It didn’t take long for Thermopolis to become the new old guard of Class 2A.

The defending state champion Bobcats have won 13 games in a row dating back to last season and have won every game this season by at least 15 points. They boast a talented offense and an overlooked defense and the momentum any coach would envy.

But being the top team in 2A means constantly defending yourself. That’s where the Bobcats are this year. They aren’t surprising or shocking underdogs anymore. This is a team that is expected to win. And, for 13 straight, that’s what Thermopolis has done.

“This year’s” Thermopolis — the team that comes in without the expectations but with just as much talent as anyone it faces — is Big Horn.

The Rams have not-so-quietly built a 4-0 record, winning each game by at least 23 points, including a 46-0 whitewash of perennial power Glenrock last week.

The two teams meet up at 1 p.m. Friday Homer Scott Field in Sheridan. The old guard against the new challenger. Expectation vs. anticipation.

Either way, no matter which team wins, you can’t ask for a much better setup. I can’t think of a place in Wyoming that will produce more tummy butterflies — or more confident thoughts — than on that field in Sheridan at about 12:59 p.m.

But, in the end, we have to remember that high school football is still a game played by children, where reckless abandon has its place and where you have to expect the unexpected.

So I’ll pick Big Horn.

Either way, I don’t think anyone will leave the field after Friday’s game feeling like the story didn’t unfold sufficiently — like the old guard didn’t honorably defend its winning streak, nor that the challenger didn’t do its best to take down the pacesetter. It sure makes for a fun story to watch unfold.

Of note: Also, I quickly want to point out that Friday’s Trona Bowl between Rock Springs and Green River, scheduled for a 7 p.m. start in Green River, will probably be the last Trona Bowl for awhile, based on how all the questions around reclassification played out this week. This is one of the most storied rivalries in Wyoming — the two squads have played each other 76 times since 1933 — but it’s also important to note that the series has had two big gaps in it, as well. The Tigers and the Wolves didn’t play each other at all in the seven-year span from 1960-66 or in the four seasons from 1971-74. So, even though Green River and Rock Springs probably will not play each other in 2011, there may be a bit of solace in knowing that the rivalry has survived such problems in the past — and likely will again. Oh, and I pick the Tigers.

Here are the rest of this week’s picks. You know how it works by now: projected winners in bold, but I don’t love the non-bold teams any less.

Class 4A
Evanston at Kelly Walsh: KW’s victory last week could be a springboard that propels the Trojans to some amazing things. The Red Devils better be ready. I think they will be, but even so…. 7 p.m.
Cheyenne Central at Gillette: Central took an entire quarter to get going against East last week. They can’t have the same thing happen against the Camels, because Gillette is much less likely to allow a comeback like the one the Indians had a week ago. 7 p.m.
Natrona at Cheyenne East: The orange and black wrecking crew will be tested a bit more than last week, but NC still gets the win on the road. 7 p.m.
Sheridan at Laramie: Laramie is showing signs of improvement, but the Broncs just have too much talent to lose this one. 6 p.m.
Class 3A
Buffalo at Riverton: The Bison rebound — although they will be tested by the improving Wolverines. 7 p.m.
Douglas at Wheatland: Wheatland is good, but Douglas is Douglas. Don’t be surprised if the Bulldogs keep it within two touchdowns, but keeping it within two touchdowns doesn’t equal a W. 7 p.m.
Jackson at Cody: In case you’re counting — and, let’s face it, I always am — that is now three consecutive shutout victories for Cody. I’ll bet the blue-and-gold Broncs would love to see that streak continue. 7 p.m.
Lander at Worland: The Warriors’ depth issues keep showing up at the wrong time — late in the game. So even if Worland takes an early lead, the Tigers may rally late in this one. 6 p.m.
Star Valley at Powell: I’m curious to see how this one plays out, because both teams have shown potential. However, both have shown that they have some improvement to make, too. 6 p.m.
Torrington at Rawlins: The Trailblazers need a bounce-back game; the Outlaws still have a ways to go to prove themselves. 7 p.m.
Class 2A
Big Piney at Kemmerer: The Punchers have a right to be frustrated about last week’s come-from-ahead loss. The Rangers are the only thing between that frustrated feeling and Big Piney getting back on track. 4 p.m.
Glenrock at Newcastle: How will Glenrock respond after its first mercy-rule loss since 2004? Well, back in 2004, the week after Buffalo beat Glenrock by 45, Glenrock beat Newcastle by four. Sounds about right in 2010, too. 7 p.m.
Greybull at Lovell: Big game for playoff seeding. It’s the type of game Greybull has won before; I’m banking on that experience to pay off in what should be a close game. 7 p.m.
Lyman at Wyoming Indian: The Eagles are flat out rolling right now. 6 p.m.
Moorcroft at Burns: The Broncs got the win they needed to get back on track last week. At home, it should be more of the same. 7 p.m.
Pinedale at Mountain View: After several “almost”s, the Buffaloes finally broke through last week. Now that they have a bit of momentum, watch out. 3 p.m.
Tongue River at Wright: Was Tongue River’s loss last week a fluke? Was Wright’s win? I’m banking on no and no, but we’ll see for sure once this one is over. 7 p.m.
Class 1A 11-man
Burlington at Dubois: The games in the 1A West won’t get much bigger than this one this year, where the winner gains the inside edge for a home playoff game and the loser has to fight simply to stay afloat in a crowded playoff race. 2 p.m.
Hulett at Upton (six-man): This one is little more than a chance for the Bobcats to see what they’re missing by staying in 11-man. Hulett already has the experience edge, so I’ll go with the Red Devils. 7 p.m.
Pine Bluffs at Lusk: The results from last week involving these two teams surprised me a bit — I didn’t expect Pine Bluffs to lose and I didn’t expect Lusk to win by 40. 7:30 p.m.
Rocky Mountain at Cokeville: Finally, Cokeville has a true test in 1A West play. Well, maybe…. 1 p.m.
Saratoga at Wind River: The Cougars need to win — and in bunches — to keep pace out west. This game against the Panthers should help Wind River stay in that playoff race. 6 p.m.
Shoshoni at Riverside: Riverside is in a similar situation as Wind River — winnable game, but dire consequences with an upset loss. 7 p.m.
Sundance at Lingle: The Doggers got quite the shock last week against Lusk, so look for them to learn some lessons from that game, lessons they can apply against the Bulldogs. 7:30 p.m.
Class 1A six-man
Meeteetse at Kaycee: Three teams near the bottom of the six-man standings (Meeteetse, Farson and Guernsey) line Kaycee’s schedule for the next three weeks. Complacency is a bit of a worry when you stare down a schedule like that. But since when is Kaycee complacent? 4 p.m.
Midwest at Hanna: You sort of get the feeling that the top four teams in six-man have started to pull away from the pack. Midwest can make it the top five if they can somehow find a way to upset the Miners… but I’ll count on Hanna at home. 4:30 p.m.
Class 1A 11-man
Normative Services vs. Southeast: The Cyclones jumped right back into the playoff race with their big victory last week. They’ll want to keep that momentum going against the struggling Wolves. At Casper (NCHS), 3 p.m.
Class 1A six-man
Farson at Guernsey-Sunrise: Somebody will get off the winless roll in this one. I’m just going with the home team for a game that feels like I should buy four oxen and a spare wagon tongue to attend. 2 p.m.
Ten Sleep at Snake River: Game of the week in six-man. Can the Rattlers keep up their blistering pace against the up-and-coming Pioneers? 1 p.m.

Yep, there it is. Week 5. Another biggie for several teams; another chance for playoff races to become a bit clearer (or a ton more confusing). What games are you watching this week? Post a comment below and let me know how you think the week might play out, or where you think my view of how the week might play out looks like it’s written by a clueless Bolivian.


CST midseason report and WHSAA rumbles (see notes near bottom) (Casper Star-Tribune). … South’s reaction to heading to 4A (Wyoming Tribune Eagle). … Natrona-Green River recap and Trona Bowl changes (Green River Star). … Wheatland-Torrington recap (Platte County Record Times). … Star Valley-Worland recap (Star Valley Independent). … Sundance-Upton recap (Sundance Times).


WHSAA classifies Cheyenne South as 4A (Casper Star-Tribune). … Powell-Jackson recap (Powell Tribune). … Hanna-Guernsey recap and Snake River-Meeteetse recap (Rawlins Times). … Douglas-Buffalo recap (Douglas Budget). … Evanston-Laramie recap (Uinta County Herald).


School: Lovell
Nickname: Bulldogs
Colors: blue and red
Stadium: Kevin P. Robertson Memorial Stadium
State championship:  1987
Times worth remembering: For seven seasons, the Bulldogs were among the best 2A teams in the state, going 50-13 from 1985-91. In that span, Lovell appeared in three state championship games and won it all with a perfect 9-0 season in 1987; the two losses were by 21-20 and 6-0 scores, both to Thermopolis.
Times worth forgetting: Consistently going up against much larger schools, the Bulldogs struggled for most of the 1950s and 1960s. The bottom, though, came in back-to-back winless seasons in 1960 (0-10) and 1961 (0-8). Those seasons were part of an overall 23-game losing streak and 24-game winless streak. Lovell only had one winning season in an 18-season span from 1955-72 — and that was a 5-4 mark in 1964.
Best team: Lovell’s lone undefeated season, and lone state championship, came in 1987, when the Bulldogs went 9-0 and beat Upton 14-6 for the state championship in Lovell. The Bulldogs were big on offense, rolling up 299 points (33 per game), and were as effective as they needed to be on defense, holding seven of their nine opponents to single digits. Six players made first-team all-state, including four linemen.
Biggest win: Once again, the Bulldogs’ only state championship stands alone – and within that game, it was Lovell’s defense that shone brightest. Playing on its home field, Lovell beat Upton 14-6 for the 1987 2A championship. Neither touchdown came from Lovell’s offense; Mike Jones scored on a blocked punt recovery and Corey Vandenboom added an interception return for a score to seal the game in the fourth quarter.
Heartbreaker: Losing a state championship is always tough. Losing a state championship game in overtime to a conference rival is doubly tough. That’s what the Bulldogs experienced in 1990, when they lost 21-20 to Thermopolis for the 2A championship. Lovell didn’t trail until the final play of the game – a successful extra point by the Bobcats – but left the door open by missing its overtime extra point. It set a trend of coming up just short: Lovell also lost title games in 1991, 1998 and 2003.

Lovell team page.

While the 2010 football season is not even half done, the focus of the early part of this week will be on the 2011 season.

The Wyoming High School Activities Association has its first quarterly meeting this week in Casper, and reclassification — like it is every two years — will be on the board agenda.

For football, most of the changes are precipitated by Cheyenne South’s entry into the field, WHSAA Commissioner Ron Laird said Monday. Laird said the WHSAA, for now, is planning on sticking with the format it currently uses for football, with the 10 largest schools in Class 4A, the next 12 in 3A, the next 16 in 2A and the remainder in the two divisions of Class 1A.

Right now, Cheyenne South occupies the No. 9 spot. However, the WHSAA approved on first reading back in April to classify South in Class 3A for football in 2011, then to move the Bison to Class 4A in 2012 (this proposal still has to pass one more vote of the WHSAA board this week).

The schools most affected by this decision are Riverton at No. 11, which may or may not be in 4A for the 2011 season only, depending on how the WHSAA handles South’s entry and the imbalance it will create in 2011, and Green River at No. 12, which for now is slated to move to Class 3A football for both 2011 and 2012 but has voiced a desire to opt up to 4A.

Other schools expected to move classifications for football are Wheatland (from 3A to 2A) and Wyoming Indian (from 2A to 1A). Oddly enough, both schools would have changed classifications even without South’s entry due to dropping enrollments.

Also, both Hulett and Dubois have announced their intentions to move to the six-man division of 1A for 2011 and 2012, Laird said. No other schools are joining the division and none of the current six-man schools are moving to 11-man, Laird said, giving the classification 10 schools for 2011 and 2012. Class 1A 11-man is anticipated to have 15 teams those two years.

For non-football classifications, anticipated moves based on current enrollment standings include South into 4A, Star Valley from 4A to 3A, Thermopolis from 3A to 2A and Lingle from 2A to 1A.

The WHSAA board will meet Tuesday and Wednesday in Casper.


Gillette-Sheridan recap (Gillette News-Record). … Thermopolis-Moorcroft and Star Valley-Worland recaps (Northern Wyo Daily News, click today). … Players of the week (Casper Star-Tribune).


At first I was like…

at first I was like

But then I….

but then I

Now I’m all…

now I'm all

That’s pretty much how the night went for Cheyenne Central in the Capital Bowl on Friday. The Indians feel behind against Cheyenne East 14-0 in the first quarter — and then woke up. Before Cheyenne East knew what had happened, the Indians were sauntering off Riske Field with a 38-22 victory.

It was one of the most complete turnarounds I’ve ever seen in a high school football game. It was also one of the most complete collapses. You don’t get outscored 38-8 in the final 36 minutes without a little bit of both. A turnaround and an uprising, one like Central had, isn’t possible without some help.

The game had a weird vibe to it all night, a vibe that only strengthened as the game went on. There were at least a dozen huge plays in the game. Normally, you only see about five or six of those plays in the course of a game, but this Capital Bowl was chock full of them.

In the first quarter, those big plays — including a 73-yard run by Jeremy Woods on the first play from scrimmage and a pick-six by J.J. Westbrook — went to East. The second, third and fourth quarters, those big plays almost all went the way of the Indians, including three interceptions after halftime that helped keep the Thunderbirds shut out in the second half.

What it boils down to is that Central secured its place in the 4A hierarchy — as one of the five teams with a winning record. That will end up coming in handy as the season progresses, especially once the playoffs start.

Staying in 4A, second mad props to the Kelly Walsh Trojans, who had a comeback of their own in beating Rock Springs 24-21. KW scored the final 14 points of the game to rally from a 21-10 deficit and to take another huge step forward in making the playoffs. The KW kicking game was huge as Cameron Stanek kicked a pair of field goals as part of those 14 points, including the game-winner in the final two minutes. He also opened KW’s scoring with a field goal…. detecting a theme? Yeah, the green and gold have a handy option that will only come in handier as the season progresses.

Third mad props to Burns, which made a good trade — a long trip for its first victory of the year. The Broncs made the long trek to Tongue River, but drove home with a 7-6 victory in their back pockets. That win was exactly what Burns needed to keep any hope of a playoff berth alive; conversely, it puts a severe dent in the Eagles’ hopes for a playoff berth. Either way, it was a big game, and the Broncs got the best of the situation.

Staying in the SEWAC, fourth mad props to Southeast, which needed overtime but still beat Pine Bluffs 33-26. After losing to Sundance two weeks ago, the Cyclones desperately needed this game to keep any realistic hopes of a playoff berth alive. So they went out and won it. With the schedule Southeast has coming up, it’s actually realistic to think of Southeast as still in the chase for a home playoff game. And that’s big.

Fifth mad props to Burlington, which not only beat Riverside, but beat the Rebels down. The final was 40-12. The psychological edge this gives the Huskies is much, much bigger. Believe it or not, the Huskies are 3-0 in West Conference play and have an absolutely monstrous game with Dubois — another team that’s 3-0 in conference play — next week in Dubois. And after how well they played on Friday, the Huskies just might be the favorites in that one.

Sixth mad props from a heck of a Saturday game in which Ten Sleep held up at home to beat Kaycee 63-62. Sounds like a classic; I don’t know anything but the final score. Can anyone fill me in on the details? Because this sounds like a fantastic game. Again, this isn’t surprising, as Ten Sleep has been solid all season and is good enough to push the classification’s best teams…. and it just so happens that the Pioneers play at Snake River next week. Talk about perfect timing.

Some other thoughts…

Energy Bowl. Classic. Gillette ends Sheridan’s winning streak at 15 games, topping the Broncs 27-24 in overtime. According to my research, it’s the first Energy Bowl to go into overtime, and the victory came at the perfect time for the ever-improving Camels. …

Anyone else think that Lusk-Cokeville is looking less like “probable” and more like “inevitable”? Especially after the way in which both teams absolutely dominated their foes this week? …

Douglas won its conference showdown with Buffalo to take the inside edge for home-field advantage in the first two rounds of the playoffs. Yeah, them Bearcats is good. The win streak is now at 24 and counting. …

Oh, so much for parity in the 3A West. Star Valley beats Worland by 20; Cody beats Lander by 31; Powell beats Jackson by 56. …

The last time Wheatland beat Torrington by 30 or more? 1983. The last time it happened before that? Never. The Bulldogs are good, folks. …

And, if you care, here’s how I’m doing:

This week: 25-6 (81 percent). This season: 109-32 (77 percent).

(Oh, and mad props to my wife Char for the photos of the Central-East game. She’s awesome like that. She’s also uploaded some shots to the Flickr collection, so check ’em out — and feel free to add your own.)

Cheyenne Central-Cheyenne East recap, Natrona-Green River recap and Kelly Walsh-Rock Springs recap (Casper Star-Tribune). … Cheyenne Central-Cheyenne East recap (Wyoming Tribune Eagle).


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