Newcastle has been playing football since 1920.
Never, in 92 years of playing the sport, had the Dogies accomplished what they did on Saturday.
For the first time, the Dogies have won a playoff game at home. And, boy, did they do it in style.
Newcastle thumped Thermopolis 28-0 on Saturday to give the Dogies just the second playoff victory in school history. And that’s why Newcastle’s victory on Saturday means so much: history. The Dogies had an all-time playoff record of 1-18 entering this year’s bracket, with the only victory coming in 1996 on the road against Kemmerer.
The other four times the Dogies has hosted playoff games, they had lost — 20-0 to Torrington in 1955, 27-7 to Torrington in 1957, 7-7 to Douglas in 1959 (Douglas won the game in a modified overtime) and 12-6 to Big Piney in 2006.
This victory wasn’t a fluke, either. The Dogies shut down Thermopolis, the two-time defending 2A champions, and kept them off the scoreboard. Newcastle has now won six of its past seven games, the lone loss a 33-14 road slip-up at Glenrock.
Yes, Newcastle now draws undefeated and top-ranked Lovell in the semifinals, and yes, Newcastle has to make the trip to Lovell for that game.
The Dogies of old might cringe at such a challenge. It’s clear the Dogies of 2011 relish it. After all, they’re doing things no other Newcastle team has ever done. Why stop now?
Second mad props to Buffalo, which made the more-than-400-mile trip to Afton and notched a 24-13 victory — something that is not easy to do. The math seemed to add up to a Braves victory: The distance between the communities, plus the home-field advantage Star Valley usually enjoys, plus the fact that Buffalo only got about 10 minutes’ worth of football in last week, should have equaled the end of Buffalo’s season. Instead, the Bison ignored the math and concentrated on the football. That, quite simply, was the difference.
That was all the Humble Pie for the first round of the playoffs, but that’s not all there is to talk about:
The best game of the first round may have been played in Cheyenne, where East beat Evanston 28-27 in overtime. East and Evanston have a deep postseason history the past few years, and East has been the one controlling the postseason matchups: The Thunderbirds ended the Red Devils’ season in 2006, 2007, 2010 and now, 2011. …
The East-Evanston game was actually the only one in the first round decided by fewer than 10 points. And only two road teams — Powell (correction: not Lander) and Buffalo — won. Aside from the Class 3A bracket, the hierarchy was well-established entering the first round of the playoffs. That stability was remarkably well-maintained in the first round. …
Six of the 10 matchups we will see in the semifinals are rematches of regular-season games. Games in 4A, 3A and 1A six-man are all rematches; games in 2A and 1A 11-man are all new to 2011. In all six cases, the team that is hosting in the semifinals won the regular-season game against the team it is facing. …
So what did you think of the first round of the playoffs? Any thoughts to share? Post them below and show off your knowledge to the rest of the state.
This week: 18-2 (90 percent). This season: 241-48 (83 percent).