Pending formal approval by school boards, the football programs at Sundance and Upton will combine for the 2012 season and may also work together in 2013.

Under the tentative agreement reached this month by the schools, the football teams will combine for 2012 and could also combine for 2013, numerous sources said on Tuesday.

The plan is still pending formal approval from the Sundance school board, Sundance activities director Jim O’Connor said.

Upton football coach Andy Garland said the Upton school board approved the co-op.

Upton will be the “host” school for combination purposes. Other details of the agreement — including locations of practices and games, uniforms, coaching and homecoming arrangements — are still being worked out.

“From our perspective, because of our limited numbers and … the chances of us finishing a season were not very good, it’s been positive, and I think the kids at both schools are pretty positive about it,” O’Connor said.

Sundance coach Brian Mills said only about 13 players were set to come out for the Sundance squad this fall; Garland said he anticipated Upton on its own would have only had about 14.

Postseason eligibility

The Upton-Sundance combo squad could be ineligible for the Class 1A 11-man playoffs, Wyoming High School Activities Association Associate Commissioner Trevor Wilson said, depending on the final enrollment tallies for the two schools. Wilson said the classification of the school depends on the enrollment numbers provided by the schools to the Wyoming Department of Education. O’Connor said the schools may also be able to submit enrollments from the first day of school in the fall.

The final enrollment number will be a combination of average daily membership, or ADM, of the “host” school, Upton, and the male enrollment of Sundance.

Wilson said if the program’s combined enrollment figure is higher than that of the smallest Class 2A school, Big Horn at 138, then the program would be ineligible for postseason play in both 2012 and 2013.

For Sundance and Upton, it’ll be close.

“If our current number of boys all stay and we don’t add anybody, then we’re going to be (at) like 141” combined, O’Connor said. “… It’s going to be tight one way or the other.”

The possibility of missing a chance at the postseason is one of the reasons people in both communities have hesitated at combining, Garland said.

Other holdups

In addition to a possible postseason lockout, several other elements have prompted people in both communities to question the agreement.

For example, who will be the head coach? How will practices be organized? Where will home games be played? What uniforms will the teams wear? How will homecoming be worked out?

And, maybe most important, who will pay for practice and game travel, coach salaries or any other incidentals tied to the program?

“A lot of that needs to be worked out,” Garland said. “We’re not even sure what we’re going to do for uniforms yet. … It’ll be a busy summer.”

The agreement, of course, still rests on the approval of the school boards involved.

The case against six-man

The schools cannot move to six-man football at the midpoint of a reclassification cycle; with the WHSAA’s recent decision to extend the reclassification cycle for one year, the soonest either Sundance or Upton could drop to six-man would be 2014.

But both Mills and Garland said they don’t want to go that route.

“We won’t go six,” Mills said. ” … Our numbers in our lower grades are fine.”

Added Garland, “I’ve just been battling to stay 11-man as long as possible. We’ve battled numbers every year for the last three to four years.”

Garland also said the Upton community echoed a similar sentiment of wanting to stay in 11-man.

Both teams are in the Class 1A-11 man East Conference. The combination  agreement leave six active programs in the conference for 2012 — Lusk, Pine Bluffs, Southeast, Normative Services, Lingle and the Upton-Sundance co-op.

Sundance fought its way through a triangular playoff coin flip to make the playoff bracket last year, finishing 4-7. Upton went 1-7 last season, with its only victory coming against Normative Services.

Last season, Tongue River, a Class 2A school, failed to field a team. About a dozen players from Tongue River suited up for Big Horn last fall.


The 39th annual Wyoming Shrine Bowl all-star football game is coming up quick — on June 9 in Casper, to be exact.

And with 38 years of history behind it, the Shrine Bowl has had a bunch of players sport the brown and white jerseys.

But which school has had the most Shrine Bowl players? And has a school ever had a player chosen for every Shrine Bowl?

Using the archived rosters available at the Shrine Bowl’s official site, I tallied up two lists: the total numbers of players per school and the number of years every school has had at least one player selected.

Natrona County, with 137 total players, has had more Shrine Bowl selections than any other school. Also, Natrona is one of just three schools to have at least one player selected for every Shrine Bowl game; Riverton and Sheridan are the only other schools that can claim that honor.

Not counting 2012’s selections, here are the tallies, both by total number of players selected and the number of years in which at least one player was chosen:

Total players selected
Natrona: 137
Sheridan: 108
Gillette: 103
Kelly Walsh, Laramie: 102
Cheyenne Central: 100
Rock Springs: 91
Evanston: 86
Cheyenne East, Riverton: 82
Green River: 78
Star Valley: 74
Buffalo: 70
Cody, Douglas: 65
Worland: 63
Powell: 61
Kemmerer, Wheatland: 60
Torrington: 58
Lander, Rawlins: 51
Jackson: 45
Lovell: 42
Big Piney, Glenrock: 40
Mountain View: 39
Thermopolis: 37
Cokeville, Newcastle: 36
Southeast: 34
Pinedale: 32
Big Horn: 31
Lusk: 29
Rocky Mountain, Tongue River: 27
Guernsey-Sunrise: 26
Lyman: 24
Upton: 22
Wright: 20
Greybull: 18
Lingle, Saratoga: 17
Burns: 16
Dubois, Midwest: 15
Wind River: 14
Moorcroft, Shoshoni: 13
Pine Bluffs: 12
Sundance: 11
Basin, Meeteetse, Riverside, Ten Sleep: 7
Hulett, Normative Services, St. Mary’s/Seton: 5
Burlington, Byron, Hanna: 4
Cowley: 2
Bow-Basin, Deaver-Frannie, Kaycee, North Big Horn, Snake River, Wyoming Indian: 1

Total years in which at least one player was selected
38: Natrona, Riverton, Sheridan
37: Kelly Walsh
36: Cheyenne Central, Gillette, Laramie, Rock Springs
35: Buffalo, Star Valley
34: Torrington
33: Cheyenne East, Evanston
32: Green River
31: Cody, Douglas, Wheatland
30: Powell
29: Kemmerer, Lander
27: Big Piney, Worland
26: Glenrock, Lovell, Pinedale, Rawlins
25: Thermopolis
24: Cokeville, Jackson, Mountain View
23: Newcastle, Southeast
22: Tongue River
21: Guernsey-Sunrise
20: Lyman
18: Big Horn, Upton
17: Lusk
16: Rocky Mountain
15: Wright
14: Greybull
13: Burns, Dubois, Lingle, Saratoga
12: Pine Bluffs
11: Midwest, Moorcroft, Wind River
10: Shoshoni, Sundance
7: Meeteetse
6: Riverside
5: Basin, St. Mary’s/Seton, Ten Sleep
4: Burlington, Byron, Hulett
3: Hanna, Normative Services
1: Bow-Basin, Cowley, Deaver-Frannie, Kaycee, North Big Horn, Snake River, Wyoming Indian


(First published March 29; last updated May 23)

The following is a list of coaching changes that will take place in 2012:

Big Horn: Bert Dow and the rest of the Rams’ coaching staff was let go after an incident during the 2011 season. Michael McGuire, who was the head coach at Riverside from 2006-09 and was an assistant at Sheridan the past couple seasons, was named head coach in April.

Big Piney: Cole Clifford is out after four years as the Punchers’ head coach. Aaron Makelky, son of Pinedale AD Jeff Makelky, has been named as Clifford’s replacement, Big Piney AD Nathan Strong said in an email to

Buffalo: Pat Lynch resigned as head coach after an incident during the 2011 season. Rob Hammond, a junior high social studies teacher in Buffalo, was hired in May as the new head coach, Buffalo AD Shad Spilski said in an email to Wyoming media.

Farson: Marvin “Trip” Applequist will replace Ryan Lane as Farson’s head coach, AD Dan Mitchelson said in an email to in June. Applequist has coached Farson’s junior high football and assisted with the high school team and is also Farson’s girls basketball coach.

Greybull: Justin Bernhardt will replace Josh Heinemeyer as head coach of the Buffaloes. Bernhardt, who was previously a coach in Nebraska and was also at Rocky Mountain College as an assistant, is Greybull’s third coach in three years.

Laramie: Bob Knapton resigned after four years with the Plainsmen. Lyman coach Ted Holmstrom was named Knapton’s replacement in April.

Lyman: Holmstrom resigned his post in Lyman to take the job in Laramie. Dale Anderson, who was the head coach at Star Valley from 2005-07 and coached at three schools in Idaho the past four years (Madison in 2008-09, Salmon in 2010 and Ririe in 2011), was hired as the new coach in April.

Mountain View: Tim Gonzales stepped down after nine years as the Buffalos’ head coach. Brent Walk, who has coached in Mountain View the past five years, has been named the new head coach.

Normative Services: Jon Rojo will take over the Wolves’ football program this fall. Rojo, a Sheridan native who coached the NSI basketball program last winter, replaces Jim Larson. Wolves AD Shane Parker verified the change to in an email in June.

Tongue River: The Eagles did not field a team in 2011. Chuck Walters, who led the Eagles from 2006 to 2010, is out as coach. John Scott, who led Kemmerer to state championships in 1993 and 1994 and Gillette to titles in 1998 and 2000 before coaching at Black Hills State, was named the new coach in April.

Worland: Wade Sanford, coach of the Warriors since 2000, stepped down at the season’s end. Curt Mayer, a Ten Sleep native and an elementary PE teacher in Worland who had been an assistant coach with the Warriors, was named head coach in April, and verified the change to in April.

Wyoming Indian: Taylor Her Many Horses has been hired to replace Phil Garhart as coach of the Chiefs. Her Many Horses has been Wyoming Indian’s wrestling coach the past couple years. Garhart verified the change to in May.

Have you heard of any other coaching changes coming up for 2012? If so, let me know: email me at, tweet to @wyomingfootball or post a comment below.


Any Wyoming high school football fan who has more than just a passing interest in the history of the sport in the state knows that Wyoming’s all-time winningest coach is current Cokeville coach Todd Dayton, who has 263 career victories.

But another record Dayton holds has gone less heralded — he also holds the Wyoming record for most state championships, with 18. In a 33-year career (so far), that’s not a bad ratio.

I recently compiled a list of Wyoming coaches with the most state championships (both official and unofficial). The coaches that have at least four titles are listed in order below:

18 titles, Todd Dayton, Cokeville
14 titles, John E. Deti (John Sr.), Laramie
7 titles, Mark Bullington, Southeast; and Okie Blanchard, Cheyenne Central (4), Natrona (2) and Rock Springs (1)
6 titles, Bruce Keith, Sheridan; Don Julian, between Riverton (4) and Sheridan (2); and Joel Eskelsen, Big Piney.
5 titles, Carl Selmer, Worland; and Jerry Fullmer, Lusk.
4 titles, shared by nine coaches (Ben Smith, Carl Rollins, Fred Chez, Jim McLeod, John Scott, Lew Kelly, Robert Linford, Steve Harshman, Walter Gray).


While compiling the above list, I also put together another, shorter list — the list of coaches who have won championships at more than one Wyoming high school.

The leader of that pack is Okie Blanchard, who, as noted above, won seven total championships at three different schools. He won four titles with Cheyenne Central, two with Natrona and one with Rock Springs. He is also the only coach to win state football titles at three different Wyoming high schools.

In all, only seven coaches in state history have pulled off the double-championship feat. Other coaches who have won state titles with two different schools include:

Don Julian, 6 total: 4 with Riverton, 2 with Sheridan
John Scott, 4 total: 2 with Gillette, 2 with Kemmerer
Kay Fackrell, 3 total: 2 with Evanston, 1 with Lyman
Al Peyton, 2 total: 1 with Shoshoni, 1 with Tongue River
Eddie Talboom, 2 total: 1 with Evanston, 1 with Rock Springs
Walter Dowler, 2 total: 1 with Cheyenne Central, 1 with Rock Springs

And that’s what I’ve got for you today….


A couple updates to the site to pass along:

First, the 1958 all-class all-state team has been added to the all-state listings. Thanks to the president of the Wyoming Chapter of the National Football Foundation (and 1958 all-stater) Mike Schutte for the help with that one! Pay special attention to Natrona’s selections that season….

Also, I found the first name for Cowley’s coach in 1956: Willard Hirschi. Hirschi led Cowley to the state boys hoops title in 1957 and later became a world-renown track coach at BYU. Read a cool story about him from the Deseret News in 2000 here.

To see other coach names I’m missing, click here.


It’s Friday afternoon, and you’re like me — you’re avoiding doing real work. Well, allow me to fill your afternoon with a look back at some of what I think is the most insightful, informational and (most important) fun stuff I’ve written here the past couple years:

In defense of Guernsey (Dec. 2, 2009)

Shutout (or shut out) for the season? Not in Wyoming. (March 26, 2010) AND Perfection and imperfection (May 3, 2011)

It’s time for Jerry Hill to get his due (April 22, 2010)

Home-field advantage in Wyoming high school football (May 28, 2010) AND Statistics and home-field advantage…. (December 1, 2010)

The “Dead Era,” 1939-47 – recognition for the unrecognized (July 29, 2010)

Top 20 games of the past 10 years (December 31, 2010)

Picking state champions: 1921 to 1925 AND 1926 to 1930 (December 16, 2010 and February 17, 2011)

Coaches with most victories — by letter (February 21, 2011) AND Winningest coaches by school (April 7, 2011)

Wyoming high school football program totals by year (June 23, 2011)

The playoff brackets we missed: 1962196319641965196619671968196919701971197219731974 (June 27-July 9, 2011)

Wyoming’s top football coaches: A timeline (September 12, 2011)

10 most important football games in Wyoming state history (March 26, 2012)

Most-played football opponents for each Wyoming high school (April 16, 2012)


And, of course, I spent more than a year writing Five-Minute Introductions for each school in the state — the basis, in part, for the book A Century of Fridays.


I’d be ashamed if I didn’t make it clear that the work here is not done. I still have a lot of work left to do: Look at all the names I’m missing for The Coaches Project and all the games on the missing games list. If you can help me, that would be awesome! And I’ll give you all the credit for the help, because you’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and doggone it, people like you.


For those of you looking for a REAL trip down my football memory lane… and an even BIGGER Wyoming football distraction… click here.