The 2018 season is done. All 310 games.

And I feel unfulfilled.

Maybe that’s just because of how the season ended. Natrona, Star Valley, Buffalo, Big Horn and Farson all won state championships, but none of the title games were all that thrilling. Natrona built a 21-0 halftime lead on its way to beating Sheridan; Star Valley had little trouble in wiping out Torrington 35-14; Buffalo led Mountain View by 29 after two quarters and won 43-18; Big Horn blew out Cokeville in every conceivable way to win 56-3; Farson toyed with Burlington for a quarter before running away to its first title and a 73-38 victory.

If you’re a fan of one of those five programs, that’s awesome. If you’re a fan of exciting football at the highest level the state has to offer, not so much. After all, last year we had Mountain View and Glenrock going down to the wire in 2A, and Pine Bluffs and Big Horn doing the same in 1A 11-man… in 2016, we had Big Horn and Greybull in 2A and Pine Bluffs and Tongue River in 1A 11-man provide nail-biters… in 2015, it was Gillette and Sheridan staging a 4A classic.

This year’s title games, by contrast, were all but anticlimactic at the end. Five deserving teams won state championships, and in a way the way they won proved that dominance. You won’t hear the winners complaining, anyway.

Honestly, maybe I’m just going to miss having football to look forward to every Friday.

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With the culmination of the 2018 season, high-scoring offenses from Farson and Big Horn set a few scoring records:

Farson’s 790 points finished second all-time in points in a season, finishing just short of Meeteetse’s 803 in 2013; however, Farson’s average of 71.82 points per game ranks first all-time. Also, Farson’s 90 points scored against Hulett in the quarterfinals of the six-man playoffs was the second all-time single-game playoff total.

Big Horn, meanwhile, finished with 577 points and an average of 52.45 points per game — both tops all-time among 11-man programs.

On the other side of the records was Dubois, whose 611 points allowed was the most ever from a Wyoming football program in a single season. The Rams’ 76.38 points allowed per game is No. 3 all-time.

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Speaking of scoring, and of streaks, Snake River has now scored in 95 consecutive games, which ranks sixth all-time. Big Horn has scored in 75 consecutive games, which is good enough for the top 20.

Meanwhile, Cokeville notched its 31st consecutive winning season and its 33rd consecutive non-losing season, extending the Panthers’ existing state records in both categories. And Laramie finished its 18th consecutive losing season, the second-longest such streak in state history.

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In the coaching ranks, Natrona coach Steve Harshman notched victory No. 200 in the semifinals and finishes the season with 201 in-state victories. He ranks third all-time in in-state victories and now needs just five victories to pass legendary Laramie coach John E. Deti for second place. Of course, Cokeville coach Todd Dayton leads all in-state coaches with 325 victories.

(A quick note on Dayton: He suffered the worst loss of his career, point-spread wise, in Saturday’s 53-point loss to Big Horn. Prior to that, Dayton’s worst loss at Cokeville had been by 32 points. That’s an amazing stat to me — that in 38 years, a Cokeville team had never lost by more than 32 until the Rams dumped them by 53. There isn’t another team in the state that can claim a run like that.)

Also this season, Douglas coach Jay Rhoades passed the 100-victory milestone this season; he now has 101 victories in Wyoming and ranks fifth among active coaches — fourth by 2019 when Glenrock’s Ray Kumpula makes his retirement official.

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If you take a look around the site, you should see that the 2018 season results are now a part of all the listings I have. (If they’re not, let me know!) I’m not done with 2018 yet, though. There’s still more to update here — the all-state, Super 25 and all-America listings will be updated when information is available to do so, and the individual records will be updated when final season stats are released.

The 2019 schedule, meanwhile, will most likely be mostly an inverse of the 2018 schedule. The statewide scheduling meeting is coming up this week in Casper, and I’ll post the 2019 schedule after I receive schedules from schools statewide.

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My picks for the title games went well… as in perfect. That helps me overcome a slow start and finish above 80 percent correct for the year. This means something only to me, I’m sure, but indulge me:

Last week: 5-0 (100 percent). This season: 245-58 (81 percent). 14-year overall record: 3,334-830 (80 percent).

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Finally, if you like what you’ve seen from this site, consider a page sponsorship. I have to pay for my own web space, and page sponsorships are my way of making sure that I don’t pay out of my own pocket to keep the site running. Sponsorships for single pages run $20 per year — a small contribution to a labor of love that provides me a lot of happiness. I hope it provides you the same. Thanks for your support all season, and in seasons past; it’s a lot more fun to share my passion with others who share it with me.

Now, on to wyoming-basketball.com. …

–patrick

I’m not ready for the 2018 season to end. But all good things must, right? Over the next two days, five games will bring the 2018 season to a close. Here’s what to look for in each of them:

Class 1A six-man, noon Friday
Burlington Huskies (4W, 6-4) vs. Farson Pronghorns (1W, 10-0)
Series record: Farson leads 4-1.
Last meeting: Farson beat Burlington 47-41 on Oct. 12 in Burlington.
Last playoff meeting: First playoff meeting.
State championships: Burlington two, most recently in 1994. … Farson zero.
Previous title game record: Burlington, 2-1. … Farson, 0-2.
The path to Laramie: Burlington rallied in the second half to beat East top seed Hanna 61-36 in the first round before thumping Meeteetse 57-18 in the semis, with both games on the road. … Farson destroyed Hulett 90-22 in the first round and topped Snake River 62-19 in the semis.
The case for the Huskies: The Huskies started slow. And they finished slow. And they came into the playoffs at 4-4. But anyone who was paying attention knew how good the Huskies were. They’ve finally shown it in the postseason, beating two excellent opponents with ease. Moreover, a six-point loss to Farson — the only team to hang within 40 points of the Pronghorns all season — should be a huge confidence booster.
The case for the Pronghorns: Aside from that 47-41 victory against Burlington, the Pronghorns have been absolutely destroying teams. Farson is on pace to have the highest average scoring offense in state history. In six-man terms, its defense is as solid as it gets. Their senior class is loaded and motivated, and Lain Mitchelson will likely eclipse 2,000 rushing yards for the season by the time this game is done. Anything else?
The pick: Don’t let Burlington’s record fool you. The Huskies are more than capable. But the Pronghorns were the anointed team in six-man all season, and they’ve lived up to that hype. All that’s left to do now is close out the season holding the trophy that’s eluded them the past two seasons. … Farson 54, Burlington 42.

Class 3A, 3 p.m. Friday
Torrington Trailblazers (1E, 10-0) vs. Star Valley Braves (1W, 9-2)
Series record: Star Valley leads 10-2.
Last meeting: Star Valley beat Torrington 38-14 on Sept. 8, 2017, in Afton.
Last playoff meeting: Star Valley beat Torrington 42-27 in a 3A semifinal game on Nov. 6, 2015, in Torrington.
State championships: Torrington three, most recently in 1990. … Star Valley 10, most recently in 2016.
Previous title game record: Torrington, 2-10. … Star Valley, 9-10.
The path to Laramie: Torrington took care of Evanston 34-7 in the quarterfinals and then eked past Jackson with a touchdown and two-point conversion with no time on the clock to win 22-21 in the semis. … Star Valley notched a pair of shutouts, beating Worland 48-0 in the quarterfinals and Cody 33-0 in the semifinals.
The case for the Trailblazers: First of all, Torrington is undefeated. Second, Bryan Lemmon is one of the best running backs in the state. Third, the Trailblazers should be plenty motivated to win in Laramie after coming up short last season. Fourth, they have a deep and talented senior class. Sounds like a champion to me.
The case for the Braves: I’ll be honest: After seeing how many seniors the Braves lost last year, I didn’t have high hopes for them this year. But new players stepped into big roles quickly, and after a 1-2 start the Braves have won eight in a row. No single team in the state may have improved as much from last November to this November as Star Valley.
The pick: I’ve been ride or die with Torrington all season. The Trailblazers were my preseason No. 1 and were my No. 1 vote in every weekly poll this season. With what happened last week, this feels like their time, their destiny. So of course it won’t happen. … Star Valley 28, Torrington 24.

Class 2A, 10 a.m. Saturday
Mountain View Buffalos (1W, 9-1) vs. Buffalo Bison (1E, 9-1)
Series record: Series tied 3-3.
Last meeting/last playoff meeting: Mountain View beat Buffalo 18-0 in a 2A semifinal game on Oct 31, 1997, in Mountain View.
State championships: Mountain View five, most recently in 2017. … Buffalo five, most recently in 2005.
Previous title game record: Mountain View, 5-6. … Buffalo, 5-10.
The path to Laramie: Mountain View busted up Thermopolis 41-0 in the quarterfinals and scored 26 unanswered points in the second half against Glenrock in the semifinals to win 33-21. … Buffalo cruised past both Kemmerer (56-20 in the quarterfinals) and Wheatland (50-7 in the semifinals).
The case for the Buffalos: In case you forgot, the Buffalos won here last year. Their small senior class is more than made up for by a cadre of juniors who play like seniors. They’ve won nine in a row, almost all of them by wide margins. Their offensive diversity makes them tough to scout, and their defense stacks up against any in 2A.
The case for the Bison: When we learned Buffalo was moving from 3A to 2A this year, everyone in the state knew the Bison were going to immediately contend for a state title. And here we are. Buffalo’s only loss this year was to Douglas in Week 1, and since then the Bison have been on fire. Moreover, they’ve jumped to another level in the playoffs.
The pick: This is an excellent matchup, and I would pay good money to watch this game. I don’t know that either team has an advantage. When I think too hard about it, my head hurts, so I’ll go with my gut instead, and think about a foot (as in Buffalo kicker Luke Glassock) that might be the hidden game-breaker. … Buffalo 31, Mountain View 28.

Class 1A 11-man, 1 p.m. Saturday
Cokeville Panthers (1W, 10-0) vs. Big Horn Rams (1E, 10-0)
Series record: Cokeville leads 3-2.
Last meeting/last playoff meeting: Big Horn beat Cokeville 12-7 in a 1A 11-man semifinal game on Nov. 3, 2017, in Cokeville.
State championships: Cokeville 22, most recently in 2014. … Big Horn five, most recently in 2016.
Previous title game record: Cokeville, 21-6. … Big Horn, 5-10.
The path to Laramie: Cokeville flexed its muscles in the first round by beating Wright 61-8 in the quarterfinals and topping Upton-Sundance 25-6 in the semifinals. … Big Horn laid waste to its two postseason opponents, beating Wind River 67-8 in the quarterfinals and Pine Bluffs 68-13 in the semis.
The case for the Panthers: If you have to even ask if Cokeville’s a legit contender, you’ve been paying attention to the wrong state. Cokeville is ALWAYS a contender, and always will be with Todd Dayton as coach and entire community on its sideline. Beyond that, the Panthers are undefeated (and beat Mountain View for goodness sake!), relying on a defense that’s only allowed 65 points all season, by far the lowest mark in the state, to carry them.
The case for the Rams: Big Horn isn’t just the best team in 1A this season. The Rams are trying to make a case for one of the best 1A teams in the history of this state. They’re undefeated, but with potential record-setting efficiency: With 24 more points, the Rams will finish as the highest-scoring 11-man offense in state history; with 45 more points, they’ll have a higher scoring average than any other 11-man team in state history.
The pick: Cokeville is having a great season. Big Horn, somehow, is eclipsing even that, with a season for the ages. … Big Horn 40, Cokeville 24.

Class 4A, 4 p.m. Saturday
Sheridan Broncs (3, 9-2) vs. Natrona Mustangs (1, 10-1)
Series record: Natrona leads 57-47-6.
Last meeting: Natrona beat Sheridan 34-7 on Sept. 7 in Casper.
Last playoff meeting: Sheridan beat Natrona 28-14 in the 4A championship game on Nov. 11, 2017, in Laramie.
State championships: Sheridan 26, most recently in 2017. … Natrona 17, most recently in 2014.
Previous title game record: Sheridan, 16-6. … Natrona, 10-7.
The path to Laramie: Sheridan beat Rock Springs 41-8 in the quarterfinals but needed a touchdown in the final 31 seconds to overcome Thunder Basin 14-7 in the semis. … Natrona topped Kelly Walsh 35-7 in the quarterfinals, but needed a touchdown with less than 4 seconds remaining to beat Cheyenne East 21-14 in the semifinals.
The case for the Broncs: Anyone else going for a four-peat this weekend? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Even with a new coach in Jeff Mowry, the Broncs are still the Broncs, tradition lives on and the quest for a fourth consecutive championship is still alive. The two losses Sheridan had back in Weeks 2-3 are basically distant memories now, and with the lessons learned from those losses, everything is lining up well for that fourth title in a row.
The case for the Mustangs: One point is all that separates Natrona from being unbeaten right now. The Mustangs have 4A’s highest-scoring offense, and the defense has been up to the challenge when called upon. Natrona has balance, athleticism, diversity, coaching and momentum — everything you need for a title. All that’s in the way is the same thing that’s been in the way the past two seasons: Sheridan.
The pick: This pick should be easy. After all, Natrona beat Sheridan 34-7 earlier this season. The Mustangs are a no-brainer, right? Except when it’s November, in Laramie, and it involves Sheridan. Ah, what the heck. … Natrona 21, Sheridan 20.

I keep track of who wins and loses games. I also keep track of how well I choose the winners and losers prior to the games being played. This is a tally of how I’ve done with those choices this season:

Last week: 8-2 (80 percent). This season: 240-58 (81 percent).

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

Championship weekend is finally here! It’s better than Christmas. Let’s share in that joy together by gathering around the comments section, sharing stories and drinking hot cocoa.

–patrick

The 2017 playoffs were so exciting that we’re going to try to have them again.

At least that seems to be the feeling this week.

Of this week’s 10 games, half are rematches from either the semifinals or championship games of last year’s playoffs.

The two rematch games that are coming a week earlier than last year come in Class 2A and Class 1A 11-man, where we get a pair of rematches of last year’s title games. In 2A, defending champion Mountain View hosts last year’s runner-up Glenrock, while in 1A 11-man, defending champ Pine Bluffs heads north to face 2017 second-place finisher Big Horn.

Arguably, the better game will be Glenrock-Mountain View. That’s because Big Horn shook off last year’s title-game loss and has hasn’t lost since. The Rams have been tearing through everyone in 2018, including Pine Bluffs 42-7 in Week 5. Meanwhile, Glenrock’s only losses are to Torrington and Buffalo (both still alive), while Mountain View’s lone loss came to Cokeville (also still alive).

Three other games are rematches from the 2017 semifinals. The most prominent is in 3A, where Cody and Star Valley renew acquaintances for the fourth time in two seasons. Of course, the Broncs upset the Braves 31-21 in last year’s semifinals to propel themselves to the 3A title a week later.

Meanwhile, Natrona and Cheyenne East face off again in 4A after a 44-0 Natrona victory in last year’s playoffs (a loss avenged by East 22-21 earlier this season). Also, Farson hosts Snake River in a rematch of a 1A six-man semifinal game the Pronghorns won last year.

So retro.

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Despite being on opposite ends of the enrollment spectrum, Natrona and Farson have some interesting parallels. In addition to facing the same team in the semifinals this year as last year, both Natrona and Farson lost their games in War Memorial last year, and both come in as the overall No. 1 seeds in their respective classifications this year.

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Thunder Basin is hosting its first semifinal game in program history, one week after hosting its first quarterfinal game to notch the program’s first postseason victory. The ‘Bolts’ firsts just keep piling up. …

While six of the 10 home teams hosted semifinal games last year, the wait has been a bit longer for Buffalo than for anyone else. The Bison are hosting their first semifinal game since 2007. Also, they’re in the semifinals for the first time in six years. Both are the longest such droughts broken this week. …

Burlington and Meeteetse have played each other at least 60 times in the past seven decades, but they’ve never faced each other in the postseason. That changes Friday when the Huskies make the short trip over to Park County to meet the Longhorns in the Class 1A six-man semifinals for their first playoff matchup. …

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I pick teams to win and lose games every week. You judge me for those choices. It’s a fun game I like to play.

Friday
Class 4A
(4) Cheyenne East at (1) Natrona: It’s looking more and more like the biggest upset in 4A this year was East beating Natrona 22-21 back in Week 4. A banged-up East will have trouble repeating that feat against the Mustangs in Natrona. (Rematch of a 2017 semifinal.)
(3) Sheridan at (2) Thunder Basin: The ‘Bolts won the first game 23-13 in Sheridan, but Sheridan is improved since that first meeting — and the three-time defending champs won’t go down without a fight. This might be the best game of the week, regardless of classification, and I think Thunder Basin will find a way. (First playoff matchup.)
Class 3A
(3W) Cody at (1W) Star Valley: Oh snap. Cody at Star Valley in the 3A semifinals. And here I am, picking Star Valley to win again. I’m going with the Braves, but last year taught us that we shouldn’t be surprised to see Cody go in and do what it needs to do to keep its season rolling. (Rematch of a 2017 semifinal.)
(2W) Jackson at (1E) Torrington: I think Jackson’s turnaround has been inspiring this season. The Broncs definitely have the ability to hang with the Trailblazers. But a loaded, and inspired, senior class in Torrington will be hard for Jackson to beat. (First meeting since 2014 quarterfinals.)
Class 2A
(3E) Wheatland at (1E) Buffalo: Don’t overlook Wheatland. The Bulldogs gave the Bison all they wanted in Week 6 despite losing 24-14. The Bison know that, and they’ll be ready. (First playoff meeting since 2002 4A quarterfinals.)
(2E) Glenrock at (1W) Mountain View: I cannot wait for this game. There’s so many interesting side plots here. I could spend all day thinking about it. In short, both teams have what it takes to win this week — and next week. Herders in a squeaker. (Rematch of 2017 2A title game.)
Class 1A 11-man
(3E) Pine Bluffs at (1E) Big Horn: Week 5: Big Horn 42, Pine Bluffs 7. That wasn’t a fluke. The Hornets’ three-peat attempt is in serious jeopardy as the Rams continue to work on an undefeated season. (Rematch of 2017 1A 11-man title game.)
(2E) Upton-Sundance at (1W) Cokeville: The Patriots can absolutely hang with the Panthers. Play this in Upton, or Sundance, and I think the Patriots could win it. But in Cokeville, I like the Panthers to win it. Barely. (First meeting since 2013 quarterfinals.)
Class 1A six-man
(3W) Snake River at (1W) Farson: It’s not that Farson’s undefeated. It’s that Farson has been absolutely crushing teams. Aside from a six-point win against Burlington, Farson has won every game by at least 42 points, and that includes a 64-19 victory against Snake River a month ago. (Rematch of a 2017 semifinal.)
(4W) Burlington at (2W) Meeteetse: After last week’s comeback victory against unbeaten Hanna, the Huskies’ confidence should be soaring. That might just be enough to pull off another road playoff victory, even though Meeteetse won the first matchup 38-28 in Week 4. (First playoff meeting.)

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

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Something pretty special happened here last week: I picked every game correctly. I did that in last year’s quarterfinals, too… the only times it’s ever happened here for any week prior to the semis or title games. Hurray! Here are the results of my picks from last week and this season:

Last week: 20-0 (100 percent). This season: 232-56 (81 percent).

If you don’t feel like leaving a comment, find me on Twitter or Facebook. But try a comment and see how it works.

–patrick

Something special is happening in Gillette on Friday.

In just its second season, Thunder Basin is hosting its first playoff game in program history when the ‘Bolts take to the field against Cheyenne Central.

For Thunder Basin to have accomplished that feat so quickly is nearly unprecedented in recent state history.

Since 1980, eight programs (Wright, NSI, Kaycee, Farson, Snake River, Cheyenne South, St. Stephens and Rock River) have either started or restarted programs from scratch. Three other programs (Rocky Mountain, Riverside and Upton-Sundance) combined programs to form something new.

Of those 11 programs, the only one to host a playoff game in its first season was six-man Snake River in 2009. The only one to host its first playoff game in its second season was six-man Kaycee.

In fact, of 11-man programs, Thunder Basin is the fastest to its first home playoff game, beating Campbell County companion Wright by one year — the Panthers hosted a playoff game in their third season as a program.

The ‘Bolts’ run of success this season is a testament to how fast they built their own identity and program after splitting from the Gillette Camels two years ago. It also comes at a cost to football in Gillette — the Camels have now lost 19 games in a row after losing most of the city’s best players to the new school on the south side.

Nevertheless, the ‘Bolts are hosting a playoff game sooner than any other new 11-man program in recent memory. For the Thunder Basin program, that’s worth celebrating.

However, the ‘Bolts would celebrate even more if they could host another one next week.

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Outside of Thunder Basin, for Wyoming this is a pretty standard-looking playoff bracket. Wright is in the playoffs for the first time in nine years, and Kemmerer is in the playoffs for the first time in five years, but everyone else has been a recent visitor to the postseason, and all the other hosts have been recent hosts. The rich get richer?

Here’s some pics, wait, I mean picks, with the bold team expected to be the winning team:

Class 4A
(8) Kelly Walsh at (1) Natrona: Natrona won the Oil Bowl by 30 points three weeks ago. That sounds about right. The Mustangs have been playing well all season and will be big favorites against their cross-town rivals. (First playoff meeting since 2016 quarterfinals.)
(5) Laramie at (4) Cheyenne East: East won the first matchup 31-14 a month ago. Laramie could put up more of a challenge this time around, though — but the Thunderbirds are still the favorites. (First playoff meeting since 2001 quarterfinals.)
(7) Cheyenne Central at (2) Thunder Basin: How much has changed since Week 0, when the ‘Bolts popped the Indians 47-0? Well, plenty has changed. But that doesn’t mean Thunder Basin still shouldn’t win this game going away. (First playoff meeting.)
(6) Rock Springs at (3) Sheridan: The rumors of the Broncs’ death have been highly exaggerated. Sheridan’s still in the hunt for a four-peat, and they’re very, very dangerous this time of year. (First playoff meeting since 2016 semifinals.)
Class 3A
(4E) Worland at (1W) Star Valley: I expected a much bigger fall-off this year in Afton. The fact that the Braves went undefeated in conference play and earned the top seed out of the west (again) is proof that the program is strong and sustainable. (First playoff meeting since 2007 quarterfinals.)
(3W) Cody at (2E) Douglas: ‘Member last year, when Cody was a 3-seed and ended up as state champs? ‘Member how they were on the same side of the bracket as Star Valley? I betcha Cody does, and I bet the Broncs are feeling mighty confident right now. (First playoff meeting since 2016 quarterfinals.)
(4W) Evanston at (1E) Torrington: Torrington has been rolling. But Evanston will put up a tough fight — something that should help the Trailblazers get into playoff mode and prepare for what’s to come. (First meeting since 1985 title game.)
(3E) Lander at (2W) Jackson: The two best coaching jobs in 3A this season were by John Scott in Lander and David Joyce in Jackson. It’s kind of fitting that they face off in the first round. If they continue on their current trends, this could be a title-game matchup in a few years. (First playoff meeting since 2004 quarterfinals.)
Class 2A
(4W) Kemmerer at (1E) Buffalo: It’s great to see Kemmerer back in the playoffs. Shame it’ll have to end so soon. Buffalo’s loaded for a title run, and that will show on Friday. (First meeting since 1995 quarterfinals.)
(3E) Wheatland at (2W) Greybull: People have been sleeping on Wheatland all year. This is the time for the Bulldogs to show just how good they are — and I think they’ll take advantage. (Rematch of a 2017 quarterfinal. And a 2016 quarterfinal.)
(4E) Thermopolis at (1W) Mountain View: After a Week 1 stumble, Mountain View has been the powerhouse everyone thought they might be entering this season. Remember, last year’s title march started by shutting out Thermopolis at home in the first round. …  (Obviously, a rematch of a 2017 quarterfinal.)
(3W) Big Piney at (2E) Glenrock: Big Piney put together a really nice season. However, it’ll take a Herculean effort to overcome the Herders in Glenrock. (Rematch of a 2017 semifinal.)
Class 1A 11-man
(4W) Wind River at (1E) Big Horn: The Rams have been crushing teams all season. There’s little reason to think the Cougars are going to be the one to stop that trend. (Rematch of a 2017 quarterfinal game.)
(3E) Pine Bluffs at (2W) Shoshoni: Shoshoni is 2-6 and a No. 2 seed. That tells you all you need to know about the West Conference this season. (First playoff meeting.)
(4E) Wright at (1W) Cokeville: Beating a top-seeded Cokeville team, in Cokeville? The black-and-gold Panthers better hope they didn’t use up all their luck on that coin flip last week. (First playoff meeting.)
(3W) Rocky Mountain at (2E) Upton-Sundance: In a word: tradition. These two teams have met in the quarterfinals in 2014, 2015 and 2017. U-S has won all three, by scores of 48-14, 39-12 and 39-22. (Obviously, a rematch of a 2017 quarterfinal.)
Class 1A six-man
(4E) Hulett at (1W) Farson: Hulett did a really nice job in the last three weeks of the season, overcoming an 0-4 start to make the postseason. The Red Devils’ “reward” is playing unbeaten and favorite Farson in the first round. (First playoff meeting since 2015 quarterfinals.)
(3W) Snake River at (2E) Kaycee: The Buckaroos’ four-peat attempt will face some severe challenges. The challenge the Rattlers present might be too tough for Kaycee to overcome. (First playoff meeting since 2015 semifinals.)
(4W) Burlington at (1E) Hanna: Here it is: My upset call for the week. The West Conference was significantly deeper and tougher than the East Conference this season, and while Hanna is unbeaten and talented, Burlington has been tested more and should be more hardened for a playoff run. (First playoff meeting.)
(3E) Guernsey at (2W) Meeteetse: The Longhorns are senior-laden and confident. If they don’t overlook the Vikings, they should be in good position to continue their postseason. (First playoff meeting since 2015 quarterfinals.)

For a full schedule including kickoff times, as well as results from past weeks, click 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: 27-3 (90 percent). This season: 212-56 (79 percent).

It’s the postseason, so that means we should have plenty to talk about! Leave a comment to do just that, or hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

–patrick

One of the most unique situations we’ve ever seen in Wyoming high school football comes to us Friday in, of all places, Ethete.

Chiefs Intertribal Stadium will host a Class 1A 11-man West doubleheader on Friday, with the host Chiefs playing Rocky Mountain at 2 p.m. for a playoff spot and nearby Wind River taking on Cokeville at 6 p.m. in the game that will decide the conference’s top seed for the playoffs.

It’s bizarre that both games are being played at the same location; a weird set of circumstances that made Wind River’s home field unplayable all season long led to that.

It’s also bizarre that the location for a pair of games with postseason implications is Ethete.

The Wyoming Indian Chiefs haven’t played a game with playoff implications in the final week of the season since 2002, the only time since the program’s only playoff appearance in 1996 that the Chiefs have been a part of any postseason discussions heading into the last week.

In 2002, the Chiefs were one of several teams pursuing a Class 2A playoff spot in the days of power ratings. At 3-4 and in potential position to take the seventh or eighth seed in 2A, they needed to win their game against rival Wind River to keep those postseason hopes alive. But Wind River won 40-12 in Pavillion, as the Chiefs finished 3-5 and tumbled to 11th out of 12 schools in the final 2A power ratings.

Since then, the Chiefs have entered every Week 8 scenario knowing that they weren’t in the postseason hunt.

This year wasn’t supposed to be WIHS’s year, either. The Chiefs have yet to play any varsity opponents this season. They’re 1-3 this season after games against JV teams from Natrona, Wind River, Cody and Shoshoni. They’ve forfeited every conference game so far to make room for sub-varsity matchups that are more conducive to developing a program that’s long struggled for both numbers and relevancy.

When the 2018 schedule finally solidified, only one other 1A 11-man West school — Rocky Mountain — decided to pit its varsity against the Chiefs’ varsity.

Meanwhile, Saratoga’s inability to field an 11-man team this season left the West Conference with five teams. And as things have played out this season, all it will take for the Chiefs to qualify for the playoffs is one conference victory. That’s what they can earn on Friday against Rocky Mountain.

Sure, the Chiefs will be heavy underdogs. But on Friday afternoon, they will meet the Grizzlies on the field as equals, with a chance to extend their season.

That alone will make the day pretty special in Ethete.

Throw in another game on the same field that night that will decide a conference champion, and you’ve got the perfect atmosphere for a fantastic, and unique, day of football in Wyoming.

+++

Ethete isn’t the only place where playoff seedings are in play. In all, 18 games this week — including all five in Class 4A — will have some influence on the playoff seeding. Of those 18, 11 will have direct influence on who qualifies for the playoffs and who doesn’t.

However, only two games — Burns at Thermopolis in the 2A East and the aforementioned Rocky Mountain at Wyoming Indian game in the 1A 11-man West — are direct winner in/loser out scenarios.

+++

Four top seeds still need to be determined, as 4A, the 2A West, the 1A 11-man West and the 1A six-man East will use Week 8 to determine their champions.

In 4A, the most influential game on determining the top seed is Sheridan traveling south to play Cheyenne East, the only game that has two of the top four teams facing each other. On paper, East has the advantage, having won five in a row since an early loss to Thunder Basin. However, Sheridan has won four in a row after early back-to-back stumbles against Natrona and Thunder Basin in consecutive weeks.

Natrona’s game with Rock Springs and Thunder Basin’s game with Laramie will also influence the top half of 4A seeding, but East-Sheridan will be 4A’s marquee game in Week 8. …

+++

Mountain View and Greybull will meet to determine the conference champ in the 2A West. Last year, Greybull beat up on Mountain View pretty handily in Week 8… and Mountain View won the state championship three weeks later. This year’s competitiveness should be a bit different with more on the line. …

+++

The 1A six-man East title is also up for grabs this week as Hanna meets Guernsey to help decide it all. Hanna wins the conference outright if it can continue its unbeaten season. Guernsey wins the conference outright with a victory and some help from NSI, who would need to beat Kaycee to avoid a three-way split for the conference championship. Otherwise, with Guernsey and Kaycee winning, it’ll be coin flip time. Personally, I’d prefer a Ro-Sham-Bo over a coin flip to decide who finishes where. …

+++

Pinedale is in a weird position this week. The Wranglers’ conference season in the 2A West is done; they’ll play Wheatland this week. You can forgive the Wranglers, though, if their focus is more on Kemmerer than on Wheatland. Kemmerer hosts Lovell this week, and the math is simple: If Kemmerer wins, Pinedale is out. If Kemmerer loses, Pinedale is in. Distraction level=high. …

+++

Another team in a weird position is NSI. Just like Lovell last year, there’s a scenario where NSI could be in the playoffs with a loss but out of the playoffs with a victory. The Wolves could coin flip their way into the 1A six-man East’s No. 4 seed with a loss and a Hulett loss to Lingle, but if NSI wins AND Hulett wins, NSI is out. So will NSI forfeit or throw their game this week to gain a shot at a playoff game? Nope… because the Hulett-Lingle game is Friday, NSI will have a lot better understanding of its playoff fate by the time the Wolves play Kaycee on Saturday — and if the Wolves are still in the hunt by then, they’ll have to win Saturday to stay alive. …

+++

On to some picks for Week 8. When I say bold, you say projected winner….

Thursday
Interclass

Shoshoni at Natrona sophs
Friday
Class 4A

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

Kaycee at NSI
Snake River at Dubois
Open: Meeteetse, Midwest, Saratoga, Upton-Sundance.

For a full schedule including kickoff times, as well as results from past weeks, click here. Click on “Week 8” 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: 29-3 (91 percent). This season: 185-53 (78 percent).

The picks are in for the final week. How do you think it’s all going to shake out? Post a comment, because I’d love to know what you think.

–patrick

Three — A — West! (clap clap clap)

Is — the — Best! (clap clap clap)

3A West (clap) is the best (clap) come on people yell it! (clap clap)

Clapping yet? You should be.

Because the 3A West has been the best football conference in Wyoming in 2018.

Now, when I say “best,” I don’t necessarily mean the best football, although the top four teams in the conference have been playing exceptionally well this season (more to come on that).

Instead, I mean “best” as the most interesting, the most intriguing, the most watchable football Wyoming has to offer in 2018.

Two games this week will pair the four top teams in the conference, as Cody travels to Afton to play Star Valley and Evanston heads north to face Jackson. Right now, Star Valley’s at the top of the heap at 3-0 in conference play, with Cody, Jackson and Evanston all at 2-1, trying to figure out the best way to move forward.

Moreover, the four squads are a combined 21-6. Three of those losses came to Idaho programs. The other three came against each other.

Those three games between them so far have been, shall we say, weird? Cody beat Evanston 46-26; Jackson beat Cody 27-7; Star Valley beat Jackson 32-14. However, comparing scores in the 3A West is a dangerous game, friend-o. By comparing the scores of these three games, we’d think Star Valley has a distinct advantage.

Look deeper, though. Star Valley barely eked past Powell 14-7 two weeks ago; Evanston had to hold on like crazy to beat Green River 19-14 last week; Jackson got pushed by Green River 33-23; Cody struggled with Powell before surging late to win 22-10. Powell and Green River are both 0-3 in conference play.

In short, no one has the advantage they think they have.

So… what’s the difference between the 3A West and the 3A East, where the conference records are literally the same from top to bottom (3-0, 2-1, 2-1, 2-1, 0-3, 0-3)?

Well, there’s the fact that the 3A West is 10-4 in games against the 3A East this year. Also, Torrington has been crushing teams in the 3A East and has eliminated pretty much all drama about who will emerge with the top seed.

The 3A West has both uncertainty and quality, and that makes it really fun to watch. Especially this week. (clap clap clap)

+++

Outside of the 3A West, this week’s schedule is honestly kind of meh. It seems like there’s a lack of interesting games; outside the 3A West, there’s only six games that pit teams with winning records against each other (Laramie vs. Sheridan, Buffalo vs. Big Piney, Lusk vs. Big Horn, Pine Bluffs vs. Upton-Sundance, Farson vs. Burlington, Kaycee vs. Hanna). The six-man games are the best of that bunch.

However, the way Farson and Hanna have been cruising through the season, their games against Burlington and Kaycee, respectively, may be little more than slightly more difficult challenges than usual on their way to conference championships. …

That leaves Pine Bluffs facing Upton-Sundance as the big game of the week. Even that game leaves something to be desired as it’s more or less for the No. 2 seed from the 1A 11-man East. Still, it should be an excellent matchup and one of the best games of the week. …

While the Lusk-Big Horn game also pits two teams with winning records in the 1A 11-man East, the real story out of the 1A 11-man East could be Wright. With winnable games against Southeast and Tongue River in the last two weeks, watch for the Panthers to make a run late in the season here, potentially stealing that No. 4 seed from Lusk thanks in part to their 13-6 victory against the Tigers last week. With that momentum, Wright could push push the team it faces in the first round of the playoffs. …

On a purely competitive standpoint, the game between one-win Riverside and one-win St. Stephens may be the most even game of Week 7. Legit excited to see how it turns out. …

+++

The picks for the week are here. The team I think will win is in bold. But you play to win the game, not to be picked to win the game.

Thursday
Interclass

Natrona sophomores at Shoshoni
Friday
Class 4A

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

Wyoming Indian at Shoshoni JV
Class 1A six-man
Kaycee at Hanna
Midwest at Hulett
St. Stephens at Riverside
Interclass
Evanston JV at Cokeville
Sheridan JV at Tongue River
Open: NSI, Saratoga, Snake River.

For a full schedule including kickoff times, as well as results from past weeks, click 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: 27-5 (84 percent). This season: 156-50 (76 percent).

Comment if you want. You’ve got free will.

–patrick

Rivalry Week is in full swing on Friday: Capital Bowl. Energy Bowl. Oil Bowl. Bridger Valley Bowl. Thunder Bowl. Cody-Powell whatever-it’s-called. Sublette County something-or-other.

They’re all secondary this week to a 3A West rivalry game that normally doesn’t have much intrigue but is bubbling over with it this year.

Jackson hosts Star Valley on Friday, and that’s important because Jackson and Star Valley are the only two remaining teams unbeaten in 3A West Conference play.

And even though league foes Evanston and Cody will make it interesting the next couple weeks, the Jackson-Star Valley winner will be way ahead of everyone else for the conference title and home-field advantage in the 3A playoffs.

That’s a lot to say for a Jackson-Star Valley game — a rivalry that, most of the time, gives us games that aren’t all that interesting.

The most interesting recent matchup between these two teams came in 2015, when Jackson won a heck of a regular-season game 14-7 but Star Valley won the 3A title without having to play Jackson in the playoffs.

However, the 2015 game was the only time since 1998 that the Braves and Broncs faced off in a season in which both teams finished with winning records. And despite being in the same conference for a heck of a lot of time (every year since 1961 except 1974), the last time a Star Valley-Jackson game directly separated first place from second place in a conference race — prior to 2015 — was in a three-team 3A Southwest Conference in 1990.

A three-team race in 1987 was also decided by this rivalry, but the only other time the Jackson-Star Valley game separated first from second in the 56 years they spent in the same conference was in 1982, when Star Valley’s 20-7 victory against Jackson propelled the Braves to the Class A title game (and a state title), ended a Jackson winning streak at 16 games and prevented the Broncs from a repeat title attempt.

Moreover: Star Valley leads the all-time series 65-16.

The Braves have absolutely owned this rivalry. When they started annual play in 1959, the Braves won the first 10 matchups and 18 of the first 20; they also won 15 in a row from 1990-2003.

Heading into this season, it looked like this would be another easy notch in the win column for Star Valley. Jackson had lost 15 in a row (eventually 16), while Star Valley was one upset loss to Cody away from a potential three-peat of 3A championships.

But second-year coach David Joyce has Jackson moving quickly in a positive direction. The Broncs went from 16 straight losses to five straight victories. Jackson will enter Week 6 ranked second in 3A — all but unfathomable at the start of the season.

And Star Valley is right there with Jackson. Setbacks to a couple of Idaho schools didn’t stop the Braves from winning their first two West Conference games, topping Green River and Powell the past two weeks to set up a suddenly meaningful contest with the Broncs.

For a rivalry that hasn’t had much juice for the past 60 years, it’s fun to see this one take center stage for once.

+++

The other rivalry games on tap this week will all have their own kind of pulse to them. In descending order from “HIIT workout pulse” to “comatose pulse,” they’re ranked as follows:

  1. Big Piney-Pinedale in a 2A West game that will be critical in the postseason chase
  2. Cody-Powell as the Panthers try to play spoiler and make a postseason push of their own after two tough losses
  3. Capital Bowl between East and Central with the Indians coming off victory No. 1 and East chugging right along
  4. Pine Bluffs-Burns in a gift from the scheduling gods to keep this rivalry going
  5. Oil Bowl as a wounded Kelly Walsh hosts a confident Natrona
  6. Bridger Valley Bowl with Mountain View trying to keep a stranglehold on the 2A West with Lyman in the way
  7. Shoshoni-Wind River in a new production of “who cares because the playoffs are guaranteed anyway”
  8. Thunder Bowl with Big Horn preparing to thump Tongue River just like the Rams have thumped everyone else
  9. Energy Bowl as Sheridan faces Gillette in a game that might be good next year

+++

Other not-so-rivalry games with my attention this week:

Buffalo is playing a trap game this Friday against Wheatland. Bison need to be careful on that trip to Platte County. However, with a victory, the Bison can be the first team in the state to secure a conference championship, so the motivation should be strong. …

Someone will get their first win of the season when St. Stephens hosts Dubois in six-man. There’s actually only six winless teams statewide — Gillette, Riverton, Southeast, Hulett, St. Stephens and Dubois — and three are in six-man. …

Don’t look now, but Worland is 2-0 in the 3A East. If the Warriors can beat Douglas in Douglas, the rest of the state just may have to take them seriously. …

+++

As is tradition, here are some picks, with teams I think will win in bold because, you know, tradition:

Thursday
Interclass

Cody JV at Wyoming Indian
Friday
Class 4A

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

For a full schedule including kickoff times, as well as results from past weeks, click 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: 26-5 (84 percent). This season: 129-45 (74 percent).

Finally, as is tradition, I’d like to invite you to comment on this post and share your thoughts on Wyoming high school football. Or try me on Twitter @wyomingfootball, or join the Facebook group.

–patrick

Through the first half of the regular season, 56 of Wyoming’s 64 high school football teams have at least one loss.

After Week 5, that number will be trimmed by at least one — and the other six teams have their own challenges to overcome at the just-past-halfway point.

The eight teams still unbeaten are Thunder Basin, Torrington, Evanston, Pine Bluffs, Big Horn, Cokeville, Hanna and Farson. Pine Bluffs plays Big Horn in a match-up of undefeated squads — the only game remaining on the schedule for the rest of the regular season that place potentially undefeated teams against each other.

Pine Bluffs-Big Horn was expected to be one of 1A 11-man’s biggest games in 2018, and seeing both teams come in undefeated is not surprising. The two teams staged a classic in last year’s 1A 11-man title game, with Pine Bluffs eking out a 20-16 victory to preserve an undefeated season, a second consecutive state championship and what is now the state’s longest active winning streak at 19 games.

But it’s easy to forget that they also played a heck of a regular-season game, with Pine Bluffs winning 22-21 in overtime — in Big Horn — during the 2017 regular season.

This year, Pine Bluffs has yet to allow a point, outscoring opponents 130-0 in four consecutive shutouts. Big Horn, though, boasts 1A 11-man’s highest-scoring offense, scoring 47.5 points per game.

Most of the time when matchups like that happen, though, the game will likely be decided on the flipside — how Pine Bluffs’ offense does against Big Horn’s defense.

The winner moves into position to win the 1A 11-man East championship, home-field advantage in the first two rounds of the playoffs and a huge mental advantage.

+++

Thunder Basin-Natrona was supposed to be the marquee game of Week 5, but then Natrona went and lost to Cheyenne East 22-21 last week, taking a little luster off a game that was one point away from being a showdown of undefeated 4A programs.

Instead, Thunder Basin has emerged as the only remaining undefeated big school, and Natrona is the last major challenge left on the ‘Bolts’ schedule — although, admittedly, 2-3 Rock Springs, 2-3 Kelly Walsh and 3-2 Laramie, the teams remaining on Thunder Basin’s slate, aren’t going to be pushovers.

Thunder Basin’s rise is no surprise. The ‘Bolts needed a year to get their identity set with a new coach and a new program, but since finishing 5-5 last year, they’ve re-assumed the role the Gillette Camels carried before them.

Of course, the Camels’ problem was always finishing — they had 27 consecutive playoff berths from 1990-2016 and reached 13 championship games in that span, but finished just 4-9 in those title games.

If the ‘Bolts can finish as strong as they’ve started, they might start building a new kind of tradition, one inspired by but separate from what’s happened before in Gillette.

+++

When the schedule came out, I figured one team in the Evanston-Cody game would be undefeated. I just didn’t figure it would be Evanston.

The 3A West is flipped like a dolphin at Sea World. Jackson’s rise from consistent loser to consistent winner happened in like a week; since breaking a 16-game losing streak, Jackson hasn’t lost since, winning four in a row, including last week’s 27-7 upset of Cody.

Now, the defending 3A champs face another unexpected challenge in the unbeaten Red Devils, who have benefitted from improved play as well as a soft schedule — none of Evanston’s opponents thus far have a winning record.

Is Evanston for real? For that matter, is Cody?

Let’s find out.

+++

Similarly, in six-man, another potential undefeated vs. undefeated matchup was thwarted last week when Guernsey beat previously undefeated NSI in a 79-65 shootout. Consequently, this week’s matchup between NSI and Hanna will have a lot less intrigue around it.

Hanna figured to be primed for a breakthrough season this year, and the Miners haven’t disappointed. In four games — all on the road or at neutral sites, by the way — the Miners have been dominant, outscoring opponents 229-41 and winning every game by at least 32 points.

NSI was off to its best start in school history at 3-0 before tripping up against Guernsey. We’ll see how the Wolves rebound.

+++

But the best game of the week may be played in Farson, where the undefeated Pronghorns host the one-loss-but-it-was-to-a-team-from-Canada-so-does-it-REALLY-count Meeteetse Longhorns.

I couldn’t understand why everyone was so down on Meeteetse this year. I figured they’d be solid, probably good enough to push the top teams in the West, win more than a handful of games, maybe get a home playoff game. In the past two weeks, they’ve made good on that, beating both Snake River and Burlington — top-tier six-man teams — while making it look easy.

Farson, though, was supposed to be the class of 1A six-man. So far, that’s been the case, with the Pronghorns rolling up a 308-86 scoring advantage on their four opponents while winning every game by at least 47 points.

The Pronghorns get Meeteetse, Snake River and Burlington in consecutive weeks the next three weeks, a perfect opportunity to prove their championship caliber.

Meeteetse, though, has already proven it has what it takes to stay in that conversation despite the doubters.

+++

And Torrington plays Douglas, and Cokeville plays the Wind River JV.

+++

Several other games are really interesting this week, but rather than spend time talking about them, I’ll spend time making picks. Bolded teams should win, but 2018 has been far from predictable, so don’t just take these choices with a grain of salt — take them with a salt lick.

Thursday
Interclass

Green River JV at Cokeville
Star Valley JV at Lyman
Friday
Class 4A

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

Kaycee at Hulett
Snake River at Riverside
Open: St. Stephens, Wind River.

For a full schedule including kickoff times, as well as results from past weeks, click 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: 21-9 (70 percent). This season: 103-40 (72 percent).

Which undefeated teams will fall this week? Which winless teams might be ready for a victory? Which teams in the middle are ready for a run? Post a comment and let the world know.

–patrick

When Buffalo moved from Class 3A to Class 2A this season, everyone in 2A mentally made a note — Buffalo and Glenrock will be in the same conference.

That note included an automatic asterisk: When they face each other, it’ll be huge.

Even though the showdown between the Bison and Herders comes fairly early in the season, they’re already the only two teams who remain undefeated in the 2A East standings.

They both notched important victories last week, as Buffalo bopped Burns and Glenrock wore down Wheatland, to set up this matchup of teams both 2-0 in conference play and looking for that opportunity to take the lead for a conference title and home-field advantage through the first two rounds of the playoffs.

Glenrock and Buffalo have a bit of an odd series history — they haven’t been in the same classification, let alone the same conference, since 2000. But between 2001 and 2008, they played each other six times, with Buffalo winning four of those six. The last meeting in 2008 was a classic, with Glenrock holding on late to beat Buffalo 16-14; that season, Buffalo finished as the 3A runners-up and Glenrock won the 2A championship.

In the intervening 10 years since that game, Glenrock has made three trips to the 2A championship game, finishing 0-3 in those contests. Buffalo has struggled more in those years, but the move to 2A this year came at a time when the Bison were showing signs of a turnaround, including a 6-3 season last year.

You could argue the anticipation for this game is actually more than two years in the making. For the 2016 and 2017 seasons, Buffalo had the enrollment of a Class 2A school but opted up to play at the Class 3A level.

Thus, everyone knew as soon as Buffalo’s move to 2A for 2018 became final that this one against the Herders would mean more than usual. It’s more than just a big conference game; it’s the renewal of a competitive rivalry.

And, after 10 years since the last one and two years later than expected, that game will be played on Friday.

+++

Some other games that have me looking over my shoulders as if anyone else recognizes what kind of awesome quality we have developing for Week 4:

A huge game is brewing between Upton-Sundance and Big Horn. Right now, the 1A 11-man East is a three-team race between these two and Pine Bluffs. The difference between first place and third place in that conference really hasn’t meant that much in terms of the first round of the playoffs — the third-place team from the East has won on the road in the first round of the playoffs each of the past five years — but in terms of who gets to host in the semifinals, this one is absolutely critical. I’d be more excited for this game if last year’s game was in any way close, but the Rams lambasted the Patriots 53-13 last year in Sundance. …

Cody will likely top Jackson in the meeting of 3A West Broncs. Still, Jackson’s turnaround continues, and if the black-and-orange Broncs can pull off an upset of the defending 3A champs at home, watch the heads turn statewide like owls spotting a field mouse. …

The Gillette Camels will head across town to Thunder Basin to face the ‘Bolts in the Coal Bowl (sorry, Wright and Upton… Gillette’s stealing this rivalry name). It won’t be much of a game, as the Camels are 0-4 and the ‘Bolts 4-0, but rivalries like this are fun regardless, especially young rivalries still developing their own character. …

The loser of the Sheridan-Kelly Walsh game will be 2-3 after Friday. Not too many people saw that coming at the start of 2018; Sheridan has lost two in a row in the same season for the first time since 2007, while Kelly Walsh hasn’t yet capitalized on the momentum of its semifinal appearance last year and lost 14-7 on the road last week to a younger Rock Springs team. …

For some reason, Pinedale-Greybull is a REALLY intriguing game. …

The 1A six-man West is now officially crazy at the top. We’ll see if Meeteetse can keep things rolling against Burlington — a tall order, but doable for the Longhorns after soundly taking down Snake River last week. …

+++

Here are this week’s picks. Bolded names mean teams I think will win. But life is more complex than that, and we would do well to recognize this inescapable fact.

Friday
Class 4A

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

Guernsey-Sunrise at NSI
St. Stephens at Snake River
Interclass
Saratoga at Dubois
Open: Hulett, Rocky Mountain.

For a full schedule including kickoff times, as well as results from past weeks, click 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: 20-10 (67 percent). This season: 82-31 (73 percent). I meant to pick Mountain View over Lovell last week, but the bold button slipped on me. However, the bold has the power, and I abide by its choice.

Week 4 is the halfway point of the regular season. So who’s halfway to a championship, and who’s already full-way to thinking about 2019? Leave a comment and we can talk a bit about it.

–patrick

Last year, the football programs at Jackson, Burns, Kemmerer and NSI combined to finish with a win-loss record of 2-31.

This year, those same four teams are a combined 7-1. In fact, as I noted on Twitter last week, Kemmerer and Burns are the last two undefeated teams in Class 2A.

If you’re looking for early turnaround success, look here — to a pair of programs with first-year head coaches who have found early success and another pair with second-year coaches moving the needles in their programs the way they’d like.

Jackson‘s struggles have been well-documented. From 9-2 and 3A semifinalists in 2015, the Broncs crashed to 1-8 in 2016; in 2017, under new coach David Joyce, the Broncs went 0-9. Eventually, they lost 16 in a row, including this year’s season opener against across-the-mountains rival Teton, Idaho.

But their past two weeks have produced emphatic victories, as the Broncs thumped Bear Lake, Idaho, 41-13 two weeks ago and Pinedale 35-10 last week. Now, Jackson faces 1-1 Worland to gauge how well they’ll fare in 3A this fall — and it might be the toughest game of the week in the state for me to pick.

Ever since a surprising first-round playoff exit after an undefeated regular season in 2013, Burns has been struggling to find success in the win-loss column. In the four seasons after that, the Broncs went 2-6, 0-8, 2-6 and 1-7. New coach Brad Morrison didn’t inherit a program in disarray, though — most of his players this year were part of those struggles and had the edge in experience at the varsity level.

That edge has shown in the first two weeks, as Burns ripped through Wright to open the season and outscored Moorcroft in a 41-30 shootout last week. Now, the Broncs are 2-0 for the first time since that 2013 season; however, to keep the momentum going, they have to defeat 2A newcomer Buffalo, in Buffalo, on Friday. That’s a tall test for a developing program.

Kemmerer had a unorthodox start to its season, playing in two scrimmages in Weeks 0 and 1, before playing its first game against Lyman in Week 2. Obviously the approach worked, as the Rangers jumped out to a 21-0 halftime lead before beating the Eagles 28-6 in the Rangers’ first conference victory since 2012.

Second-year coach Bart Jernigan helped the Rangers start last year 1-1 before they lost seven in a row to finish the season. But this feels different. The Rangers were efficient and enthusiastic in taking out the Eagles and sent a signal that they could be ready for the postseason if the rest of the 2A West doesn’t take them seriously. This will be put to the test this week against another old conference rival, Pinedale, who’s tied atop the conference standings with Kemmerer (and Mountain View) with an early 1-0 record.

NSI has started 2-0 just two other times in program history — its first two seasons in 2000 and 2001. The Wolves have never started a season 3-0. This from a program that went 0-7 last year. With the Wolves, though, last season never matters; none of last year’s players are on this year’s roster, and even the coach, Antoine Proctor, is new.

This week, NSI hosts Midwest, a team the Wolves have beaten just once in their past five meetings since NSI moved to six-man. After that, the Wolves host Guernsey before traveling to Hanna for a Week 5 game that all of a sudden looks way more important than it did in mid-August.

All four teams could win this week.

All four could be playoff contenders.

All four are showing the past is only a small part of the future.

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Some other games that look good on paper:

Thunder Basin has two huge road tests the next three weeks. This week, the ‘Bolts are at Sheridan; in Week 5, they’re at Natrona. In between is the rivalry game with Gillette. After an impressive victory against Cheyenne East last week, though, the ‘Bolts look like a team capable of anything. …

The upset special this week might be Rock Springs — off a huge boost of a double-OT victory — at home against Kelly Walsh, who struggled early last week against winless Cheyenne South. If the Trojans aren’t careful, watch out. …

The luster wore off this week’s game between Green River and Torrington, a rematch of a 3A semifinal from last year, with the Wolves’ loss to Rawlins last week. Was it a surprise that will get the Wolves refocused, or a portent of things to come? …

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Here. I picked some games. Bold means projected winner, but the way things have gone for me this season, I wouldn’t get too worked up over any one pick:

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

Lingle is off this week thanks to Rock River’s season cancelation; Newcastle has already defeated Rocky Mountain by forfeit.

For a full schedule including kickoff times, as well as results from past weeks, click here. Click on “Week 3” 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: 25-9 (74 percent). This season: 62-21 (75 percent).

Through Week 2, which teams look the best to you? Who are your biggest surprises, either way? Leave a comment and add to the train of thoughts I helped start here.

–patrick

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