I firmly believe that even bad football is good football.

And that even after more than 100 years and after close to 26,000 Wyoming high school football games, there hasn’t been a single bad game.

With that in mind, and inspired by Secret Base/SB Nation’s YouTube series “The Worst,” I set out to find the worst Wyoming high school football game ever played and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that, honestly, even bad football is good football.

Finding the worst among the nearly 26,000 games played, though, is as much as a struggle as finding the best (as I tried to do the past two decades, the 2000s and the 2010s).

I decided to hone in on a specific kind of game — the kind where two teams that were otherwise winless during the season played each other. Once I identified those kind of games, I looked to see how those teams did in the remainder of their respective seasons. Specifically, I was looking for two teams that, outside the one game they played against each other, lost all their other games that season by at least 30 points.

Only one 11-man game in state history met that condition.

In 2004, Midwest defeated Wyoming Indian 26-12 in the season opener for both teams. With the conditions outlined above, I’m willing to call this game the worst Wyoming high school football game ever played.

Now, the “worst” is a loaded term here. It may not be the worst single game — as I’ll explain — but it very well might be the game between the two worst teams. Think of it this way: If you could rank every single season of every single team, and put them all on one line, the rankings of 2004 Midwest and 2004 Wyoming Indian might combine to be the lowest combined ranking of two teams playing each other in any one game.

So why is this game worth your attention, 18 years after it was played? Isn’t this the kind of game we’d want to forget — not highlight?

Nah. Even bad football is good football.

Just look at the team stats box score, which I cobbled together from the video of the game on YouTube. (Yes, this game is on YouTube. I’ll take the blame, or the thanks.) It honestly looks pretty normal, or at least typical of a 1A season opener.

Midwest 26, Wyoming Indian 12

Mid      0          20        0          6 – 26

WI       0          6          0          6 – 12

Team stats               Mid                     WI

First downs              13                       8

Rushes-yards           46-196                28-81

Passing C-A-I-Y        6-11-0-98           3-7-1-50

Total plays-yds         57-294                35-131

Fumbles-lost            7-1                      2-1

Penalties-yds           6-71                    3-25

When this game was played on Aug. 27, 2004, it was clear this was far from a state championship preview. The Oilers went 1-6 in 2003 and had only scored 14 points the entire season; Wyoming Indian had gone 1-7 and lost its last six, the beginning of what eventually became a 26-game losing streak.

The 2004 film showed the Chiefs only had two players available on the bench, the Oilers only three. Do the math; combined, these two teams had 27 players available for this game. But these kinds of games happen often, or at least often enough for this game not to be a huge exception to the rule in 1A football.

Not every play was beautiful:

And it seemed like the lines on both teams never learned about leverage, at least according to the way they stand straight up on plays like this one.

But the game DID have a couple nice hits…

… and good enthusiasm, like my man doing the “conversion dance.”

Now, on to my four favorite plays of the game:

(4) Watch the Chiefs’ right tackle against the Oilers’ defensive lineman on this play. My Midwest man got so turned around that he tried to tackle a tackle. The WIHS O-lineman was just like “What is HAPPENING right now?” before gently tossing the dude to the ground.

(3) Imagine being Midwest’s middle linebacker and taking on a QUADRUPLE TEAM from the Chiefs’ offensive line. Intimidation bonus +10; yardage bonus though only +1.

(2) Not a play, but Midwest’s pre-snap movement here had the Chiefs’ defense completely discombobulated. Just like they planned it?

(1) My favorite play BY FAR is this Midwest touchdown, which came on the last play of the first half and gave Midwest a 20-6 lead heading into halftime. The play is fine. But don’t watch the play so much as the celebration. It’s either some of the best sportsmanship I’ve ever seen, or it’s the most SAVAGE thing I’ve ever seen a wide receiver do to a defensive back.

(If you follow wyoming-football.com on Twitter, you got a sneak peek at this play.)

On this Friday in 2004, the game was little more than another Week 1 tally. Only after the season did its true historic nature take hold.

For the rest of the 2004 season, neither the winning Oilers or the losing Chiefs had a single close game. Midwest’s closest game in 2004 aside from the Chiefs game was a 38-point loss (46-8) to 2-7 Hanna; Wyoming Indian’s closest loss aside from Midwest was a 32-point loss (38-6) to 2-6 Riverside. As noted… this game is the only 11-man game in state history where two otherwise winless teams lost every other game in their seasons by at least 30 points.

Two such six-man games have come in recent years (Ten Sleep defeating St. Stephens in 2017 and Midwest defeating Dubois in 2018), and it’s happened once in nine-man (St. Stephens defeating Wyoming Indian in 2021), but obviously scoring comes differently in those versions of the game.

Watching the 2004 Midwest-Wyoming Indian game in retrospect, in no way, shape or form was it well played. But it was fun to watch, even 18 years later, and for the players I’m sure it was fun to play. I think it proves even bad football is good football.

–patrick

When I posted last week that weekly rankings for Wyoming high school football back to 1984 had been researched and published, I knew I would have lots of different questions I could answer with the new information.

This post is answering some of those.

Below, I have outlined answers to four different questions I immediately had: (1) Which team has spent the most consecutive weeks ranked in the top five? (2) Which team has spent the most consecutive weeks ranked No. 1? (3) Which season/classification had the most teams ranked No. 1 during the year? (4) Which season/classification had the most stability in a single season?

While some questions were limited to answers since 1984 only, some answers could be tracked back to the mid-1950s, when statewide polls began. I hope to publish weekly rankings from the 1950s through 1983 as soon as I think it’s in a state worthy of sharing publicly. It’s not there yet. 🙂

As for answers? Well, here you go:

Consecutive weeks

Cokeville had an amazing run of 194 consecutive polls in which they were ranked in the top five. That stretch ran for 23 years, from 1993 to 2015.

Sheridan had the second-longest run of consecutive polls ranked, with 114 in a row from 2009-20.

Since 1984, the top 10 streaks of being ranked somewhere in the top five are:

  • Cokeville: 194 weeks (1993-2015)
  • Sheridan: 114 weeks (2009-20)
  • Campbell County: 87 weeks (1996-2007)
  • Buffalo: 77 weeks (2003-11)
  • Cokeville: 77 weeks (1984-92)
  • Big Horn: 73 weeks (2012-20)
  • Lusk: 73 weeks (1994-2003)
  • Lovell: 70 weeks (1987-95)
  • Campbell County: 68 weeks (2010-16)
  • Lusk: 66 weeks (2008-15)

The longest active streak is Star Valley, which has been ranked in the last 63 polls back to 2015.

Meanwhile, Sheridan spent the most consecutive weeks at No. 1, going 23 polls between 1991 and 1993 ranked first.

The top 10 streaks of being ranked No. 1 since 1984 are:

  • Sheridan: 23 weeks (1991-93)
  • Cokeville: 21 weeks (2001-03)
  • Powell: 21 weeks (2012-14)
  • Meeteetse: 20 weeks (1989-91)
  • Natrona: 20 weeks (2011-13)
  • Douglas: 19 weeks (2009-11)
  • Snake River: 19 weeks (2010-12)
  • Big Horn: 18 weeks (2018-19)
  • Glenrock: 18 weeks (2016-17)
  • Cheyenne Central: 18 weeks (1989-90)

Most different teams ranked No. 1

The classification and season with the most variability was Class 3A in 1986. In that season, six different programs were ranked No. 1. While Evanston was the preseason No. 1 (and there was no poll prior to Week 2), Jackson was ranked first in Week 3, followed by Star Valley (Weeks 4-5), Glenrock (Week 6), Powell (Week 7), Torrington (Weeks 8-9) and Powell again (Week 10).

The fact that there was so much variability at the top in 3A that season was no surprise. In all, no team in 3A that season finished with fewer than three losses, but nine of the 12 programs in 3A finished with at least four victories. Jackson (6-4) beat Douglas (5-5, and never ranked No. 1) in the 3A title game that year.

No single classification in any other season has had six teams ranked No. 1, although six other seasons have had five teams ranked No. 1 in a single season. This happened most recently in 1996 in Class 4A. It also previously happened in Class AA (1966, both AP and UPI), Class A (1979, AP, and 1974, UPI) and Class B (1979, UPI).

Most stability

As noted in my first post about rankings, going wire-to-wire as No. 1 is not uncommon — 60 teams have done so since 1984 alone.

However, in one season we saw the top four teams go unchanged all season long, and it wasn’t that long ago.

In 2020, Southeast, Rocky Mountain, Lusk and Shoshoni held down the top four spots in Class 1A nine-man all season long, in order, never changing their spots. It’s the only time in Wyoming history that I can find where the top four teams remained in the same four spots all season long.

In fact, only one other time did the top three teams in a classification stay that way all season. That came in 1995, when the top three teams in Class 1A-Division I went Rocky Mountain, Lusk, Moorcroft, in that order in every poll. Eight other seasons have had the same two teams go 1-2 in every poll, most recently in Class 4A in 2017 with Sheridan and Natrona.

Got anything else you’re curious about with the weekly polls? Leave a comment and I’ll see if I can answer it.

–patrick

For the five team sports offered by the WHSAA — basketball, football, soccer, softball and volleyball — four-time all-state selections are quite uncommon.

In fact, among those five team sports, only 14 boys and 48 girls have been four-time all-state choices.

As noted previously here, only 21 players — five boys, 16 girls — are four-time all-state basketball selections.

Oddly enough, a similar ratio exists for fall and spring team sports. For fall, three boys are four-time all-state football selections, while 13 girls are four-time all-state volleyball picks. And in spring, two boys and 19 girls have been four-time all-state soccer choices.

Softball was first sanctioned in 2021, so no four-time all-staters will come from that sport until at least 2024.

Lyman’s Tayler Anderson and Kelly Walsh’s Madison Vinich are the only players to be four-time all-state in two different team sports; both were four-time picks in volleyball and basketball.

The fall four-time all-state selections are:

Volleyball
Wendy Anderson, Cokeville, 1987-90
Stephanie Laya, Tongue River, 1993-96
Katie Nate, Cokeville, 1996-99
Meggie Malyurek, Big Horn, 1997-2000
Erin Scherry, Big Horn, 1997-2000
Tayler Anderson, Lyman, 2005-08
Paige Neves, Burlington, 2006-09
Madison Vinich, Kelly Walsh, 2014-17
Haedyn Rhoades, Douglas, 2015-18
Danilynn Schell, Kelly Walsh, 2016-19
McKenzie Earl, Rawlins, 2017-20
Demi Stauffenberg, Lander, 2018-21
Alexis Stucky, Laramie, 2018-21

Football
Ty Barrus, Meeteetse, 1987-90
James Caro, Kaycee, 2009-12
Drake Lamp, Lusk, 2017-20

For soccer, the four-time all-state choices are:

Girls
Marcee Owens, Natrona, 1988-91
Liza Schmidt, Cheyenne Central, 1991-94
Erin Bowler, Cheyenne East, 1995-98
Jenny Watkins, Lander, 1995-98
Lindsey Sosovec, Cheyenne East, 1995-98
Monica Trujillo, Cheyenne East, 1995-98
Jessie Zebroski, Lander, 1997-00
Melissa Speiser, Natrona, 1997-00
Enedina Vasco, Riverton, 1998-01
Ariela Schreibeis, Laramie, 2007-10
Bridget Schumacher, Cody, 2009-12
Jessica Freeze, Jackson, 2010-13
Sarah Erickson, Cheyenne East, 2011-14
Hannah Bailey, Cody, 2014-17
Taylor Stoeger, Green River, 2014-17
Casey Wassum, Worland, 2015-18
Lexi Pulley, Laramie, 2015-18
Eli Olsen, Buffalo, 2016-19
Grace Roswadovski, Campbell County/Thunder Basin, 2016-19

Boys
Jared White, Cheyenne East, 1992-95
Robert George, Kelly Walsh, 2013-16

+++

Individual sports are harder to track because what constitutes “all-state” varies from sport to sport. However, across a variety of individual sports, we can keep track of four-time state champions, something that’s maybe even harder to do than all-state in a team sport.

Cross country: Three girls have won state cross country four times, one each at the 4A, 3A and 2A levels:

Sarah Balfour, Natrona, 4A, 2001-04
Emily Higgins, Rocky Mountain, 2A, 2002-05
Sydney Thorvaldson, Rawlins, 3A, 2017-20

No boys have ever won state cross country titles four times, although Saratoga’s Grant Bartlett has a chance to do so at the 2A level next season.

—-

Golf: Two boys and two girls have finished as four-time state champions:

Boys
Easton Paxton, Riverton, 4A, 2013-16
Hardy Johnson, Thermopolis, 2A, 2018-21

Girls
Mardi Johnson, Buffalo, 3A, 1991-94
Whittney Coon, Lusk, 2A, 2003-06

—-

Gymnastics: Although no longer sanctioned by the WHSAA, two boys (across four events) and four girls (across six events) have been four-time event or all-around champions.

Boys
Chris Santistevan, Laramie, vault, 1984-87
Steven George, Laramie, pommel horse, rings and all-around, 1989-92

Girls
Jennifer Perry, Laramie, uneven parallel bars, 1979-82
Amanda Murdock, Kelly Walsh, floor exercise, vault and all-around 1985-88
Julie Kasper, Campbell County, all-around, 1996-99
Kaitlyn Balfour, Natrona, uneven parallel bars, 2005-08

—-

Nordic skiing: Jackson’s Willie Neal is an eight-time champion, winning both races at state every year from 2005-08. Jackson’s Anna Gibson won the freestyle race four years in a row from 2014-17 and won six individual titles in all after winning the classic races in 2016 and 2017, the most individual championships for any one skier on the girls’ side.

—-

Swimming: Three boys and five girls have the distinction of being eight-time individual champions, never losing an individual race at state (as swimmers are capped at two individual races at state). They are:

Boys
John Green, Sheridan, 1984-87
Phil Rehard, Rawlins, 1993-96
Jake Rehard, Rawlins, 1995-98

Girls
Cindy Miyake, Laramie, 1974-77
Yvonne Brown, Campbell County, 1980-83
Shelly Smith, Greybull, 1981-84
Marsha Landowski, Newcastle, 1987-90
Katie Peck, Buffalo, 1996-99

(Note that individual swimming records at the state meet are woefully incomplete prior to the 1970s.)

Track and field: Eight boys and 58 girls have won a single event four consecutive times. See that list here. However, no track athlete has ever won 16 individual championships (winning your maximum of four individual events every year for four years). The closest to that mark is Mountain View’s Amber Henry, who won 15 individual titles from 2005-08, and Campbell County’s Emily Moore, who won 14 from 2003-06. (Those don’t include relay titles.)

The boys with the most individual championships are Byron’s Tom Bassett and Medicine Bow’s Leonard Padilla. Basset and Padilla both won 12 individual championships, Bassett from 1974-77 and Padilla from 1969-72. However, both competed in eras prior to the cap of four individual events per person at the state meet.

—-

Wrestling: In all, 24 wrestlers have finished their careers with four state championships. They are:

Dave Edington, Saratoga, 1957-60
Ray Sanchez, Cheyenne Central, 1962-65
John Lucchi, Rock Springs, 1970-73
Lanny Schneider, Worland, 1984-87
Russell Davis, Upton, 1988-91
Bobby Thoman, Wind River, 1995-98
Troy McIlravy, Campbell County, 1995-98
Cody Grant, Torrington, 2001-04
Jeff Wood, Campbell County, 2004-07
Jared Hatley, Torrington, 2005-08
Kasey Garnhart, Greybull-Riverside, 2005-08
Tyler Cox, Campbell County, 2006-09
Auston Carter, Powell, 2007-10
Dani Fischer, Campbell County, 2010-13
Bryce Meredith, Cheyenne Central, 2011-14
Justin Lewton, Worland, 2011-14
James Teichert, Cokeville, 2012-15
Tevis Bartlett, Cheyenne East, 2012-15
Kye Catlin, Powell, 2013-16
Donny Proffit, Kemmerer, 2016-19
Tate Stoddard, Glenrock, 2016-19
Dawson Schramm, Kemmerer, 2017-20
Jace Palmer, Kelly Walsh, 2017-20
Analu Benabise, Kelly Walsh, 2018-21

—-

Indoor track and alpine skiing have never had a four-time champion in any one event, although alpine skiing records are incomplete.

–patrick

If you follow sister site wyoming-basketball.com on Twitter (or if you follow wyoming-football.com on Facebook, where an occasional wyoming-basketball.com update will show up), you will by no doubt have seen that I enlisted the help of former Wyoming high school coach John Tate to come up with the top 25 boys and top 25 girls basketball players from the state since 1976.

Not everyone agreed with John’s choices, which is fine — we’re all entitled to our opinion, and I love the discussion that these kinds of lists can generate.

What we’re not allowed to do, though, is fudge our facts. And what’s become increasingly clear from the comments left on Facebook, on Twitter and on the site is that we grossly overestimate the number of four-time all-state basketball selections who have played in Wyoming.

Thanks to a collection of research posted on wyoming-basketball.com, we now have full all-state teams back to 1932 available on demand for every season.

And we have a list of two-time, three-time and four-time all-state selections. Type in “4x” into the search bar here, and you’ll see the list of four-time all-state selections is small, just 21 players — 16 girls, five boys — all-time.

The five boys? Wyoming Indian’s Myron Chavez (1983-86); Snake River’s Dale Reed (1986-89); Ten Sleep’s Logan Burningham (2010-13); Buffalo’s Trey Schroefel (2013-16); and Pine Bluffs’ Hunter Thompson (2014-17). That’s it.

The girls’ list is longer and includes:

  • Amy Carver, Mountain View, 1977-80
  • Deb Sylte, Newcastle, 1978-81
  • Debbie Jacobson, Evanston, 1985-88
  • Jamie Crawford, Greybull, 1986-89
  • Sara Horton, Greybull, 1990-93
  • Molly Marso, Campbell County, 1995-98
  • Sunny Guild, Mountain View, 1995-98
  • Mary Brown, Thermopolis, 2001-04
  • Alysia Kraft, Encampment, 2002-05
  • Tahnee Robinson, Lander, 2003-06
  • Tayler Anderson, Lyman, 2006-09
  • Robbi Ryan, Sheridan, 2013-16
  • Madison Vinich, Kelly Walsh, 2015-18
  • McKinley Bradshaw, Lyman, 2016-19
  • Ky Buell, Rock Springs/Cheyenne East, 2017-20
  • Allyson Fertig, Douglas, 2018-21

So if you want to claim that someone who wasn’t listed among John’s top 25s deserved a spot there, or deserved a higher spot, totally cool! Let’s talk about it; you might just be right. Be sure to leave a comment on those posts (girls and boys) on wyoming-basketball.com.

But if you want to claim that someone was a four-time all-state selection and they weren’t, well… now you’re a liar. Because you now have the tools to know better.

–patrick

Updated 9:49 a.m. Dec. 31 to include Chavez, who was unintentionally left off the first list.

Thunder Basin’s last game of its 2021 season did not end the way the ‘Bolts hoped it would.

In a 17-14 overtime loss to Natrona in the Class 4A quarterfinals, Thunder Basin’s season came to an end.

Nevertheless, the loss still provided a historical first — the program’s first overtime game in five years of existence. And it’s no surprise that Thunder Basin played Natrona in an overtime game.

Since 1975, when overtime became the standard for Wyoming high school football, 277 games have gone into overtime. In breaking down all 277, here are some takeaways:

  • No team has played more overtime games than Natrona.
  • No team has done better than Lingle.
  • No team has done worse than Pinedale.

Overtime has been around in Wyoming high school football since 1975; prior to that, games that were tied at the end of regulation were just called ties, while playoff games tied at the end of regulation were broken by a variety of methods.

Wyoming’s first first non-playoff overtime game was in the first full week of the 1975 season. Basin and Tongue River went into two overtimes to decide a winner, with the Bobcats emerging with a 30-24 victory in Dayton.

That was the first of seven OT games in 1975, including three involving Basin — a single-team record for overtime games in a season that has been matched three other times (Upton in 1977, Cheyenne East in 1986 and Natrona in 2013) but never surpassed.

Who crushes overtime — and who OT crushes

Lingle has the best winning percentage of any program that’s played in more than one overtime game. The Doggers are 8-1 all-time in overtimes, most recently winning in 2020 against Greybull in extra time.

Rock Springs and Lyman aren’t far behind. Both Southwest programs are 80% winners in OT, with the Tigers at 8-2 and the Eagles at 4-1 all-time in OT games.

With 10 victories, Evanston has won more overtime games than any other program.

At the bottom of the list is Pinedale, which has won just one of its seven OT games in program history; Kemmerer isn’t far off the pace at 1-5 all-time.

Of programs that have been around since 1975, no one is undefeated in OT, and no one is winless.

Who loves it — and who hates it

By a small margin, Natrona has played in more overtime games (20) since 1975 than any other Wyoming program; the Mustangs are 9-11 in those games. Star Valley and Evanston have both played in 17 OT games, including four times against each other, while four programs (Central, East, Laramie and Green River) have played in 15 apiece.

Of the six programs that have never played in an overtime game, none have been around longer than 2009; they are Cheyenne South, Upton-Sundance, St. Stephens, Kaycee, Encampment and Farson. Of teams that have been around the full span of OT, both Rawlins and Guernsey-Sunrise share the spot for the fewest overtime games with three apiece. Both are 1-2 in those games.

Oddly enough, of all teams active in 1975 that are still going today, Sheridan went the longest before having its first overtime game; the Broncs didn’t play in an overtime affair until 1999. Since then, the Broncs have had six more. And Dubois takes the cake for currently having avoided OT the longest; the Rams haven’t played in extra time since 1994. Up until an overtime game against Big Horn in 2021, Torrington held that spot, having not played an overtime game since 1991. In addition to Dubois, two other programs — Ten Sleep (1995) and Hanna (1999) — also haven’t played in OT in the 21st century.

The series that saw the most consecutive games go to overtime is Douglas/Glenrock. Three consecutive games between the Bearcats and Herders from 1988-90 all went overtime.

Numbers going down?

The number of overtime games per season has fluctuated over time, but no season since 2010 has had more than five. However, there were 15 overtime games in 2007 (including four on opening weekend alone), 12 in 2008 and 11 in 2009 — a three-year total of 38 that is only barely surpassed by the total of the 12 seasons that followed it (42). The 15 OT games in 2007 is the single-season record; meanwhile, 2012 and 2014 only had one overtime game apiece, the record for the fewest such games in a season.

The first week of the 1994 season tied 2007 for the most overtime games in a week with four, but the entire 1994 season only finished with six OT games. The final week of the 1999 season also had four overtime games, a lot for a season that only finished with nine.

Bye to the tie — unless it gets weird

Wyoming’s final non-accidental tie was Meeteetse’s 12-12 tie with Manderson on Oct. 30, 1974; since overtime came along, only two other games have finished as ties, and those were under weird circumstances.

The 45-45 shootout draw staged between Big Horn and Riverside was staged in the 1987 season opener on Sept. 4. The game went three overtimes, but after the overtimes failed to determine a winner, the officials called the game a draw. This was also Riverside’s first game in its incarnation as Riverside after the high schools of Basin and Manderson joined over the previous summer.

A weird set of circumstances in a 2017 game between Rocky Mountain and the Natrona sophomores led to the second tie score in Wyoming since overtime was instituted prior to the 1975 season. First, the game was a neutral-site affair, played in Thermopolis. Second, the score was 9-9 ­— an odd score for teams to reach regardless, but even odder for two teams to reach in the same game. Third, the game never finished on the field, as the threat of lightning strikes led to the game’s premature ending at halftime. The odds of all those circumstances coming together at once (neutral site, scores of 9, weather cancelation and tie game)? Astronomically against. 

+++

The table below notes records in overtime games since 1975, through the end of the 2021 season. The table is sortable by each category by clicking on the header column.

TeamOT WOT LWin %Total GamesFirstLast
Basin310.750419751980
St. Mary's310.750419751988
Dubois310.750419781994
Ten Sleep340.429719771995
Hanna430.571719801999
Rawlins120.333319892003
Midwest340.429719782003
Jackson140.200519752004
Kemmerer150.167619752006
Saratoga130.250419822006
Meeteetse430.571719772006
Sundance340.429719772007
Upton480.3331219762008
NSI220.500420002008
Wheatland330.500619852008
Thermopolis420.667619762008
Wind River350.375819802009
Lusk340.429719842009
Lander340.429719792009
Worland340.429719792009
Wyoming Indian330.500619882009
Star Valley980.5291719772009
Cody570.4171219762010
Lyman410.800519762010
Cokevile650.5451119752011
Evanston1070.5881719752011
Buffalo320.600519832011
Green River690.4001519792012
Big Horn630.667919802012
Kelly Walsh250.286719792013
Powell440.500819792013
Guernsey-Sunrise120.333319822015
Glenrock360.333919782015
Hulett330.500619952015
Moorcroft660.5001219812015
Pinedale160.143719752016
Big Piney570.4171219762016
Burlington340.429719832016
Lovell850.6151319762016
Mountain View730.7001019752016
Snake River101.000120162016
Wright250.286719852017
Southeast750.5831219782017
Pine Bluffs670.4621319772018
Rocky Mountain430.571719882018
Cheyenne Central960.6001519782018
Burns320.600519752018
Shoshoni310.750419822018
Rock Springs820.8001019812018
Laramie690.4001519762019
Riverton560.4551119822019
Cheyenne East780.4671519782019
Douglas840.6671219782019
Campbell County830.7271119862019
Sheridan430.571719992020
Lingle810.889919772020
Thunder Basin010.000120212021
Tongue River140.200519752021
Greybull390.2501219752021
Natrona9110.4502019762021
Riverside330.500619902021
Newcastle430.571719762021
Torrington320.600519782021
Cheyenne South00--0NANA
Upton-Sundance00--0NANA
St. Stephens00--0NANA
Kaycee00--0NANA
Encampment00--0NANA
Farson00--0NANA

–patrick

The 2021 season — as much as it can be — is now incorporated into each individual page on wyoming-football.com. Let me know if something looks weird or incorrect, or if I missed something, by leaving a comment here or emailing me: pschmiedt@yahoo.com.

With that, here were some team record scoring and streaks that made their way to their respective top 10s this year:

The 148 combined points scored by Dubois (68) and Meeteetse (80) in their game on Sept. 18 tied for the ninth-most combined points in a single game.

The 102 points scored combined by Buffalo (27) and Jackson (75) in their 3A quarterfinal game was the fourth-most ever by two teams in an 11-man playoff game. Jackson’s 75 points was the second-most points ever scored by one team in an 11-man playoff game.

Cheyenne South’s 490 points allowed is sixth-most all-time for a single 11-man season. The 54.44 points allowed per game by the Bison was 10th all-time most allowed in an 11-man season.

Cokeville extended existing records with its 34th consecutive winning season and its 36th consecutive non-losing season. Sheridan reached the top 10 with its 15th consecutive non-losing season and also moved up to tied for third all-time with its 15th consecutive winning season.

Laramie stayed in second place all-time with its 21st consecutive losing season and remained in third with its 21st consecutive non-winning season. Moorcroft moved into a tie for fifth with its 13th consecutive losing season. Together, Worland and Wyoming Indian moved into a tie for seventh with their 12th consecutive losing seasons. And Wright moved into a tie for seventh with its 15th consecutive non-winning season.

Updates for individual records, all-state and other postseason honors will happen when they are available. Enjoy…

–patrick

Here’s a quick look at the playoff scenarios for Wyoming high school football teams entering Week 8 of the 2021 season:

Class 4A
Week 8 games affecting playoff seeding: Campbell County at Kelly Walsh; Cheyenne South at Natrona; Laramie at Cheyenne Central; Rock Springs at Cheyenne East; Sheridan at Thunder Basin.
Cheyenne East: In. No. 1 seed with victory. No. 3 seed with loss.
Rock Springs: In. No. 1 seed with victory and Thunder Basin victory. No. 2 seed with victory and Sheridan victory. No. 3 seed with loss and Sheridan victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (score differential to break) with loss and Thunder Basin victory.
Sheridan: In. No. 1 seed with victory and Rock Springs victory. No. 2 seed with victory and East victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (score differential to break) with loss and East victory. No. 4 seed with loss and Rock Springs victory.
Thunder Basin: In. No. 2 seed with victory and Rock Springs victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (score differential to break) with victory and East victory. No. 4 seed with loss and South victory. No. 5 seed with loss and Natrona victory.
Natrona: In. No. 4 seed with victory and Sheridan victory. No. 5 seed with victory and Thunder Basin victory. No. 5 seed with loss.
Campbell County, Kelly Walsh: In. No. 6 seed with victory. No. 7 seed with loss.
Cheyenne Central, Laramie: Neither in nor out. No. 8 seed with victory. Out with loss.
Cheyenne South: Out.

Here’s a breakdown of how the seeding would go for the top five seeds with the three games in play:

If Natrona beats South
TeamsEastRock SpringsSheridanThunder BasinNatrona
Rock Springs, Sheridan win32154
Rock Springs, Thunder Basin win31425
East, Sheridan win13254
East, Thunder Basin win14325
If South beats Natrona
TeamsEastRock SpringsSheridanThunder BasinNatrona
Rock Springs, Sheridan win32145
Rock Springs, Thunder Basin win31425
East, Sheridan win13245
East, Thunder Basin win14325

Score differential tiebreaker (updated 10-21): If Thunder Basin, Sheridan and Rock Springs tied for the 2-3-4 seeds… Thunder Basin would have the victory against the highest-ranking non-tied team (East), so would be the No. 2 seed. Sheridan then is the No. 3 seed due to head-to-head victory over Rock Springs, which would be seeded fourth. Thanks to Nash in the comments for correcting the error I had previously listed in this scenario.

Class 3A East
Week 8 games affecting playoff seeding: Douglas at Worland; Lander at Buffalo.
Douglas: In. No. 1 seed with victory. No. 2 seed with loss and Lander victory. Tie for 1-2-3 seeds (score differential/coin flip to break) with loss and Buffalo victory.
Buffalo: In. Tie for 1-2-3 seeds (score differential/coin flip to break) with victory and Worland victory. No. 2 seed with victory and Douglas victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (score differential/coin flip to break) with loss and Douglas victory. No. 4 seed with loss and Worland victory.
Worland: In. No. 1 seed with victory and Lander victory. Tie for 1-2-3 seeds (score differential/coin flip to break) with victory and Buffalo victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (score differential/coin flip to break) with loss and Lander victory. No. 3 seed with loss and Buffalo victory.
Lander: In. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (score differential/coin flip to break) with victory and Douglas victory. No. 3 seed with victory and Worland victory. No. 4 seed with loss.
Rawlins, Riverton: Out.
Score differential tiebreakers:
Scenario 1: If Buffalo, Worland and Lander tied for the 2-3-4 seeds… Lander would have to defeat Buffalo by 10 or more points to win the No. 2 seed (Lander +3, Buffalo +2, Worland -5). Buffalo would be the No. 3 seed by virtue of its head-to-head victory over Worland, which would be the fourth seed. … If Lander won by nine or fewer points, Buffalo would be the No. 2 seed. Worland would be the No. 3 seed with a head-to-head victory over Lander, which would be the No. 4 seed.
Scenario 2: If Douglas, Buffalo and Worland tied for the 1-2-3 seeds… Worland would have to beat Douglas by at least 12 points to force a coin flip for the 1-2-3 seeds. A Worland victory by 11 or fewer points would give Douglas the point differential tiebreaker and the No. 1 seed. Buffalo would then be the No. 2 seed due to its victory against Worland.

Class 3A West
Week 8 games affecting playoff seeding: Evanston at Powell; Jackson at Cody.
Cody, Jackson: In. No. 1 seed with victory. No. 2 seed with loss.
Star Valley: In. No. 3 seed.
Evanston, Powell: Neither in nor out. No. 4 seed with victory. Out with loss.
Green River: Out.

Class 2A East
Week 8 games potentially affecting playoff seeding: Burns at Torrington; Tongue River at Glenrock; Upton-Sundance at Big Horn; Wheatland at Newcastle.
Torrington: In. No. 1 seed.
Wheatland: Neither in nor out. No. 2 seed with victory. No. 4 seed with loss and Upton-Sundance victory. Get in a messy tie with loss and Big Horn victory (see below).
Upton-Sundance: Neither in nor out. No. 2 seed with victory and Newcastle victory. No. 3 seed with victory and Wheatland victory. No. 4 seed with loss and Wheatland victory. Get in a messy tie with loss and Newcastle victory (see below).
Big Horn: Neither in nor out. No. 3 seed with victory and Wheatland victory. Get in a messy tie with victory and Newcastle victory (see below). Get in a messy tie with loss and Wheatland victory (see below). Either out or in a messy tie (see below) with loss and Wheatland victory.
Newcastle: Neither in nor out. No. 3 seed with victory and Upton-Sundance victory. Get in a messy tie with victory and Big Horn victory (see below). Get in a messy tie or out with loss and Upton-Sundance victory (see below). Out with loss and Big Horn victory.
Burns: Neither in nor out. Need a victory, a Tongue River victory, an Upton-Sundance victory and a Wheatland victory to get in a messy tie (see below). Out in all other scenarios.
Tongue River: Neither in nor out. Need a victory, a Burns victory, an Upton-Sundance victory and a Wheatland victory to get in a messy tie (see below). Out in all other scenarios.
Glenrock: Out.
Here are the 2A East scenarios for Week 8. They involve the potential for two four-way tiebreakers, which would be broken with a method TBD, as well as a three-way tiebreaker to be broken by either point differential or coin flip:

If Tongue River beats Glenrock…WheatlandUpton-SundanceBig HornNewcastleBurnsTongue River
Burns, U-S, Wheatland win23tie 4-out-out-outtie 4-out-out-outout (even in tie)tie 4-out-out-outScenario 1
Burns, U-S, Newcastle win42out3outout
Burns, Big Horn, Wheatland win243outoutout
Burns, Big Horn, Newcastle win243outoutoutScenario 2
Torrington, U-S, Wheatland win234outoutoutScenario 3
Torrington, U-S, Newcastle win42out3outout
Torrington, Big Horn, Wheatland win243outoutout
Torrington, Big Horn, Newcastle win243outoutoutScenario 2
If Glenrock beats Tongue River…WheatlandUpton-SundanceBig HornNewcastleBurnsTongue River
Burns, U-S, Wheatland win234outoutoutScenario 4
Burns, U-S, Newcastle win42out3outout
Burns, Big Horn, Wheatland win243outoutout
Burns, Big Horn, Newcastle win243outoutoutScenario 2
Torrington, U-S, Wheatland win234outoutout
Torrington, U-S, Newcastle win42out3outout
Torrington, Big Horn, Wheatland win243outoutout
Torrington, Big Horn, Newcastle win243outoutoutScenario 2

Tiebreaker scenarios:
Scenario 1: Where Big Horn, Burns, Newcastle and Tongue River tie for the fourth and final spot, Burns would be 0-3 against the other three teams and would be eliminated from the tiebreaker. The remaining three teams would have their tie broken by a coin flip, with the odd team out and the head-to-head winner of the remaining teams taking the spot in the playoffs. (Four-way ties do not revert to three-way ties in cases like this.) Thanks to WHSAA Associate Commissioner Trevor Wilson for clarification on this tiebreaker.

Scenario 2 (updated 10-21): Where Wheatland, Upton-Sundance, Big Horn and Newcastle tie for the 2-3-4 spots and one team finishing out, the four-way tiebreaking instructions would be used. In a case where two teams are 2-1 and the other two are 1-2 against each other, the two 2-1 teams would take the top two seeds, with the head-to-head result determining the higher seed. In this situation, Wheatland and Big Horn would be seeded 2 and 3, as both are 2-1 and Wheatland will have defeated Big Horn. Then Upton-Sundance and Newcastle, the two 1-2 teams, would have Upton-Sundance seeded fourth and Newcastle out due to the head-to-head victory. Thanks to WHSAA Associate Commissioner Trevor Wilson for further clarification on this tiebreaker.
Scenario 3: Where Big Horn, Newcastle and Tongue River tie for the fourth and final spot, Big Horn would win a score differential tiebreaker (Big Horn +11, Tongue River -2, Newcastle -9).
Scenario 4: Where Big Horn, Newcastle and Burns tie for the fourth and final spot, Big Horn gains the No. 4 seed with head-to-head victories over both.

Class 2A West
Week 8 games affecting playoff seeding: Big Piney at Kemmerer; Lovell at Cokeville.
Lyman: In. No. 1 seed.
Lovell: In. No. 2 seed with victory. No. 3 seed with loss and Kemmerer victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (score differential to break) with loss and Big Piney victory.
Cokeville: In. No. 2 seed with victory and Kemmerer victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (score differential to break) with victory and Big Piney victory. No. 4 seed with loss.
Big Piney: In. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (score differential to break) with victory and Cokeville victory. No. 3 seed with Lovell victory, regardless of win or loss. No. 4 seed with loss and Cokeville victory.
Thermopolis, Kemmerer, Mountain View, Pinedale: Out.
Score differential tiebreaker: If Lovell, Cokeville and Big Piney all tie for the 2-3-4 seeds… Cokeville would have to defeat Lovell by 10 or more points to secure the No. 2 seed. If that happens, Cokeville will be 2, and Lovell will be No. 3 by virtue of the head-to-head victory against Big Piney, which will be fourth. … If Cokeville wins by nine or fewer, Lovell will win the score differential tiebreaker, with Big Piney getting the No. 3 seed with the head-to-head victory over Cokeville, which would be the fourth seed. A coin flip wouldn’t be used, since it’s mathematically impossible to finish with a tied score differential given the two existing final scores.

Class 1A nine-man East
Week 8 games affecting playoff seeding: Wright at Southeast.
Pine Bluffs: In. No. 1 seed.
Lusk: In. No. 2 seed.
Southeast, Wright: In. No. 3 seed with victory. No. 4 seed with loss.
Lingle, Saratoga: Out.
Moorcroft: Ineligible.

Class 1A nine-man West
Week 8 games affecting playoff seeding: Shoshoni at Riverside; Wind River at Wyoming Indian (both Thursday).
Shoshoni: In. No. 1 seed.
Rocky Mountain: In. No. 2 seed.
Wind River: In. No. 3 seed with victory. No. 3 seed with loss and Shoshoni victory. No. 4 seed with loss and Riverside victory.
Riverside: In. No. 3 seed with victory and Wyoming Indian victory. No. 4 seed with victory and Wind River victory. No. 4 seed with loss.
Greybull, St. Stephens, Wyoming Indian: Out.

Class 1A six-man East
Week 8 games affecting playoff seeding: Midwest at Guernsey; Kaycee at Hanna (Saturday).
Hulett: In. No. 1 seed.
Guernsey: In. No. 2 seed with victory. No. 3 seed with loss and Hanna victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (score differential/coin flip to break) with loss and Kaycee victory.
Midwest: Neither in nor out. No. 2 seed with victory and Hanna victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (score differential/coin flip to break) with victory and Kaycee victory. No. 3 seed with loss and Hanna victory. No. 4 seed with loss and Kaycee victory.
Kaycee: Neither in nor out. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (score differential/coin flip to break) with victory and Midwest victory. No. 3 seed with victory and Guernsey victory. Out with loss.
Hanna: Neither in nor out. No. 4 seed with victory. Out with loss.
Score differential tiebreakers:
Scenario 1: If Midwest, Kaycee and Guernsey tied for the 2-3-4 seeds… Midwest would have to defeat Guernsey by six or more points to win the No. 2 seed (Midwest 1, Guernsey 1, Kaycee -2, with Midwest winning the head-to-head tie for the second seed; Midwest wins the differential outright by winning by seven or more). Guernsey would be the No. 3 seed by virtue of its head-to-head victory over Kaycee, which would be fourth. … If Midwest won by five or fewer points, Guernsey would win the score differential and be the No. 2 seed. Kaycee would be No. 3 with its head-to-head victory over Midwest, and Midwest would be seeded No. 4.
Scenario 2: If Midwest, Hanna and Kaycee tied for the final two seeds… Midwest would win the score differential tiebreaker in all scenarios. Hanna can’t catch Midwest (current score differential Midwest +7, Kaycee +5, Hanna -12). Midwest would win the score differential tiebreaker, and Hanna would be the No. 4 seed by virtue of the head-to-head victory over Kaycee, no matter the margin.

Class 1A six-man West
Week 8 games affecting playoff seeding: none.
Snake River: In. No. 1 seed.
Encampment: In. No. 2 seed.
Meeteetse: In. No. 3 seed.
Dubois: In. No. 4 seed.
Burlington, Farson: Out.
Even with two conference games this weekend, seeds are set. Snake River, even with a loss, wins all tiebreakers with Encampment; Encampment, even with a loss, wins all tiebreakers with Meeteetse; Farson, even with a victory, loses all tiebreakers with Dubois. There are no potential three-way ties that could happen in the conference standings.

–patrick

Note: Post updated 3:27 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, to update 1A six-man East scenarios. Post updated 4:32 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, to update 1A six-man West scenarios. Post updated 9:44 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, to update 2A East scenarios. Post updated 3:06 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19, with updated 2A East four-way tiebreaker scenarios. Post updated 4:51 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19, with updated 2A West tiebreakers after result of Thermopolis/Big Piney game. Post updated 2:15 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21, to reflect correction to error in 4A tiebreaker and additional guidance from the WHSAA office regarding the 2A East four-way tiebreaker possibilities.

Last season, the NFL had three players from Wyoming high schools on their active rosters — Jacob Bobenmoyer (Cheyenne East) with Denver, Taven Bryan (Natrona) with Jacksonville and Logan Wilson (Natrona) with Cincinnati.

In Week 4 last season, Bryan’s Jaguars played Wilson’s Bengals. Unfortunately, Wilson missed the game due to injury. If he had played, it would have given Wyoming football fans a rare opportunity to see two Wyoming high school graduates play against each other in an NFL game.

This season, the Bengals, Jaguars and Broncos all play each other once. Jacksonville hosts Denver this Sunday, in Week 2 (Sept. 19), Cincinnati hosts Jacksonville in Week 4 (Sept. 30, Thursday night game) and Denver hosts Cincinnati in Week 15 (Dec. 19).

If Bobenmoyer, Bryan and Wilson can all remain on rosters, active and injury-free, three games where two Wyoming high school players lined up on opposite sidelines would give us more games of that kind than any time since the 2005 season and Wyoming’s first since 2012.

Using my Wyoming-to-NFL listings, which includes every player who took at least one NFL regular-season snap, as a starting point, I combed pro-football-reference.com to see when we’ve had such games. I found 27 such games. Here is what I could find:

Sept. 29, 1963: Boyd Dowler’s (Cheyenne Central) Packers beat Jerry Hill’s (Lingle) Colts 31-20. Coincidentally, Hill and Dowler scored the first two touchdowns of the game. Dowler had five catches for 74 yards and two touchdowns; Hill finished with four carries for 8 yards.

Oct. 27, 1963: Dowler’s Packers beat Hill’s Colts 34-20. Dowler had two catches for 23 yards; Hill had three carries for 6 yards.

Sept. 20, 1964: Hill’s Colts beat Dowler’s Packers 21-20. Hill carried 15 times for 49 yards and caught two passes for 28 yards; Dowler had seven catches for 66 yards.

Oct. 18, 1964: Hill’s Colts beat Dowler’s Packers 24-21. Dowler had two catches for 55 yards; Hill didn’t make the box score. (Hill may have missed this game due to injury, but reports from the time are unclear.)

Sept. 26, 1965: Dowler’s Packers beat Hill’s Colts 20-17. Dowler had four catches for 53 yards; Hill had 12 carries for 42 yards and a touchdown.

Dec. 12, 1965: Dowler’s Packers beat Hill’s Colts 42-27. Dowler and Hill each scored a touchdown. Dowler had four catches for 40 yards; Hill had nine carries for 24 yards.

Dec. 26, 1965: Dowler’s Packers beat Hill’s Colts 13-10 in the divisional playoffs. Dowler had five catches for 50 yards; Hill had 16 carries for 57 yards.

Sept. 10, 1966: Dowler’s Packers beat Hill’s Colts 24-3. Dowler had six catches for 73 yards; Hill ran 13 times for 51 yards and had two catches for 10 yards.

Dec. 10, 1966: Dowler’s Packers beat Hill’s Colts 14-10. Hill carried 25 times for 88 yards; Dowler didn’t make the box score.

Nov. 5, 1967: Hill’s Colts beat Dowler’s Packers 13-10. Dowler had four catches for 60 yards; Hill carried 11 times for 48 yards and had two catches for a net zero yards.

Nov. 9, 1969: Hill’s Colts beat Dowler’s Packers 14-6. Dowler had three catches for 37 yards; Hill carried 10 times for 45 yards and had one catch for minus-3 yards.

Oct. 9, 1977: Don Westbrook’s (Cheyenne Central) Patriots beat Nick Bebout’s (Shoshoni) Seahawks 31-0. Neither one was in the box score; Bebout started for the Seahawks on the offensive line.

Oct. 5, 1980: Westbrook’s Patriots beat Jesse Johnson’s (Cheyenne East) Jets 21-11. Neither one was in the box score.

Nov. 2, 1980: Westbrook’s Patriots beat Johnson’s Jets 34-21. Neither one was in the box score.

Oct. 11, 1981: Johnson’s Jets beat Westbrook’s Patriots 28-24. Neither one was in the box score.

Nov. 15, 1981: Johnson’s Jets beat Westbrook’s Patriots 17-6. Neither one was in the box score.

Sept. 22, 1985: Jim Eliopulos’ (Cheyenne Central) Jets beat Mike McLeod’s (Cheyenne East) Packers 24-3. Neither one was in the box score.

Oct. 31, 2005: Brett Keisel’s (Greybull) Steelers beat Aaron Elling’s (Lander) Ravens 20-19. Keisel had one tackle; Elling handled kickoffs and had one tackle.

Nov. 6, 2005: Keisel’s Steelers beat Brady Poppinga’s (Evanston) Packers 20-10. Each player had two tackles.

Nov. 20, 2005: Elling’s Ravens beat Keisel’s Steelers 16-13. Keisel had one tackle; Elling handled the Ravens’ kickoffs.

Dec. 20, 2009: Keisel’s Steelers beat Poppinga’s Packers 37-36. Poppinga had one tackle, a sack; Keisel had one tackle.

Oct. 3, 2010: Poppinga’s Packers beat John Wendling’s (Rock Springs) Lions 28-26. Wendling had two tackles; Poppinga had one tackle.

Oct. 16, 2011: Keisel’s Steelers beat John Chick (Campbell County) and Chris Prosinski’s (Buffalo) Jaguars 17-13. Keisel had six tackles, including a sack, and a pass deflection; Chick had a sack and a forced fumble; Prosinski had two tackles.

Dec. 24, 2011: Keisel’s Steelers beat Poppinga’s Rams 27-0. Poppinga had four tackles; Keisel had three tackles and a pass deflection.

Nov. 4, 2012: Wendling’s Lions beat Chick and Prosinski’s Jaguars 31-14. Prosinski had four tackles; Wendling and Chick played but did not make the box score.

Dec. 16, 2012: Poppinga’s Cowboys beat Keisel’s Steelers 27-24. Keisel had a fumble recovery; Poppinga had one tackle.

+++

I also found these times when two Wyoming high school products played on the same NFL team:

1935: Win Croft (Lovell) and Walt McDonald (Worland) played together on the Brooklyn Dodgers.

1973, 1974 and 1975: Nick Bebout (Shoshoni) and Dennis Havig (Powell) played together on the Atlanta Falcons.

1983: Jim Eliopulos (Cheyenne Central) and Jesse Johnson (Cheyenne East) played together for part of the season with the Jets.

2011 and 2012: Chris Prosinski (Buffalo) and John Chick (Campbell County) played together with the Jaguars.

Note: Some years, like 2020, gave us opportunities for these kind of games but didn’t happen. For example, in 1961, Dowler’s Packers twice played Hill’s Colts, and even though Hill was on the roster, he wasn’t activated for those particular games. Or, in Super Bowl XLV on Feb. 6, 2011, Keisel’s Steelers played Poppinga’s Packers, but Poppinga was on injured reserve and did not play. Or, in 2014, Keisel’s Steelers played Prosinski’s Jaguars, but the game came the week after Proskinski had been cut. Games that matched up teams where Wyoming players were on injured reserve or inactive have been removed.

Those games have been removed from these listings.

Similarly, Don Bracken (Thermopolis) and Mike McLeod (Cheyenne East) both played for the Packers in 1985. However, their times with the team did not overlap.

Additionally, in 2021, if either Bryan or Wilson, both defensive players, lines up on the other side of Bobenmoyer, a long snapper, it would represent one of just a handful of times that Wyoming high school players lined up across from each other in a regular-season NFL game. The only times such matchups could have happened in the games listed above were in the games between Westbrook (WR) and Johnson (DB) in 1980 and 1981 and the games between Keisel (DE) and Elling (K) in 2005.

–patrick

Want to know how hard an officiating crew can work during the season? Look no further than where that crew sleeps.

Saratoga football coach Logan Wright watched with both surprise and admiration last fall when the Saratoga gym turned into a makeshift hotel for an officiating crew.

The group had officiated a game Friday afternoon in Farson and then a Friday night game in Saratoga. That crew slept in the Saratoga gym that night before officiating a Saturday game in Baggs.

Wright said he appreciates Wyoming’s football officials, especially those willing to sacrifice and do that. But the scenario puts in clear view one of the biggest problems with Wyoming officials — their small number. With a small number of new, young officials joining the ranks, officials are often put in tough situations like the one in Saratoga last year.

In interviews with Wyoming high school football coaches this summer, they all echoed respect and appreciation for what officials do. But the coaches also said the shortage of football officials in Wyoming has affected game times, budgets, the make-up of the crews themselves, and more.

Game times

By far, the biggest challenge schools faced was the variety of start times based on officials’ availability.

“Ideally we’d have every game Friday at 6,” Wright said. ” … It’s not our AD’s fault. You can only play once the refs can get there.”

Six-man programs usually take the brunt of the trickle-down problems, as officiating crews cover Class 4A and Class 3A games first.

“The official shortage has had a bigger impact on the smaller schools,” Burlington coach Travis Aagard said. “It requires tough start times, which makes it hard for the fans to make it to games. Officials are double booked for the day, and the second game is usually a bigger school so they do not want to be late to that game. If the game is lopsided it works out, but if it is a close game with hard calls down the stretch when they are already pressed for time it can be uncomfortable.”

Even with the shortage, Guernsey coach Curtis Cook said some officiating crews will turn down working the Vikings’ six-man games because of the amount of running. Cook said officials have said they can do half as much running in an 11-man game and get paid the same amount. Cook said when officiating crews have a choice between six-man and 11-man, crews choose 11-man — a choice afforded by those low numbers.

“It’s a real thing, and it’s affecting our schedule,” Cook said. “Those Friday night games have almost become a treat. Other (bigger) schools, they get it every week.”

Added Meeteetse coach Zeb Hagen, “We’re one of the few smaller schools that has lights, and we can never turn them on because everyone’s doing the big games on Friday night. … I hate it. I’d rather play on Friday night every week.”

It’s not just six-man; Big Piney coach Ryan Visser said the Big Piney-Lovell game, a Class 2A game, will be played at 2 p.m. in Lovell this season. Because of that, though, Big Piney will have to be on a bus heading north by 5:30 a.m.

With crews often doing back-to-back games, quality can suffer, coaches said.

“You can’t do those back-to-back games and be on the top of your game, so I do think there are some lasting effects in it,” Shoshoni coach Tony Truempler said.

When crews aren’t running from a six-man or nine-man game to a 3A or 4A game, they’re often working two games on the same field in the same day — and that, too, can take a toll.

“We often play a freshman game on Friday before the varsity and the same crew usually has to work each game,” Cody coach Matt McFadden said. “That is a long day for the crew, especially when you throw in travel.”

ADs and coaches all know about the scheduling chase.

Moorcroft coach Travis Santistevan said when schools received schedules, they couldn’t begin scheduling officials until 4 p.m. At exactly 4, the Moorcroft AD, Dusty Petz, starting making calls.

“We literally went through almost everybody and we still had a tough time filling our (officiating) schedules… and that was at like 4:15,” Santistevan said.

Budgets

Many coaches said they look out-of-state to fill gaps in their officiating schedule, pulling in crews from every neighboring state.

However, those crews typically cost more than a Wyoming crew.

For at least one recent game, Wind River had to bring in officials all the way from Fort Collins, Colorado, at a cost of “an arm and a leg,” Cougars’ coach Mykah Trujillo said. Trujillo said he was frustrated that the extra cost had to go to officials from another state more than 300 miles from Pavillion and couldn’t stay with the program somehow.

“It definitely affects our program, especially monetarily,” he said. “Instead of using that money for something else, we’re using it to pay officials to come in from Fort Collins.”

Several coaches in southwestern Wyoming noted pulling crews from Idaho or Utah to make up for the lack of Wyoming crews.

“We only have two sets of officials on this side of the state,” Cokeville coach Todd Dayton said. ” … Then we have to go into Idaho and get officials, so it’s a big problem. I really don’t see anything changing. I wish it would.”

Crew make-up

Coaches identified a couple issues with how crews are put together due to the shortage.

The biggest of those problems is using an understaffed crew to officiate, for example, using four officials instead of five.

Greybull coach Jeremy Pouska said that as an assistant at Riverside last year, “There were a few games where we were understaff for officials. … As much as we want the kids to play fair and honest, a lot can go unseen if we’re understaffed.”

Lander coach John Scott said the problem is severe enough that there’s a possibility that five-man crews in the future could include three officials and then an assistant coach from each team.

Lyman coach Dale Anderson said one problem he sees is that the same crews officiate the same teams over and over. He said having some variety would be nice not just for teams and coaches but for officials, too.

Added Douglas coach Jay Rhoades, “When we go and play around the state, you see a lot of the same guys.”

Several coaches noted this arrangement becomes even more problematic if a coaching staff doesn’t have a good rapport with one of those oft-seen crews.

At the same time, though, the familiarity between coaches and officials does have benefits.

“I’ve been in Kansas and officials don’t even talk to you there,” Dubois coach David Trembly said. “Here, you know them by name and you can talk to them and ask them questions, and I love that about our officials.”

Cheyenne Central coach Mike Apodaca pointed out that one of the problems is that younger officials are being forced to officiate at the varsity level sooner than they would have previously. That lack of depth means newer officials are facing more high-pressure situations, and sometimes officials with less experience struggle with those situations more — and are more likely to leave officiating because of it.

Burns coach Brad Morrison echoed several coaches when he said brought up another problem — older officials stay longer than they used to out of obligation to help with the shortage. However, several coaches said some of the older officials have trouble keeping up physically, which lessens the quality of the game.

Other concerns

WHSAA Associate Commissioner Trevor Wilson said via email last week that the biggest problem is recruiting young officials. He echoed the coaches in their concerns, with poor sportsmanship from coaches and spectators, pay, work obligations, inability to get good games quickly and a lack of training all concerns.

While other sports are struggling to recruit officials, the problem is more acute in football.

Wilson provided data from the Wyoming Sports Officials Association with the total number of officials in each sport. The number of certified football officials in Wyoming peaked in 2012 at 124. Last year, there were 85. However, the total number was more stable — 295 in 2012 to 261 last year.

Lander’s Scott officiates during the basketball season, and he said part of the problem is that basketball officials can work multiple games throughout the week and come close to making it a part-time job. That’s not the case in football, where there are fewer games and therefore fewer opportunities to make money.

Officials’ pay was a consistent theme among coaches. Several coaches noted that increased pay would bring out more officials.

“I’ve been a basketball ref before and it is not an easy gig,” Burlington’s Aagard said. “You start thinking, ‘They don’t pay me enough to put up with this,’ when everyone is critical of your calls.”

Rock Springs coach Mark Lenhardt, the football representative for the Wyoming Coaches Association, said finding former players to become officials is complicated by a variety of things unique to the fall — namely hunting season, fans of UW football wanting to attend games, and the opportunity to do other outdoor activities before winter encouraging would-be officials to do something else besides officiating with their weekends.

Appreciation for the officials

Despite any problems, coaches over and over said they appreciate officials and the work they do.

“Officiating is a sport within a sport,” Burns’ Morrison said. “There is skill involved. Anyone who has never put on stripes should shut up, and let the officials work. It’s a hard enough job without a bunch of 40-something, ex-JV football players screaming insults for an entire game.”

Rawlins coach Clayton McSpadden said coaches in particular need to show patience with new officials. They’re still learning to be officials, and coaches have to give them the opportunity to learn as well, he said. He said those involved can’t expect officials to get entire game right.

“If that’s the expectation, maybe we should stop coaching and go be officials,” he said.

People interested in becoming an official can fill out a short application with the National Federation of High Schools, of which the WHSAA is a part.

–patrick

Part of why I continue to run wyoming-football.com — for which I started the research in 2004 and have since expanded to basketball and, well, everything else with Champlists — is that I keep learning new things.

The past year in particular, I hit the researching hard, thanks to a subscription to newspapers.com (a bonus made possible by those who provided a sponsorship!). I found some interesting things about coaches, players and others — some cool, some sad, some disturbing.

Of the myriad tidbits I’ve encountered, here are some of the more interesting ones — stories I wouldn’t have know about if I hadn’t been putting together research for my sites.

The cool:

The sad:

  • Sheridan coach O.E. “Oc” Erickson was a highly successful football coach, but he left the head coaching spotlight his early 30s. He moved to his hometown of Cheyenne and was an assistant for the Cheyenne High team for a few years. He should have been around much longer; he died at 41 after he fell in a hotel lobby the night after a UW football game and fractured his skull.
  • Then there’s the story of the high school basketball coach who coached his daughter in the state tournament; the team lost two and went home. The next day, his daughter died in a car crash; a moment of silence was held before the championship games that Saturday night.

The disturbing (with names removed):

  • The girls basketball coach who was convicted of having sex with players on his team — and who in his court testimony struggled to show remorse.
  • The basketball coach who traveled separately from his team to the state tournament — and then got pulled over and tagged with a DUI and speeding while on the way. By all accounts, he coached at state, but he didn’t keep his job much longer.
  • The coach who left education to get into law enforcement, became police chief of a major Wyoming city — and was convicted of soliciting bribes while police chief.
  • The driver of the “other” car in the crash that killed Byron and Lovell coach Wilford Mower, the guy for whom the big award handed out to high school athletes in Wyoming’s northwest corner — he died several years later in another car crash that also took the life of one of his own children.

These are just a few of the hundreds of tidbits I’ve found while researching Wyoming’s high school sports. I think it’s important to remember all of it — good, sad, disturbing and more — to understand the totality of how sports, community and culture intermingle. I’m hoping to bring some of the more interesting stories to this site in the future thanks to the details I’ve picked up in researching for Champlists.

–patrick