Colors: orange and black/black and yellow
Stadium: Viking Stadium
State championships: 2004, 2006 and 2009
Times worth remembering: Two time periods help define the Guernsey-Sunrise program. The Vikings were consistently one of the toughest teams in the southeast corner during the 1970s, putting together eight consecutive winning seasons from 1971-78. In that span, Guernsey-Sunrise went 55-17, including a stretch of 24-3 in the 1975, 1976 and 1977 seasons. Missing from that span, though, is a state title — Guernsey missed the playoffs in 1975, lost the title game in 1976 and lost in the semis in 1977. That’s why the Vikings’ recent streak of title game appearances — five in six years from 2002-07, including titles in 2004 and 2006, and an all-too-easy 9-0 season in 2009 that gave the school its first six-man state championship — represents the second golden era of Viking football.
Times worth forgetting: The time right before the Sunrise school closed in 1963 and right after represented the toughest time for the Longhorns/Vikings. Consecutive winless seasons in 1961 and 1962 for the Longhorns were followed up with one-win seasons in 1963 and 1964, the first two years of the Vikings.
Best team: From the two “golden eras” for Guernsey, two teams stand out, the squad from 1976 and the squad from 2004. The 1976 team led the B-C division with five first-team all-staters and had its only loss in the state title game; the 2004 team had seven first-team all-staters, lost in the regular season to Lingle but won the state championship by edging out Cokeville at Cokeville (this after beating Burlington on the final play of the game in the semis). Put them on the field at the same time, I think it’s a great game, but the 2004 team’s penchant for winning the big games gives them the edge.
Biggest win: The 2004 title game, bar none. The Vikings were big underdogs in the game against Cokeville, which had beaten Guernsey 54-0 in the 2002 title game and 52-0 in the 2001 quarterfinals. The momentum built from beating Burlington in the semifinals a week earlier on the road gave the Vikings the confidence, and a touchdown in the final two minutes from Nigel Bristow gave the Vikings the title. (The 2006 title game win, a 14-12 victory also over Cokeville at Cokeville, helped lend legitimacy to the Vikings’ title-game run, as well. But the 2004 game was the bigger win.)
Heartbreaker: The Vikings just couldn’t catch a break in the mid-1970s. In 1975, the top-ranked Vikings lost to third-ranked Saratoga, a team Guernsey-Sunrise beat 16-12 earlier in the season, 20-6 on the final day of the regular season. The loss kept the Vikings out of the playoffs. Then, a year later, the Vikings went 9-0 and reached the Class B state championship game, only to get thumped by Lyman 28-12.
The Wyoming Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame has named 12 high school football players as finalists for its annual scholarship awards.
The Wyoming Chapter will award its scholarships during its banquet, set for 5 p.m. March 19 at the Hilton Garden Inn and UW Conference Center in Laramie. The winners are then in the running for the NFF’s national awards, which will be announced this summer.
Each one of the finalists receives a $1,200 scholarship. One overall winner will be named from the finalists, with that scholar-athlete receiving an additional $1,200 scholarship.
The chapter also named 10 special award winners, who will also be honored at the banquet. Tickets are $40 and are available by contacting chapter President Mike Schutte at (970) 484-2797 or MShootee@gmail.com. The banquet usually sells out, so people are encouraged to purchase tickets early.
The winners are listed below:
SPECIAL AWARD WINNERS
Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football: Frank Gambino, Casper.
Greatest UW Football Fans: Paul Rechard, Laramie, and Doug Campbell, Saratoga.
Greatest High School Football Fans: Rita Moore, Evanston, and Clyde and Joan Cundall, Douglas.
Ox Zellner Football Official Career Achievement: John Bard, Laramie.
Football Coach Career Achievement: Jim Wiseman, Torrington (posthumous).
Keith & Joyce Bloom Scholar-Athlete Courage Award: Jacob Hepp, Buffalo, and Derek Bacon, Pine Bluffs.
University of Wyoming: Chris Prosinski and Dax Crum.
High school: Sean Rietveld, Snake River; Shawn Straub, Kaycee; Jessee Wilson, Rocky Mountain; Beau Petersen, Cokeville; Holden Fauber, Wright; Ryan Haefele, Wright; Trent Boner, Douglas; Hayden Barker, Douglas; Mitch Espeland, Douglas; Lucas Rowley, Natrona County; Dawson Osborn, Sheridan; Jim Shellenberger, Natrona County.
Big Horn: Michael Klepperich.
Buffalo: Jacob Hepp, Hayden Kessler, Dave Long.
Burns: Ryler Lerwick.
Cheyenne Central: Josh Borm.
Cokeville: Beau Petersen.
Douglas: Hayden Barker, Gary Bolinger, Trent Boner, Mitch Espeland, Paul Foy, Joe Lake, Justin Melton, Baylor Sieg.
Cheyenne East: Aaron Boyd, Cole Brooks, Zachary Ellender, Michael Galicia, Jeremiah Hunter, Jordan Williams.
Evanston: Jack Lambert.
Gillette: Cody Barber, Riley Bousa, Jake Gill, Drake Kelley.
Glenrock: Matthew Widiker.
Green River: Jacob Flores.
Greybull: Clay Cundall, Dillon McCoy.
Kaycee: Shawn Straub.
Lander: Mitchell Cooper.
Meeteetse: Travis Guthrie.
Natrona County: Chase Cimburek, Jordan Dick, Cole Montgomery, Lucas Rowley, Jim Shellenberger, Kyle Vinich.
Newcastle: Jeremy Beehler, Trey Sylte.
Pine Bluffs: Derek Bacon, Eric Bond, Blayne Gilbert.
Pinedale: Ezra Brown, Stratton Brown, Kenneth Reed.
Rawlins: Jared Craig.
Riverside: Ben Anson.
Rock Springs: Michael Granthom, Zack Rosette.
Rocky Mountain: Jessee Wilson.
Saratoga: Ransom Gates.
Sheridan: Dawson Osborn, Alex Welch.
Shoshoni: Zedekiah Mills.
Snake River: Sean Rietveld.
Star Valley: Logan Abrams.
Sundance: Reed Moore.
Ten Sleep: Scott Erdahl.
Thermopolis: Mitch Syverson.
Wheatland: Ward Anderson, Tyrell Garton, Quinn Zimmerman.
Wright: Holden Fauber, Ryan Haefele.
Colors: black and orange
Stadium: Warrior Stadium
State championships: 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1959, 1989, 2001, 2002 and 2003
Times worth remembering: Few teams can claim the type of success Worland had in the 1950s. The Warriors won five consecutive Class A championships from 1952-56, won another in 1959 and finished as runners-up in 1951. Worland reached double-digit victories for six straight seasons, 1951-56, and had a combined 61-6-2 record. At one point, Worland went 36 consecutive games without losing — a state record. (Not to be overshadowed is Worland’s more recent success. The Warriors won three consecutive 4A titles from 2001-03, going 29-4 those three years while winning 19 straight.)
Times worth forgetting: The Warriors’ toughest times came in the 1990s, when the team went the entire decade without winning a playoff game — a big dip for a historically successful team. The Warriors didn’t have a winning record for seven consecutive seasons from 1990-96, went 7-2 but lost in the first round of the playoffs in 1997, then bottomed out with an 0-8 season in 1998.
Best team: Picking one team out of a host of greats is difficult in Worland’s case, but the 1956 team stands out simply because of its defensive dominance. On its way to the Class A championship for the fifth consecutive year, the Warriors allowed only 18 points all season — and 12 of those came in the title game against Torrington, a game the Warriors won 46-12. Worland finished the season 10-0-1, the lone smudge a scoreless tie with Natrona. The Warriors got used to seeing the zero on the opponents’ side of the scoreboard: nine of the Warriors’ 11 opponents were held scoreless.
Biggest win: Worland’s championships in 2001 and 2002 were too similar to be coincidence. Both years, the Warriors beat Star Valley in the championship after losing to the Braves during the regular season. And both championship games were defensive struggles, with Worland winning 6-0 in 2001 and 17-14 in 2002. The 2002 game, though, really cemented Worland’s dynasty. After falling behind 14-7, Worland blocked a punt to set up the game-tying touchdown, then blocked a short field goal to help send the game to overtime. After forcing Star Valley into an interception in overtime, the Warriors’ Casey Lass thumped an 18-yard field goal through the uprights for the win — Worland’s second of three straight titles. (Worland is the only team to play in two state championship games that went to overtime; the Warriors also won the 1955 championship in extra time.)
Heartbreaker: The 1988 3A championship game against Torrington started so well for Worland. The Warriors’ opening drive went 80 yards, but, poised to put the game’s first points on the boards, Worland missed a field goal. Unfortunately, that was the Warriors’ best scoring chance in a 6-0 loss to the Trailblazers. Worland managed only 133 total yards.
Greybull’s Brett Keisel will play in the Pro Bowl, the Pittsburgh Steelers announced on Saturday. Keisel is believed to be only the second former Wyoming high school football player to reach the Pro Bowl, joining former Cheyenne Central/Green Bay Packers receiver Boyd Dowler.
Congratulations to the former Buffalo on the honor!
Torrington coach Brian Harms resigns (Torrington Telegram). Coach Harms went 11-23 in four seasons as head coach, including playoff appearances in 2008 and 2009.
Harms is the third coach to resign in Wyoming since the end of the season, joining Rock Springs’ Tony Yerkovich and Kelly Walsh’s Jim Horne. Anyone else hear of any other coaching changes? Leave a comment below or e-mail me at email@example.com.
School: Rock Springs
Colors: orange and black
Stadium: Tiger Stadium
State championships: 1978, 1987, 2001 and 2002
Times worth remembering: An undefeated season is special, but back-to-back undefeated seasons are rare. The Tigers hung two years of utter domination on the rest of Wyoming’s 5A field, piling up a 22-0 record in 2001 and 2002 — and usually winning big in the process. Rock Springs won 18 of those 22 games by more than eight points and outscored opponents 858-216 — an average margin of 39-10.
Times worth forgetting: The Tigers had eight consecutive non-winning seasons in the 1990s, although that number is somewhat deceiving — the Tigers twice made the 4A semifinals in that span. Consistently garnering at least respect, Rock Springs just couldn’t get over the hump from 1993-95, when it went a combined 3-20. The Tigers were in games, and seven of those losses were by 10 points or less, but the team never found the right formula for consistent winning in those years.
Best team: The 2002 Rock Springs team is regarded not only as the best team in school history, but one of the best in state history. The Tigers averaged nearly 43 points per game, gave up fewer than eight points per game and notched five shutouts, including an 87-0 destruction of Cody and a 70-0 pasting of Laramie. Rock Springs had 10 first-team all-state players, including 5A’s lineman of the year (Nate Gehle) and back of the year (Matt Romanowski), and had four CST Super 25 first-team players.
Biggest win: The Tigers were clear underdogs heading into the 1978 state championship game against Laramie. After all, the Plainsmen had beaten the Tigers 28-0 earlier in the season, so why should the title game be any different? Well, it was. Playing in front of the home fans on a snowy, windy field, Robby Spence scored Rock Springs’ only touchdown in the first four minutes of the game and Don Morris added what ended up being the winning extra point as the Tigers notched a 7-6 victory – the school’s first state championship since winning the “Big Six” title in 1959.
Heartbreaker: The 1975 championship was one of those games no one should lose. With 9-0 Rock Springs meeting 9-0 Natrona County for the state championship, the two teams staged a defensive struggle for the ages, called at the time by the Casper Star-Tribune “the best-ever Class AA playoff championship.” NC held Rock Springs to just 101 total yards and won 13-6, denying the Tigers the chance to win their first state championship game — a feat Rock Springs would have to wait four more years to accomplish.
I was alerted to a couple of missing last week when I was surfing the internet and stumbled across some archives at Saratoga High’s Web site. After some quick double-checking I added these games:
Added Saratoga’s 20-12 loss to the Wheatland JV on Oct. 14, 1993.
Added Saratoga’s 20-15 loss to the Cheyenne Central JV on Oct. 9-13, 1990 (added to the missing games list because I couldn’t find a specific date or a location).
All of the updates have been made on all the relevant pages.
The Shrine Bowl South squad’s coaching staff has been set.
Head coach Pat Fackrell of Evanston will join with Scott Schultz of Wheatland, Ted Holmstrom of Lyman, Larry Wagstaff of Evanston, Matt VandeBossche of Lusk and Michael Bates of Snake River to form the South staff, Shrine Bowl Executive Director T.J. Claunch announced Thursday.
The annual all-star football game will be played June 11 in Casper.
The coaches for the North squad of the 2011 Shrine Bowl all-star game have been set.
Head coach John Cundall of Greybull will be joined by Vic Wilkerson of Gillette, Pat Lynch of Buffalo, Jeff Sukut of Greybull, David Trembly of Dubois and Dustin Sipe of Kaycee, Shrine Bowl Executive Director T.J. Claunch announced Wednesday.
The South squad has yet to name its coaching staff. Player selections will be announced soon.
The game will be played June 11 in Casper.
School: Tongue River
Colors: green and white
Stadium: Walt Gray Field
State championship: 1956
Times worth remembering: The Eagles can claim two dominant stretches of football — the mid-1960s and the mid-1970s. From 1962-67, Tongue River went a combined 43-5, with undefeated seasons in 1963 (7-0) and 1967 (9-0). Then, from 1972-74, the Eagles went 26-1, the lone loss coming to the Billings Senior junior varsity on the final day of the 1972 season. The 1970s teams earn the edge because of their dominance — in those three years, the Eagles won by an average score of 35-4 and posted 18 shutouts in 27 games.
Times worth forgetting: The hardest two years for legendary coach Walter Gray had to have been his last two. In 1990-91, the Eagles were a combined 2-13. Both seasons were eerily similar — the Eagles beat Wright in the season opener both years, then lost all of their remaining games, usually by a lot. The 1990 Eagles lost five times by shutout, gave up at least 37 points in its seven losses and managed only 31 points total in eight games; the ’91 squad managed more points and fewer blowout losses but still only managed the one victory.
Best team: With five undefeated teams — including four in the non-playoff era — picking TR’s best team is an exercise designed for frustration. But the one that stands out is the one in the middle of the Eagles’ 1970s dynasty: 1973. That year, the Eagles were 10-0 and were at their peak on both offense and defense. The Eagles were a juggernaut offensively, averaging 34.1 points per game, and defensively, they notched eight shutouts. Tongue River was rarely challenged in any game; its closest game was a 16-point victory over the Billings Senior junior varsity in the final game. Every other game was won by at least 20 points.
Biggest win: Tongue River’s first season was also among its best. After combining Dayton and Ranchester prior to the 1956 school year, the new Eagles quickly became one of the state’s top teams and rolled through northeast conference play unbeaten, then topped Cokeville 32-26 in Cokeville in a back-and-forth championship showdown. After staking a 12-0 lead, the Eagles gave up 26 consecutive points to the Panthers, but then staged a comeback rally of their own, scoring 20 straight to close the game while holding the Panthers scoreless in the second half. Ed Fiedor scored the eventual game-winner for TR on a 15-yard run late in the third quarter.
Heartbreaker: The Eagles were big favorites heading into the 2006 3A championship against Big Piney. After all, Tongue River was 10-0 and playing at home; Big Piney was 6-4 and making a long bus trip for the second time in three weeks. But the Punchers stymied the Eagles, making three big stops in the red zone — including an Eagles first-and-goal from the 9-yard line in the final minute — and came away with a 21-18 victory.