With the time period I’m exploring right now, it only makes sense that I’m also finding my interest in the roots of six-man football being piqued, as well.

The late 1930s and early 1940s were an amazing time for the development of six-man football in Wyoming. The six-man game, of course, started in 1934 in Chester, Neb., the brainchild of coach Stephen Epler. The first six-man game was played on Sept. 26, 1934, and by the late 1930s the game had spread across the Midwest states — including Wyoming.

Actually, the game didn’t take long to cross the eastern border from Huskerland. The Moorcroft Chamber of Commerce page references Moorcroft beating Gillette in Wyoming’s first six-man game in 1934 — the year of the game’s introduction. I haven’t dug into finding out more about this game yet, but you can bet I will soon…

Anyway, the six-man game really took off, and by 1941, more than 30 teams in the Equality State were playing the sport. In fact, in 1941, some of the smaller schools in the southeastern corner (Yoder, Veteran, Chugwater, Hawk Springs, Huntley and LaGrange) organized a TOUCH six-man league. LaGrange beat Chugwater 7-6 in the championship game that year… but Hawk Springs was so intrigued by the game that the Hawks actually suited up and played a couple full-contact games that season (they lost to Glenrock, one of the best six-man teams in the state that season, 20-16, then later lost again to the Herders 25-0 and to Albin on Armistice Day).

This research also turned up something interesting: a school in Fort Washakie. I didn’t know Fort Washakie had a high school before the current incarnation of Fort Washakie Charter, but apparently it did. I don’t know much about the school — the team was generically referred to as the Indians, their colors were never listed and photos of the team never appeared, so if you know more about the Fort Washakie school, let me know.

Who was all involved in this? Well, by 1941, Byron, Cowley, Deaver-Frannie, Burlington, Meeteetse, Manderson, Ten Sleep, Worland Institute (the boys school), Shoshoni, Pavillion and Fort Washakie out of the Northwest; Big Piney, Pinedale, Lyman, Reliance, Superior, Snake River, Saratoga, Encampment, Farson and Hanna out of the Southwest; Arvada, Big Horn, Dayton, Ranchester, Clearmont, Moorcroft and, sometimes, Upton out of the Northeast; and Glenrock, Manville, Glendo, Burns, Carpenter, Pine Bluffs, Albin, Guernsey and Hawk Springs out of the Southeast, were playing six-man with some form of regularity.

Then, on Dec. 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor happened, and America reorganized its priorities, nearly snuffing out six-man in Wyoming for good. Many small schools postponed play for the duration of the war, or played seasons in which travel restrictions limited the squads to one or two games for the entire season. The programs in Fort Washakie, Carpenter and Hawk Springs didn’t survive past the war; the others came back, eventually, but only a select few survived intact in either six-man or 11-man forms through to today.

There are a couple reasons I am so interested in six-man’s history. One is pretty clear: Six-man football came back to Wyoming in 2009. The new classification has renewed my interest in digging into the archives. Second, it seems like every time I find something, it leads me somewhere else. The intertwining paths these schools followed are pretty amazing. Third, as I work backward, I keep searching for indications that I’m coming close to the end of this research… and if I can get to 1933, I can probably come close to closing the history on 30-some Wyoming football programs… and that gets me jazzed. 🙂

Anyway, here are some more six-man linkages:

Click here for a story from American Profile with a reference in the comments section to the six-man winning streak record Byron set back in the day (and how it was broken by some school in South Dakota)

Click here for a historical six-man page with copies of some of the original news articles from 1934

Click here for a Sublette.com page that references Pinedale’s first six-man game in October 1938


The WHSAA approves 2010 title games in Laramie and struggles with Cheyenne South’s classification.

What you need to know: South will be 3A in football in 2011 and 4A in 2012; other sports will depend on South’s enrollment figures. As for Laramie, the board approved going back to Laramie by a 13-4 vote, but they’ve got some kinks in the system yet to figure out how to keep from making this decision on an annual basis….


School: Natrona
Nickname: Mustangs
Colors: black and orange
Stadium: Cheney Alumni Field
State championships: 1975, 1985, 1996, 1999 and 2003
Times worth remembering: Few teams won as consistently for as long as the Mustangs did in the 1970s. For the 11 seasons from 1970-80, NC finished a combined 78-20-1, with the worst record in that span 6-3 marks in 1973 and 1977. Oddly enough, though, the Mustangs only won one state championship in those 11 years.
Times worth forgetting: Losing seasons don’t happen often in west Casper, so what happened in 1990-92 is almost hard to believe. The Mustangs had losing seasons all three of those years, at one point losing 14 consecutive games, as the program transitioned from Mike Ragan to Steve Harshman. Of course, it only took NC two more years to get back into a championship game, and then two more after that to win a title.
Best team: NC has had some great teams, but none were as dominating as the 10-0 state championship team from 1999. The Mustangs outscored opponents by an average of 44-6 and won every regular-season game by at least 35 points. NC had 10 first-team all-state players that season and a record five first-team Casper Star-Tribune Super 25 players.
Biggest win: The Mustangs of the early 1960s were consistent — always solid, always among the top teams in the state, but always an also-ran to Laramie’s rolling dynasty. That all changed on Sept. 13, 1963. Laramie came to Casper with its record 34-game winning streak, but left 28-0 losers to an inspired bunch of Mustangs who let the Plainsmen offense past midfield on only one possession the entire game. NC finished with a 9-0 mark — its first unbeaten season in decades — and its first solo claim on a state championship since 1948.
Heartbreaker: The 1980 Oil Bowl was a clash of unbeatens — 8-0 Natrona vs. 8-0 Kelly Walsh. The winner was the conference champion and earned the right to play in the state championship game; the loser stayed home with an 8-1 record and the nagging question of what might have been. It was NC that stayed home. The Trojans scored on a long touchdown in the first minute and overwhelmed the Mustangs 28-13. KW beat Rock Springs the next week to win the state championship; from there, NC posted three consecutive losing seasons, losing to KW in all three of those seasons, and longtime Mustangs coach Art Hill retired after the last of those in 1983, his last, best chance at a championship denied by that one Oil Bowl loss in ’80.

Natrona team page.

A couple small updates I’ve squeezed in between work on term papers:

Coaches Project: I’ve added coaches for Chugwater, Cowley, Guernsey, Manderson and Sunrise.

I knocked three games off the missing games list: Deaver-Frannie’s 29-0 victory over Burlington on Sept. 28, 1956, Midwest’s 12-0 victory over the Natrona JV on Sept. 28, 1956, and Guernsey’s 24-16 victory over Glenrock on Oct. 12, 1951.

I also corrected the score of the Star Valley-Jackson game last season. It was 41-16 Star Valley; I had 41-13. Thanks to Dahl Erickson up at the Star Valley Independent for catching that one!


Stumbling through some six-man football research last week, I found something interesting.

It took me a moment to fit the pieces together.

And now that I have, I’ve convinced myself these pieces form some kind of anti-Wyoming conspiracy, somehow tied to the “Wyoming doesn’t exist” craze or the Sacajawea grave debate.

The center of this omission centers on mid-to-late-1950s six-man football in Wyoming (don’t all the greatest debates start here?). More specifically, it has to do with Lingle’s Jerry Hill, and his tie to another NFL great, Jack Pardee.

Numerous sources — Wikipedia, the San Antonio Express-News, TXPrepsFootball, chacha.com and a ton of others —  list Pardee as the only former six-man high school player to ever make it to the NFL.

Well, as we in Wyoming know, Pardee isn’t alone.

Hill was, of course, a star at the University of Wyoming (he was voted by fans as the school’s best player of the 20th century) before playing in the NFL with the Baltimore Colts for nearly a decade, including appearances in two Super Bowls. He has long been revered in Wyoming for his gridiron exploits in Laramie and Maryland… but his start in Goshen County has been obscured by the passage of time.

Conversely, Hill doesn’t get much credit for his six-man high school experiences in Lingle. In fact, Googling Jerry Hill’s name in combination with the terms “six-man” or “6-man” turns up nothing about what Hill did for the Lingle Doggers back in the late 1950s.

Why does Pardee get the credit and not Hill? Well, I’m sure that has something to do with tradition. Six-man football is quite the tradition in Texas, where Pardee played in high school and college; in Wyoming, the fall traditions are more closely tied to the brown and gold team in Laramie and to killing things. Hopefully, though, this little blog post keeps Pardee from taking ALL of the credit for six-man success in the NFL.

Not that Pardee would, of course. It’s just that for a long time Hill hasn’t had his due in leading the charge for six-man players’ NFL aspirations.


School: Deaver-Frannie
Nickname: Trojans
Colors: blue and white
Stadium: Unknown
State championships: None
Times worth remembering: The span from 1973-75 was the best three-year stretch for the Trojans, as they went 6-3, 9-0 and 8-1 in those years respectively. At one point, D-F won 15 games in a row.
Times worth forgetting: The Trojans had a tough go of it in the late 1950s and early ‘60s, finishing 1959-62 without a winning season. Deaver-Frannie only won seven games in those four seasons.
Best team: It’s a toss-up between the 1971 team and the 1974 team, both of which went 9-0. But the nod goes to the ’74 squad, which didn’t have any games closer than a 38-13 victory over Burlington.
Biggest win: Despite all its success — the Trojans won more than 58 percent of their games from 1947-76 — Deaver-Frannie never made the playoffs. Even so, the biggest game in the school’s history might have been a 26-22 victory over Byron on Oct. 8, 1971. That game basically assured the Trojans the Bighorn Basin championship in a 9-0 season and helped vault the Trojans into third place in the final UPI poll (four Class B-C teams went undefeated that year).
Heartbreaker: The only game that kept the Trojans from back-to-back undefeated seasons in 1974 and ’75 was a 26-18 loss to Cowley on Sept. 26, 1975. Deaver-Frannie later avenged that loss, beating Cowley 58-28 on Oct. 31 that season, but the one loss gave the Trojans their lone blemish on a two-year run as the best eight-man team in the state.

Deaver-Frannie team page.

So it’s late Friday night in Laramie, Wyoming. I could be out having fun. Or I could be writing one of my three final papers that are due next week. Or I could be working out, or sleeping, or any one of a hundred other productive things. Instead, I’m posting my favorite Wyoming high school videos from YouTube here.

The first (and possibly coolest, IMHO) video is a film strip of a Green River-Evanston game. I’m guessing it’s from the early 1960s, based on the uniforms, but I can’t be sure. It’s only 30 seconds long but it’s a great 30 seconds… click here to watch it.

Second is a solid pic/sound compilation from the Jackson Hole News & Guide of the 2007 4A championship between Buffalo and Jackson… click here to watch it.

Third is the Gillette Public Access highlights from the 2008 5A title game between Gillette and Green River. Remember that one? Yeah, it was good…. click here to watch it.

Fourth is the Buffalo “rap” video with lots of highlights from the 2005 Bison season… yeah that 22-game streak was pretty amazing. The rap? Well… click here to watch it.

Fifth is a two-for-one, the videos from the “Line of Scrimmage” thing a couple years ago about Big Piney that ran on Monday Night Football. Any time folks from Cali come out to Wyoming for 2A football, I smile…. Click here for the first and click here for the second.

Anyway, if you’ve got a favorite, feel free to post it below.

Oh, and because I can’t resist… one more, even though it’s not Wyoming it’s awesome.

Now I’ve put a dent in your Friday night, too.


Post Navigation