Maybe there is something to the triple option.

Maybe, in a place like Wyoming, where the wind routinely transports small children, Volkswagens and cows across three counties, it’s best to consistently keep the ball out of the air.

Right, Kelly Walsh?

The Trojans once again proved the viability of the triple option in the first round of the 4A football playoffs on Friday, as quarterback Lucas Nolan ran for more than 200 yards as KW bopped Green River 38-20 in windy Sweetwater County.

With the victory, the Trojans became the only road team in any of the 11-man playoff brackets to win in the first round. And they took part in a trend of dominating first-round performances.

Of the 20 games in the first round, only three were decided by seven points or less. Rock Springs gave Gillette a tussle and scored late in a 27-20 loss; Worland needed a conversion in the second overtime to outlast Riverton 38-37; and Kaycee edged Ten Sleep (which played with seven players in uniform) 48-43 in six-man. Thirteen of the 20 games (updated with Cokeville’s win on Monday) were decided by at least 20 points.

Like I mentioned, the home teams had the clear advantage in the 11-man brackets, with 15 of the 16 home teams posting victories. Of course, that makes sense: The teams playing at home had better regular seasons than those that had to travel. In maintaining bracket integrity, though, the semifinal matchups are that much more straightforward — no Cinderella stories here.

This shouldn’t be too surprising, though: Last year, 19 of the 20 home teams won in the first round.

The only exception to the home-team dominance came in six-man, but that was no surprise either. As has been the case all season, the East Conference teams had control of the first round, winning all four games and sending the four West Conference teams home for the season. A West Conference team didn’t beat an East Conference team in 15 tries this season.

Looking ahead to the semifinals, a few things immediately stand out:

Sheridan’s path to the state championship now goes through the only team to beat the Broncs in the regular season — Kelly Walsh. … Worland is in the semis for the first time since 2003, when the Warriors went 11-0 and won the 4A title. Worland had lost first-round games every year since then, but broke out of that with its double-OT thriller against Riverton. … Lingle is in the semifinals for the first time since 1996. Last time the Doggers made it this far, they lost to Cokeville in the semis. Lingle will play either Cokeville or Pine Bluffs in the semis this year. … Southeast and Wind River have never played each other, but will meet in the 1A 11-man semifinals next week. … Glenrock and Kemmerer continued on their collision course for Laramie, but a pair of formidable foes — Greybull and Thermopolis, respectively — await in the semifinals. I think I’m looking forward to those games more than any other for the semis. …

How about you? Any quarterfinal moments that stuck out for you? Or any semifinal matchups you’re really looking forward to seeing? Post a comment below.

This week: 19-1 (95 percent). This season: 227-55 (80 percent).


Cheyenne Central’s receivers shake things up (Wyoming Tribune Eagle). … Central-Laramie preview (Laramie Boomerang). … Kelly Walsh-Green River, Sheridan-Natrona and roundup (Casper Star-Tribune). … Cody-Torrington (Scottsbluff Star-Herald). … Gillette-Rock Springs (Gillette News-Record). … Hanna-Snake River (Rawlins Daily Times).


Pine Bluffs and Cokeville have been forced to switch their 1A 11-man quarterfinal playoff game to Monday. The game is now scheduled for a 1 p.m. start on Monday in Cokeville. Wind and snow has closed portions of Interstate 80 this week.


Kelly Walsh-Green River preview and Natrona-Sheridan preview (Casper Star-Tribune). … Gillette-Rock Springs preview and Wright-Kemmerer preview (Gillette News-Record). … Kemmerer-Mountain View (Kemmerer Gazette). … Wind River-Riverside and Cokeville-Burlington (Basin Republican-Rustler). … Lusk-Upton (Lusk Herald). … Pine Bluffs-Hulett and Wright-Burns (Pine Bluffs Post). … Guernsey-Kaycee (Guernsey Gazette).


No wasting time here — I’ve got snow to shovel. Picks below, projected winners in bold:

Class 4A
Class overview: The one advantage 4A teams have that some other classifications don’t is that all the teams have already played each other this season. All four games should be decent: Sheridan beat Natrona and Green River beat Kelly Walsh by seven points apiece in their first meetings, while Gillette struggled to beat Rock Springs, which has since turned into a different team. The only on-paper mismatch is Laramie-Central, which was a lopsided 36-0 victory for the Indians back in September. On to the picks:
(8) Natrona at (1) Sheridan: Sheridan got the job done last week in Casper. At home, in the playoffs, under senior leadership, I don’t see Sheridan losing. But NC will keep it close, like always…. 6 p.m. (Last meeting: Sheridan beat Natrona 35-28 last Friday in Casper.)
(5) Kelly Walsh at (4) Green River: The last meeting between these two teams came down to a fourth-quarter goal-line stand. With both teams coming off Week 8 losses, I’m not sure what to expect, but I think it’ll be another close, hard-fought game. 6 p.m. (Last meeting: Green River beat Kelly Walsh 27-20 on Sept. 4 in Green River.)
(6) Rock Springs at (3) Gillette: The Camels haven’t lost a home playoff game since 1997. The Tigers will give Gillette a run, but coming out of Campbell County with a victory in the playoffs might be too tall of a task. 7 p.m. (Last meeting: Gillette beat Rock Springs 24-8 on Sept. 11 in Gillette.)
(7) Laramie at (2) Cheyenne Central: Laramie is better — much better — than it was the first time it came to Cheyenne. Expect a better game than when these two met in the regular season. Even so, Central just has too much for the Plainsmen to overtake. 7 p.m. (Last meeting: Central beat Laramie 36-0 on Sept. 18 in Cheyenne.)

Class 3A
Class overview
: What makes 4A interesting is the reverse of what makes 3A interesting — only one of the four playoff matchups in 3A is a repeat of a regular-season game. The bracket looks fairly unpredictable because of both the lack of prior experience and the general nature of parity that exists in 3A to begin with. On to the picks:
(4E) Torrington at (1W) Cody: Since Sept. 18, these two teams have headed in separate directions — Cody won the 3A West, while Torrington had to scratch and survive to eke out the East’s final playoff spot. And with revenge on their minds, watch for Cody to reverse the regular season outcome. 6 p.m. (Last meeting: Torrington beat Cody 12-10 on Sept. 18 in Cody.)
(3W) Star Valley at (2E) Buffalo: Could be the best game of them all in the first round of 3A play. Star Valley got the short end of the three-team tie atop the West Conference standings and has to make the long trip across the state… and I’ve learned when it looks even to go with the home team. Either way, I see this game being decided by seven or fewer points. 7 p.m. (Last meeting: Buffalo beat Star Valley 14-7 on Nov. 3, 2007, in Buffalo.)
(3E) Riverton at (2W) Worland: Hard to believe it’s been more than five years since these teams have played each other. Even so, I think the loss to Cody last week wasn’t all bad for the Warriors, who should come back refocused and ready for the intensity of the playoffs. 6 p.m. (Last meeting: Riverton beat Worland 52-0 on Sept. 3, 2004, in Riverton.)
(4W) Lander at (1E) Douglas: What can you say about the Bearcats that hasn’t already been said? They’re good. They’re playing with purpose. They’ve soundly thumped every single challenger this year. Lander is coming off a big win, true… but Douglas is a handful for anybody. 7 p.m. (Last meeting: Douglas beat Lander 19-12 on Oct. 3, 2008, in Douglas.)

Class 2A
Class overview
: Kemmerer-Glenrock again? It sure looks possible. The two teams in the 2005, 2007 and 2008 3A championship games won their respective conferences and just need to hold down home field to meet again for the 2009 title. However, this year it looks like there’s at least a little more parity, with several teams in the bracket capable of knocking off either the Rangers or Herders on the way to Laramie. On to the picks:
(4E) Wright at (1W) Kemmerer: It’s the first meeting of these two programs, and I think the Panthers can give the Rangers a game. But going to Kemmerer and winning? That’s probably too much to ask. 2 p.m. (Last meeting: First meeting.)
(3W) Big Piney at (2E) Thermopolis: Talk about a heartbreaker. Last year, these two teams combined for three victories — and one of those was Thermopolis beating Big Piney. Both teams have had great turnaround stories this year. Unfortunately, one ends Friday. 7 p.m. (Last meeting: Thermopolis beat Big Piney 7-0 in overtime on Sept. 6, 2008, in Thermopolis.)
(3E) Big Horn at (2W) Greybull: If this game goes anything like the matchup these two teams had in the regular season, this will be the game of the week. Greybull barely eked out a 7-6 victory in Sheridan early in the season; now, the teams meet again to see who’s improved the most — and who can handle the playoff atmosphere best. 7 p.m. (Last meeting: Greybull beat Big Horn 7-6 on Sept. 3 in Sheridan.)
(4W) Lovell at (1E) Glenrock: Glenrock’s winning streak is up to 19 in a row… and, for all the potential Lovell has, the safe money is on the Herd, at home, to make it 20 straight. 6 p.m. (Last meeting: Glenrock beat Lovell 50-20 on Sept. 12, 2008, in Lovell.)

Class 1A 11-man
Class overview
: The top five teams in 1A 11-man — Lingle, Cokeville, Lusk, Southeast and Wind River — separated themselves early from the rest of the classification. All five have the ability to make a run at a state championship; none of the five have totally separated themselves from the rest of the pack. It’s that sort of parity that will make the bracket interesting to watch. On to the picks:
(4W) Riverside at (1E) Southeast: Still trying to figure out the Cyclones’ loss to Lusk… can’t decide if that’s the anomaly, or if Lusk’s loss to Lingle was the anomaly, or if Lingle’s loss to Southeast is the anomaly…. Anyway, Southeast should move on, especially if they build off last week’s momentum. 6 p.m. (Last meeting: Southeast beat Riverside 8-6 on Nov. 11, 2006, in Basin; only meeting.)
(3E) Lusk at (2W) Wind River: Another game that’s hard to pin down — and another potential game of the week. If you can, get on up to Pavillion for this one, because the winner has a great chance to go all the way in a 1A division full of parity. 6 p.m. (Last meeting: Lusk beat Wind River 7-0 on Oct. 26, 2007, in Lusk.)
(3W) Rocky Mountain at (2E) Lingle: Don’t let last week’s loss by Lingle trick you. The Doggers are still a threat to win it all in Laramie. They’ll prove that on Friday. 6 p.m. (Last meeting: First meeting.)
(4E) Pine Bluffs at (1W) Cokeville: Last time the Hornets made the playoffs (2003), they pulled off a big upset of Upton in the first round. Cokeville, certainly, will take note of that — and they’ll do everything they can to prevent something similar from happening in 2009. 2 p.m. Saturday. (Last meeting: Cokeville beat Pine Bluffs 49-0 on Oct. 21, 1995, in Cokeville.)

Class 1A 6-man
Class overview
: The East Conference obliterated the West this year, winning all 11 cross-state matchups. Guernsey is the clear favorite to win it all and if anyone else ends up hoisting the trophy in Laramie, it will be surprising. On to the picks:
(4W) Farson at (1E) Guernsey: Guernsey has won every six-man league game by at least 43 points this season. It’s just going to get better in the playoffs — or worse, if you happen to be on the other side of the ball from the Vikings. 1 p.m. (Last meeting: Guernsey beat Farson 69-0 on Sept. 12 in Farson.)
(3E) Hanna at (2W) Snake River: Snake’s at home for its first playoff game in school history. But Hanna, which beat the Rattlers by 40 in Baggs earlier this season, gets to play the spoiler. 2 p.m. (Last meeting: Hanna beat Snake River 68-28 on Sept. 11 in Baggs.)
(3W) Meeteetse at (2E) Midwest: The Oilers’ victory over Ten Sleep last week has them back on track for a trip to Laramie. The first step comes against Meeteetse — a team Midwest beat by 56 earlier this season. 6 p.m. (Last meeting: Midwest beat Meeteetse 80-24 on Sept. 11 in Meeteetse.)
(4E) Kaycee at (1W) Ten Sleep: East sweep? Sure. The East’s four teams never lost to the West’s four teams this season, and Kaycee beat Ten Sleep two weeks ago in a shootout…. Now, the question is: How many points can home field advantage swing the Pioneers’ way? Enough to break up the East’s dominance? We’ll see. 2 p.m. (Last meeting: Kaycee beat Ten Sleep 71-67 on Oct. 17 in Kaycee.)

Also, mad props to all the teams that qualified for the playoffs. Just keep in mind this weekend how hard every team has worked to reach this point — and remember how much fun this sport (and forums like this) is supposed to be. Relax and enjoy it!

As I look at that, I just realized I picked the home team to win every 11-man playoff game. Go figure… so where did I go wrong? What road teams do you see pulling off the upsets and surviving to the semifinals? Post a comment below and let me know what surprises you see coming this weekend.

(Also, be aware that because of the wintry weather socking parts of the state right now, some more of these games might get moved to Saturday. When and if that happens, I’ll let you know here ASAP.)


Torrington-Cody preview (Scottsbluff Star-Herald). … Snake River-Hanna preview (Rawlins Daily Times). … Douglas-Torrington (Douglas Budget). … Rock Springs-Evanston (Uinta County Herald).


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