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Remember Thermopolis?

Yeah, the school that has the two-time defending Class 2A champions?

Those guys? Yeah. I do now. Shouldn’t have ever doubted them.

The Bobcats showed the rest of the state just how much they want to win a third straight crown when they beat Big Horn 21-6 in a rematch of last year’s 2A title game. And we should know by now that the Bobcats have the experience and the ability — and, maybe most importantly, the attitude — to make it back to Laramie in November.

Remember that the Bobcats are good at revenge. In 2009, the Bobcats lost to Glenrock in the regular season, only to beat them in the state championship game. And last year, Thermopolis lost to Big Horn in the regular season but avenged that loss in the title game, as well.

Maybe all Friday’s victory means is that Thermopolis won’t beat Big Horn in the championship game. Revenge can’t be served on a team that’s already been beaten. But what it does mean is that a return to Laramie can’t be ruled out for the Bobcats. As the old adage goes, they are the champions until someone proves otherwise. Friday was just another reminder that, so far, no one has done that yet.

Second mad props to Wheatland, which eked out a 14-10 victory over Torrington in a revival of a rivalry that has been played every year since 1934. Maybe after this one, the Trailblazers are regretting keeping the series going.

Third mad props to Miles City, Mont., which barely eked out a 21-20 victory over Powell.

Some other stuff I noticed this week:

Despite being utterly predictable, the opening week of 4A football helped us figure out which teams might indeed be contenders. Right now, who wouldn’t want to see a rematch of Evanston-Gillette? The Camels won 40-36 on a touchdown in the last minute (just as I predicted!). Sheridan looked sharp in beating Cheyenne Central, Cheyenne East destroyed new-look Kelly Walsh and Natrona ran roughshod over Cheyenne South. Right now, we can include those five schools in the discussion. Next week, we really only get one game to help us clear up the confusion at the top, but it’s a big one: Sheridan at Natrona. …

Thermopolis’ victory stands out in the 2A West, but remember that Lyman and Greybull also won and Lovell definitely got better by scrimmaging Douglas. That is going to be a tough, tough conference this fall. …

Beware Worland. Beware Riverton. Both teams proved their moxie on Friday, even though Riverton came away with the 12-7 victory. Both teams will cause a lot of problems for the pre-ordained frontrunners in 3A this year. …

So what did you think of the first week of high school football? What teams, players or moments stood out for you? Post a comment below and we can chat about it.

This week: 12-3 (80 percent). This season: 12-3 (80 percent).


Wyoming football fans have the chance to see something somewhat rare at 7 p.m. Friday — the introduction of a new varsity football program.

On that night, for the first time as a varsity team, the Cheyenne South Bison will take the field.

That field? Cheney Alumni Field, home of the defending Class 4A state champion Natrona.

It will be a difficult but exhilarating challenge for the Bison and new head coach Tracy Pugh, who will be trying to win the school’s first varsity football game and will also try to do so with a roster completely lacking of 12th-graders.

The Bison will also be fighting against history. Traditionally, schools unveiling their programs have not done well in their first varsity game. Here is a quick rundown of the results of new programs’ first games since 1960 (first game in program history OR first game after an absence of 5+ years; new program in bold):

1960: Buffalo JV 34, Arvada-Clearmont 32
1960: Cheyenne East 27, Torrington 6
1963: Hanna 0, Guernsey-Sunrise 0, tie
1965: Gillette 20, Kelly Walsh 0
1966: Hanna 41, Goshen Hole 0
1967: Goshen Hole 54, Burns 0
1968: Jackson JV 31, Dubois 6
1969: Moorcroft JV 20, Arvada-Clearmont 6
1969: Burlington 18, Wind River 6
1972: Bow-Basin 36, Wyoming Indian 0
1972: Dubois 1, Ten Sleep 0, Dubois win by forfeit
1977: Shoshoni 14, North Big Horn 0
1977: Saratoga 20, Southeast 18
1983: Lovell 19, Rocky Mountain 0
1984: Wright 44, Moorcroft JV 0
1987: Big Piney 40, Farson 14
1987: Big Horn 45, Riverside 45, tie, 3OT
1988: Hanna 18, Encampment 0
2000: Normative Services 8, Upton 0, OT
2009: Hanna 56, Farson 14
2009: Kaycee 56, Snake River 36

Since 1960, Wyoming programs in their first games have gone 5-16-2. Two of those five victories — Bow-Basin’s victory over Wyoming Indian in 1972 and Kaycee’s victory over Snake River in 2009, came in games where two newly minted programs faced each other.

Of course, this has absolutely no bearing on Cheyenne South’s chances on Friday in Casper. The game will be won the old-fashioned way, by the team that has the best players executing the best game plan.

It doesn’t seem fair that South drew Natrona on the road to start the season. But to their credit, the Bison have not complained about the draw, or about being asked (or forced, depending on your opinion) to play 4A football despite not yet having the ability to draw from a full school.

Every step of the way, the Bison have looked at these not as problems, but as opportunities. And they have the opportunity to pull off an eye-popping upset on Friday.

Will it happen? Probably not. My pick is Natrona.

But the opportunity is there. That is all the Bison need. Or want.

Here is a quick rundown of the remaining Zero Week contests. Projected winners are in bold. All-time series records, something new to the picks process this year, are in parentheses:

Class 4A
Cheyenne Central at Sheridan: The past few seasons, both the Broncs and the Indians have been perennial contenders. After tonight, both teams will have a great idea of how they might fare in 4A this year. 6 p.m. (She 34-27-1)
Cheyenne East at Kelly Walsh: The Thunderbirds return some solid talent, but role players will need to find their niche for East to KO what should be a hyped-up Trojan team in new coach Jon Vance’s debut. 7 p.m. (KW 24-19)
Evanston at Gillette: Evanston embarrassed Gillette in the season opener last year. The Camels, at home, will be eager to return the favor — although this one may come down to a last-minute score to win. 7 p.m. (Gil 3-2)
Rock Springs at Laramie: Last year’s two non-playoff qualifiers need to win this one out of the gate to establish some confidence. 7 p.m. (Lar 45-31)
Class 3A
Worland at Riverton: The Wolverines are ready to start turning heads. The improving Warriors will be the first challenge to Riverton’s plans. 7 p.m. (Riv 42-35-1)
Class 2A
Big Horn at Thermopolis: How big of an influence will Tongue River’s combo with Big Horn have? I’m guessing significant. We will see on Friday. 7 p.m. (The 2-1)
Riverside at Greybull: New Greybull coach Josh Heinemeyer makes his debut with the Buffs against the traditional rivals from the south. Emotion may carry the blue and gold. 7:30 p.m. (Rsd 13-11)
Altamont, Utah, at Lyman: Even though Altamont has won the past two years against the Eagles, this may be Lyman’s year to break the streak. 4 p.m. (Altamont 2-0)
Big Piney at Wind River: The Punchers might surprise some people (namely me) in the 2A West this year. Also, in five previous meetings with Wind River, not only has Big Piney won all of them, but they have yet to give up a point to the Cougars. Odd statistical anomaly or trend? 1 p.m. (BP 5-0)
Natrona sophs at Midwest: The Oilers have the experience in six-man, but the young Mustangs will be a fun test in the opener. 10 a.m. (NA)
Riverside JV at Ten Sleep: This game will be of the six-man variety, and the Pioneers have a bit more experience in that game. Noon. (NA)
Torrington at Wheatland: I’m SOOOOO glad to see this series continue! I had a fear that the two teams, who have played each other every year since 1934, may part ways due to the classification changes, but fortunately both schools wanted to keep the series going. Glad to see it! 6 p.m. (Tor 73-18-1)
Custer, S.D., at Newcastle: The past two games between these teams have been decided by a combined four points. Bank on another close one here. 7 p.m. (Custer 24-16-3)
Laurel, Mont., at Cody: Laurel has had the upper hand in this series for a little while now. Beware the Broncs at home, though. 7 p.m. (Laurel 8-4)
Miles City, Mont., at Powell: Powell’s trip to Miles City got cut short by lightning last year. A complete four quarters is the goal in this one in what may be the best game of the week, as Montana’s defending Class A champions venture south. 6 p.m. (tied 2-2)

The rest of the Zero Week schedule is as follows:

Scrimmages and Jamborees
Rocky Mountain at Cody JV, 7 p.m.
Snake River at SoRoCo, Colo., 7 p.m.

Glenrock at Kelly Walsh JV, 11 a.m.
Green River at Littleton, Colo./Erie, Colo., jamboree, TBA
Jackson at Pinedale, 1 p.m.
Lander at Kemmerer, 1 p.m.
Lovell at Douglas, 6 p.m.
Pine Bluffs/Southeast at Burns jamboree, 9 a.m.
Rawlins at Mountain View, 11 a.m.
Wright at Lusk, 10:30 a.m.
Wyoming Indian at Shoshoni, 10 a.m.

If you see any errors with the Zero Week schedule, please email me at or post the info below.

As always, I make these picks all in good fun. I absolutely love it when teams prove me wrong — and I absolutely love it when my picks are right. No matter who wins each game, I end up having fun! Please have fun along with me this season.


With last week’s news that Tongue River is forfeiting its 2011 season, I started thinking about how common/rare of an occurrence such a dramatic step is in Wyoming high school football.

I did a brief scan of the site and found that, since 1962, seven seasons have been canceled completely, and another nine seasons have been reduced solely to junior varsity games.

Tongue River’s season falls into the former category, as the Eagles will combine with Big Horn for this fall and take on the Rams’ junior varsity and freshman schedule.

Here is a quick look at the seasons since 1962 that have been lost due to low numbers. These lists do not include seasons where a full schedule of varsity teams was played under nine-man, eight-man or six-man formats and the teams were subsequently ineligible for the 11-man playoffs, or seasons in which programs were in their first year and did not field varsity teams.

Cancellations of entire seasons
Burlington 1989
Dubois 1986
Hanna 1986, 1993
Hulett 1982
Meeteetse 1982
Ten Sleep 1990
(47 times total, mostly during the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s)

Forfeiture of varsity schedule/played sub-varsity schedule
Dubois 1998
Hulett 2010, 1981
Meeteetse 1995, 2002
Midwest 2002, 2008
Ten Sleep 2007, 2008 (Montana six-man)
(Farson forfeited the final half of its 1990 schedule; Normative Services forfeited the final half of its 2002 schedule.)

When entire seasons are forfeited prior to the start of the season, the games scheduled for that season are not counted in season records, either for the forfeiting team or the non-forfeiting team. When teams start but don’t finish a season, those forfeits are counted in season records. (This goes against the way the WHSAA has recently tallied entire season forfeits, but I find this system to be more consistent with how such problems have been handled in the past. It also allows for those schools playing sub-varsity schedules to have their seasons recognized more accurately.)


Thumbing through some series records the other day prompted me to think about Wyoming’s longest-lasting rivalries.

Oddly enough, series rivalry records are the one thing I have avoided tallying since I started this research in 2004. It was a lot of work, and I wasn’t sure about the payoff. But this week inspired me to start.

The logical starting place was tallying series records for this year’s games. After all, most longstanding series will continue no matter the year. So I tallied up the series records for all of this year’s games, and found three series with more than 100 games played. Here are the 10 most played current rivalries in Wyoming:

10 most played existing series
1. Cheyenne Central-Laramie: 126 games (Central leads 62-58-6)
2. Lander-Riverton: 114 games (Riverton leads 58-49-7)
3. Cody-Powell: 110 games (Cody leads 59-47-4)
4. Natrona-Sheridan: 98 games (Natrona leads 51-41-6)
5. Cheyenne Central-Natrona: 97 games (series tied 47-47-3)
6. Big Piney-Pinedale: 96 games (Big Piney leads 54-42)
7. Torrington-Wheatland: 92 games (Torrington leads 73-18-1)
8. Greybull-Lovell: 83 games (Lovell leads 52-27-4)
9. Douglas-Torrington: 82 games (Torrington leads 54-26-2)
10t. Laramie-Natrona: 78 games (Natrona leads 43-34-1)
10t. Riverton-Worland: 78 games (Riverton leads 42-35-1)

There were 22 other current series in Wyoming that topped 60 meetings. Those series included:

Other series of note (at least 60 games)
Laramie-Rock Springs: 76 games (Laramie leads 45-31)
Big Piney-Lyman: 75 games (Big Piney leads 44-30-1)
Evanston-Rock Springs: 74 games (Rock Springs leads 43-26-5)
Sundance-Upton: 74 games (Upton leads 38-31-5)
Jackson-Star Valley: 73 games (Star Valley leads 59-14)
Laramie-Sheridan: 72 games (Laramie leads 43-29)
Lovell-Thermopolis: 72 games (Thermopolis leads 42-30)
Cody-Worland: 71 games (Cody leads 38-32-1)
Lyman-Mountain View: 71 games (Mountain View leads 42-29)
Big Piney-Mountain View: 70 games (Big Piney leads 38-32)
Powell-Riverton: 68 games (Powell leads 36-29-3)
Powell-Worland: 68 games (Worland leads 39-29)
Cody-Riverton: 67 games (Cody leads 33-32-2)
Green River-Star Valley: 67 games (Star Valley leads 32-30-5)
Lyman-Pinedale: 66 games (Pinedale leads 38-28)
Gillette-Sheridan: 65 games (Sheridan leads 38-26-1)
Natrona-Rock Springs: 65 games (Natrona leads 43-19-3)
Greybull-Thermopolis: 64 games (Thermopolis leads 41-19-4)
Mountain View-Pinedale: 63 games (Mountain View leads 36-25-2)
Cheyenne Central-Rock Springs: 62 games (Cheyenne Central leads 40-18-4)
Cheyenne Central-Sheridan: 62 games (Sheridan leads 34-27-1)
Moorcroft-Sundance: 61 games (Moorcroft leads 35-26)

Remember, though, that this list ONLY encompasses series that are continuing this year. It does not account for other longstanding rivalry games that will not be played this year, including Evanston-Star Valley, Green River-Rock Springs, Douglas-Wheatland, Thermopolis-Worland, Evanston-Green River and others.

Some day, I hope to have series records for all schools. However, the research I have already accomplished gives me a neat little side note to add to the blog this year. In addition to my weekly picks, you will see the series record for each game noted in parentheses. While the past games have little bearing on this year’s games, it is fun to look back and see just how well two schools have stacked up against each other in the past.


Low numbers force Tongue River to forfeit season (Sheridan Media).


In the interview with Sheridan Media, Sheridan County School District No. 1 Superintendent Marty Kozba said Tongue River did not have enough players to safely play the sport. The Eagles will co-op with Big Horn for this season.


The look-ahead at the 2011 season comes to an end today with a look at Class 4A.

Four questions to answer
What can we expect from Cheyenne South in its first year of varsity football? If the past is any indication, not much. The last two new schools to start at the 4A/AA level — Cheyenne East in 1960 and Kelly Walsh in 1965 — were a combined 2-14-1 in their first year of varsity football. Without any seniors, South seems destined for a similar fate, but don’t expect the Bison to use that as an excuse. The squad could pull off a couple upsets, should garner respect from its opponents and may sneak into the playoffs if the young players play up to the level demanded by 4A ball.

Is this the year parity reigns in 4A? Maybe. With defending state champion Natrona decimated by graduation, three new head coaches (see below), only three first-team all-state players returning and a new face in Cheyenne South, no team is the absolute preseason favorite.

What can we expect out of the schools with new head coaches? Actually, don’t expect much change. Kelly Walsh, Rock Springs and Cheyenne South all have new head coaches this fall. However, new coaches Jon Vance at Kelly Walsh and Tom Jassman at Rock Springs were both assistants in their respective programs before taking over as head coach, while Tracy Pugh comes into a much different situation at South (see above).

Did Jordan Roberts really move from Gillette to Sheridan? Sure did. And it changes the dynamic of the entire season. Sheridan, with Roberts’ 1,357 yards anchoring the backfield, will be one of 4A’s top teams. Gillette will still be Gillette, though — eager to prove that, no matter the circumstances (or tailbacks), it is always ready to strap on the helmet and play with the best teams in the state.

Four players to watch
Jeremy Woods, Cheyenne East. Class 4A’s leading rusher last season (225 carries, 1,506 yards, 11 touchdowns), Woods was inexplicably left off the all-state team. He’s even more dangerous as a punt returner, and teams know it; he only had six returns last year, but ran those kicks back for 129 yards — more than 20 yards per return.

Jordan Roberts, Sheridan. Roberts was Gillette’s featured back last year (see above), running for 1,357 yards and, more importantly, 16 touchdowns. On a Sheridan team that lost a ton of offensive talent to graduation, Roberts will be an important boost.

Matt Eddington, Evanston. If you couldn’t already tell, 2011 will be the year of the running back in 4A. Three of the top four yard-gainers from 2010 are back this year, including Eddington, who ran 172 times for 1,229 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Matt Carver, Cheyenne Central. Carver, a starter on the Indians’ defense since his sophomore year, will again fulfill an important role in the middle of Central’s defense. He was Central’s top defender last year and was ninth in 4A with 146 defensive points, notching 32 solo tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss.

Four key games
Evanston at Gillette, Week 0. It’s kind of easy to forget about the Red Devils because of how quickly they left the 2010 postseason race. But two of the three returning first-team all-state players in 4A belong to Evanston — and, don’t forget, the Red Devils smacked Gillette in last year’s season opener.

Sheridan at Natrona, Week 1. Rematch of last year’s state championship game. Need we say more?

Cheyenne Central at Cheyenne East, Week 3. With the Indians and the Thunderbirds both eager to prove themselves this year, winning the Capital Bowl will be crucial to gaining respect and gaining a good seed for the postseason. (By the way, with South in the picture now, is this still the Capital Bowl? Or is the Capital Bowl Series? Maybe the Capital One Bowl, Capital Two Bowl, Capital Three Bowl?)

Sheridan at Gillette, Week 5. The Energy Bowl takes on an interesting twist with Jordan Roberts’ move (see above), but his presence alone won’t decide this game. A ton of other players on both sides will help swing the game one way or the other in a game where there may be as much at stake as deciding home-field advantage in the playoffs.

Predicted order of finish
Sheridan; Evanston; Gillette; Cheyenne East; Natrona; Cheyenne Central; Kelly Walsh; Rock Springs; Laramie; Cheyenne South. (This is BY FAR the most difficult of the five classifications to forecast.)

Cheyenne Central and Laramie have a rivalry that dates back decades — all the way back to the first meeting between the schools in 1909. Between 1909 and today, how many times have the Indians and Plainsmen faced each other? Bonus trivia: What is the all-time series record, and who leads it? And, a legit question, because I don’t know the answer: Is this the most-played series in Wyoming’s high school football history? Comment below with your guesses to the trivia or to comment on any aspect of the upcoming 4A football season.


Each Friday, is examining a Wyoming high school football classification to preview this fall’s action. Today we’re checking out Class 3A, the fourth preview in the series.

Four questions to answer
How will Green River’s move to 3A affect the classification? Not as much as you might think. The Wolves, who are not playing in the big-school division for the first time since 1977, come into the classification at a brutal time when just about every school in the classification is better than it was last year. Meanwhile, Green River is coming off a 2-8 season that ended with a 45-point loss to eventual champ Natrona in the 4A playoffs and have a new coach in Don Maggi. Nevertheless, the Wolves’ move helps shift the power from the East Conference to the West Conference, where playoff qualifying will be a difficult task for even the best teams.

Can Douglas keep on winning? The short answer is yes. The Bearcats, winners of 30 consecutive games, are closing in on a pair of state records — the consecutive victories streak of 34 held by Laramie (1959-63) and the consecutive unbeaten streak of 36 held by Worland (1953-56). And while the Bearcats lose a bevy of talented seniors to graduation, similar losses the past two years have not yet stopped the team from winning all those games in a row.

Speaking of streaks… Can Rawlins break its losing streak? Hopefully. The Outlaws have lost 23 consecutive games dating back to 2008. A third consecutive 0-8 season would push the streak to 31 and into the territory of record-breaking… but for the sake of everyone involved in the Outlaw program, let’s hope it doesn’t reach that point.

Why does it seem like every team in the classification has a chance at the title? Because basically every team has an all-state player back. In all, 13 players who were all-state selections last fall are back this fall, an unusually high number for Class 3A.

Four players to watch
Vince Sleep, Powell. Sleep was the only sophomore to make the 3A all-state team last year, but it’s pretty easy to see why. He totaled 183 defensive points, and his 20.3 points per game led the classification. He also had 11 tackles for loss, a pair of fumble recoveries and an interception.

Josh Cragoe, Powell. While Sleep piled up the points for the Panthers’ defense, Cragoe piled up the big plays. He had three interceptions, three fumble recoveries and five tackles for loss last fall, all in all totaling 143 defensive points.

Bronson Hernandez, Worland. Hernandez was Worland’s leading rusher and leading tackler last fall. His rush numbers (76 carries, 418 yards, 3 TDs) were decent and could increase this fall, while his defensive numbers (125 points, 33 solo tackles, 5 tackles for loss and 2 fumble recoveries) made him stand out on that side of the ball, too.

Tanner Simpson and Derek Peil, Lander. I’m cheating a bit by taking two players here, but you can’t talk about one without talking about the other. They combined for 44 catches, 800 yards and 7 receiving touchdowns last year; defensively, Peil led team with 102 defensive points and 7 tackles for loss while Simpson led the Tigers with 3 interceptions.

Four key games
Douglas at Green River, Week 1. Really don’t need to explain this one, do I? Green River’s first 3A game… Douglas trying to keep its win streak going on the road… Intriguing.

Douglas at Buffalo, Week 4. If Douglas continues its win streak through nonconference play, the conference opener against the Bison will be to tie Laramie’s 34-game win streak record. But the Bison, last year’s state runners-up, will be no pushover.

Riverton at Buffalo, Week 5. Lost in the shuffle a bit this year is Riverton, which some people tend to forget was one of the four teams in the 3A semifinals last year. This trip to Buffalo could be the one that makes the rest of 3A sit up and take notice.

Cody at Powell, Week 7. My guess is that this game will decide the West Conference title. Both teams are loaded with talent and both want to earn that home-field advantage through the first two rounds of the playoffs.

Predicted order of finish
East: Douglas; Buffalo; Lander; Riverton; Torrington; Rawlins.
West: Powell; Cody; Green River; Star Valley; Worland; Jackson.

The last year Green River played in a classification below the big-school class was 1976. Why is that year memorable for Wolves fans?


Hulett native Ryan Neiman has been named the new head football coach at his alma mater.

Neiman, a Hulett High School graduate, will help lead the Red Devils as they transition from 11-man to six-man football. The Red Devils played a sub-varsity six-man schedule last fall and will play as part of the Wyoming six-man league this fall.

Neiman replaces Steve Colling, who had led the Red Devils for the past 19 seasons. Colling had the third-longest tenure among active coaches in Wyoming, eclipsed only by Cokeville’s Todd Dayton and Natrona’s Steve Harshman.

Colling went 72-87 in his tenure with the Red Devils.


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