thunder Basin
Class 3A
Cody at Evanston
Green River at Jackson
Powell at Star Valley
Rawlins at Worland
Riverton at Lander
Torrington at Douglas
Class 2A
Buffalo at Moorcroft
Glenrock at Burns
Kemmerer at Greybull
Lovell at Big Piney
Pinedale at Mountain View
Thermopolis at Wheatland
Class 1A 11-man
Pine Bluffs at Big Horn
Shoshoni at Rocky Mountain
Southeast at Tongue River
Wright at Upton-Sundance
Wyoming Indian at Wind River
Class 1A six-man
Burlington at Dubois
Farson at Meeteetse
Guernsey-Sunrise at Saratoga
Hanna at NSI
Hulett at Kaycee
Riverside at Snake River
Interclass
Newcastle at Lusk
Interstate
Encampment vs. Fleming, Colo. (at Briggsdale, Colo.)
Open: St. Stephens.

This week’s game between Lingle and Midwest is now a forfeit victory for the Doggers.

For a full schedule including kickoff times, as well as results from past weeks, go here. Click on “Week 5” 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: 24-8 (75 percent). This season: 111-37 (75 percent). 

+++

Is the 2A East the biggest mess of conference standings you’ve ever seen through half a season? 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

Two of my biggest questions of the 2019 offseason will be answered on Friday:

  1. Which Class 3A team is the biggest threat to defending champ Star Valley — Jackson or Cody?
  2. Can anyone threaten Big Horn in Class 1A 11-man?

Week 4 gives us two absolutely massive games with Jackson traveling to Cody for a nutty 3A West game, which helps us with the answer to the first question.

Since November, Star Valley has been the clear No. 1 team in Class 3A. However, both Jackson and Cody have proven to be completely capable of making a championship run themselves.

Throughout the offseason, I flip-flopped these two teams in my projected 3A West standings so many times that after awhile, I gave up. These two teams were both proven contenders with proven returners and proven coaches. They both deserved championship consideration. I flipped a coin.

Four weeks into the regular season, both Bronc squads have proven to be worthy of their preseason adulation — as well as my consternation about having to choose between the two of them for the No. 2 spot in the West. Cody is 3-0, Jackson 3-1, with both playing so well that neither one has separated themselves from the other.

Now, the day of reckoning has come, and I have to actually choose one of these teams to win the game between them.

Uh… where’s that dime?

Meanwhile, in Class 1A 11-man, the big game of the week — my top-ranked team, Big Horn, heading east to play at my No. 2 team, Upton-Sundance — has just as much intrigue around it.

Big Horn hasn’t lost since 2017, having won 14 in a row. The Rams of 2018 were one of the most dominant groups in state history, and the Rams of 2019 — while not quite as dominant — are completely capable of running the table again.

But Upton-Sundance is always hanging around. This year, the Patriots have started 4-0 and have looked sharp in those four victories, outscoring their opponents by a combined 175-29.

If anyone in 1A 11-man is going to threaten Big Horn, it’s Upton-Sundance.

And yet, the past two years, Big Horn has owned the series, beating U-S 53-13 two years ago and 55-14 last year.

At least on Friday, the Patriots’ and Rams’ effort, and by proxy the final score, will answer one of my biggest questions about Wyoming high school football this season.

+++

Every game is special in its own right. But some games are more special than others. These are those:

In the mishmash that is the top of Class 4A, Friday’s game between Cheyenne East and Natrona could end up being for one of the top two seeds — of course, Sheridan still has something to say about that. But I love what East is doing this year, and I’m on the T-Bird bandwagon after being in the opposite camp to start the season. Y’all won me over. …

How crazy would the Energy Capital of the World be on Friday night if the Camels somehow beat the ‘Bolts in the Coal Bowl? …

Rawlins showed me something in the nonconference season and could give Douglas fits, especially at home in Rawlins. I still like the Bearcats to win it, but don’t be surprised to see the Outlaws hang tough. …

Lyman-Lovell might be the most interesting game on the 2A schedule. They’re both at 2-2, and both will need this game in what appears to be a competitive 2A West (after Mountain View, of course). And I got reminded this week that I’ve picked against Lyman in both the Eagles’ victories, so Lovell… sorry, either way? …

In addition to the Big Horn/Upton-Sundance game, another Week 4 game is a battle of unbeatens, with Riverside traveling to Farson in the 1A six-man West. After this week, there’s only two more potential opportunities for regular-season games between unbeaten teams. Cody and Star Valley are both unbeaten (for now) in the 3A West and meet in Week 7; also, the winner of this game potentially could make an unbeaten run before meeting also-potentially-unbeaten Snake River. (Snake plays Riverside in Week 5 and Farson in Week 6.) …

I have no idea what to make of the six-man showdown between Meeteetse and Burlington. They’ve both had flashes of brilliance and moments of head-shaking frustration. This one will be key in the 1A six-man West playoff chase, and neither one wants to play from behind the rest of the season — not in a conference that still has three unbeaten teams (see above). …

+++

Now it’s time for choices! I think the teams in bold will win. But, to be honest, I kind of like this sport more when the unexpected happens.

Thursday
Interclass

Natrona JV at Rocky Mountain
Friday
Class 4A

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

Encampment at Dubois
Lingle at Hanna
Saratoga at Hulett
Interclass
Wyoming Indian at Cokeville JV

For a full schedule including kickoff times, as well as results from past weeks, go here. Click on “Week 4” 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: 29-4 (88 percent). This season: 87-29 (75 percent). 

+++

Week 4 marks the halfway point of the regular season. Whose YOUR big surprise team to this point? 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

The Gillette Camels started playing football in 1921. They didn’t win their first state championship until 1998 — the team’s 78th season of football.

The Camels’ new crosstown rivals, the Thunder Basin ‘Bolts, probably won’t have to wait that long.

In fact, if the ‘Bolts keep rolling this season, they could end up being one of the fastest teams to a state championship.

Sheridan and Thunder Basin are the only remaining undefeated teams in 4A. They play this week in Gillette in what’s (in my mind) the best game anywhere in the state this week.

Beating Sheridan — a team with 26 state championships to its name, including titles in 2015, 2016 and 2017 and a runner-up finish last year — would put Thunder Basin in control of 4A. And the ‘Bolts could exact some revenge on the team that eliminated them from last year’s 4A playoffs one game short of a trip to the War.

And if Thunder Basin beats Sheridan, keeps rolling and eventually wins the 4A championship in Laramie in its third season of existence, the ‘Bolts still wouldn’t be the fastest new team to win a title.

That distinction goes to Tongue River, which won the Class B six-man title in its first season as “Tongue River,” 1956. However, both Ranchester and Dayton had extensive football histories prior to combining and winning a title.

Snake River also deserves consideration in the title of “fastest to a title.” The Rattlers won the 2010 1A six-man title in their second year back from a 50-year football hiatus; technically, though, the program was in its 10th season, counting times the Rattlers fielded teams in the 1950s.

A couple other teams have needed less than half a decade to win their first titles — but they both come with asterisks. Southeast won a title in its fourth year of existence as “Southeast” — but again, only after the football histories of Goshen Hole and Huntley stretched back for decades prior. Similarly, Upton-Sundance won its first title in its fourth year as a co-op, but both towns had their own titles and teams to celebrate prior to that.

If you go deep into the state’s history, another team whose trajectory closely mirrors Thunder Basin is Worland, which started its program in 1921 (like many other schools) and won its first state title in its fourth season, 1924.

However, the team that most closely parallels Thunder Basin is Kelly Walsh. KW started as Casper’s second high school in 1965. By 1972 — the Trojans’ eighth season — KW had its first state football title.

Similarly, the second new school in Cheyenne, Cheyenne East, opened in 1960 and polished off its first title in 1970, its 11th season.

History shows us the ‘Bolts, as the second team in a two-school city, probably aren’t far off from a championship run. And if they can make it happen this year, in their third season as a program, it will be unprecedented at the big-school ranks.

The first step, though, is to find a way past a team with 26 state championships to its credit and no losses on its tally this season.

+++

Here’s a way-too-quick look at the rest of the big, small, and medium-sized games on the schedule this week:

Gillette’s 21-game losing streak ended last week with an overtime victory against Laramie. This week, the Camels head south to play Cheyenne Central, which earned an impressive victory against Rock Springs in Week 2. I’m curious to see how both teams react to success. …

Riding the unwanted emotion provided by an injured teammate, Powell is off to a 3-0 start. If the Panthers can gain another victory on Friday at home against Douglas in the final nonconference game of the season, it could be a sign that Powell’s more than just emotional — it could be the Panthers are actually a threat. …

Rawlins is 3-0, Cody 2-0. When they play Friday in Cody, anything could happen. I’ve been slow to warm on the Outlaws, but if they can knock off the Broncs, they might just become the favorites in the 3A East. …

Lovell has had two easy victories the past two weeks. Now the Bulldogs will face a huge step up to play against… oh yeah, a Mountain View team that’s rolling along just like Lovell is. …

Was Moorcroft’s victory against a solid Burns team last week a warning shot to the rest of the 2A East? Or was it an anomaly? The Wolves have to go to Thermopolis this week in a game that could define the direction of a season. …

Saturday action has Hanna meeting Hulett in Midwest for a neutral-site game. Hanna’s 2-0 start was expected. Hulett’s 2-0 start isn’t all that surprising, either, but the ease with which the Red Devils handled Guernsey last week makes this game a potential upset special if the Miners aren’t on their game. …

+++

Picks. Bold means winners. Non-bold means spoilers. Invisible text means the game is only in your mind.

Thursday
Interclass

Encampment at Natrona frosh
Riverton JV at Shoshoni
Friday
Class 4A

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

Hanna vs. Hulett (at Midwest)
Interclass
Worland JV at Riverside
Open: Wyoming Indian.

For a full schedule including kickoff times, as well as results from past weeks, go here. Click on “Week 3” 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: 23-12 (66 percent). This season: 58-25 (70 percent). 

+++

Honestly, I was stumped making my picks on like half the games this week. Whose ready to surprise us all in Week 3? 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

Friday’s interstate games look like doozies. The belle of the ball, though, is the game between two defending Class 3A champs.

Yes, you read that right. Star Valley and Sugar-Salem, Idaho, will play on Friday in Afton. Both won their respective 3A titles last year.

And with apologies to everyone outside of northern Lincoln County, I think this might be the most highly anticipated out-of-state game involving a Wyoming team in decades. It’s definitely the game I’m most curious about this week.

Both coaches (McKay Young at Star Valley and Tyler Richins at Sugar-Salem) pride themselves on putting together a tough nonconference schedule to prepare their teams for what they’ll face in league play and beyond.

Well, they’ve got just that on Friday.

Last year’s game wasn’t nearly as hyped. Star Valley and Sugar-Salem both came in at 1-1, each trying to find their way after losses in their season openers.

The Diggers found their way faster, as they smoked Star Valley 36-7.

Neither one lost again.

They both went on to win 3A titles in their states. The Diggers finished 10-1, the Braves 10-2.

Sugar-Salem looks loaded again this year; so far, the Diggers are 2-0, winning their two games by a combined 94-0. In their season opener, they ended the 25-game winning streak of Declo — the only team to beat Sugar-Salem last year. They’ve got five returning all-Idaho players, including senior quarterback Tanner Harris, who was the all-Idaho 3A MVP last year as a junior, and 275-pound lineman Kenneth Copley.

But Star Valley looks loaded, too. The Braves have five all-state and seven all-conference players back from last year’s team, and they’re 2-0 already with victories against Utah’s defending 3A champs, Summit Academy, and Idaho 4A program Blackfoot.

No matter what happens Friday, there’s more than a slight chance that both teams won’t lose again this season.

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Other games that are looking good on paper, with high hopes that they’ll turn into good games on grass or turf:

Class 4A’s top teams spring into the teeth of competition this week when we get the first of our “Big Four” matchups. Natrona goes to Sheridan, Thunder Basin to Cheyenne East. The Natrona-Sheridan game is a rematch of last year’s championship, but don’t overlook Thunder Basin-East, which might end up being the better game. …

The entire 3A slate is tough to pick, in part because last week’s 3A games were for the most part pretty close. There might be more parity than we think. Except for Star Valley. …

I’ve been really impressed with Tongue River so far this fall. The Eagles’ game with Lusk this week has me intrigued. …

Six-man’s results in Week 1 showed just how much fun this season might be. St. Stephens playing tough with Hanna, newcomer Encampment bopping Meeteetse, Dubois (which was winless last year) beating Midwest by 60, Kaycee handling Burlington with ease… the race for playoff seeding will be messy this year, and that makes it a lot of fun.

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On to some picks. Bolded names mean I think they’ll win. Non-bolded teams are just as worthy of your love, though.

Thursday
Interclass

Cokeville at Evanston JV
Friday
Class 4A

Cheyenne Central at Rock Springs
Kelly Walsh at Cheyenne South
Laramie at Gillette
Natrona at Sheridan
Thunder Basin at Cheyenne East
Class 3A
Cody at Worland
Green River at Rawlins
Powell at Lander
Riverton at Evanston
Class 2A
Burns at Moorcroft
Kemmerer at Lyman
Mountain View at Big Piney
Newcastle at Glenrock
Thermopolis at Buffalo
Class 1A 11-man
Pine Bluffs at Wright
Tongue River at Lusk
Wind River at Rocky Mountain (nonconference)
Class 1A six-man
Encampment at Farson
Hulett at Guernsey-Sunrise
Kaycee at Saratoga
Lingle at NSI
Riverside at Dubois
Interclass
Greybull at Big Horn
Jackson at Pinedale
Shoshoni at Lovell
Wheatland at Upton-Sundance
Interstate
Belle Fourche, S.D., at Douglas
Sugar-Salem, Idaho, at Star Valley
Torrington at Gering, Neb.
Saturday
Class 1A six-man

Burlington at Snake River
Meeteetse at St. Stephens
Midwest at Hanna
Interclass
Natrona frosh at Wyoming Indian
Southeast at Cheyenne East JV

For a full schedule including kickoff times, as well as results from past weeks, go here. Click on “Week 2” 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: 24-10 (71 percent). This season: 35-13 (73 percent). 

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What caught your eye in Week 1? I’d love to know. There’s so much to talk about! Leave a comment here, or hit me up on the Facebook page or on Twitter.

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–patrick

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