About a year ago, I compiled a list of playoff records for Wyoming football coaches. One of the notable things about the list was that every coach on the list had his fair share of losses. Even the best coach can’t win every playoff game every year… right?

Well, I went back to the data, and as it turns out, of the 356 coaches who have coached at least one Wyoming playoff game, 33 are unbeaten in the postseason. Of those 33, though, only seven have three or more victories:

Rick VanCleeve, Thermopolis 1985-92, 9-0
Lee Kremers, Kaycee 2015-16, 6-0
Jim McLeod, Cheyenne Central 1979-89, 6-0
Wilford Mower, Byron 1945-52, 6-0
Lou Maiben, Byron 1954-57 and Wheatland 1959-62, 4-0
Will Gray, Pine Bluffs 2011-2016, 3-0
McKay Young, Star Valley 2016, 3-0

Three of these coaches — Kremers, Gray and Young — led their teams to state championships last season.

Of the remaining 26 coaches, 17 are 2-0 and nine are 1-0.

This is a tough list on which to stay. The longer coaches coach, the more likely they are to have at least one playoff loss. Even the best playoff coach, Cokeville’s Todd Dayton (whose 67 playoff victories are more than twice as many as any other coach in state history) has 14 playoff losses to his name, too.

Meanwhile, 128 of those 356 coaches are winless in the playoffs….

–patrick

When I lived in Fargo, North Dakota, from 2012-15, I got exposed to the Minnesota style of high school football playoffs.

They were unlike anything I’d ever heard of: Every team qualifies for the playoffs, and the playoffs are set in regions.

That means the first three rounds of playoffs are against the teams from your conference — usually teams you’ve played before.

Minnesota’s regions are divided pretty evenly, with most regions having six, seven or eight teams. The first two rounds of the playoffs are played in the same week — first-round games on Tuesday, second-round games on Saturday — and then the regional final, the section final, the semifinals and the championship game coming on successive Fridays (usually) after that.

That means the Minnesota high school playoffs are six rounds: three rounds of regional qualifying, three rounds of section-level and state-level finals. For example, here’s last year’s Class AA bracket.

I started to think what playoffs might look like in Wyoming under the same system. So… here’s what Wyoming’s 2016 playoffs would have looked like under a Minnesota-style playoff system where every team qualifies, and playoffs are in regions rather than statewide cross-bracketing:

Class 4A
First round
(10) Evanston at (7) Cheyenne East
(9) Cheyenne Central at (8) Cheyenne South
Second round
Central/South winner at (1) Gillette
(5) Natrona at (4) Kelly Walsh
(6) Laramie at (3) Rock Springs
Evanston/East winner at (2) Sheridan

Of course, there wouldn’t be any changes in 4A, except for the addition of a first-round game for the bottom four seeds.

Class 3A East
First round
(6) Buffalo at (3) Riverton
(5) Rawlins at (4) Lander
Second round
Buffalo/Riverton winner at (2) Torrington
Rawlins/Lander winner at (1) Douglas

Class 3A West
First round
(6) Jackson at (3) Green River
(5) Worland at (4) Cody
Second round
Jackson/Green River winner at (2) Star Valley
Worland/Cody winner at (1) Powell

In 3A, we definitely don’t get a Powell-Star Valley title game. That comes as a regional final rather than a state championship.

Class 2A East
First round
(7) Thermopolis at (2) Big Horn
(6) Burns at (3) Wheatland
(5) Moorcroft at (4) Newcastle
Second round
Thermopolis/Big Horn winner vs. Burns/Wheatland winner
Moorcroft/Newcastle winner vs (1) Glenrock

Class 2A West
First round
(7) Kemmerer at (2) Greybull
(6) Big Piney at (3) Pinedale
(5) Lovell at (4) Lyman
Second round
Kemmerer/Greybull winner vs. Big Piney/Pinedale winner
Lovell/Lyman winner at (1) Mountain View

In 2A last year, we ended up with an East vs. West title game. Would we see the same in a different qualifying path, though?

Class 1A 11-man East
First round
(6) Lusk at (3) Pine Bluffs
(5) Wright at (4) Southeast
Second round
Lusk/Pine Bluffs winner at (2) Tongue River
Wright/Southeast winner at (1) Upton-Sundance

Class 1A 11-man West
First round
(6) Wyoming Indian at (3) Cokeville
(5) Wind River at (4) Saratoga
Second round
Wyoming Indian/Cokeville winner at (2) Rocky Mountain
Wind River/Saratoga winner at (1) Shoshoni

Obviously, in 1A 11-man, we don’t get a Pine Bluffs-Tongue River title game. At best, that’s a second-round game. At worst, neither one of those teams even makes it to Laramie.

Class 1A six-man East
First round
(7) Rock River at (2) Guernsey-Sunrise
(6) Hulett at (3) Midwest
(5) NSI at (4) Hanna
Second round
Rock River/Guernsey-Sunrise winner vs. Hulett/Midwest winner
NSI/Hanna winner at (1) Kaycee

Class 1A six-man West
First round
(7) Ten Sleep at (2) Meeteetse
(6) St. Stephens at (3) Snake River
(5) Dubois at (4) Burlington
Second round
Ten Sleep/Meeteetse winner vs. St. Stephens/Snake River winner
Dubois/Burlington winner at (1) Farson

And, in 1A six-man, both top seeds advanced. These brackets were drawn up eliminating Riverside and Lingle.

Would a Minnesota-style playoff qualifying system work for Wyoming? Post your thoughts and let’s walk through what would work and what wouldn’t about this system being applied in the Equality State.

–patrick

More than a million yards from scrimmage have been gained in 11-man football in Wyoming since 2009.

But how many of those were through the air? And how many were on the ground?

And which teams were the best at what they do?

An analysis of statistics from 2009 to 2016 shows certain teams have varied only slightly in their attacks the past eight seasons, while others have completely changed their approaches based on the talent of the players or the philosophies of coaches.

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A cloud of dust (or black rubber): The best at the running game

In 2016, the trend was clear: Keep it on the ground.

Statewide, coaches and players in 2016 gave us a season that focused on the run — much more so than any season since at least 2009. In 2016, 65.06 percent of all yards gained were gained on the ground, a total higher than 2015 (61.07 percent), 2014 (60.92), 2013 (61.4), 2012 (62.71), 2011 (61.86), 2010 (61.95) and 2009 (64.55).

That was shown most clearly in the approach of the Glenrock Herders.

The most run-heavy team since 2009 was last year’s Glenrock team, which gained 99.08 percent of its yards via the rush (3,757 rushing yards to 35 passing yards.) In second was Lingle’s 2015 team, which got 95.79 percent of its yards on the ground (3,322 rushing to 146 passing).

Overall, from 2009 to 2016 combined, the most run-heavy program was Lingle, with 93.37 percent of its yards coming on the ground in that time. Glenrock was next at 89.11 percent of its yards gained on the ground, while Lusk was third at 86.38. Others above 80 percent were Cokeville (82.43), Burlington (80.8) and Kemmerer (80.32).

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Air it out: The best at the passing game

Oddly enough, the teams that have gained the highest percentage of their yards through the air got there by accident.

For example: The most pass-heavy team since 2009 was NSI’s 2011 team, which gained just 4.46 percent of its yards on the ground (40 rushing yards to 856 passing yards). But that came in part because of two factors — (1) NSI was a horrible rushing team that year, and (2) lots of negative rushing yards came via quarterback sacks. A similar fate befell Rawlins in 2010, when the Outlaws gained 4.99 percent of their yards on the ground (35 rushing yards, 667 passing yards) after taking a bunch of negative yardage on QB sacks.

Of teams that weren’t just sacked into oblivion, the lowest percentage of rushing yards came with Riverside in 2013; the Rebels got 22.58 percent of their yards on the ground (466 rushing yards to 1,598 passing yards).

In the past eight seasons combined, NSI was the most pass-happy team, with only 37.86 of its yards coming on the ground. Rawlins was second at 39.4 percent, while Riverside (44.51), Wheatland (48.17), Cheyenne Central (48.74) and Laramie (49.89) were all more pass-heavy than run-heavy.

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Always the same… or always different

Some teams take the Remember the Titans approach and run just six plays.

For an example of that, look no further than Lingle, the team that varied its offensive approach the least over the past eight seasons.

The Doggers’ yardage percentages had a standard deviation of 2.48, the lowest in the state; Lingle’s percent of yardage gained on the ground, from 2009 to 2015, was 94.96, 92.86, 90.35, 95.1, 94.22, 89.45 and 95.79.

Of programs with at least four years of data, Upton-Sundance, Lusk and Lovell also had standard deviations below 5, meaning they had the most consistent offensive approaches.

The programs with at least four measured seasons with the highest standard deviation was Mountain View, which had a deviation of 20.23. From 2009 to 2016, Mountain View’s percent of yards gained on the ground were 86.43, 87.72, 75.45, 45.19, 51.61, 72.17, 35.89 and 46.1. Rock Springs, Rawlins and Greybull also had high standard deviations. The changes came in part because those programs saw coaching changes in those spans and offensive gameplans adjusted accordingly — Mountain View, Rawlins and Greybull toward more pass-heavy approaches and and Rock Springs to a more run-heavy style.

Of programs that retained the same coach from 2009 to 2016, the one that saw the highest standard deviation — or, in layman’s terms, the most ability to be flexible with the talent of the players it has — was Newcastle. Coach Matt Conzelman has had percentage of run yardage be as low as 36.43 in 2009 and as high as 87.35 in 2015.

If you want to dive into the data and explore teams’ rushing and passing yardage totals from 2009-16, click here. What sticks out to you?

Note: Six-man play was not included due to the lack of consistency in six-man statistics from 2009 to 2016. Seasons were excluded if team statistics were missing from three or more games. The following 11-man seasons were excluded due to lack of consistent statistics: Burlington 2015, 2013, 2010 and 2009; Rocky Mountain 2015; Wyoming Indian 2015, 2014 and 2010; Wind River 2010; Shoshoni 2015 and 2009; Riverside 2010; NSI 2009; Upton 2009.

–patrick

The scoring records page, where the top season totals for both offense and defense are listed, shows the top defensive performances over one season are mostly populated by team efforts from before World War II. In fact, of the 10 seasons where a team gave up one point per game or less, seven came prior to World War II — and the other three are clustered in the early 1970s. Those eras are historically low points for scoring statewide.

Many teams gave up only a handful of points in the game’s early days, where scoreless ties were common and 6-0 finals the standard. Since World War II, scoring has gone up considerably, thereby making a dominating season-long defensive effort pretty rare.

I went back and found all the defensive efforts since 1946 in which a team allowed 4 points per game or fewer.

The top two defensive outputs in the past 70 years both came in the same season: 1974. Torrington gave up just six points in nine games, while Saratoga gave up six points in eight games. In all, six teams from the 1974 season gave up fewer than 4 ppg — in addition to Torrington’s 0.67 and Saratoga’s 0.75 ppg, Worland gave up 2.63 ppg, Tongue River 3.33 ppg, Kemmerer 3.89 and Rawlins 4.0 ppg that season. But the 4 ppg threshold was only reached six other times in the 1970s, making 1974 the true anomaly of defensive performances in Wyoming high school football. (I still don’t know why. Any theories?)

More recently, seven squads from this millennium have given up 4 ppg or fewer. The most recent is Lyman in 2012, which gave up 3.17 points per game. The others are Lusk in 2000 (1.3 points allowed per game), Wright in 2004 (2.6), Gillette in 2000 (3), Cokeville in 2008 (3.5), Lusk in 2002 (3.5) and Cokeville in 2011 (3.9).

Meanwhile, only two teams from the 1990s — Lusk in 1992 and Mountain View 1997 — gave up fewer than 4 ppg over their season, while seven teams were under the 4 points per game allowed threshold in the 1980s: Lusk 1986, Big Horn 1985, Kelly Walsh 1981, Cokeville 1988, Cokeville 1984, Sundance 1981, Greybull 1986.

Fifteen teams from the 1960s gave up 4 ppg or fewer; however, only four from the 1950s met that threshold. And the four teams that accomplished this defensive feat from the second half of the 1940s all did so in the 1947 season.

For perspective, the top scoring defense in the 2016 season was Tongue River, which gave up exactly 10 points per game.

Here’s the list of all teams since 1946 who gave up 4 ppg or less during a season, in order of average points allowed:

Torrington 1974: 9-0, 6 points allowed, 0.67 average points allowed

Saratoga 1974: 8-0, 6 pa, 0.75 apa

Upton 1971: 7-0-1, 8 pa, 1 apa

Lusk 2000: 10-0, 13 pa, 1.3 apa

Byron 1960: 10-0, 13 pa, 1.3 apa

Glenrock 1972: 9-0, 12 pa, 1.33 apa

Sheridan 1953: 9-0, 14 pa, 1.56 apa

Worland 1956: 10-0-1, 18 pa, 1.64 apa

Mountain View 1962: 6-0, 12 pa, 2 apa

Green River 1963: 10-0, 21 pa, 2.1 apa

Evanston 1964: 9-0, 20 pa, 2.22 apa

Pinedale 1975: 10-0, 24 pa, 2.4 apa

Shoshoni 1953: 4-1, 12 pa, 2.4 apa

Lusk 1992: 8-0, 20 pa, 2.5 apa

Wright 2004: 9-1, 26 pa, 2.6 apa

Lusk 1986: 10-0, 26 pa, 2.6 apa

Worland 1974: 7-1, 21 pa, 2.63 apa

St. Stephens 1962: 8-0, 21 pa, 2.63 apa

Glenrock 1969: 7-1-1, 24 pa, 2.67 apa

Mountain View 1997: 10-0, 28 pa, 2.8 apa

Laramie 1960: 9-0, 26 pa, 2.89 apa

Gillette 2000: 10-0, 30 pa, 3 apa

Glenrock 1967: 9-0, 27 pa, 3 apa

Lusk 1963: 8-0-1, 27 pa, 3 apa

Midwest 1947: 7-0-1, 25 pa, 3.13 apa

Lyman 2012: 12-0, 38 pa, 3.17 apa

Byron 1963: 8-0, 26 pa, 3.25 apa

Kemmerer 1947: 6-1-1, 26 pa, 3.25 apa

Big Horn 1985: 10-0, 33 pa, 3.3 apa

Rawlins 1947: 8-0-2, 33 pa, 3.3 apa

Tongue River 1974: 9-0, 30 pa, 3.33 apa

Kelly Walsh 1981: 10-0, 34 pa, 3.4 apa

Laramie 1962: 9-0, 31 pa, 3.44 apa

Cokeville 2008: 8-2, 35 pa, 3.5 apa

Lusk 2002: 10-0, 35 pa, 3.5 apa

Pinedale 1973: 8-2, 35 pa, 3.5 apa

Shoshoni 1947: 4-0, 14 pa, 3.5 apa

Cokeville 1988: 10-0, 36 pa, 3.6 apa

Cokeville 1984: 9-1, 36 pa, 3.6 apa

Tongue River 1972: 8-1, 33 pa, 3.67 apa

Laramie 1964: 9-0, 33 pa, 3.67 apa

Sundance 1981: 7-1, 30 pa, 3.75 apa

Pine Bluffs 1950: 7-0, 27 pa, 3.86 apa

Byron 1966: 7-1, 31 pa, 3.88 apa

Kemmerer 1974: 9-0, 35 pa, 3.89 apa

Star Valley 1962: 9-0, 35 pa, 3.89 apa

Cokeville 2011: 11-0, 39 pa, 3.9 apa

Greybull 1986: 7-1, 32 pa, 4 apa

Rawlins 1974: 9-1, 40 pa, 4 apa

Lingle 1970: 6-2, 32 pa, 4 apa

Greybull 1962: 8-0, 32 pa, 4 apa

Which one of these seasons do you think is the most impressive defensive effort? Leave a comment below and let’s chat about the best work you’ve seen in stopping other teams from scoring.

–patrick

Our American school system typically follows a basic pattern: numerous elementary schools, a good number of junior highs, only a handful of high schools.

But what if we switched the system? Big elementary schools, numerous small high schools? What if our school system started at the trunk of the tree and branched out instead of starting at the leaves and working toward the trunk?

And what if sports followed the same organizational pattern? Let’s put the education arguments aside for a second and focus instead on the sports. In Wyoming, under this system the school sports in the state would be controlled not by the biggest cities, but by the biggest schools, in part because of how elementary schools are organized.

In Wyoming, under this system the school sports in the state would be controlled not by the biggest cities, but by the biggest schools, in part because of how elementary schools are organized statewide.

Several cities in Wyoming decided to divide their elementary schools by grade level rather than geography. Jackson, for example, has its youngest students attending Jackson Elementary and its older students attending Colter Elementary. Lander, Buffalo, Torrington and Wheatland do basically the same thing.

And at least in the case of Lander, Jackson, Buffalo and Torrington, that decision has them as among the biggest schools in the state in terms of K-3 enrollment. Actually, most of Wyoming’s biggest schools in K-3 terms are in towns we would currently call Class 3A. If we were to organize them and classify them by enrollment, as high schools are now, those communities dominate the top spots. In this scenario, these schools — rather than the Gillettes, Natronas, Kelly Walshes and so on — would be the biggest and baddest progams in the state.

Jackson/Colter is by far the largest at 762 K-3 students, but it’s Lander, Rawlins, Douglas, Buffalo, Torrington, Pinedale and Star Valley’s two schools taking up spots two through nine.

An elementary school from one of Wyoming’s big cities doesn’t show up until Cheyenne’s Saddle Ridge Elemetary slides into the No. 10 spot. And after that, another school from the trio of Cheyenne, Casper and Gillette doesn’t show up until school No. 16, Lakeview Elementary in Gillette.

In our scenario, the power of the large school has shifted. Completely.

+++

The next step is to organize the schools into classifications, just as the WHSAA does currently for 9-12 enrollment.

In classifying these schools, I tried to look for round numbers and somewhat natural breaks. I took the 12 largest schools to make a “Class 4A,” and it just so happened that 300 was the break point on that. The next 75 schools became “Class 3A” with a break at about 180 students. After that came “Class 2A,” another 43 with a break at about 100 students, and finally “Class 1A” and 33 schools rounded out the field.

But there were some challenges to this organization.

Most Wyoming towns use a K-5, K-6 or K-12 model for their schools. The cities that don’t put all of their K-3 students into one school or into a relatively equal distribution into numerous K-4/5/6 schools. Some of these have already been noted, but here are the toughest such scenarios:

  • Riverton: Riverton kindergartners attend the same school (Aspen Early Learning Center) before being split into one of three elementary schools in the city that handle grades 1-3. They’re combined again in grades 4-5 at Rendezvous Elementary before moving on to Riverton Middle School.
  • Douglas: Douglas has Douglas Primary (K-1), Douglas Intermediate (2-3) and Douglas Upper (4-5) schools.
  • Torrington: Torrington students are split between Lincoln (K-2) and Trail (3-5) elementaries.
  • Buffalo: Buffalo students are split between Meadowlark (K-2) and Cloud Peak (3-5) elementaries.
  • Kemmerer/Diamondville: These students are split between Kemmerer (K-2) and Canyon (3-6) elementaries.
  • Wheatland: Wheatland students are split between Libbey (K-2) and West (3-5) elementaries.
  • Jackson: Jackson students are split between Jackson (K-2) and Colter (3-5) elementaries.

Wyoming has 163 schools fielding K-3 enrollments of at least 25 students (or, in the case of Clearmont, Glendo, Chugwater and Rock River, fielding enrollments in locations where high schools already exist). The enrollment totals of 34 more elementary schools with fewer than 25 students were added to the most geographically feasible elementary.

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In our “leaf-not-trunk” system, this is how classifications might break down, with K-3 enrollment as listed by the Wyoming Department of Education listed.

Class 4A
Jackson/Colter 762
Gannett Peak (Lander) 571 (with Jeffrey City (5))
Rawlins 561 (with Desert (Wamsutter) (14))
Douglas Primary/Intermediate 508 (with Dry Creek (9), Moss Agate (9), Shawnee (7), Walker Creek (5), White (8))
Afton 435
Thayne 379
Meadowlark/Cloud Peak (Buffalo) 373
Lincoln/Trail (Torrington) 350
Pinedale 342 (with Bondurant (5))
Saddle Ridge (Cheyenne) 331
Uinta Meadows (Evanston) 326
Westridge (Rock Springs) 305

Class 3A
Willow Creek (Riverton) 300 (with estimated 57 kindergarten)
Stagecoach (Rock Springs) 294
Mountain View 289 (with McKinnon (13))
Lakeview (Gillette) 285
Summit (Casper) 284
Dildine (Cheyenne) 278
Verda James (Casper) 278
Paradise Valley (Casper) 277
Sage (Rock Springs) 276
Ft. Caspar Academy (Casper) 269
Afflerbach (Cheyenne) 265
Truman (Green River) 264
Buffalo Ridge (Gillette) 256
Ashgrove (Riverton) 254 (with estimated 57 kindergarten)
Coffeen (Sheridan) 251
Hillcrest (Gillette) 251
Jackson (Riverton) 250 (with estimated 57 kindergarten)
Sunrise (Cheyenne) 247
Libbey/West (Wheatland) 246
Highland Park (Sheridan) 245
Pronghorn (Gillette) 245
Velma Linford (Laramie) 240 (with Harmony (12), Centennial (4), Valley View (5))
Sunflower (Gillette) 238
Oregon Trail (Casper) 235 (with Red Creek (6))
Urie 235
Prairie Wind (Cheyenne) 234
Hobbs (Cheyenne) 233
Northpark (Rock Springs) 233
Conestoga (Gillette) 231
Indian Paintbrush (Laramie) 231
Lovell 227
Crest Hill (Casper) 224
Glenn Livingston (Cody) 223 (with Valley (4), Wapiti (5))
Sagebrush (Sheridan) 223
Newcastle 222
Park (Casper) 220
Spring Creek (Laramie) 220
Moorcroft 218
North Evanston 218
Southridge (Casper) 218
Manor Heights (Casper) 215
Meadowlark (Sheridan) 215
Aspen (Evanston) 213
Cottonwood (Casper) 213
Sagewood (Casper) 212
Wyoming Indian 212
Anderson (Cheyenne) 211
Prairie Wind (Gillette) 211
Southside (Powell) 209
Eastside (Cody) 207
Westside (Powell) 207 (with Clark (10))
Sunset (Cody) 206
Arp (Cheyenne) 205
Baggs (Cheyenne) 204
Paintbrush (Gillette) 203
Desert View (Rock Springs) 201
Kemmerer/Canyon 199
Glenrock 197 (with Boxelder (5))
Rossman (Cheyenne) 197
Harrison (Green River) 196
Overland (Rock Springs) 195
Jackson (Green River) 194
Stocktrail (Gillette) 194
Wagonwheel (Gillette) 194
Lincoln (Casper) 191
Woodland Park (Sheridan) 191
Rozet 190
Freedom (Cheyenne) 189
Goins (Cheyenne) 186
Bain (Cheyenne) 185
Ralph Witters (Thermopolis) 185
Rocky Mountain (Cowley) 184
Arapahoe 182
Fort Washakie 182
Evansville 181

Class 2A
Lusk 178 (with Lance Creek (3))
Henderson (Cheyenne) 174
Pioneer Park (Cheyenne) 171
Slade (Laramie) 171
Tongue River 167 (with Slack (3))
Washington (Green River) 166 (with Granger (3))
Walnut (Rock Springs) 164
Beitel (Laramie) 162
Davis (Cheyenne) 162
Rawhide (Gillette) 161 (with Little Powder (16), Recluse (9))
Meadowlark (Gillette) 159
Pineview (Casper) 158
Big Horn 156 (with Story (13))
Lincoln (Rock Springs) 153
Willard (Casper) 153
Bar Nunn 150
Burns 150
Alta Vista (Cheyenne) 145
Jessup (Cheyenne) 139
Parkside (Powell) 139
Wilson 139
Buffalo Ridge (Cheyenne) 138
Cole (Cheyenne) 138
University Park (Casper) 138
Clark (Evanston) 135
Fairview/Lebhart (Cheyenne) 133 (Lebhart has only K-2, Fairview starts at 3)
Greybull 132
Shoshoni 129
Big Piney 127
Mills 126
East Side (Worland) 125
West Side (Worland) 123
South Side (Worland) 122
Grant (Casper) 121
UW Lab School (Laramie) 121
PODER Academy (Cheyenne) 118
Snowy Range Academy (Laramie) 117
Deming (Cheyenne) 116
Sundance 116
Mountain View (Casper) 111
Wind River 109 (with Crowheart (14))
Saratoga 105
Cottonwood (Wright) 104

Class 1A
Upton 92
Hebard (Cheyenne) 91
Guernsey-Sunrise 88
Lingle-Fort Laramie 86
Pine Bluffs 80
Poison Spider (Casper) 77 (with Powder River (4))
Little Snake River Valley 76
Laura Irwin (Basin) 75
Cokeville 75
Southeast 75 (with LaGrange (14))
Hanna 72 (with Elk Mountain (10), Medicine Bow (11))
Woods Learning Center (Casper) 71
Gilchrist (Cheyenne) 68 (with Clawson (5), Willadsen (2))
Burlington 62
Carpenter 58
Laramie Montessori 52
Farson-Eden 40
Dubois 39
Kelly 39 (with Moran (11))
Midwest 37
Ten Sleep 36
La Barge 35 (with Thoman Ranch (1))
Encampment 33
Kaycee 33
Albin 32
Meeteetse 32
Hulett 27
4-J (Gillette) 25
Alta 25
Clearmont 24 (with Arvada (10))
Chugwater 20
Glendo 18
Rock River 18 (with Notch Peak (1))

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Breaking down the schools into conferences proved to be a tougher challenge due to the odd number splits. Some classificiations did not end up with a good, round number for state qualifications, but they’re sound geographically….

Class 4A West
Jackson/Colter 762
Afton 435
Thayne 379
Pinedale 342 (with Bondurant (5))
Uinta Meadows (Evanston) 326
Westridge (Rock Springs) 305

Class 4A East
Gannett Peak (Lander) 571 (with Jeffrey City (5))
Rawlins 561 (with Desert (Wamsutter) (14))
Douglas 508 (with Dry Creek (9), Moss Agate (9), Shawnee (7), Walker Creek (5), White (8))
Meadowlark/Cloud Peak (Buffalo) 373
Lincoln/Trail (Torrington) 350
Saddle Ridge (Cheyenne) 331

Class 3A Northwest (8)
Lovell 227
Glenn Livingston (Cody) 223 (with Valley (4), Wapiti (5))
Southside (Powell) 209
Eastside (Cody) 207
Westside (Powell) 207 (with Clark (10))
Sunset (Cody) 206
Ralph Witters (Thermopolis) 185
Rocky Mountain (Cowley) 184

Class 3A Central (9)
Willow Creek (Riverton) 300 (with estimated 57 K)
Paradise Valley (Casper) 277
Ft. Caspar Academy (Casper) 269
Ashgrove (Riverton) 254 (with estimated 57 K)
Jackson (Riverton) 250 (with estimated 57 K)
Oregon Trail (Casper) 235 (with Red Creek (6))
Wyoming Indian 212
Arapahoe 182
Fort Washakie 182

Class 3A Southwest (13)
Stagecoach (Rock Springs) 294
Mountain View 289 (with McKinnon (13))
Sage (Rock Springs) 276
Truman (Green River) 264
Urie 235
Northpark (Rock Springs) 233
North Evanston 218
Aspen (Evanston) 213
Desert View (Rock Springs) 201
Kemmerer/Canyon 199
Harrison (Green River) 196
Overland (Rock Springs) 195
Jackson (Green River) 194

Class 3A Powder River East (9)
Lakeview (Gillette) 285
Buffalo Ridge (Gillette) 256
Hillcrest (Gillette) 251
Sunflower (Gillette) 238
Conestoga (Gillette) 231
Newcastle 222
Moorcroft 218
Stocktrail (Gillette) 194
Rozet 190

Class 3A Powder River West (9)
Coffeen (Sheridan) 251
Highland Park (Sheridan) 245
Pronghorn (Gillette) 245
Sagebrush (Sheridan) 223
Meadowlark (Sheridan) 215
Prairie Wind (Gillette) 211
Paintbrush (Gillette) 203
Wagonwheel (Gillette) 194
Woodland Park (Sheridan) 191

Class 3A Casper (10)
Summit (Casper) 284
Verda James (Casper) 278
Manor Heights (Casper) 215
Crest Hill (Casper) 224
Park (Casper) 220
Southridge (Casper) 218
Cottonwood (Casper) 213
Sagewood (Casper) 212
Lincoln (Casper) 191
Evansville 181

Class 3A East Cheyenne (8)
Dildine (Cheyenne) 278
Sunrise (Cheyenne) 247
Libbey/West (Wheatland) 246
Anderson (Cheyenne) 211
Arp (Cheyenne) 205
Baggs (Cheyenne) 204
Glenrock 197 (with Boxelder (5))
Bain (Cheyenne) 185

Class 3A Vedauwoo (9)
Afflerbach (Cheyenne) 265
Velma Linford (Laramie) 240 (with Harmony (12), Centennial (4), Valley View (5))
Prairie Wind (Cheyenne) 234
Hobbs (Cheyenne) 233
Indian Paintbrush (Laramie) 231
Spring Creek (Laramie) 220
Rossman (Cheyenne) 197
Freedom (Cheyenne) 189
Goins (Cheyenne) 186

Class 2A Northwest (8)
Parkside (Powell) 139
Wilson 139
Greybull 132
Shoshoni 129
East Side (Worland) 125
West Side (Worland) 123
South Side (Worland) 122
Wind River 109 (with Crowheart (14))

Class 2A Northeast (7)
Tongue River 167 (with Slack (3))
Rawhide (Gillette) 161 (with Little Powder (16), Recluse (9))
Meadowlark (Gillette) 159
Pineview (Casper) 158
Big Horn 156 (with Story (13))
Sundance 116
Cottonwood (Wright) 104

Class 2A Southwest (6)
Washington (Green River) 166 (with Granger (3))
Walnut (Rock Springs) 164
Lincoln (Rock Springs) 153
Clark (Evanston) 135
Big Piney 127
Saratoga 105

Class 2A Casper/Central (7)
Lusk 178 (with Lance Creek (3))
Willard (Casper) 153
Bar Nunn 150
University Park (Casper) 138
Mills 126
Grant (Casper) 121
Mountain View (Casper) 111

Class 2A Cheyenne (7)
Henderson (Cheyenne) 174
Burns 150
Alta Vista (Cheyenne) 145
Buffalo Ridge (Cheyenne) 138
Cole (Cheyenne) 138
Fairview/Lebhart (Cheyenne) 133 (Lebhart has only K-2, Fairview starts at 3…)
PODER Academy (Cheyenne) 118

Class 2A Vedauwoo (8)
Pioneer Park (Cheyenne) 171
Slade (Laramie) 171
Beitel (Laramie) 162
Davis (Cheyenne) 162
Jessup (Cheyenne) 139
UW Lab School (Laramie) 121
Snowy Range Academy (Laramie) 117
Deming (Cheyenne) 116

Class 1A Northeast (8)
Upton 92
Poison Spider (Casper) 77 (with Powder River (4))
Woods Learning Center (Casper) 71
Midwest 37
Kaycee 33
Hulett 27
4-J (Gillette) 25
Clearmont 24 (with Arvada (10))

Class 1A Southeast (10)
Hebard (Cheyenne) 91
Guernsey-Sunrise 88
Lingle-Fort Laramie 86
Pine Bluffs 80
Southeast 75 (with LaGrange (14))
Gilchrist (Cheyenne) 68 (with Clawson (5), Willadsen (2))
Carpenter 58
Albin 32
Chugwater 20
Glendo 18

Class 1A Southwest (8)
Little Snake River Valley 76
Cokeville 75
Hanna 72 (with Elk Mountain (10), Medicine Bow (11))
Laramie Montessori 52
Farson-Eden 40
La Barge 35 (with Thoman Ranch (1))
Encampment 33
Rock River 18 (with Notch Peak (1))

Class 1A Northwest (7)
Laura Irwin (Basin) 75
Burlington 62
Dubois 39
Kelly 39 (with Moran (11))
Ten Sleep 36
Meeteetse 32
Alta 25

+++

We know what 9-12 sports in Wyoming looks like — for now. The Wyoming High School Activities Association is considering some big changes to that system this month. Regardless of how those decisions come down, sometimes looking at a problem from a fantasy perspective — like the WESAA instead of the WHSAA — might give us insights into the systems we actually do have.

I don’t know about you, but a 3A state championship showdown between Stagecoach and Buffalo Ridge sounds pretty fun. …

–patrick

Big Horn moves from Class 2A to Class 1A 11-man in 2017 — and that should make everyone in Class 1A 11-man more than a little scared.

The Rams were state champs at the 2A level last season despite being the smallest school in the classification. Next year, with Thunder Basin coming into 4A and causing a cascade of class changes, the Rams will move into 1A 11-man.

If Big Horn wins a title in 2017 after changing classifications, they’ll be just the seventh team — and the second program — to do so. The Rams would join Cokeville and Southeast as the only programs to have won back-to-back state titles despite switching classifications from one year to the next.

In all, 11 teams in state history have moved classifications after winning a state title; Big Horn will make the 12th. Yet only the Panthers and Cyclones won a state title the next year.

Cokeville has pulled off the feat three times, winning the 1988 1A title and the 1989 2A title; the 1989 2A title and the 1990 1A 11-man title; and the 1994 1A 11-man title and the 1995 1A Division II title. Two of those came near the 1989 season, when Cokeville opted up to 2A after 1A became a nine-man-only division for that season, prior to the state’s move from four to five classifications in 1990.

Southeast, meanwhile, has done this three times, too: The Cyclones won the 2000 1A Division II title and the 2001 2A title, the 2006 2A and the 2007 1A title, and the 2008 1A and the 2009 1A 11-man title.

In those six cases, three championships came when moving up a class and three titles came when moving down, like Big Horn will do next year.

In addition to the Cokeville and Southeast changes noted, six other teams tried, and failed, to repeat as state champion despite changing classifications after a title-winning season. Five of those six teams moved up in classification after winning a title. Teams that failed to repeat after changing include Burlington in 1995 (1A nine-man to 1A Division II); Cowley in 1956 (B six-man to B 11-man); Green River in 1977 (A to AA); Lingle in 1991 (1A nine-man to 1A 11-man); Tongue River in 1957 (B six-man to B eight-man); and Worland in 1960 (A to AA).

(Note: Changes in name classification alone are not considered here; for example, Big Piney won the 2000 2A title and the 2001 3A title, but that was a case of a classification renaming than a classification change. Additionally, champions from shift years 1982 and 1989, where the state went from three to four and four to five classifications, respectively, are not noted here unless the team actually moved in classification in more than just name, as Cokeville did in 1989 to 1990.)

–patrick

(Post updated 10:14 a.m. Feb. 8, 2017, to note Southeast’s 2006-07 repeat at different classifications.)

The state championship games are 10 months away. Seems like the perfect time to predict who might win those games, right?

Here’s a peek at the 2017 top fives for each classification of Wyoming high school football, way sooner than is advisable to do so:

4A
1. Sheridan: The two-time defending 4A champions return three all-state players (seniors Blayne Baker, Kyle Custis and Sam Smart) and tons of program momentum. The Broncs will need to find a new quarterback and rebuild big chunks of their line, but the precedent is there for Sheridan to do just that.
2. Natrona: No doubt, the most improved team in 4A last year was Natrona. The Mustangs relied a lot on juniors last year, and it showed early but paid off late — and will pay off big this year, as the Mustangs’ four returning all-state players (Mason Gallegos, Dan Slack, Brett Brenton and Riley Shepperson) is best among all 4A schools.
3. Gillette: With four first-team all-conference returning players, the Camels should be in good shape to challenge again. The big question hanging over the team in the offseason is how much talent will defect to Thunder Basin, putting into question something as simple as who’s back and who’s not.
4. Laramie: The Plainsmen are easy to overlook after losing a strong senior class, but they bring back three first-team all-conference players (seniors Nate Burman and Garrett Worden and junior Jason Upton) and are in great shape to notch their first winning season in almost two decades.
5. Rock Springs: This year is the test for the Tigers: Do they have a system that works, or did the players in that system the last couple years take it beyond expectations? With just a pair of first-team all-conference players back (senior linemen Bryan Mattinson and Will Petrovich), it’s time to see if the program can sustain itself.
Dark horse: Kelly Walsh. The Trojans had a nice breakthrough season in 2016; it’s easy to forget that KW hosted a playoff game last year. That should help build some momentum for a team that brings back only a pair of first-team all-conference picks.

3A
1. Star Valley: The Braves have some holes to fill but bring back three all-state performers (seniors Josh Dawson, Cosmo Morgan and Noah Hutchinson), tied for the most in 3A. And then there’s the momentum of back-to-back championships.
2. Torrington: Six of the Trailblazers’ seven all-conference picks from a year ago are back. Yes, really. No team is in a better position to make an immediate run at a state title than Torrington; the key will be if it can continue to grow as the season (and this summer) goes along.
3. Powell: The Panthers were young but talented last year; they’ll have back three all-state picks from a team that finished as state runners-up. Seniors Brooks Asher and Max Gallagher will help make the Panthers a tough team to stop.
4. Green River: The Wolves will return four all-conference players, led by senior Cole White, Green River’s lone returning all-state selection. Quarterback Chance Hofer and running back Candon Croft could form one of 3A’s best 1-2 backfield punches in 2017; watch out.
5. Douglas: Riverton and Buffalo are lurking, but the Bearcats develop young talent as well as any team in the state, regardless of class. With just one of the 11 all-conference picks from last year returning this year, they’ll need to do so quickly.
Dark horse: Riverton. How many 3-6 teams actually outscore their opponents during the season? Riverton did just that in 2016. And the Wolverines get back a pair of offensive threats and defensive cornerstones in seniors Brodie Roden and Jaren Draper.

2A
1. Glenrock: Believe it or not, no team in 2A brings back more than one all-state player this year. But the Herders also have back five all-conference players — highest in 2A — from a team that was undefeated until the semis.
2. Greybull: The Buffs lost a ton of seniors from last year’s state runner-up squad but return a pair of key all-conference players in senior Riley Hill and junior Zack Keisel.
3. Mountain View: The Buffalos’ depth will be a question, as seven all-conference players are gone, but Mountain View does return all-conference picks Jason Stoddard and Colby Rees and should be a contender again.
4. Lyman: The three all-conference players the Eagles return is second only to Big Piney in the West Conference. Beaudee Bluemel may be one of 2A’s most versatile players, while linemen Wesley Eyre and Dryden Menck will provide stability.
5. Wheatland: The Bulldogs get back a pair of all-conference players, and QB Trevor Vaughn and wideout Zac Gunter will form an explosive pairing. If the line can develop, the Bulldogs might be a surprise.
Dark horse: Big Piney. The Punchers were 1-7 last year but return all four of their all-conference players (most in the West Conference) after losing only a handful of talent to graduation.

1A 11-man
1. Big Horn: Last year’s 2A champ is the early favorite after moving down to 1A 11-man thanks to three returning all-state players. And Kade Eisele, Seth Mullinax and Kade VanDyken are all juniors — setting up the Rams for a title run not only this year but next year, too.
2. Cokeville: The Panthers are loaded. They return four of their five all-state players (Hunter Cheney, Rick Nate, Antheny Petersen and Cordell Viehweig will all be seniors) and six of seven all-conference choices. Cokeville’s stiffest challenge to a West Conference title will be injuries.
3. Pine Bluffs: Repeating as champs will be tough in a loaded 1A 11-man this year, but the Hornets are up to the challenge. They return three all-state choices with seniors Haize and Wyatt Fornstrom and junior Hunter Jeffres, and they’ll be buoyed by the confidence that comes from winning the school’s first state championship.
4. Upton-Sundance: Don’t write off the Patriots, who only return one all-state choice in Dawson Butts but have lost just twice in the past two years. There’s some rebuilding to do, but the Patriots’ pedigree for success runs deep.
5. Pick ’em: Any number of teams could fill this spot: Rocky Mountain, Saratoga, Shoshoni, Tongue River, Southeast… but all of them will rely on unproven talent to make a dent past the regular season.
Dark horse: Again, pick ’em. This will be a year of change in 1A 11-man. The four favorites are clear. Everything else looks muddy, muddy, muddy.

1A six-man
1. Kaycee: The defending champs ride a 20-game winning streak into 2017, and with class-best tallies in returning all-state players (four) and all-conference players (five), the Buckaroos are favorites to win it all again.
2. Farson: The Pronghorns were breakthrough challengers in the West and with three returning all-state players, they figure to challenge again. Juniors Lain Mitchelson and Clancy Gines and senior Cruz Lucero will put the Pronghorns in prime position to win the West for the second year in a row.
3. Meeteetse: The Longhorns return a trio of all-conference selections in seniors Braenn Smith and Josh Graybill and junior Kirwin Johnson. Meeteetse won’t be overlooked, but it will have work to do to catch up to Farson.
4. Snake River: The Rattlers get back one of six-man’s top players in J.D. Corson and two other returning all-conference selections in Kameron Evans and Thomas Duncan. But they’ll have to adjust to a new coach, which always takes time.
5. Guernsey-Sunrise: The most likely challenger to Kaycee in the East, the Vikings return three all-conference selections. Seniors Garrett Oneyear and Gage Koetmann and junior Dylan Rose will keep the Vikings in contention.
Dark horse: Burlington. The Huskies proved they could hang with six-man’s best last year. However, they only get back one all-conference player, and have some work to do to prove they can remain one of the West’s tougher teams to beat.

What do you think? Who’s poised for a breakthrough in 2017? Who’s falling off the radar too soon? Post a comment and let’s work through what the 2017 season may bring us!

–patrick

In both 1970 and 1971, a Class B all-state team was not selected.

The reason given at the time? Extreme partisanship on the part of the voting from coaches.

This was a confusing time in all-state selections for Wyoming. The Wyoming Coaches Association started making its first official all-state team picks right around this time. The WCA’s picks were a direct challenge to the all-state teams as chosen by the Associated Press and the United Press International, which had chosen the all-state teams prior to the WCA.

The AP’s and UPI’s all-state teams were consistently chosen by a panel, but the makeup of that panel was (1) not made public and (2) varied from year to year. Some years, coaches participated; some years, media participated; some years, it was only one or the other. The first WCA all-state team I can find was published in 1969 — right in the middle of some unprecedented upheaval in Class B selections.

Coaches in certain regions, maybe out of loyalty, or maybe because they were following rules on how previous all-state teams were chosen, voted only for their region’s players for the all-state team. Consequently, certain all-state teams were loaded with players from a certain region or a certain side of the state, regardless of whether those players were actually the best players in the classification.

For example, look at 1969 — the last year that a Class B all-state team was picked prior to the non-choices of 1970 and 1971. Here’s the Class B all-state team from the Associated Press’ panel of coaches:

First team: HULETT: Ed Wilson, G; Wayne Aaberg, B. MIDWEST: Dave Harshman, E; Dale Miller, C; Randy Macy, B. SUNDANCE: Jim Viergets, T; Perry Livingston, G; Gary Roadifer, B. TONGUE RIVER: Jim Sobotka, E. UPTON: Terry Wham, T; Bimbo Rankin, B. Second team: BIG HORN: Jim Mackey, E. COKEVILLE: Keith Nate, B; Todd Dayton, B. LINGLE: Jim Hill, C. MIDWEST: Bob Eldridge, E; Brad Chapman, B. MOORCROFT: Jim Klentz, T. SUNDANCE: Alan Harper, B. TONGUE RIVER: Anton Bocek, T; J.C. Gupton, G. UPTON: Tom Barritt, G.

And here’s the 1969 all-state team from the Wyoming Coaches Association:

First team: BIG HORN: Joe Mackey, E/DE; Wayne Daly, LB. COKEVILLE: Terry Allen, E; Rick Netherly, OT; Sam Mennion, OG; Todd Dayton, QB; Keith Nate, HB; Dave Teichert, HB; Vaughn Lloyd, DT; Randall Thompson, LB; John Bird, DB. GOSHEN HOLE: Larry Yates, S. LINGLE: Greg France, OG/LB; Jim Hill, C. MOUNTAIN VIEW: J. Aimone, OG. PINE BLUFFS: Steve Thompson, E/DT. PINEDALE: Dale Wall, DE; Dave Heydt, DE. UPTON: Terry Wham, OT; Bimbo Rankin, FB; Tim Barrett, NG; Wayne Hudson, DB.

Notice a difference? Or a trend? In 1969, even with Lingle and Basin posting unbeaten seasons, Cokeville was the undisputed king of Class B play. Yet the AP all-state first team that year was made up completely of Northeast District players. Meanwhile, the WCA team neglected the Northwest District (which played eight-man, compared to 11-man for the other three districts) in its selections.

This was the continuation of a trend from 1967 and 1968, when the “all-state” teams from the AP and UPI mostly represented just one side of the state. In 1969, we got these competing — and hugely disparate — all-state teams. In both 1970 and 1971, no all-state Class B team was chosen (at least no team that I can find or am aware of), in part because of this extreme partisanship.

Instead, the districts picked their own all-conference teams those years, and Class B was left without an all-state squad of its own.

If you go looking for Class B all-state teams from those two years, good luck. Let me know if you find anything.

In the meantime, all we have left for individual player recognition from those two years are the all-conference teams. Jim Craig, an invaluable help to this site the past couple years, recently found the all-conference teams for Class B in those two years, and he was kind enough to share them with me for publishing here.

Even though all-state honors will forever elude these players — for reasons well beyond the scope of their control — we can draw attention to them here.

1971
Powder River Conference
First Team Offense
Big Horn: Bill Haratyk, C; Randy Gates, QB.
Clearmont: Don Roush, E.
Midwest: David Rogers, T; Gary Gasser, G; Bryan Graham, RB.
Sundance: Randy Proctor, G.
Tongue River: Dennis McCarthy, RB.
Upton: Ron Clyde, E; Cecil Strong, T; Chuck McAulay, RB.
First Team Defense
Hulett: Steve Storie, S.
Midwest: Steve Lubkin, LB; Joe Kagle, LB.
Moorcroft: Chris Jespersen, DE; Frank Lauters, LB.
Sundance: Tom Ferrell, DE.
Tongue River: Steve Switzer, DT; Richard Wolney, DT.
Upton: John Bullard, NG; Randy Materi, LB; Mick Esquivel, S.
Honorable Mention
Big Horn: Bob Caiola; Rod Ross.
Clearmont: David Chapham; Jerry Landry.
Hulett: Mike Nieman; Monty Nieman.
Midwest: Gary Gilbert; Rick Macy.
Moorcroft: Gari Gill; Bob Norris.
Sundance: Jim Viergets; Robin Hibbard.
Tongue River: Greg Johnston; Mike Jolovich.
Upton: Jerry Hunt; Don Watt.

Texas Trail Conference
First Team Offense
Glenrock: Terry Rainey, E; Steve Potter, T; Mike Ragan, QB; Dave Hatfield, HB.
Goshen Hole: Dan Yeik, HB.
Guernsey-Sunrise: Tom Fronapfel, G; Mike Klipstine, HB.
Lingle: John Kissel, G; Doug Jackson, HB.
Pine Bluffs: Rich Thurlow, E; Greg Henan, T; Lloyd Soule, C.
First Team Defense
Burns: Ron Butler, DB.
Glendo: Joe Foy, NG.
Glenrock: Ken Hoyt, DE; Jim Davies, DT; Fred Hiser, LB.
Goshen Hole: Len Bedient, LB.
Guernsey-Sunrise: Greg Putnam, DE.
Hanna: Ron Borrego, NG; Rudy Borrego, DB.
Lingle: Dan Sterkel, DT.
Pine Bluffs: Chuck Schimmel, LB; Mike Janicek, DB.
Saratoga: Chuck Craig, LB.
Honorable Mention (incomplete)
Burns: Craig Anderson; Rich Black.
Pine Bluffs: Greg Wilhelm; Carey Lanning.

Southwest Conference
First Team Offense
Big Piney: Larry Vickrey, G.
Cokeville: Ron LaBlue, E; Ron Tiechert, RB.
Lyman: Tom Redmon, G.
Mountain View: Bob Brisko, E; Martin Lammers, T; Wade Ruby, C; Gary Rash, QB; Zane Roitz, RB.
Pinedale: Steve Wilder, T; Bruce Dugan, QB; Rod Williams, RB.
First Team Defense
Big Piney: Hugh Evitt, DE; Mark Mickelson, DL; Solon Murdock, LB; Mike Thursby, DB.
Cokeville: Kelly Renfro, DL; Bryant Teichert, DB.
Lyman: Dugan Reese, LB.
Mountain View: Wendall Fraughton, DE; Rudy Zampedri, DL; Robin Arthur, LB; Dale Micheli, DB.
Pinedale: Mark Jorgensen, LB.
Honorable Mention
Big Piney: Mike Bury, RB; David Wilkerson, DE; John Ball, DB.
Lyman: Dennis Powers, T.

Big Horn Basin Conference
First Team Offense
Basin: John Eggerman, HB.
Byron: Allan Petrich, QB.
Cowley: Don Strom, E.
Deaver: Jim Gomendi, HB; David Weaver, E; Larry Simpson, G; Dan Cozzens, C.
Meeteetse: Wayne Todd, G.
First Team Defense
Byron: John Paxton, DE; Allan Petrich, LB.
Deaver: Lane Roberts, DE; Dan Cozzens, DT; Larry Simpson, DT; John Gomendi, LB.
Dubois: John Burns, S; Otto Wells, LB.
Second Team Offense
Basin: Kevin Lewis, C.
Byron: Randy Ames, HB.
Deaver: Lane Roberts, HB.
Dubois: John Burns, QB; George Yarborough, G; Mike Hesseltine, C.
Shoshoni: John Haggerty, E; Gene Calvert, G.
Wind River: Dave Westling, E.
Second Team Defense
Deaver: Stan Roberts, DE; Leland Zlomke, S.
Dubois: George Yarborough, LB.
Meeteetse: Larry Todd, DT.
Shoshoni: Gene Calvert, LB.
Wind River: Bruce Samson, DE; Vince Harris, DT; Mark Williams, LB.
Honorable Mention
Basin: Rusty Wenke.
Burlington: Dan Johnson.
Byron: Paul Hessenthaler.
Cowley: Nick Lewis.
Deaver: Craig Sorenson; Paul Wambeke.
Dubois: Bob Mikel; George Johnson.
Manderson: John Nelson; Dan Frisbee.
Meeteetse: Mike Ray.
Shoshoni: Doc St. Clair.
Wind River: Dick Jacques; Mervin Miller.

++++

1970
Powder River Conference
Offense
Clearmont: Wayne Landrey, HB.
Big Horn: Dave Masters, C.
Hulett: Wayne Aaberg, QB.
Midwest: Charlie Coleman, E; Jim Kintz, T; Gary Gasser, T; Randy Macy, HB.
Moorcroft: Lynn Jesperson, G.
Sundance: Tom Pridgeon, G.
Tongue River: Gary Laya, E.
Upton: Clif Abbott, FB.
Defense
Big Horn: Lynn Daly, DE; Alan Dow, NG.
Hulett: Ed Willson, DE.
Midwest: Dave Rogers, DT; Brad Chapman, NG; Steve Lupkin, LB.
Moorcroft: Charles Norris, DB.
Sundance: John Temke, LB; Mark Ferrell, DB.
Upton: Jerry Walker; Randy Materi, LB.

Texas Trail Conference
First Team Offense
Burns: Craig Anderson, E.
Glendo: John Cowger, E; John Woods, QB.
Glenrock: David Hatfield, HB.
Hanna: Don Lane, T; Gary McKenzie, HB.
Lingle: David Johnson, T; Gary Unverzagt, G; Russell Oliver, G; Chuck Parish, C; Phil Martin, HB.
First Team Defense
Hanna: Andy Dorn, DE; Don Lane, DT.
Glenrock: Glen Davies, DT; Dennis Monger, NG; Steve Porter, DB.
Goshen Hole: Ray Oaks, LB.
Guernsey-Sunrise: Bill Gorman, LB; Larry Balzan, DB.
Lingle: Bruce Borton, DE.
Pine Bluffs: Chuck Schimmel, LB; Lee May, DB.
Saratoga: Chuck Craig, LB.
Honorable Mention
Burns: Rich Steege; Ron Bulten.
Glendo: Rocky Slager; Buster Lay.
Glenrock: Mike Ragan; Tom Hill.
Goshen Hole: Pat McKinney; Dave Eaton.
Guernsey-Sunrise: Neal Hughes; Tom Stoneking.
Hanna: Mike Shurten; Dan Sanchez.
Lingle: Don Bremer.
Pine Bluffs: Eugene Russell; John Redden.
Saratoga: Bob Johnston; Joe Gaspar.

Big Horn Basin Conference
First Team Offense
Basin: Judd Johnson, QB; R.J. Cost, C.
Byron: Chad Deaton, HB; Sid Hetland, E.
Deaver: Jim Gomendi, HB; Larry Simpson, G.
Dubois: Justin Allison, E.
Shoshoni: Gene Calvert, G.
First Team Defense
Basin: Judd Johnson, DB.
Byron: Sid Hetland, DE; Chad Petrich, NG; Chad Deaton, LB.
Cowley: Tony Frost, LB.
Deaver: Jim Gomendi, LB.
Meeteetse: Randy Sheppard, DE.
Shoshoni: Roger Clinton, NG.
Second Team Offense
Basin: John Eggerman, HB.
Byron: Allen Petrich, QB.
Cowley: Roy Strom, HB; Tony Frost, E.
Deaver: Dan Zwimmer, G.
Dubois: Bob Tutton, C.
Meeteetse: Randy Sheppard, E.
Shoshoni: Richard Wagner, G.
Second Team Defense
Basin: Don Riley, DE.
Deaver: Gary Van Lake, DE; Larry Simpson, NG; Gene Borcher, LB.
Shoshoni: Richard Wagner, NG; Gene Calvert, LB; Elliott Weisz, LB; Gordon Medow, S.
Honorable Mention
Basin: Chuck Hopkin.
Burlington: Rick Aagard.
Byron: John Paxton.
Cowley: Wayne Stubbs.
Deaver: Dennis Irion.
Dubois: Oscar Kelsey.
Meeteetse: Rich Beard.
Shoshoni: Lee Lockhart.
Wind River: Durant.

Southwest Conference
First Team Offense
Big Piney: Steve Wenz, QB.
Mountain View: Bob Brisko, E; Kim Halford, T; Joe Aimone, G; Zane Roitz, RB.
Pinedale: Don Hanson, E; Steve Wilder, T; Gary Shriver, G; Tom Jackson, C; Tom Mitchell, RB; Paul Strickland, RB.
First Team Defense
Big Piney: Randy Nielson, DT; Roy Cramer, LB.
Cokeville: Ricky Peterson, DE; Joe Buckley, DT; Craig Taylor, LB.
Lyman: Emery Beck, DT.
Mountain View: Dale Micheli, DB; Robin Davis, DB.
Pinedale: Tom Hydt, DE; Dwayne Schwab, NG; Charles Golden, LB; Mark Kerbeck, DB.
Honorable Mention
Big Piney: Jerry David, G; Tom Sullivan, C; Craig Mooney, B; Jerry David, DT; Lyle Porter, DB.
Cokeville: Boyd Sparks, T; John Bird, B; Kelly Renfro, B; Jim Bruce, NG; Ron Lableu, DB.
Lyman: John Fackrell, E; Greg Huntington, G; Steve Condos, LB; Jim Norton, DB, Dugan Rees, DB.
Mountain View: Pete Aimone, G; Marty Foreman, QB; Martin Lammers, DT; Miles Moretti, LB.

–patrick

Individual schools lost the ability to host state football championship games in 2009 — a fact with which some folks around the Equality State still haven’t reconciled.

However, there’s some consolation in knowing that almost every school in the state had a chance to host at least one championship game before the state’s move to a neutral championship site eight years ago.

In all, 52 Wyoming high schools (and 50 separate cities) have hosted at least one state championship game; only 13 haven’t, and of those 13, eight are at the six-man level.

The five 11-man programs who haven’t hosted a state title game in their program history are Cheyenne South, Newcastle, Saratoga, Wright and Wyoming Indian. South’s inclusion makes sense, having joined the varsity ranks in 2011 after title games had already been moved to Laramie. Of the remaining four, Wyoming Indian has yet to play in a state football title game; Newcastle’s one title-game appearance in 1981 came on the road; Wright has played in two title games, both on the road; and Saratoga has played in two title games and “hosted” the 1975 B title game, but opted to play it in Rawlins instead of Saratoga.

Of the eight six-man programs who haven’t hosted a title game, two have the entirety of their histories since 2009, when six-man came back fully (Kaycee, Rock River) and two others (Farson and Snake River) had sparse histories prior to 2009. The other four include Ten Sleep, which hasn’t yet played in a title game; St. Stephens and Normative Services, who have each played in one title game, each on the road; and Dubois, who’s played three title games on the neutral field in Laramie and a fourth on the road.

+++

In terms of host cities, Laramie, with 44 title games hosted (including all 40 since 2009), obviously leads the way. Casper also hosted neutral-site Class AA title games in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and has hosted 15 title games in all. Other towns around the state have hosted neutral-site title games for smaller-classification teams, mostly in the mid- to late 1970s. The total number of title games per town (not necessarily per school) includes:

Laramie: 44
Cokeville: 16
Casper: 15
Cheyenne: 10
Byron, Sheridan, Torrington: 8
Afton: 7
Big Piney, Evanston, Worland: 6
Big Horn, Douglas, Mountain View, Rawlins, Rock Springs, Thermopolis: 5
Buffalo, Cody, Lovell, Lusk, Midwest: 4
Burlington, Burns, Gillette, Hanna, Kemmerer, Riverton: 3
Dayton, Glenrock, Green River, Guernsey, Hulett, Jackson, Meeteetse, Powell, Sundance, Wheatland, Yoder: 2
Basin, Greybull, Lander, Lingle, Lyman, Moorcroft, Pavillion, Pine Bluffs, Pinedale, Shoshoni, Upton: 1

For more, dive into the newly rebuilt state championship game listings.

–patrick

It’s likely that as you read this, the Wyoming Legislature is trying to figure out the best way to handle a $400 million education funding shortfall. Among the possible plans is a recommendation that would have a big effect on high schools (and high school sports) — cutting the number of school districts in Wyoming from 48 to 23, or one district per county.

That proposal puts several high schools in the state at the risk of being closed.

No matter what action the legislature takes, those vulnerable schools won’t close now, and probably not next year.

But soon enough. So far, in Wyoming, district consolidation has always led to school closure.

The district consolidation proposal is part of a much wider education spending reduction discussion, and the Legislature has made no concrete recommendations. The state superintendent of public instruction, Jillian Balow, offered a bunch of alternative ways to save money.

District consolidation, though, remains possible.

While lawmakers and educators say that consolidating districts will not lead to school closures, history shows us otherwise.

Wyoming has been at 48 school districts for a while now, after a wave of district consolidation in the 1950s and 1960s. When the state went through its last wave of district consolidation, numerous schools closed, including 16 high schools in the 18 years from 1954-71. The loss of local control made it much easier for schools to be closed — especially when the consolidated district was not represented by anyone from that community on the board. While that diversion of power wasn’t the only reason those 16 schools didn’t survive district and school consolidation efforts, it sure didn’t help.

The fear of something similar happening soon has taken hold in many small districts today.

For example, look at Sheridan County School District No. 3 for Arvada-Clearmont schools. At 97 students K-12, the district has the lowest enrollment in the state, and it has per-pupil spending among the highest in the state. If the district were to be eliminated and combined with the district in nearby Sheridan, chances are good that no one from Clearmont or Arvada would be on that school board. Especially in a budget crunch, a school like Arvada-Clearmont becomes a target because of its high per-student spending and likely lack of representation.

Class 1A schools at Ten Sleep, Meeteetse, Dubois and Guernsey-Sunrise are in similar positions as the only high school in their district in a county that has multiple districts, as are several larger (and therefore more protected) schools at the 2A, 3A and 4A levels.

If lawmakers go through with the plans to consolidate districts to one per county, several schools would be put in extremely vulnerable positions — most noticeably, the smallest schools and the schools closest to each other. In addition to the likes of Arvada-Clearmont, Ten Sleep, Meeteetse, Dubois and Guernsey-Sunrise, vulnerable high schools include the state’s medium-sized high schools (think 2A and 3A range) that are close to another school but separated by the current district lines. Those schools, which are now in separate districts but would be in the same district under the proposed consolidation plan, include Lyman and Mountain View (six miles apart in Uinta County), Lovell and Rocky Mountain (six miles apart in Big Horn County), Greybull and Basin (eight miles apart in Big Horn County) and Big Horn (nine miles from Sheridan).

Schools already in the same district but that face consolidation at the district level are a bit more insulated; this would include Burns and Pine Bluffs (19 miles apart in the same district in Laramie County) and Encampment and Saratoga (20 miles apart in the same district in Carbon County). Also, smaller schools already joined to a bigger district may have some more insulation from being affected by district consolidation in and of itself. This includes the state’s two smallest high schools in Chugwater and Glendo — schools that have been part of Platte County School District No. 1 with nearby Wheatland for decades.

Other somewhat vulnerable schools that, like Chugwater and Glendo, are close to a much larger school that they already share a district with include a pair of Goshen County schools. Lingle is 10 miles from Torrington, while Southeast is 13 miles from Torrington. Despite the short distances, these schools likely won’t be as affected by district consolidation than others.

I’ve talked about consolidation here before. A couple times. But those posts came in better economic times for the state. They were more fiction and fantasy than reality.

The governor and legislators suggested district consolidation would only reduce administrative costs, and in the short term, that’s probably true.

But give it a few years.

The idea that consolidation of districts won’t lead to consolidation of schools seems like an empty promise.

Wyoming has seen eight high schools close since 1980. All of them were part of districts with other, larger, high schools in them. Every high school that’s been in its own district — like Arvada-Clearmont and its cohorts — has survived.

If coal prices are still down, and funding is short, and previously separate districts are now consolidated? The next logical step is to consolidate schools, too.

Minus some significant changes to the school funding model — specifically by changing sources of state income to pay for education — or minus the continued reliance on energy booms to make up for energy busts, district consolidation can’t help but eventually lead to school closures.

And about a dozen of Wyoming’s high schools are really vulnerable to a change like this.

Legislators, and the governor, would do well to keep that in mind this session.

–patrick

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