Newcastle’s road back to legitimacy was a long one.
Midway through the 2011 season, though, we can see the Dogies are not just legit — they might just be a little bit dangerous, too.
Since losing to Custer, S.D., and to Southeast to start the season, the Dogies have won three games in a row heading into Friday’s showdown with Glenrock (kickoff at 6 p.m. in Glenrock). More importantly, all three of those games have been 2A East Conference games.
What stands out about the Dogies’ recent run is keyed by defense. The Dogies’ last three opponents have scored just 12 total points.
Of course, Newcastle’s recent success helps offset some of the struggles the Dogies have experienced the past, oh, three decades. Newcastle has had just one winning season since 1983 and has made the playoffs just twice this century.
Last year, the Dogies made the playoffs and finished 4-6 — at one point winning four out of five games — a good first step for a program with such a spotty recent history. Newcastle’s quick start to the 2011 conference season helps show they plan on making winning a more consistent trait.
The next step is to beat the teams that have set the standard everyone else has tried to follow. Teams like Glenrock.
The Herders’ success has more or less mirrored the Dogies’ struggles. Glenrock has won three state titles since 2002 and has made it to a state title game in six of the past nine years.
Newcastle helped show it was up for such a challenge last year by beating Glenrock 7-6; however, that victory came in an unusually difficult 2-6 year for the Herders. That’s not the case this year, as the Herders enter their game with the Dogies at 4-0.
Friday’s victor takes sole control of first place in the 2A East and controls its own destiny the rest of the season for home-field advantage in the playoffs.
It’s a position Glenrock knows well and Newcastle hasn’t seen in awhile. That’s why I am picking the Herders to win.
If Newcastle wins, though, it will be just the latest step in a long-awaited and very visible march to respectability that’s been a long time coming. (Glenrock leads series 22-15)
Here are the rest of the Week 5 picks, with the teams I think will win in bold and the teams I think will still have fun anyway in non-bold:
Cheyenne Central at Laramie: The Indians always seem about one play away from breaking into 4A’s upper echelon. Maybe those plays are just building up somewhere for unleashing later in the season. 7 p.m. (CC 62-58-6)
Cheyenne South at Evanston: After winning a really close one last week, the Red Devils have to be feeling pretty good about their chances for the rest of the season. 7 p.m. (First meeting)
Natrona at Cheyenne East: This is a really tough trip for the Mustangs, but the orange and black have a defense that has given up just 25 points all season. Having that to rely on should ease some of the pressure off the offense. 7 p.m. (NC 36-15)
Rock Springs at Kelly Walsh: Both of these teams desperately need a victory to keep playoff hopes moving forward. Winless KW might be feeling a bit more desperate than the one-win Tigers, though — and the Trojans get this one at home. 7 p.m. (KW 11-10)
Sheridan at Gillette: Subplots aside, the ability for both teams to run the ball consistently will probably be what determines the winner in this one. That, and maybe a big special teams play somewhere along the way. May be the best game of the week in any classification. 7 p.m. (She 38-26-1)
Cody at Jackson: Cody just keeps moving in the right direction. They just keep losing, too. I am playing a hunch that I think that losing streak comes to an end this week, but the good play will continue. 7 p.m. (Cod 13-6)
Lander at Douglas: Man, I have fretted about this pick all week long. This is one of those games where I just pick the home team and don’t sweat the outcome, because it should be a great game no matter what. 7 p.m. (Lan 6-5)
Powell at Star Valley: Back in May, some gentlemen (who shall remain nameless) put me on the spot and asked me who would win the 3A football title in November. I said Powell. I have yet to see any reason to waver on that choice. 4 p.m. (SV 23-8)
Rawlins at Torrington: You heard it here first: The Rawlins losing streak ends Friday, in Torrington, at 27 games. Outlaws have been improving rapidly. 7 p.m. (Tor 22-4-1)
Riverton at Buffalo: When was the last time you saw the Bison lose their first two conference games of a season? 1932? 7 p.m. (Buf 6-5)
Worland at Green River: The Wolves got a bit of a scare put into them last week, but they should rally around that narrow escape and come out firing this week. 7 p.m. (GR 5-4)
Big Horn at Wheatland: Wheatland turned the ball over seven times to Glenrock two weeks ago; Big Horn turned it over four times against Glenrock last week. The team that forces the most turnovers in this one will probably be the team to win. 6 p.m. (First meeting)
Burns at Moorcroft: The Broncs have had a handle on the Wolves the past two seasons. It’s a long trip, but the Broncs should have what it takes to get it done for a third year in a row. 3 p.m. (Mor 7-2)
Kemmerer at Big Piney: There’s no escaping the fact that the Punchers are struggling this year — which is all the more reason for the Rangers not to overlook them. 3 p.m. (Kem 21-17-1)
Lovell at Greybull: Greybull has quietly started the season undefeated, and they’ll definitely give Lovell, who’s also undefeated, everything it can handle. But the Bulldogs are the favorites out west and will be until someone proves otherwise. 7 p.m. (Lov 52-27-4)
Mountain View at Pinedale: Who are these Buffalos? Even when they lose they look good. But they’ll win this one. 7 p.m. (MV 36-25-2)
Thermopolis at Lyman: Remember last year, when Thermop beat Lyman 53-0 in the playoff quarterfinals? So do the Eagles. 2 p.m. (The 12-5)
Class 1A 11-man
Cokeville at Rocky Mountain: To butcher a phrase: Long trip. Amazing results. 2 p.m. (Cok 6-0)
Lingle at Sundance: Both of these squads need to win here to keep playoff dreams alive. The Doggers still have the edge in this one, though. 1 p.m. (Lin 4-3)
Lusk at Pine Bluffs: I think we can say that there might not be a lot of points scored in this one — these two teams have combined to allow just 63 points this season. (Of course, 44 of those were to Southeast.) 7:30 p.m. (Lus 25-6)
Riverside at Shoshoni: Have I mentioned recently just how much I hate picking 1A West games this year? 6 p.m. (Rsd 11-5)
Southeast at Normative Services: The Cyclones have never lost to the Wolves. And they’ve outscored them 123-8 the past two seasons. 6 p.m. (SE 6-0) (Edit: This game will be played in Sheridan, not Casper.)
Wind River at Saratoga: Have I mentioned recently just how much I hate picking 1A West games this year? 3:30 p.m. (WR 6-2)
Wyoming Indian at Burlington: Have I mentioned recently just how much I hate picking 1A West games this year? 3 p.m. (Brl 14-4)
Class 1A six-man
Dubois at Ten Sleep: The Pioneers have oh-so-gently reminded the rest of six-man that they’re still here and still a threat to win a bunch of games this fall. Don’t think Dubois doesn’t know that, though. 3 p.m. (Dub 11-4)
Hulett at Midwest: It’s weird for this old Oiler to think of this as a nonconference game; nevertheless, the Oilers have won three in a row since falling to Dubois in Week 1 and that momentum should keep growing. 7 p.m. (Mid 27-17-1)
Meeteetse at Kaycee: The Buckaroos had a tough loss last week but should rebound nicely in this conference showdown against a struggling Longhorn team. 3 p.m. (Kay 2-0)
Snake River at Hanna: There was a time, maybe like in March or May or even July, when this game looked like a lot of fun, being the rematch of last year’s title game and all. Not so much anymore. 3 p.m. (Han 7-2)
Upton at Hill City, S.D.: The short explanation? It’s Hill City’s homecoming. 6:30 p.m. (Upt 10-2)
Class 1A six-man
Guernsey at Farson: A long trip for the Vikings might just swing the advantage to the Pronghorns in what looks like a fairly even game on paper. On paper. 2 p.m. (Gue 3-0)
How about your thoughts, picks, guidance for the Week 5 slate? Post some thoughts below and we can talk a little bit about high school football at the regular season’s just-past-halfway point.
We knew certain things about the Douglas-Buffalo game before the first snap on Friday.
We knew that Douglas and Buffalo have built a nice rivalry the past few years based on the relative success of both programs.
We knew Buffalo had a gauntlet of a schedule thrown down to them: Powell, Green River and Douglas in consecutive weeks.
We knew Douglas had its long winning streak busted in the season opener but had quietly started to piece together another streak in its wake.
And we knew (or at least I knew) that when these two teams took to the Bison Bowl field on Friday, the winner was going to win by only a few precious points.
The final score — 27-21, Douglas — tells a small piece of a big puzzle. What may be bigger than the victory itself is what it means for the rest of the season.
With the victory, Douglas now controls its own destiny for home-field advantage in the playoffs, something that, given the parity we’ve seen atop Class 3A this fall, could determine who goes to Laramie and who stays home in mid-November.
Maybe the Bison don’t care about that now. After all, they’ve lost two big games at home (Powell and Douglas) but won their one big game on the road (Green River) and also beat Worland in Week 1 in Washakie County.
Maybe these two teams will have the chance to play each other again. If they do, we’ll know a heck of a lot about the game before it starts. We’ll just have no idea who will win the darn thing.
Believe it or don’t, that is the only slice of Humble Pie I have to give out this week. The rest is going back into the refrigerator, where it will sit until next week.
(Saturday addition): Until now and Wind River. Second mad props to the Cougars, who not only beat Rocky Mountain, they throttled the Grizzlies 49-2. It’s Wind River’s biggest victory ever against Rocky Mountain — and it makes me wonder what the heck is going on in the 1A West. Three weeks into the conference season, every team has at least one conference victory, but only Cokeville has a spotless league record. Five teams are 1-2. And, yes, I know, comparing scores is dangerous, but dig this: Rocky Mountain beat Wyoming Indian 56-6, Wyoming Indian beat Wind River 14-8, and Wind River beat Rocky Mountain 49-2. What?
(Sunday addition): Third mad props to Ten Sleep, which beat Hulett in fairly impressive fashion. That 47-20 score should be a warning to the rest of the six-man classification. The Pioneers have quietly built a three-game winning streak and their only loss was on the road at Snake River in Week 1. All of a sudden, Ten Sleep’s date with Dubois next Friday in Ten Sleep is a heck of a lot more intriguing. Just as importantly, the Red Devils are now 0-2 in the North Conference and will need to make some progress before facing Dubois and Meeteetse in Weeks 7 and 8, respectively, to close out the league slate.
In between then and now, I can pontificate on what else caught my attention this week:
I had the chance to watch the Glenrock-Big Horn game on Friday, a game the Herders won 30-19 even though they didn’t score a point in the second half. After watching that game, I can say for certain that we have yet to see the Herders at their best — and the Rams are going to be really good not only this year but for the next few years. Lots of youth on that Rams roster. …
I mentioned earlier this week that Evanston just might be tired of losing close games. However, winning in the fashion they did — a touchdown in the final minute to beat Cheyenne Central 30-26 — might give their fans and coaches heart attacks way before their time. …
Don’t look now, but Midwest has won three games in a row. Second-longest streak in six-man behind, well, you know. …
I’ll keep repeating it, because I think it’s true: Rawlins will win at least one game this year. Maybe more. …
Mountain View is better than you think. That secret got released this week when the Buffalos played step-for-step with top-ranked Lovell before succumbing 21-19. Makes the Bridger Valley Bowl, scheduled for Oct. 7, a heck of a lot more appealing, doesn’t it? …
The most frustrated team in the state right now has to be Burlington. The Huskies’ two losses the past two weeks have been by a combined eight points. I won’t say that Burlington’s playoff hopes are irreparably damaged, but let’s just say this: If the Huskies were a car, it would need Xzibit to save itself from itself. …
Your thoughts? I know you got ‘em. You should post ‘em below. Then we should talk about ‘em. And then I can stop saying the word ‘em.
This week: 29-3 (91 percent). This season: 117-28 (81 percent).
Little brothers always face unfair comparisons.
The older one, the one that came before, always sets the standard. The younger sibling, for better or for worse, has to face the fallout from that relationship.
Class 1A 11-man football has two big brothers: Southeast and Cokeville. This week, those two older brothers have to face some young, confident and, most importantly, undefeated little brothers from their respective conferences.
Southeast has to travel south to play the upstarts from Pine Bluffs, who have yet to allow a point through three games this season — the only team in the state that can claim that honor. Both teams are 3-0 and both want to use this game, which starts at 7:30 p.m. Friday, to gain an important edge in the East Conference standings.
Cokeville, meanwhile, plays host to undefeated Shoshoni at 1 p.m. Friday. I’m not sure, but this may be the first time ever that Shoshoni enters a game with Cokeville when the Wranglers are undefeated and the Panthers are not. The Wranglers, who broke a long losing streak in the season opener, come in at 3-0, while the defending state champs enter at 2-1, lambasting a couple of conference foes after losing to Mountain View 6-3 in overtime in the season opener.
The problem with being a little brother is that you get beaten up a lot.
Southeast has beaten Pine Bluffs nine times in a row dating back to 2002 and 16 out of the past 17 meetings. (Southeast leads the all-time series 25-10.)
Shoshoni’s even got it worse against Cokeville: Just one victory in 20 tries all-time, with the only victory coming in 1997.
So is this the week the little brothers finally stand up to the guys who have been pushing them around all these years?
My guess is no — Cokeville and Southeast are year in and year out the teams to beat in 1A, and this year is no different. I will pick both the Panthers and the Cyclones to win. But little brothers everywhere should be rooting for the Wranglers and the Hornets, especially since victories in these games would place them firmly atop the standings of their respective conferences.
Here are the rest of this week’s picks, with projected winners in bold:
Cheyenne East at Cheyenne South: The last game of the Capital Bowl Series could give the Thunderbirds the city championship. 7 p.m. (First meeting)
Evanston at Cheyenne Central: The Red Devils’ two losses have been gut-wrenchers. I think they may just be tired of losing those close ones. 7 p.m. (CC 6-4)
Kelly Walsh at Natrona: KW’s reward for playing undefeated Gillette so close last week? Undefeated Natrona this week. 6 p.m. (NC 37-11)
Laramie at Gillette: The Plainsmen have to be playing with a lot of confidence right now, but the Camels might be the toughest team Laramie has faced this year. 7 p.m. (Lar 18-13)
Rock Springs at Sheridan: The Broncs can’t get caught looking ahead to the Energy Bowl next week; the Tigers could make them pay if they do. 7 p.m. (She 12-4-2)
Douglas at Buffalo: There have been so many good games between these rivals the past few years. This will be another good game — I don’t think this one will be decided by more than a touchdown. 7 p.m. (Buf 34-25)
Green River at Cody: Even though they lost last week, the Wolves have still proven just how much respect they deserve this year. 7 p.m. (Cod 12-6)
Jackson at Powell: Quite honestly, the most impressive team thus far in 3A just might be the Panthers. 6 p.m. (Pow 16-11)
Riverton at Rawlins: The Outlaws are beginning to show that they’re no pushovers anymore, but the Wolverines are coming off a solid victory a week ago and really want to keep that momentum rolling. 7 p.m. (Riv 27-19-1)
Star Valley at Worland: No conference game is ever small, but this one is really, really big. If either team wants to keep pace with the likes of Green River and Powell, they have to win this one. 6 p.m. (SV 21-14)
Torrington at Lander: One of these teams hasn’t lost yet. One of them hasn’t won yet. That makes my choice easy. 6 p.m. (Lan 1-0)
Big Horn at Glenrock: Both of these teams have done everything possible to earn the title of East Conference favorite. The winner here DEFINITELY seizes that title. A huge game for playoff qualifying and seeding. 6 p.m. (tied 2-2)
Big Piney at Lyman: How will the Eagles respond after a tough loss? Were the flames stoked up or fanned out? I’d say stoked. 4 p.m. (BP 44-30-1)
Kemmerer at Thermopolis: Both of these squads have struggled with bouts of inconsistency this year. This game comes at the right time for both of them — to see just how well they stack up against a team of similar talent. 7 p.m. (Kem 14-9)
Lovell at Mountain View: This just might be Lovell’s toughest road trip of the regular season. A rrreeeeeaaaallllyyy long trip to play a team coming off a big victory…. But I think the Bulldogs are up to the challenge. 4 p.m. (MV 8-3)
Newcastle at Wright: Yup. I’m on the Dogie bandwagon. 7 p.m. (Wri 4-2)
Pinedale at Greybull: The Buffs have Lovell on the schedule for next week. That’s next week, though. No looking ahead. 7 p.m. (tied 2-2)
Wheatland at Moorcroft: The Bulldogs got humbled last week. They’ll probably come out more focused against the Wolves. 2 p.m. (First meeting)
Class 1A 11-man
Lingle at Lusk: Both of these schools suffered difficult losses last week; neither one wants to lose two in a row. This should be one of those games that comes down to the wire. 7:30 p.m. (Lus 38-10-3)
Riverside at Burlington: I mentioned it last week, but I’ll mention it again here: Every game is a big game in the 1A West this year. Too much parity for anyone to overlook anyone. 3 p.m. (Rsd 12-7)
Saratoga at Wyoming Indian: Let me be clear: I’m really impressed with what the Chiefs did last week. But I’m also surprised to see the Panthers at 0-3, especially when you consider that they really haven’t played all that poorly. 6 p.m. (Sar 6-2)
Sundance at Upton: The Bobcats picked up their first victory of the season last week. Now the Bulldogs will look to accomplish that same feat against the Bobcats. 7 p.m. (Upt 38-31-5)
Class 1A six-man
Farson at Midwest: The Oilers are quietly building a nice little winning streak. 7 p.m. (Mid 2-0)
Class 1A 11-man
Rocky Mountain at Wind River: I didn’t expect either one of these squads to lose last week. That makes this game much harder to pick. 1 p.m. (RM 16-6)
Class 1A six-man
Hanna at Guernsey: Both of these squads are desperate for a victory, but only one of them actually took the field last week. 3 p.m. (Gue 22-9)
Kaycee at Dubois: The winner of this game takes the fast track to the top of the North Conference standings. Dubois is fortunate enough to get this one at home. 1 p.m. (First meeting)
Snake River at Meeteetse: The Rattlers are the six-man frontrunners this year. Everyone else is playing catchup. 2 p.m. (SR 2-0)
Ten Sleep at Hulett: The Red Devils were impressive to me when I got to see them in person last week. I think they rebound against the Pioneers. 3 p.m. (Hul 10-4)
Natrona JV at Burns: Please tell me the Broncs can finally get in the win column. Please? 1 p.m. (NA)
Normative Services at Big Horn JV: The Wolves’ losing streak has gone on long enough — and after playing Upton tough last week, NSI may be able to pull this one out. 3 p.m. (NA)
Thoughts? You got ‘em. You should post ‘em below. And then I can reply and then we can start conversing about the midpoint of the high school football regular season.
I spent most of my free time on Saturday up in Kaycee, watching the hometown Buckaroos play the Hulett Red Devils in what turned out to be a pretty fantastic game of six-man football.
Oh, and I brought my camera, too.
I uploaded my photos to my Flickr account and then added them to the Wyoming-football.com group pool. The cool thing about that group is that it’s open to the public, and when you add photos to the pool, they become part of the slideshow that now graces this site’s front page.
So next time you take some photos at a game, please feel free to upload them to the Flickr group! I am excited to see what our shutterbugs across the state can come up with.
Below, I’ve added one of my favorite photos from Saturday: Hulett senior Austin Snook taking control of the huddle.
The trip from Sheridan to Evanston is a long one — about eight hours and about 470 miles, to be exact.
About the only thing the two communities have in common is that they are both in Wyoming and they both have Class 4A football teams.
It’s not much, but on Friday those similarities gave us a heck of a high school football game, accentuated by one heck of a running back.
Jordan Roberts’ 345 rushing yards carried Sheridan to a 42-35 victory over Evanston. The 345 yards is the best in Wyoming in at least the past three seasons (my records prior to 2009 are hidden away in my storage unit, buried underneath dishes and books and a couch), and certainly ranks among the best in state history because of the circumstances around it.
The Broncs fell behind early, 14-0 and 21-7, but Roberts and the Broncs swung the momentum quickly and went on a 35-7 run before the Red Devils scored a late touchdown to make it close. Both teams entered 2-1 and neither one wanted to fall behind Class 4A’s undefeated teams, Natrona and Gillette. The offensive statistics reflect that desperation: a combined 900 yards of total offense.
Roberts had 345 of those on the ground, but more importantly scored four times to help his team overcome all it had to — the long trip and the big stakes — to win a heck of a football game.
Second mad props to Buffalo, which overcame a long road trip of its own to beat Green River 17-14 in overtime. For a while, it looked like the Bison left their game on the bus, as they fell behind 14-0 at halftime. But the Bison came alive in the second half, scored late in regulation to force overtime, then let their special teams take over: Buffalo blocked a field goal attempt by the Wolves in overtime and then kicked one of their own to seal it. Don’t look now, but the only remaining undefeated team in 3A is Lander…. This game, however, may have been a demonstration more in the parity atop 3A this year.
Third mad props to Glenrock, which straight took it to Wheatland on the Bulldogs’ home field and won in impressive fashion. That 35-6 score may not have been an aberration, either. The Herders frustrated the Bulldogs all night long and intercepted seven Wheatland passes. Are the Herders now the clear favorite in the 2A East? If they aren’t, I don’t know who is.
Now, in a series of crow-eating for a bunch of wrong picks in the 1A West: Fourth mad props to Wyoming Indian. The Chiefs beat Wind River for the first time since 1987 and earned the right to celebrate big time with their 14-8 victory. The Chiefs’ 11-game losing streak, dating back to the 2009 season, is broken. The Chiefs’ 14-game losing streak to their county rivals is snapped, as well. This is the type of victory that can carry a team for an entire season, and with the Chiefs playing a couple key league games the next two weeks (Saratoga and Burlington), the blue and red could be a dangerous team in the West if they can build on the momentum from this one.
Fifth mad props to Shoshoni (3-0!), which beat Burlington in an old-fashioned OK-Corral-style shootout, 41-36. The 36 points Burlington scored is the most ever for the Huskies in a losing effort. In the parity-filled midsection of the 1A West, this may end up being a huge game when we come to the end of the season and look at playoff seeding and/or qualifying. The Wranglers, meanwhile, are off to a 3-0 start for the first time since starting 6-0 in 2001.
Sixth mad props to Riverside, which knocked off Rocky Mountain 22-13. Excuse me while I repeat myself, but it’s just as true for this one as the last one: In the parity-filled midsection of the 1A West, this may end up being a huge game when we come to the end of the season and look at playoff seeding and/or qualifying. At least one or two really good teams may be left out of the 1A playoffs because of these types of key losses. Riverside bought itself some time with this victory; Rocky Mountain now has to scramble, with Wind River, Cokeville, Shoshoni and Burlington — in that order — on the docket the next four weeks. This loss makes each one of those games unusually large for the Grizzlies.
Seventh mad props to Newcastle, which thumped on Burns in a 31-6 wipeout. I’m still a little confused about the Dogies this year, but you can’t argue with the 2-0 start Newcastle has put together in conference play. The schedule the next four weeks will be critical, as Newcastle faces Wright, Glenrock and Wheatland, all on the road, in addition to an unexpected bye week created by the loss of the Tongue River game. Nevertheless, the Dogies proved Friday that no one can overlook them, and if all goes right they could be hosting a playoff game….
Eighth mad props to the Cheyenne East sophomores, who beat Lingle in a high-scoring 46-34 game on Thursday night.
Here is some other stuff that caught my attention this week:
Four of the five road teams won in Class 4A this week. The lone exception was Cheyenne East, which beat Cheyenne Central, which was barely a road game for the Indians. … Staying in Laramie County, how about the Pine Bluffs Hornets? The purple and yellow still have not allowed a point this season after shutting out Sundance 20-0. The Hornets host Southeast in a key 1A East game next Friday. … The final game at Tonkin Stadium went well for the Riverton Wolverines, eh? 35-20 over Cody is not a bad way to close the old stadium out. … Pay attention to these words: Don’t forget about Big Horn. … I know no one wants to see half of a football game just disappear into the ether, but Mountain View’s 41-0 victory over Big Piney on Friday was cut short at halftime by lightning. Imagine what the score may have become if the second half had been completed. Mountain View’s biggest victory ever over Big Piney was by 51 points. … How have I gotten this far and not mentioned two of the biggest games of the week? Lovell and Southeast both picked up huge victories on Friday; both came against teams they may see later in the season. …
I had the pleasure (indeed, the pleasure) of attending the Gillette-Kelly Walsh game on Friday night. The winless Trojans put a heck of a scare into the undefeated Camels before falling 30-23. The game was tied 16-16 deep in the third quarter, and after the Camels went ahead 30-16, the Trojans scored with 15 seconds remaining and then recovered the onside kick. KW couldn’t convert from there, but that’s what this game is all about, right? Having the chance? It was a great finish to a great game, a game I could take 1,000 words to explain and still feel like I didn’t do it justice.
So what caught your attention this week? Post your thoughts below and we can chat about all that happened in Week 3.
This week: 24-8 (75 percent). This season: 88-25 (78 percent).
One Class 2A game has center stage this week, and deservedly so. This is the game that may end up deciding the West Conference championship.
The game: Lyman at Lovell, 7 p.m. Friday.
The game is a contrast in styles — Lyman’s fast-paced offense isn’t afraid to go to the air, while Lovell’s more traditional offensive sets strike a “here we come, try and stop us” attitude.
So far, no one in the regular season has really succeeded at slowing down either one of these programs.
Lyman was supposed to have its big test last week when it faced Kemmerer. The Eagles came away 41-0 victors.
Lovell drew Wright and Pinedale in its first two games. Combined, the Bulldogs beat those two teams 99-8.
Eventually, yes, there are several other teams in the West Conference that will have a say in who wins the conference championship. But there is no denying that the two most impressive teams out of the gate are the two teams that are playing Friday night in Lovell.
My choice is Lovell, but the real winners are the people within driving distance of Lovell, the folks who have the chance to go watch what may be the state’s best game of the week. (tied 4-4)
Here are the remainder of this week’s picks, with projected winners in bold and projected teams plotting upsets in non-bold:
Cheyenne East sophs at Lingle: The Doggers might be the quietest 2-0 team in the state. Expect them to be 3-0 when they face Lusk in a big one next week. 6 p.m. (NA)
Cheyenne Central at Cheyenne East: The Indians showed they can compete with the best in the state in last week’s loss to Natrona. However, we already knew that about East. 5 p.m. (CC 41-18)
Gillette at Kelly Walsh: This one breaks down pretty simply: 3-0 vs. 0-3. But it won’t be a walkover; the Camels will have to earn this one. 7 p.m. (Gil 29-20)
Laramie at Cheyenne South: The Plainsmen have some momentum building. They need it with what they have coming after this trip to Bison Stadium: at Gillette, home vs. Central, home vs. Sheridan, at Natrona. 7 p.m. (First meeting)
Natrona at Rock Springs: The Mustangs are in the middle of a brutal stretch of games where they travel to four road games in five weeks — and the one home game is the Oil Bowl. Nevertheless, NC should win this one. 7 p.m. (NC 43-19-3)
Sheridan at Evanston: This may be the best game in 4A this week. This one won’t be a blowout either way. All I did was pick the home team. 7 p.m. (She 9-2)
Buffalo at Green River: Ooooohhhh. I love this matchup. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Bison win this one, but it’s hard to overlook what the Wolves have done so far this year. 7 p.m. (GR 1-0)
Cody at Riverton: Is this the game where Cody finally breaks through? Or is this the loss that demoralizes them for the rest of the season? Neither one of these teams wants to lose this one. 7 p.m. (Cod 33-32-2)
Jackson at Lander: Loving what Jackson has done so far this season. Loving what Lander has done so far this season more. 7 p.m. (Lan 21-10)
Powell at Torrington: It’s a long trip down, but the Panthers have the ability to make it a short trip home. 6 p.m. (Pow 2-0)
Star Valley at Douglas: The Braves may give the Bearcats some struggles, but Douglas appears to be back on track after winning big last week. 7 p.m. (Dou 4-1)
Worland at Rawlins: Once they get on a roll, the Warriors may be tough to stop. Look for Worland’s momentum to keep on growing. 7 p.m. (Wor 8-6)
Big Piney at Mountain View: An 0-2 start for the Punchers is surprising. What makes it worse is that they have to make back-to-back trips to the Bridger Valley the next two weeks. 4 p.m. (BP 38-32)
Burns at Newcastle: I never expected Burns to start 0-2. I still don’t expect them to be 0-3 — even against a tough Dogie squad at Schoonmaker. 7 p.m. (tied 1-1)
Glenrock at Wheatland: The West Conference gets most of the 2A attention this week, but don’t overlook this game in the East. The Herders and Bulldogs have been the East’s two most impressive teams so far. This one, too, may end up deciding the conference title. 7 p.m. (Whe 12-11)
Greybull at Thermopolis: Another big one in the West. The Greybull defense has been opportunistic all season long and if that continues, they could give the Bobcats fits. 7 p.m. (The 41-19-4)
Pinedale at Kemmerer: These two teams combined for zero points last week. Offenses need to get going early in this one, and the Rangers at home should get this done. 2 p.m. (Kem 21-6)
Wright at Big Horn: Don’t count out the Rams just yet. They proved last week they still have what it takes to be one of the East’s top teams. 1 p.m. (BH 7-4)
Class 1A 11-man
Burlington at Shoshoni: Both these teams have been impressive in their respective 2-0 starts. This one will hinge on which run defense shows up to play. 6 p.m. (tie 14-14)
Cokeville at Saratoga: Just mark me down for Cokeville victories until we get to November. Then we’ll talk. 2 p.m. (Cok 19-5)
Lusk at Southeast: They don’t get much bigger than this in Yoder. The winner takes the fast track to the top of the East Conference standings; the loser is still in the hunt but has a lot more ground to make up. 7:30 p.m. (Lus 21-13)
Pine Bluffs at Sundance: Can the Hornets keep their shutout streak going? I remember watching Pine beat the Bulldogs 42-0 last year. … Really, I don’t think they’ll mind if the streak ends, as long as they come away with the victory. 3 p.m. (PB 6-2)
Rocky Mountain at Riverside: After a couple easy victories to start the season, now we have the chance to see just how good the Grizzlies really are. 7 p.m. (RM 16-4)
Upton at Normative Services: Both squads are aching to notch their first victory of the season. This will probably be the best chance for both teams. 7 p.m. (Upt 8-3)
Wind River at Wyoming Indian: The Chiefs have played the Cougars tough each of the past two seasons and may come away with the victory in this one. Yet I still pick the Cougs. Weird. 7 p.m. (WR 22-5)
Class 1A six-man
Midwest at Hanna: Which fossil fuel do you choose? Oil or coal? Well, coal is 0-2 so far this season and oil had a nice victory over ranchers last week…. 3 p.m. (Han 8-3)
Ten Sleep at Farson: The only nonconference game of the week in six-man is really intriguing and should help us sort out some of the hierarchy in the middle of the classification. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a toss-up. 3 p.m. (TS 3-2)
Moorcroft at Natrona JV: This game for the Wolves comes in place of the game they lost when Tongue River canceled its season. 2 p.m. (NA)
Class 1A six-man
Dubois at Meeteetse: A rough loss for the Rams last week shouldn’t affect them too much against the struggling Longhorns. 3 p.m. (Met 11-6)
Guernsey at Snake River: Did you hear? The Rattlers are good. Really good. 3 p.m. (SR 1-0)
Hulett at Kaycee: This is a huge game in six-man this week. Both teams are 2-0 and are trying to do their best to lock up some home-field advantage come playoff time. This game is a big step toward that. 3 p.m. (First meeting)
Tonkin Stadium, the home of the Riverton Wolverines, will end its run as the school’s home field on Friday night when Riverton hosts Cody.
The field is unique due to its placement, dug into the side of a hill. The stadium’s location allows for one of the most unique and intimate settings for high school football in the state.
Riverton will begin playing home games at the new Wolverine Stadium after the Cody game.
Do you have a story or memory to share about Tonkin Stadium? What events helped make Tonkin the unique place it is today? Share some of your thoughts below and let’s help send the stadium out on a high note on Friday.
Moorcroft and the Natrona junior varsity have tentatively rescheduled their game on Friday for 2 p.m. The game, which was originally scheduled for 7 p.m., will be at Cheney Alumni Field in Casper. The game takes the place of Moorcroft’s scheduled game with Tongue River, which forfeited its season prior to the first game.