Colors: purple and yellow
Stadium: Robert Hileman Field
State championships: None
Times worth remembering: Starting in 1974 and stretching through 1977, Saratoga put together one of the best stretches in history. Over those four seasons, the Panthers went 30-4, posting 14 shutouts. Saratoga didn’t give up more than 20 points in any of those 34 games and only 10 opponents cracked double digits on the scoreboard. The Panthers’ four losses were by a combined 18 points.
Times worth forgetting: Four years, one victory: That’s the conundrum the Panthers faced from 1966-69. In those four years, the only win the Panthers could manage was a 17-12 victory over Burns in the 1968 season finale — a win that snapped a 26-game losing streak, including a streak of 15 shutout losses in their previous 18 games. But the Panthers couldn’t capitalize on that one win and went 0-8-1 in 1969.
Best team: For all the struggles Saratoga went through in the late 1960s, the mid-1970s must have felt like heaven. The best team of that bunch was the one from 1974, in which the Panthers split a mythical state title with Tongue River after an 8-0 season. Saratoga gave up just six points all season and scored 348, one of the most dominating seasons in state history.
Biggest win: Football doesn’t often give second chances, but that’s exactly what Saratoga had in 1975. After losing to Guernsey-Sunrise 16-12 on Oct. 10, the Panthers’ playoff chances rested on another shot against the Vikings just 18 days later. The second time around, the Panthers held top-ranked Guernsey-Sunrise to just 109 total yards and, behind Steve Shaw’s two touchdowns, beat the Vikings 20-6. It was Guernsey-Sunrise’s only loss of the year and gave Saratoga its first playoff berth. Saratoga went on to beat Upton later that week for its first playoff victory and a berth in the first Class B championship game of the modern era.
Heartbreaker: Although Saratoga has lost its two championship games by a total of seven points, the biggest heartbreakers came in the form of not getting a chance to play for the championship at all. After a Class B runner-up finish in 1975, the Panthers went 7-1 in both 1976 and 1977 but didn’t qualify for the playoffs in either season. That’s because both times, the Panthers lost to Guernsey-Sunrise for the southeast district’s playoff spot — both times by 14-8 scores. Saratoga lost in the regular-season finale in 1976 in Guernsey and in the fourth week of the 1977 season in Saratoga.
My domination post the other day got me really interested in Wyoming’s best defensive (and worst offensive) teams. Admittedly, it’s easier for me to look this up, rather than the best offensive (and worst defensive) teams, based on how my database is set up, but I hope to post something this summer about the top offensive teams in state history…
Now that that’s out of the way… It still somewhat suprises me that no team in Wyoming, at least from 1946 to the present, has ever gone unbeaten, untied and un-scored-upon. Three teams, though, have come close.
Upton in 1971 and both Saratoga and Torrington in 1974 have special distinctions no other Wyoming teams can claim. These three teams are the only teams that gave up points in only one game of their seasons, and these three teams are the only three to allow fewer than 10 points in a season. Every other team in Wyoming’s history allowed points in at least two games of their seasons (of teams that played at least four games), which makes the defensive work accomplished by these three teams that much more special.
Saratoga and Torrington only gave up six points in their separate 1974 seasons, Saratoga in an 8-0 season run while Torrington in a 9-0 campaign. Upton gave up eight points in 1971 while compiling a 7-0-1 record.
For comparison, here are the team’s respective dominating seasons:
Coach: Mike Koulentes
S6/1974 Burns 0 Saratoga 12
S13/1974 Lingle 0 Saratoga 28
S20/1974 Saratoga 40 Hanna 0
S27/1974 Saratoga 52 Glendo 6
O2/1974 Saratoga 51 Bow-Basin 0
O11/1974 Saratoga 70 Guernsey-Sunrise 0
O18/1974 St. Mary’s 0 Saratoga 60
O25/1974 Pine Bluffs 0 Saratoga 35
Coach: Jim Wiseman
A30/1974 Douglas (SD) 0 Torrington 27
S6/1974 Kimball (NE) 0 Torrington 10
S13/1974 Lusk 0 Torrington 26
S20/1974 Torrington 27 Buffalo 0
S27/1974 Douglas 0 Torrington 49
O4/1974 Torrington 19 Glenrock 6
O11/1974 Newcastle 0 Torrington 42
O18/1974 Torrington 41 Wheatland 0
O25/1974 Torrington 22 Gillette 0
Coach: Kent Morgan
S3/1971 Upton 28 Hill City (SD) 0
S10/1971 Arvada-Clearmont 0 Upton 39
S17/1971 Upton 16 Tongue River 0
S24/1971 Upton 14 Sundance 0
O1/1971 Big Horn 0 Upton 44
O8/1971 Midwest 8 Upton 26
O15/1971 Upton 0 Moorcroft 0 tie
O22/1971 Upton 16 Hulett 0
O29/1971 Glenrock Upton canceled-snow
However, there have been many, many more offensive teams that have failed to crawl out of single digits for an entire season’s worth of scoring. In fact, 10 teams couldn’t get into double digits when you added all their scoring for their season together (minimum four games). All of these teams only scored in one game of their seasons. They are:
Greybull 2000 (6 points, 0-7)
Hulett 1955 (6 points, 0-4)
Midwest 2007 (6 points, 0-7)
Mountain View 1978 (7 points, 0-6)
Normative Services 2003 (6 points, 0-6, although three games were lost by forfeit)
Saratoga 1967 (6 points, 0-9)
Sundance 1946 (6 points, 0-7-1)
Sundance 1952 (7 points, 0-8)
Sundance 1954 (6 points, 0-6)
Wyoming Indian 1978 (6 points, 0-7)
Additionally, seven other teams scored in only one game of their seasons — although that one game allowed them to break past the single-digit barrier. Those squads include:
Kemmerer 1954 (12 points, 0-7)
Meeteetse 1986 (12 points, 0-7)
Mountain View 1972 (20 points, 0-9)
Mountain View 1977 (14 points, 0-7)
Superior 1957 (14 points, 0-6)
University Prep 1949 (12 points, 0-5)
Wyoming Indian 1979 (18 points, 0-7)
What comes out of this? Well, going a season with only one touchdown is much more common than going a season only giving up one touchdown. I guess it shouldn’t be too surprising to me that there are more teams that have struggled to score than those that have dominated on defense. However, it still surprises me that Wyoming, at least since 1946, hasn’t seen a “shutout season” on either side of the ball. (Of course, this comes with the qualifier that I DO know that the Heart Mountain camp team in 1943 went unbeaten, untied and un-scored-upon, and that some of the older teams from back in the ’10s and ’20s probably accomplished the feat, too.)
Colors: red and white
State championships: None
Times worth remembering: Albin was consistently decent, winning at least one game in each of the shortened seasons from 1946-50, including the only multiple-win season that I can find, a 2-1 campaign in 1946.
Times worth forgetting: The Wildcats went four seasons with only one victory, and only played one more game after that victory, ending the program after a 1-6 season in 1955.
Colors: blue and red
State championship: 1953
Times worth remembering: The Elks had a relatively successful run before combining with Ranchester to form Tongue River in 1956, including four consecutive conference championships from 1952-55 and a state championship in 1953.
Times worth forgetting: The Dayton program was extremely successful for its short span In fact, it had only two losing seasons – an 0-2-1 campaign in 1949, the first full-fledged year of the program after World War II, and a 2-3 season in 1951.
Colors: red and white
State championships: None
Times worth remembering: It didn’t take long for Pavillion to gain respect. After a 1-7 season in its 1959 premiere, the Panthers went 7-1 in 1960, reeling off seven victories in a row to start the season before falling to Shoshoni in the season finale.
Times worth forgetting: The Panthers’ biggest struggles came in back-to-back seasons in 1962 and ’63. Pavillion went 2-6 in 1962 and 1-6-1 in 1963, losing five times by shutout while failing to climb out of double digits 12 times in 16 games. The 1963 season was particularly tough; the Panthers only scored 26 points all season and the only victory came in a 2-0 slugfest against Meeteetse.
Colors: purple and white
State championships: None
Times worth remembering: After finding mixed success against Class A schools through 1957, the Dragons dropped to Class B play in 1958 and immediately became a powerhouse. Superior posted three consecutive winning seasons from 1958-60, including a 7-0 season in 1960. In those three years, Superior went 18-3-1. However, none of the seasons, not even the 1960 undefeated season, resulted in a playoff berth.
Times worth forgetting: The Dragons knew when they were in above their heads. Superior’s last year of Class A play was in 1957, a year in which the Dragons posted an 0-6 record. The team was shut out five times in those six games and scored only once, in a 25-14 loss to Saratoga.
Updates: Lingle, Manville, Cokeville, Mountain View, Moorcroft, Big Horn, Albin, Sunrise and a whole bunch of coaches
It’s spring break here in Laramie. What that means for me is more time in the Coe Library basement. I’m mostly chipping away at 1941 right now, but I’m spicing things up by tossing in an occasional Coaches Project or Byes Project search. Here is some of what I’ve uncovered/updated in the past week or two:
Recent updates have been made for Arvada-Clearmont, Basin, Big Horn, Burlington, Byron, Cokeville, Cowley, Deaver-Frannie, Greybull, Guernsey, Hulett, Lander, Lingle, Manderson, Moorcroft, Morton, Pinedale, St. Mary’s, St. Stephens, Saratoga, Sunrise, Superior, Ten Sleep, Thermopolis, Tongue River, Wheatland and Worland Institute.
Wheatland has been particularly difficult — the list I worked with to start was full of errors — but I think I’ve got most of it straight now.
Added Lingle’s game with Harrison, Neb., on Oct. 12, 1951 (and added it to the missing games list because I couldn’t find a result)
Added Lingle’s 39-12 victory over Manville on Oct. 26, 1951
Added Cokeville’s 53-0 victory over Mountain View on Sept. 11, 1959
Removed a game between Moorcroft and Big Horn scheduled on Oct. 3, 1958 (Big Horn didn’t have a team that season)
Noted the Nov. 8, 1957, game between Moorcroft and Big Horn was canceled
Added Lingle’s victory over Harrison, Neb., on Oct. 7, 1953 (and left it on the missing games list because I couldn’t find a final score)
Removed a game between Albin and Lingle on Oct. 24, 1952 (Albin didn’t have a team that season)
Added the score for Lingle’s 34-12 loss to Lyman, Neb., on Sept. 14, 1951
Noted the Nov. 2, 1951, game between Lingle and Sunrise was canceled
Colors: blue and white
Stadium: B.F. Weaver Field
State championships: 1961 and 2005
Times worth remembering: The Bobcats were consistently their best in the five-year stretch from 1969-72, in which Upton went a combined 35-6-3. The Bobcats’ best finish came in a 7-0-1 1971 season in which they ended up second in the final statewide poll; Upton’s chance to take on top-ranked Glenrock in the final week of the 1971 season went by the wayside due to a late October snowstorm that slammed the state. Upton also finished fourth in the final Class B-C ballot in both 1969 (7-2) and 1970 (7-1-1).
Times worth forgetting: Back-to-back winless seasons in 1949 (0-7) and 1950 (0-6) were the hardest for Upton to trudge through. In those 13 losses, the Bobcats were shut out six times and failed to crawl out of single digits on all but two occasions. On average, Upton lost games those two seasons by a score of 30-4.
Best team: Although the 1971 team only gave up eight points in its mythical runner-up season, and although the 1961 team won the school’s first state title, the Bobcats’ best pound-for-pound team likely came in 2005. Led by seven first-team all-state choices, including CST Super 25 first-team choices Jason Watt (2004) and Dan Dysart (2005), the Bobcats finished that season 10-1 and whitewashed Guernsey-Sunrise 55-6 in the 1A championship. Upton’s only loss was a 26-19 nail-biter to eventual 2A champion Sundance — in Sundance. Outside of that, the Bobcats outscored foes by an average of 36-5, as only one opponent came within 19 points.
Biggest win: The good feelings from Upton’s 1961 championship only lasted so long, and by 2005 the Bobcat faithful were ready for another trophy. After cruising through most of the regular season with ease and wiping out Shoshoni by 52 points in the 1A quarterfinals, Upton traveled to Cokeville for a key semifinal game. Unfazed by both the Panthers’ tradition and the 500-mile one-way trip, the Bobcats played a flawless defensive game and Dysart scored the lone touchdown in a 7-3 victory. Confidence boost? You bet — Upton breezed past defending champion Guernsey-Sunrise by 49 points the following week in the 1A championship in Guernsey.
Heartbreaker: Upton put up the type of defensive effort needed to beat Cokeville in the 1998 Class 1A-D2 title game, holding the Panthers to just 111 yards of total offense. But the Bobcats’ offense never came through. Upton had four turnovers, including a fumble on a punt that led to Cokeville’s game-winning touchdowns, and the Bobcats lost 12-7. It was Upton’s second title-game loss in as many years.
Colors: black and orange
Stadium: Panther Stadium
State championships: 1957, 1987 and 2006
Times worth remembering: The Panthers have consistently been one of the top teams in the Bighorn Basin, and that was made particularly clear in a pair of three-year spans — the three years from 1955-57 and the three years from 1965-67. The Panthers went 28-2 from 1955-57; both losses were to Worland, and both losses kept Powell from playing in the Class A championship. Finally, in 1957, the Panthers beat the Warriors and went on to win the title with an 11-0 season. And from 1965-67, Powell went 25-3-1, including 8-1-1 in 1966 and 9-0 in 1967, each good enough to win a mythical Class AA-A state championship.
Times worth forgetting: Powell’s toughest times came in back-to-back winless seasons in 1992-93. The Panthers went 0-8 each season and were outscored by an average of 30-5 in the two seasons; only two of the losses were by single digits.
Best team: It’s basically a toss-up between Powell’s two undefeated teams — the 11-0 team from 1957 and the 9-0 team from 1967. The slight nod goes to the ’57 team, which won the Class A title but was probably the best team in the state regardless of class. One of Powell’s 11 victories was 13-6 over Sheridan, which finished 7-1-1 and tied Natrona for the mythical Class AA championship. And few teams controlled a championship game the way the Panthers did in ’57, in which they destroyed Torrington 40-6 on the Trailblazers’ home field to win the title.
Biggest win: The 1966 season finale was set up perfectly for the Panthers — a chance to prove themselves against the top-ranked team in the state, Cody, on the Broncs’ home field. And the Panthers never hesitated. Powell controlled the game from start to finish, winning 32-13 in an “upset” that vaulted the Panthers into first place in the final statewide poll despite an early-season loss to Worland and a tie with Riverton. The 1967 finale set up similarly, but in that game top-ranked Powell justified its ranking by smacking Cody 20-7.
Heartbreaker: Powell had all the momentum going its way heading into the second-to-last game of the 1978 regular season against Rock Springs — the Panthers had won six in a row, four by shutout, and were seemingly in perfect shape for the Tigers. But the Tigers didn’t get the message from Powell and beat the Panthers 15-7. Rock Springs went on to win the state championship, beating Laramie 7-6 two weeks later; Powell beat Cody the next week to finish at 7-1 but never again reached the same level of success in Class AA ball.
Somehow, Montana’s recent changes to its football makeup slipped past me, and I only recently found out that the Montana six-man league is going back to “just” a Montana league.
If you remember, the Montana league was the home for Wyoming squads Meeteetse and Ten Sleep for several years before those two programs came back to the Equality State when the WHSAA formed the state’s new six-man division that started play last year.
However, the Montana league also included a pair of Idaho teams — Clark County and Leadore — in its league in recent years. But with the Wyoming teams heading out, and with an eight-man option available in Idaho, the Montana High School Association didn’t include the Idaho schools in its recent reclassification work.
Neither Leadore nor Clark County had programs as of 2006, so both programs were relying on a long-term stay in Montana to survive. As it is, both programs are going to be forced to transition to eight-man… or find another place to play.
For now, both squads will be playing in Idaho’s eight-man Sawtooth Conference. You can read about Leadore and Clark County getting boot from Montana league, or more on the Sawtooth Conference reformation.
For those of you thinking Wyoming might open its arms to the two Idaho schools, think again. Travel concerns will likely squash those ideas right away. Consider this: It’s about 300 miles from Guernsey to Meeteetse… but another 250 from Meeteetse to Clark County (in Dubois, Idaho) and about 340 from Meeteetse “through the Park” to Leadore. Oof.
One other quick note comes from Montana, where the Big Sky staters made changes to their mercy rules. …
School: Kelly Walsh
Colors: green and yellow
Stadium: Harry Geldien Stadium
State championships: 1972, 1980 and 1981
Times worth remembering: KW had 10 consecutive winning seasons from 1975-84, and back-to-back championships in 1980 and 1981 were the Trojans’ crowning achievement in that span. The 1980-81 teams were a combined 19-1; the 1982 and 1983 teams followed up with consecutive 7-2 seasons, although neither team reached the state title game.
Times worth forgetting: Back-to-back 0-8 seasons, an overall 16-game losing streak, from 1997-98 was by far KW’s toughest stretch. Only three of those 16 games were decided by fewer than 10 points. The 1997-98 seasons were part of larger difficulties for the Trojans, who played in the “Toilet Bowl,” reserved for the last-place teams in the two 4A conferences, five consecutive times from 1996-2000.
Best team: You want flash and dash? Try the KW team from 1980, which featured future UW Cowboy Allyn Griffin and future MLB star Mike Devereaux and outscored opponents, on average, 33-8. You want consistency? Go for the 1981 squad, which shut out six of its final seven opponents and finished on the right side of an average score of 25-3. The slight nod goes to the ’81 team, which is KW’s only undefeated team in school history.
Biggest win: There aren’t too many big-game wins for KW — only five playoff wins in 46 years — but the Trojans are 3-0 in title games. The biggest of those came in 1980, the first year KW won an Oil Bowl and a state championship in the same season. The Trojans beat Rock Springs 20-7 in Rock Springs for the state championship a week after beating Natrona 28-13 in the Oil Bowl to secure the spot in the title game.
Heartbreaker: How about the first Oil Bowl in 1965? Playing without any seniors, the Trojans stuck right with Natrona for nearly four quarters and appeared to take the lead after a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown by Frank Wojtech. But officials ruled Wojtech stepped out of bounds at midfield, KW couldn’t score, and thus began a series of Oil Bowl heartaches.