School: Cheyenne East
Colors: powder blue and black
Stadium: Okie Blanchard Stadium
State championships: 1970, 1974 and 2007
Times worth remembering: In the three years from 2005-07, the Thunderbirds played in three consecutive Class 5A championship games, a run unmatched in school history. Each year was a bit different — the 2005 team was the favorite but lost to Central in the title game; the 2006 team won two straight games on the road in the playoffs before losing 16-14 to Gillette in the championship; the 2007 squad finally broke through and won the championship, capping the school’s most successful three-year stretch.
Times worth forgetting: For 14 seasons, from 1986-99, East never had a winning record. Twice in that span, in 1996 and again in 1999, the Thunderbirds went 0-8, losing the Class 4A consolation game, affectionately referred to as the “Toilet Bowl,” both times.
Best team: On records alone, the 1974 squad was East’s best, with a 9-1 final mark and the Class AA championship. The team’s only loss was a 9-7 defeat at the hands of Poudre, Colo. However, only three players from that team made the AA all-state team; Rawlins, which lost 14-0 to East in the AA title game, had eight players make all-state. Go figure.
Biggest win: Actually, three victories in October 1970 helped establish as East as a legit annual threat, something more than just an upstart program. In three weeks, the T-Birds won three conference games by three points apiece — 30-27 over Central, 10-7 over Natrona and 10-7 over Laramie — to earn the conference championship and a berth in the title game. The next week, East beat Thermopolis 35-15 in an anticlimactic title game, but the three narrow wins before that title game were the ones that really set up East’s first state championship.
Heartbreaker: The 2005 Class 5A title game is still a sore spot for some East fans. The T-Birds had one of the best teams in the state and had won eight in a row heading into the title game against Central — including a 31-7 victory over the Indians a few weeks prior to the championship game — but in the rain and muck in front of a huge Capital City crowd, East could never find its groove. Underdog Central won 27-14, leaving East wondering what happened.
School: Cheyenne East