The Sheridan-Natrona County game scheduled for Friday already has implications.

Natrona is ranked first in the coaches and media poll; Sheridan is second. Sheridan won the state title last year and also in 2009; Natrona won it all in 2010, beating Sheridan in the championship game.

But the history of this series goes deeper than this season, and certainly much deeper than the past few.

Friday’s game is a milestone: It’s the 100th time in a 92-year span that Sheridan and Natrona County will play each other. Only three other series in Wyoming — Laramie-Central, Lander-Riverton and Cody-Powell — have tallies of more than 100 games.

And what a series the Bronc-Mustang series has been.

Seven of those 99 previous games have been for state championships. Several other games in this series have put teams into — or kept them out of — the playoffs.

Indeed, what has heightened this rivalry has been the success of both programs. Natrona and Sheridan are two of the three schools in Wyoming that have more than 500 victories. Counting last week’s wins, Natrona leads all Wyoming programs with 540 victories, while Sheridan is third all-time with 507.

A simple glance at the calendar tells you just how important the rivalry is to both schools. The two schools were Armistice Day rivals. Prior to 1950, Nov. 11 was the traditional day that Wyoming’s high schools had set aside to play their biggest rivals. Actually, the first Natrona-Sheridan game was played on Armistice Day, 1921. The two schools played on or near Armistice Day from 1933-49, when the Armistice tradition ended; after that, the two schools, from 1950-64, played each other in both schools’ last regularly scheduled game of the regular season.

When they met for the first time in 1921, the Broncs came down to Casper and came away with a 7-0 victory — by far the closest game of the season for Sheridan, which finished 7-0 and outscored its opponents 266-6.

It stayed close early: Six of the first seven games the two schools played against each other were decided by a touchdown or less.

Then came 1936-38, when Natrona and Sheridan played against each other in three consecutive state championship games. The home team won each time — Sheridan twice, Natrona once — and all three title-game victories in that span were shutouts. After the WHSAA eliminated postseason football after the 1938 season, the two teams played in November 1939 for the unofficial state title; Natrona ended Sheridan’s perfect season with the 20-7 victory and earned the state championship in doing so.

While the four-year stretch from 1936-39 represents the peak of the rivalry, recent Sheridan-Natrona games have meant just as much.

In 1985, a 17-13 loss to unbeaten Natrona was the only loss for Sheridan; the loss kept the Broncs from playing in the state championship game, a game Natrona won.

The two teams played classic defensive playoff games in both 1995 and 1996. Sheridan won a Class 4A semifinal game 7-0 over Natrona in 1995; Natrona won the 4A title game 7-0 over Sheridan in 1996.

And, of course, Natrona beat Sheridan in the 2010 4A title game, avenging the only loss they had that season in the process.

Of the 99 previous contests, the 1957 game most typified the rivalry. The two schools met on Nov. 1 in Casper with the state title on the line, but couldn’t separate themselves and played to a 7-7 tie. They shared the state championship that year.

Since the series started in 1921, Natrona and Sheridan have played every year but 1924 and 1970, when the two teams couldn’t find room on the schedule, and 1961, when a snowstorm wiped out the final game of the season. The two teams also tried to play each other twice in 1920, but both games were canceled.

No one knew that, in 1920, those canceled games would postpone the 100th meeting of these two proud programs back to the second week of the 2012 season.

And while the serendipity fan in me would have much more liked to have seen this game be the 2011 season finale — a fantasy spoiled by Cheyenne East in last year’s 4A semifinals — the fact that the 100th meeting is here rather than last November does nothing to dim one of Wyoming’s strongest rivalries.

Here are this week’s picks, with projected winners in bold:

Natrona JV at Moorcroft
Class 4A
Cheyenne East at Laramie
Cheyenne South at Cheyenne Central
Kelly Walsh at Evanston
Natrona at Sheridan
Rock Springs at Gillette
Class 3A
Cody at Lander
Green River at Douglas
Powell at Riverton
Worland at Buffalo
Class 2A
Big Horn at Greybull
Lovell at Wright
Thermopolis at Glenrock
Tongue River at Lyman
Class 1A 11-man
Lingle at Saratoga
Normative Services at Rocky Mountain
Shoshoni at Upton-Sundance (at Upton)
Wyoming Indian at Pine Bluffs
Class 1A six-man
Dubois at Midwest
Farson at Meeteetse
Hanna at Kaycee
Burlington at Big Piney
Kemmerer at Wind River
Lusk at Burns
Mountain View at Cokeville
Newcastle at Southeast
Riverside at Pinedale
Wheatland at Rawlins
Jackson at Teton, Idaho
Snake River, Idaho, at Star Valley
Torrington at Mitchell, Neb.
Saturday, Sept. 1
Class 1A six-man
Guernsey at Hulett
Snake River at Ten Sleep

For the full schedule including kickoff times, click here.

Last week: 14-1 (.933). This season: 14-1 (.933).

What do you think? What are your picks for the first full weekend of football statewide? Post some thoughts below.


Lately, I’ve been wondering if, now that I’ve moved out of Wyoming, I should keep this blog going.

Every week for the past seven years — four at the Casper Star-Tribune, three here — I’ve picked winners and losers of every varsity game in the state. I’ve always attempted to keep it lighthearted. This was supposed to be fun. After all, everything I’ve compiled here is simply a record of children playing games. That’s all.

The real truth is much more complicated than that.

High school football is community identity and community overemphasis. It’s discipline and creativity. It’s hero worship and hero destruction. It’s glue and divisiveness. It’s pride and shame. It’s growing up and staying young. It’s over-masculine and emasculating.

It’s never as simple as we think it is. That’s why I’ve tried so hard here to expose bits and pieces of the history of Wyoming high school football. This game in many ways exposes who we are both as individual communities and as a state: what we value, what we despise, what we celebrate, what we ignore and what we reject.

In many ways, the blog has been a blessing. I’ve met some fantastic people and had fantastic conversations that I would not have otherwise had. My love for this sport and this state has been reciprocated tenfold.

But I think it would be foolhardy to think I could serve the players, coaches and fans in Wyoming as well as I possibly can from my current geographic location. There is only so much I can do from Fargo, and I know it’s not enough to do everything I’ve tried to do in the past.

So, for now, my plan is this: I’ll still do my picks, albeit in a truncated form, and I’ll still ruminate here on a (mostly) weekly basis throughout the season. But I can’t — and shouldn’t — devote the amount of time I have in the past. I will never completely abandon this site, but it’s unreasonable for me to think I can do what I’ve done with this blog in previous years now that I’m living in North Dakota.

My plan now is to immerse myself a bit in the North Dakota/Minnesota football scene; if you’re curious, you can check out my (hopefully) weekly ruminations here.

Thanks for everything the past seven years, and please keep coming back as I work on the next 70.


Additionally, if you like what I’ve done the past seven years, please consider showing as much by purchasing my book, A Century of Fridays. Your purchase will help keep the site afloat — and in exchange, you get a book that is worth way more than the purchase price, in terms of time and sacrifice. It’s 596 pages for a reason.

I’ve been giving it up for free for seven years. I don’t think asking for about $30 — in return for seven years, plus your access to an awesome high school football reference that may just have your name in it, or the name of your father, or brother, or son — is too much.

Thanks for considering my little sales pitch….


For the first time, you can get your hands on a Wyoming high school football preview magazine that fully covers every team in the state. coupled with this summer to produce the Wyoming Sports Preview Guide. The magazine has full preview stories, schedules and key players for every team in the state, from Class 4A to six-man. It is the most complete preview you will find anywhere.

In addition to print distribution across the state (it’s free!), the magazine is also available online.

I would like to thank all the coaches statewide in Class 3A, Class 2A and Class 1A who I contacted over the summer for their help. Of the 52 coaches I contacted, 51 got back to me. (The Class 4A stories were done by others, so I can’t speak to that, but having seen the finished product, Class 4A fans have plenty to be excited about, too.)

As the first run at such a project in Wyoming, we did hit a couple snags, but I am ultimately pleased with the final product. If you see a stack in your town, pick up a copy of the Wyoming Sports Preview Guide, or check it out online right now. With your support, this magazine can become an annual project.


Now that I don’t live in Wyoming anymore, I’m changing up a couple things on the blog this fall.

First of all, the picks are staying. They’re just going to be much more streamlined than before.

Second, there will be ruminations here, just fewer than before. I’ll try to ruminate once a week, although I can’t really foresee if it’ll be part of my picks or if I’ll ruminate post-week, a la Humble pie.

More explanations are forthcoming next week.

In the meantime, here’s this week’s picks. Just like the old way, the projected winners are in bold.

Class 4A
Gillette at Evanston
Kelly Walsh at Cheyenne East
Laramie at Rock Springs
Natrona at Cheyenne South
Sheridan at Cheyenne Central
Class 3A
Riverton at Worland
Greybull at Riverside
Green River at Uintah, Utah
Newcastle at Custer, S.D.
Class 2A
Thermopolis at Big Horn
Riverside JV at Ten Sleep
Upton-Sundance at Moorcroft
Wheatland at Torrington
Cody at Laurel, Mont.
Lyman at Altamont, Utah
Powell at Miles City, Mont.

Here are the other Zero Week contests, which won’t be counted as games:

Scrimmages and Jamborees
Burns at Southeast
Normative Services at Kaycee (six-man)
Rocky Mountain at Powell
Glenrock at Rawlins
Pine Bluffs at Saratoga (edited to reflect scrimmage status)
Pinedale at Big Piney
Lusk at Wright
Farson vs. Dubois, at Lander
Kemmerer at Lander
Lovell at Douglas
Mountain View at Jackson
Wind River vs. Lingle, at Casper (edited to show new contest)

Off: Buffalo, Burlington, Guernsey, Hanna, Hulett, Midwest, Moorcroft, Pinedale, Shoshoni, Snake River, Star Valley, Tongue River, Wyoming Indian.

Go here for a full 2012 schedule, including dates and kickoff times. Scores will be posted on that page as the season progresses.

As always, Zero Week seems to be full of last-minute changes. If you see something here that doesn’t look like what you think is actually happening this weekend, let me know and I’ll update the schedule. You can post a comment here or email me at

I’ve made my thoughts on Zero Week well known before. I still feel the same way.

Quoting from a previous post on the blog:

For the record, here are the criteria I use to judge whether or not to call an event a “game,” and therefore list it in the standings (and, eventually, as part of the team record on this site):

1. Was the game played with four 12-minute quarters with normal timing rules?

2. Were officials used? And were normal rules of play instituted for the game?

3. Was score kept?

What do you think of the opening weekend of high school football? Are you ready for 2012?


Some recent additions to

Home and road winning and losing streaks… I highlighted these records in the blog earlier this summer (home winning, home losing, road winning, road losing), and now the records are posted on the streaks page.

Shrine Bowl player totals… I also highlighted these in the blog earlier this summer; these totals are now on the Shrine Bowl page, as are the Shrine Bowl records.

Consecutive scoring streaks… Something else I highlighted in the blog, all the way back in November, the consecutive scoring streaks records are now posted on the streaks page.


A couple recent edits and updates to the site that are worth noting:


I added a few games to the database after doing a notebook purge and double-check. I added three games for Shoshoni’s 1951 season: a 13-6 victory over Worland Institute on either Sept. 21 or Sept. 28 (added to the missing games list because I couldn’t pin down a date), a 19-13 loss to the Thermopolis JV on Oct. 1, and a victory over the Lander JV on Oct. 25 (added to the missing games list because I couldn’t pin down a score).

I also noted that Sunrise won its game with Glenrock on Oct. 24, 1947 (it stayed on the missing games list because I couldn’t find a final score; however, this update cements the date, location and winner).


I recently found that the 1995 Class 4A all-state team had three players listed with the wrong team. I moved Justin Kapinus, Brandon Guffey and Saber Garcia into the Gillette list; for some reason (I’m sure someone (not me) using the abbreviation “CC” for both Campbell County and Cheyenne Central), I had them listed with Cheyenne Central. Central’s all-staters that year were Tom Dawson and Brant Humphrey.

I also noticed recently that the total number of Casper Star-Tribune Super 25 listings by school (at the bottom of the page) did not total 525, the number of all-time selections. So I did some back-checking and fixed a few totals: Laramie has 22 all-time selections, not 21; Mountain View has 13, not 12; Natrona has 49, not 48; and Southeast has eight, not seven.

All the updates have been made on all the relevant pages.


Our five-part season preview wraps up today with Class 4A.

Four questions to answer
What can Natrona do with six returning first-team all-state selections? Whatever it wants. Consider this: Last season, there were only three returning first-team all-state selections in ALL of Class 4A. This year, Natrona alone has six, including Dan Reese, a Casper Star-Tribune Super 25 first-team selection last fall, and Ryan Anaya, who’s already committed to play at Wyoming. Linemen Colter Bentley and Adam Britton, running back/punter Josh Flanigan and wideout/defensive back/quarterback Brecken Biggs give the Mustangs a good mix of returning talent and make NC the favorite to win it all in 4A this year.

Was Cheyenne East’s run to the title game last year a fluke? No. East’s 24-19 upset of Natrona in last year’s 4A semifinals was an upset. But it was not a fluke. (And, yes, there is a difference.) The Thunderbirds had one of the most gifted teams in 4A last year, and with three returning first-team all-state picks — Tod Wenger, Austen Motily and Joe Ash — East has to be in the title discussion again this year.

Can Sheridan make it four trips in a row to Laramie? The short answer is a qualified yes. This year, maybe more than the past three, the Broncs have some rebuilding to do. The bulk of key players on last year’s championship team were seniors. Although it looks like the line will come together pretty well, the players outside the trenches have some work to do to prove themselves.

Who is this year’s surprise team? Rock Springs. I saw the Tigers at what was probably their lowest point last season — the loss to Kelly Walsh in Casper — and I still came away impressed. Running back Tanner McQuillan and receiver Zach Legerski are going to make a solid 1-2 offensive combination for what I think could be an explosive team this fall.

Four players to watch
Ryan Anaya, Natrona. He’s already committed to play at Wyoming. That alone should speak volumes. His numbers last year did not blow anyone away, but his presence and his ability will force teams to account for him. That should free up some opportunities for his teammates, too.

Collin Eisenman, Sheridan. The reigning Class 4A defensive player of the year, Eisenman was always around the ball last season. His numbers might actually dip this year as teams do a better job of accounting for him, but he will also be a stronger, better player this fall and will play a huge role as one of the centerpieces of the Broncs’ defense.

Tanner McQuillan, Rock Springs. Last year was the “Year of the Running Back” in 4A, and McQuillan was lost a bit in the shuffle. However, he will make sure he’s not ignored this year. He is the top returning rusher in the classification this year — he ran for 1,132 yards last year, trailing the “Big Four” of Roberts, Woods, Eddington and Bazemore — and could improve on those numbers this year.

Dani Fischer, Gillette. Fischer, the Camels’ only returning first-team all-state choice, is an explosive triple threat as a receiver, defensive back and returner. He racked up an unusually high 23.4 yards per catch last fall, led the team with five interceptions and was the Camels’ go-to kick and punt returner. His explosiveness will help keep Gillette in every game — and may help the Camels win a few, too.

Four key games
Gillette at Evanston, Aug. 24: Finally, the Red Devils get to play the Camels in Uinta County. The past two years, Evanston has had to trek to Gillette for its season openers; this year, the Camels have to make the trip. And, of course, Evanston wants revenge for last year, when Gillette pulled out a 40-36 victory late in the fourth quarter.

Natrona at Sheridan, Aug. 31: The longtime rivals are playing for the 100th time in a series that dates back to 1921. Add on the fact that the winner will likely be considered the early favorite for the 4A state title this year, and you can see why this one will be a big one.

Cheyenne East at Cheyenne Central, Sept. 14: The East-Central showdown is always for bragging rights and occasionally for more. It will be interesting to see if this one is for bragging rights, or for more.

Gillette at Natrona, Oct. 19: The last four regular-season meetings have finished 15-13, 21-20, 47-32 and 41-34. If nothing else, the Camels and Mustangs put on a good show when they get together; that alone should be worth the price of admission.

Predicted order of finish
Natrona, Sheridan, Gillette, Cheyenne East, Evanston, Rock Springs, Cheyenne Central, Laramie, Kelly Walsh, Cheyenne South.

Completely outlandish, way-too-early title game score prediction
Natrona 31, Sheridan 21

Numerous extensive series exist between Class 4A schools. Laramie and Central have played each other 127 times; Natrona and Sheridan will play for the 100th time this year, while Natrona and Central will play for the 99th. But — EXCLUDING Cheyenne South from the discussion — what is the least-played series between two current Class 4A schools? And how many times have they played? And what is the series record entering 2012? Post your guesses below — but feel free to add anything else you’re looking forward to seeing in the 2012 4A season.


I have two cool new additions to the site to share with you:

First, thanks to High School Football Database and, I now have a complete listing of Wyoming’s all-time All-America choices. The listings cover several teams dating back to 1947; if a team isn’t listed, it’s because Wyoming has never had a player chosen for that team.

Second, I have added playoff scoring records to the scoring records page. It’s interesting to note that last year’s six-man quarterfinal game between Midwest and Ten Sleep, won by Midwest 80-52, is the highest-scoring combined playoff game in state history. To see the other records, check out the listings.


Lingle and Lusk have added games to their 2012 schedules to fill the weeks left vacant by the formation of the Upton-Sundance co-op.

Lingle will fill its open date by playing the Natrona JV at 6 p.m. Sept. 27 in Lingle.

Lusk will also play the Natrona JV in its open week. The game is set for Oct. 4; the time and location of the game are still to be determined.

Moorcroft, Southeast and Pine Bluffs have already finalized plans for their open weeks created when the Sundance schedule was eliminated from the 2012 lineup. Normative Services is still attempting to work out a game for its Week 8 open date.


The fourth in a five-part season preview continues today with a look at Class 3A.

Four questions to answer
Can Powell repeat? Yes. The talent that Powell returns is second to none in 3A this fall — five all-state choices, including two seniors and three juniors, will help anchor the Panthers’ repeat chances. The better question might be: Who can stop Powell from repeating?

Is Green River still in a post-Powell hangover? We’ll see, although I doubt it. The Wolves again have the potential to be one of the best teams in 3A, but the way last season ended — by giving up a 45-yard touchdown pass with 12 seconds to go — can’t help but affect a team’s psyche. For their part, the Wolves are still the defending West Conference champs, and the title still goes through Green River. That reality alone should help bring the Wolves back from that tough loss to finish last season.

Is this Riverton’s breakthrough year? Probably. The Wolverines have been pointing to this season for at least two years now as their possible breakout season. The combo of Xavier Webb and T.J. Galey, both returning all-state choices, gives the Riverton offense a tandem option that no team in 3A can match. And with Douglas rebuilding/reloading, Lander going through a transition and Buffalo refocusing with a new coach, this might be Riverton’s best shot to win the East.

How will Buffalo do with a new coach? The answer is much more long and complicated than I have room for here. Any time a program goes through the tumult the Buffalo program did last year, there will be some unforeseen repercussions. How new coach Rob Hammond and his staff handle those unanticipated changes — good or bad — will help define the Bison’s success on the scoreboard.

Four players to watch
Vince Sleep, Powell. He made this list last year. He’ll make it again this year. As a junior, he led Powell in both solo tackles and tackles for loss. Already a two-time all-state selection, opposing coaches know Sleep will be a handful as the anchor of the Panthers’ defense.

Ty Etchemendy, Douglas. Even on a team full of seniors, it was hard to overlook the junior Etchemendy last year. He was Douglas’ leading receiver last year, but also played running back and defensive back and returned a few kicks, as well, and his efforts earned him an all-state nod. He’ll be asked to take on even more as a senior.

Xavier Webb, Riverton. If this really is Riverton’s breakthrough year, it’ll be on Webb to prove it. The Wolverines’ quarterback was an all-state choice last fall, completing 55 percent of his passes (99 of 181) for 1,241 yards and 12 touchdowns; he’ll need a similar, or maybe even slightly better, effort this year to help the Wolverines get over the top.

Aaron Fenner, Buffalo. Few players combine offense and defense as well as Fenner. He led Buffalo in rushing yards, receiving yards and defensive points as a junior last season. It’s hard to ask for an encore of that performance, but Fenner will likely need to be just as integral a part of the Bison’s effort to help his team back into the playoff hunt this season.

Four key games
Green River at Douglas, Aug. 31: This is probably the most highly anticipated nonconference game of the season in any classification. And it just so happens to pop up in Week 1. Both teams are eager to show they are the true favorites in 3A this fall; a victory here will go a long way to proving that point.

Star Valley at Powell, Sept. 28: One of the teams lost in the 3A mix is Star Valley — a team that had a tremendous 2011 season and returns enough players to be a threat in the West again this year. A victory here over the defending champs would be nice, but the Panthers remember what happened last year in Afton and are probably eager for a bit of payback.

Buffalo at Riverton, Sept. 28: The Wolverines have the good fortune of drawing the Bison at home this year. And if they want to prove they belong in title-game talk, this is the game they have to win.

Green River at Powell, Oct. 19: After not playing since 1982, these two teams played each other twice last season, building up enough familiarity with each other to make up for a lot of lost time. This one could again decide home-field advantage in the playoffs — although last year helped prove that home field isn’t everything.

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

Completely outlandish, way-too-early title game score prediction
Powell 19, Green River 16

Every current Class 3A team has played every other current 3A team at least twice in the past 90 years — except for these two schools, who have never played each other. Which two current 3A schools am I talking about? Post your guesses as a comment below.

What do you think? Does 3A have more parity than the rest of the classifications in Wyoming? What game are you most looking forward to? What players are poised for breakout seasons? Post some thoughts below and let’s talk 3A football.


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