The first week of the season — that so-called Zero Week — can be a mixed bag.
From a player’s standpoint, and from a coach’s standpoint, the week gives teams a chance to hit someone in a jersey that’s not the same as yours. Ain’t nothing wrong with that.
From a fan’s standpoint, it’s a chance to see your team play. Ain’t nothing wrong with that.
From my point of view, it’s just plain awkward. There’s something wrong with that.
What’s scheduled this week? Is it a game? A scrimmage? A jamboree? Will it count in the standings? Should it count?
For Class 4A teams this week, there’s no worry about that. For that classification, these games count — because, in the nine-game round-robin schedule every 4A team plays this year, every game is a conference game.
For some teams, this week is a chance to renew an out-of-state rivalry and put another real game on the tally. Those count, too. (I’ve heard this argument, too: “Oh, that game counts for (out-of-state school), but it doesn’t count on (Wyoming school’s) record.” Um, no. If it’s a game, it’s counted. Period.)
For some teams, it’s very clear what they’re doing: it’s a jamboree, or a scrimmage, or for some, it’s nothing at all.
Then we get gray.
Game? Scrimmage? Part-game, part-scrimmage? Three-quarters of a game? What counts and what doesn’t?
The games I’m picking this week are the ones that have been labeled as “games” as they’ve been explained to me. If for some reason these don’t end up being real, full-on games for some reason, I won’t count them in my weekly tallies. And if you see me picking a winner for something that you know will be a scrimmage, let me know so I can stay on top of things….
Ugh. Let’s just make it an official week already and be done with it. This pat-a-cake debate between scrimmages and games is ludicrous.
Anyway, here’s Week Zero picks, based purely on speculation, with projected winners noted in bold:
Cheyenne East at Green River: Speculation’s over, Wolves. Time to prove that you’ve earned that No. 1 ranking. 6 p.m.
Gillette at Evanston: The defending champs will probably need to stop in Rawlins for an oil change, given the distance they’ve got to travel for this one. Either way, I think the Camels win. 7 p.m.
Kelly Walsh at Sheridan: KW gave Sheridan a run for its money last year and won’t be a pushover for the Broncs this time around, either. I think both teams are both better than they were last year. 7 p.m.
Natrona County at Cheyenne Central: This is a big game for both teams — and it’s a great chance for both to prove they deserve more than just passing attention. 7 p.m.
Rock Springs at Laramie: Lots of folks are high on the Plainsmen this fall. The Tigers will be a good gauge to see if Laramie is a legit contender. 7 p.m.
Riverside at Greybull: The Buffs could be a solid team this fall, and I’m eager to see what kind of effort they can put together against their SoBiHoCo rivals. (By the way, I’m thrilled to see these two schools come together and keep this rivalry alive. It’s something more schools should do — and should have done — with Zero Week.) 7:30 p.m.
Cody at Laurel, Mont.: This one is always a toss-up. If it was being played in Cody, I’d go with the Broncs. As it is…. 7 p.m.
Custer, S.D., at Newcastle: The Dogies are 0-13 against South Dakota schools the past 10 years. 7 p.m.
Douglas vs. Star Valley, at Riverton: It’s the first regular-season meeting ever between these schools, who haven’t played each other since the 2002 4A quarterfinals. 3 p.m.
Lander at Kemmerer: Intriguing matchup. Might not be a game. We’ll find out. 11 a.m.
Miles City, Mont., at Powell: Miles City won Montana’s Class A division last year and although it is rebuilding, so is Powell. 6 p.m.
Mountain View at Rich County, Utah: The Rebels are consistently one of the best teams in Utah — and the Buffalos have a lot to prove. TBD
Worland at Billings Central, Mont.: The Rams have beaten the Warriors by a combined score of 84-7 the past two years. 7 p.m.
The rest of the Zero Week schedule:
Jamborees/Scrimmages (do not count in standings)
Southeast at Cheyenne Central sophomores, 3:30 p.m.
Jamborees/Scrimmages (do not count in standings)
Big Horn/Glenrock scrimmage, at Sheridan, 1 p.m.
Burns/Lusk/Pine Bluffs/Torrington jamboree scrimmage, at Burns, 9 a.m.
Lingle vs. TBD, TBA
Lovell/Rocky Mountain/Thermopolis/Wind River jamboree, at Thermopolis, 10 a.m.
Rawlins at Wheatland, 11 a.m.
Riverton at Jackson, 11 a.m.
Saratoga vs. Wright, at Casper, TBD
Shoshoni vs. Wyoming Indian, time and site TBD
Tongue River vs. TBD, TBA
Open Week 0: Big Piney, Buffalo, Burlington, Cokeville, Dubois, Farson, Fort Washakie, Guernsey, Hanna, Hulett, Kaycee, Lyman, Meeteetse, Midwest, Moorcroft, Normative Services, Pinedale, Snake River, Sundance, Ten Sleep, Upton.
Again, if my schedule looks wrong to you, either e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or post a comment below. And while you’re at it, feel free to take a stab at making your own picks for opening weekend.
Next week will be much clearer. I promise.