Semifinal matchups:

Class 4A

(6) Cheyenne East at (2) Sheridan, 6 p.m.
Class 3A
(2E) Buffalo at (1W) Cody, 6 p.m.
(3E) Riverton at (1E) Douglas, 7 p.m.
Class 1A 11-man
(3E) Lingle at (1E) Lusk, 6:30 p.m.

Class 4A

(4) Gillette at (1) Natrona, 1 p.m.
Class 2A
(2E) Thermopolis at (1W) Lovell, 1 p.m.
(2W) Greybull at (1E) Big Horn, 1 p.m.
Class 1A 11-man
(2E) Southeast at (1W) Cokeville, 1 p.m.
Class 1A six-man
(4) Kaycee at (1) Snake River, 1 p.m.
(3) Ten Sleep at (2) Hanna, 1 p.m.


Kelly Walsh almost upsets Sheridan, and players of the week (Casper Star-Tribune). … Gillette-Cheyenne Central recap (Gillette News-Record). … Greybull-Newcastle, Ten Sleep-Meeteetse and Thermopolis-Lyman recaps (Northern Wyo Daily News, click today).


The playoffs are a different time.

Everyone starts over. What you did in the regular season only matters for who you play first. It still takes three victories to win a state championship — the last three.

That sort of freedom can be incredibly freeing. Just ask Cheyenne East.

Just two weeks ago, the Thunderbirds journeyed to Evanston and lost 42-0. Faced with the prospect of seeing the Red Devils again in the playoffs, East wasn’t bothered by that score.

Instead, the T-Birds simply instigated a 52-point reversal.

The Thunderbirds’ 30-20 victory over the Red Devils was a seismic blow to the 4A hierarchy. Remember, East is not that far removed from a five-game losing streak and was part of a tense battle simply to make the playoffs up until the last week of the season.

That’s all forgotten now. The Thunderbirds simply ran at the Red Devils and Evanston couldn’t do much about it. Now, East has earned another trip — this one to Sheridan for the semifinals.

East’s big victory was pretty much the only true “upset” in any of the five brackets on Friday. Two other road teams — Lingle and Riverton — earned victories, but neither one of those teams came into the weekend as a true underdog.

A seasoned Lingle team made the long trip to Dubois and overcame some early jitters to beat the Cinderella Rams, while Riverton avenged an ealier 13-10 loss to Powell, getting exactly the same offensive effort but a little more out of the defense in a 10-7 victory.

The rest of the brackets went according to form. The home teams won every game in the 2A and the 1A six-man brackets. Only two of those games — Sheridan’s 10-3 victory over Kelly Walsh and Southeast’s 15-14 victory over Rocky Mountain — were decided by seven or fewer points.

The brevity of this post is in part because there were so few surprises in this first round. And, in part, because there were so few close games. So, my question: Is few surprises a surprise to you? Post a comment below and we’ll chat about it….

This week: 19-1 (95 percent). This season: 228-52 (81 percent).

Natrona-Green River recap, Sheridan-Kelly Walsh recap and Big Horn-Big Piney recap (Casper Star-Tribune). … Cheyenne East-Evanston recap (Wyoming Tribune Eagle). … Snake River-Farson recap and Hanna-Guernsey recap (Rawlins Times).


Buffalo-Rawlins recap and Kaycee playoff seeding (Buffalo Bulletin). … Douglas-Torrington recap and Southeast-Lingle recap (Torrington Telegram). … Gillette-Green River recap (Green River Star). … Riverton-Wheatland recap (Platte County Record Times).


Rather than making one game my game of the week, I want to pose to you, my readers, a few questions that will help spark some debate as we enter the second season.

Playoff games present the opportunities for which players and coaches dream. The ultimate hope is to play in The War, but only 10 of the remaining 40 teams will have that chance.

Which 10, is the question I ask now? But more than that, how about these brain teasers:

1. Which road team do you think is most likely to win on Friday? (My answer: Riverton. Remember, the Wolverines played Powell to a 13-10 score early in the season and won’t be fazed by going on the road.)

2. Which road team in the first round has the best chance of hosting a game in the second round — or, in simpler terms, which bracket half is most likely to see BOTH road teams win? (My answer: Lyman. Coming off a tough loss, I think the Eagles will be extremely focused and have a true shot to take down defending champ Thermopolis. On that same side of the bracket, Burns looks tough and will give Lovell a tussle in the first round; remember, Burns beat Wright last week just to make it to the postseason, and Lovell barely beat Wright 21-20 in Week 1.)

3. Which top seed is likely to have the toughest time winning on Friday? (My answer: Cody. Wheatland is one of those annoying teams that hangs around and makes things interesting. If the game is close in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs might just pull off the upset of the week.)

4. Which regular-season rematch is the most intriguing game of the postseason? (My answer: Central-Gillette. Remember what happened when they met in the regular season? The Camels needed a humongous fourth-quarter comeback to hold off the Indians. Neither team wants a repeat of that game; Gillette doesn’t want to be scared like that and Central doesn’t want to lose like that.)

5. If you could attend any of these 20 games, which one would you go to? (My answer: Midwest at Kaycee. Come on now, you didn’t think I’d bypass the chance to watch the Oilers and the Buckaroos in postseason ANYTHING, would you? Not only that, but it should be a great game, too. However, I’ll be in Sheridan on Friday and will have to miss this one. Darn it.)

So, take a stab at answering those questions, then check out my picks. Remember, projected winners are in bold, but projected losers have the added motivation of proving me wrong:

(all games Friday)
Class 4A

(8) Green River at (1) Natrona: Even coming off a loss, and even a bit banged up, I still like the Mustangs. 7 p.m.
(5) Cheyenne Central at (4) Gillette: I really want to pick the Indians. But I really want to pick the Camels, too. In the end, I think home field and psychology swing this one Gillette’s way. 7 p.m.
(7) Kelly Walsh at (2) Sheridan: Does anyone remember two weeks ago when Sheridan supposedly blew their chances at hosting past the first round? Nope, me neither. 7 p.m.
(6) Cheyenne East at (3) Evanston: East finally broke that losing streak and will play Evanston closer than they did a couple weeks ago, but the Red Devils are still too much. 7 p.m.

Class 3A
(4W) Star Valley at (1E) Douglas: Douglas took care of Star Valley back a few weeks ago pretty handily. I’m banking on a little more of the same from the streaking Bearcats. 7 p.m.
(3E) Riverton at (2W) Powell: Riverton is scrappy and I like what they’re doing. But Powell beat Riverton in the regular season and has the home field, so don’t take this one for granted — maybe a blocked extra point to decide it. 7 p.m.
(3W) Lander at (2E) Buffalo: The Bison just look better and better with every passing week. 6 p.m.
(4E) Wheatland at (1W) Cody: Cody will get pushed a bit, but I think the Broncs will show why they’ve won eight in a row. 6 p.m.

Class 2A
(4W) Big Piney at (1E) Big Horn: Is there a hotter team in the state right now than the Rams? Maybe not. The Punchers will find out. Noon.
(3E) Newcastle at (2W) Greybull: The Dogies could give the Buffs a run in this one, especially if their passing game gets going, but the Buffs’ run game is probably too much to stop. 6 p.m.
(3W) Lyman at (2E) Thermopolis: Of all the ways the final weekend could have gone for the Eagles, it went this way. A date on the road with the defending champs is not the way any team wants to start a playoff run. Nevertheless, I think it’ll be close. 7 p.m.
(4E) Burns at (1W) Lovell: Comparing scores is dangerous (see above). When I do that, I think Burns could win this one. But the Bulldogs are the top seed from the West for a reason and will be motivated to prove that on Friday. 7 p.m.

Class 1A 11-man
(4W) Burlington at (1E) Lusk: The Tigers’ momentum has yet to be stopped. 6 p.m.
(3E) Lingle at (2W) Dubois: The only thing I think that separates the Doggers from the Rams is postseason experience. The Doggers have it, and I think that’s what gives them the advantage in this long-distance showdown. 1 p.m.
(3W) Rocky Mountain at (2E) Southeast: I love, love, LOVE this matchup. Two schools with fantastic traditions and solid but unspectacular 2010 seasons, both eager to prove themselves on the postseason stage… awesome. Cyclones, with home field, have the slight advantage. 6 p.m.
(4E) Pine Bluffs at (1W) Cokeville: It’s weird to think, but I just realized both of these teams had last week off. Let’s see how that affects the play on both sides in a game that’s a rematch from last year’s 1A quarterfinals. 1 p.m.

Class 1A six-man
(8) Farson at (1) Snake River: Rattlers. Unbeaten and, according to the scores from this fall, maybe unstoppable. 2 p.m.
(5) Midwest at (4) Kaycee: My alma mater will try its best to reverse the Kaycee hex from last year’s playoffs, but for now I think it’s still in play. 2 p.m.
(6) Meeteetse at (3) Ten Sleep: The Longhorns’ trade-off for a short drive is having to face the Pioneers, who all of a sudden are an offensive juggernaut. 2 p.m.
(7) Guernsey at (2) Hanna: Remember last year’s playoffs? Confident home team vs. upstart road team… only this time the roles are reversed. Careful, there, Miners. 2 p.m.

Looking over these picks, I realize I was fairly conservative: only two road teams. Nevertheless, I am anticipating some fantastic football on Friday.

So what are you waiting for? I know you have some thoughts. Post ’em below!


School: Sundance
Nickname: Bulldogs
Colors: red and white
Stadium: Bulldog Stadium
State championship: 2005
Times worth remembering: Back-to-back one-loss seasons in 1968 and 1969 were Sundance’s best sustained multi-year effort; however, the great seasons didn’t earn the Bulldogs much respect outside the northeast corner. The 1968 team finished 8-1, with only a 21-20 loss to Newell, S.D. in the season finale — a game decided in the final minute — marring its record, but finished seventh in the final statewide poll. The 1969 team also went 8-1 and lost only to Upton, but finished sixth overall (Upton was fourth). The back-to-back one-loss seasons were part of a bigger seven-year streak from 1965-71 in which Sundance did not have a losing season.
Times worth forgetting: It took four years in the early 1950s for Sundance to figure out its place. From 1951-54, the Bulldogs didn’t win a single game, racking up a 0-27-2 record, at one point matching a state record by going 33 consecutive games without a victory. In 1955, the Bulldogs dropped to six-man play — and posted a winning record.
Best team: The 2005 Bulldogs finally gave the red and white faithful the state championship they had long been awaiting. Sundance went 10-1 that year with the lone loss a 22-20 thriller to Big Horn. In the playoffs, the Bulldogs outscored their opponents 88-6, including a 40-0 whitewash of Wright in the 2A title game. The Bulldogs had nine first-team all-state players, almost twice as many as any other squad.
Biggest win: The lone championship game victory Sundance has ever had — the 40-0 win over Wright in 2005 — was an exercise in domination. The Bulldogs put the game away early, building a 19-0 first-quarter lead and then riding the strength of its defense to the trophy. The Panthers had only 30 yards of total offense, and 20 of those came in the final moments against the Bulldogs’ backups.
Heartbreaker: The 1990 reclassification came at just the right time for Sundance, which fell into Class 1A-11 man play just as a talented, athletic group of players was finding its stride. The players didn’t prove that hunch wrong, rolling up an 8-0 record, including a 23-20 squeaker in a semifinal victory over Burns, to reach the state title game for the first time in school history. But once there, Cokeville – the perennial favorites in the 1A division – controlled the game from start to finish, picking off four Sundance passes throughout the game, and knocked off the top-ranked Bulldogs 20-6.

Sundance team page.

Game times are all in! Here are the pairings with kickoff times. All games are scheduled for Friday:

Class 4A
(8) Green River at (1) Natrona, 7 p.m.
(5) Cheyenne Central at (4) Gillette, 7 p.m.
(7) Kelly Walsh at (2) Sheridan, 7 p.m.
(6) Cheyenne East at (3) Evanston, 7 p.m.

Class 3A
(4W) Star Valley at (1E) Douglas, 7 p.m.
(3E) Riverton at (2W) Powell, 7 p.m.
(3W) Lander at (2E) Buffalo, 6 p.m.
(4E) Wheatland at (1W) Cody, 6 p.m.

Class 2A
(4W) Big Piney at (1E) Big Horn, noon
(3E) Newcastle at (2W) Greybull, 6 p.m.
(3W) Lyman at (2E) Thermopolis, 7 p.m.
(4E) Burns at (1W) Lovell, 7 p.m.

Class 1A 11-man
(4W) Burlington at (1E) Lusk, 6 p.m.
(3E) Lingle at (2W) Dubois, 1 p.m.
(3W) Rocky Mountain at (2E) Southeast, 6 p.m.
(4E) Pine Bluffs at (1W) Cokeville, 1 p.m.

Class 1A six-man
(8) Farson at (1) Snake River, 2 p.m.
(5) Midwest at (4) Kaycee, 2 p.m.
(6) Meeteetse at (3) Ten Sleep, 2 p.m.
(7) Guernsey at (2) Hanna, 2 p.m.


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