Don’t tell Meeteetse this doesn’t count.
more than 1,100 miles of asphalt a drive to Cheyenne Billings, then a flight to Texas, the Longhorns will open their 2013 season on Friday in the most unlikely of places: Robert Lee, Texas.
Despite its name, the town of Robert Lee is more than one man. The community in central Texas, the county seat of Coke County, is home to about 1,000 people — and a pretty good six-man football team.
In fact, the Robert Lee High School Steers went 10-2 last year and reached the second round of Texas’ Class 1A Six-Man Division 2 playoffs. And in the world of six-man football, that’s really saying something.
Meeteetse’s Longhorns, meanwhile, went 6-4 last season, the first winning season for the program since posting a 5-4 mark in 2007. Meeteetse finished one game short of the Wyoming six-man state championship game. And in the world of six-man football, unfortunately, that’s not saying much.
Nebraska is the birthplace of six-man football, but Texas is definitely the home. The Lone Star State has far more six-man football programs than the state of Wyoming has football programs, total. Texas has 137 six-man football programs, 70 in Division 1 and 67 in Division 2; Wyoming has 14 six-man programs this year — its most ever — and only 63 varsity programs this fall in all divisions, both 11-man and six-man combined.
Meeteetse is one of the smallest. In fact, in enrollment numbers recently released to schools by the WHSAA, Meeteetse had the second-smallest enrollment of all varsity programs in the state at 40 students, total.
Robert Lee, perhaps not coincidentally, has an enrollment listed by the University Interscholastic League — Texas’ version of the WHSAA — of 42 students, total.
The game has already generated tons of interest, both in Wyoming and in Texas. Robert Lee supporters helped Meeteetse raise money for the trip and will put the Longhorn players up in homes across the area. Not only that, the game will be the first played in the Steers’ newly renovated stadium.
Yet, because the game falls under Wyoming’s Zero Week for six-man (and 1A and 2A and 3A) schools, the game won’t “officially” count in the WHSAA standings. (The game will count here, as will all other “games.” See below.) That means that most press outlets in Wyoming won’t count it, either.
That’s not what Meeteetse wants to hear. To them, this one counts.
The nearly 1,200 miles, one way? The feeling of an August Texas night in pads? The chance to play one of Texas’ top six-man programs, on their home turf, and to be an equal?
No, this counts. This counts for a lot. For Meeteetse, this game will define their season — at least until November.
And this game counts for Wyoming. The Equality State may be the only state in the country undefeated against Texas in high school football thanks to Natrona’s 18-6 defeat of Pampa, Texas, back in 1939 in the states’ only previous gridiron meeting. Wyoming folks would love to keep it that way.
And you bet it counts for Robert Lee. The Steers don’t want to break in their new stadium with a loss, especially to some upstart team from some upstart state that didn’t even have six-man football until barely four years ago.
Enjoy this game while you can. You may never see one like this again.
Like it or not, the illuminated bulbs on that scoreboard at the end of the game will mean something.
We’d do well to acknowledge that.
Edit: Added 11:45 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 29: Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso knows what’s up:
Fun running into the Meeteetse football team in the airport this morning. pic.twitter.com/N41ksecjZn
— Sen. John Barrasso (@SenJohnBarrasso) August 29, 2013
My picks are posted below in the usual style, with projected winners in bold:
Cheyenne South at Evanston
Gillette at Kelly Walsh
Natrona at Cheyenne Central
Rock Springs at Cheyenne East
Sheridan at Laramie
Worland at Riverton
Riverside at Greybull
Altamont, Utah, at Lyman
Custer, S.D., at Newcastle
Meeteetse at Robert Lee, Texas
Uintah, Utah, at Green River
Jackson at Mountain View
Riverside JV at Ten Sleep
Laurel, Mont., at Cody
Miles City, Mont., at Powell
Other Zero Week contests
Scrimmages and jamborees
Big Piney at Pinedale
Pine Bluffs/Tongue River at Thermopolis
Rocky Mountain at Powell JV
Big Horn at Lovell
Burns vs. Upton-Sundance, at Lusk
Dubois/Farson/Saratoga triangular, at Lander
Guernsey-Sunrise at Kaycee
Lander vs. Shoshoni, at Riverton
Lingle vs. Wind River, at Casper (Kelly Walsh)
Natrona frosh-sophs at Midwest
Rawlins/Southeast at Glenrock
Torrington at Wheatland
Wright at Lusk
Wyoming Indian at Hanna
Off: Buffalo, Burlington, Cokeville, Douglas, Hulett, Kemmerer, Moorcroft, Normative Services, St. Stephens, Snake River, Star Valley.
For a full schedule including kick times, check out the 2013 schedule page.
As usual, Zero Week picks come with a disclaimer about what’s a “game” and counted in the standings and what’s not. Remember, I count different than the WHSAA does. 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?
In short, if you don’t want it to count, don’t keep score….
Of note: Green River breaks in its new turf field this week. Below is an aerial shot of the new field taken by Matt Strauss of Guardian Flight and provided by Steve Core.
Thoughts on Zero Week? On Meeteetse’s long trip? On the opening of FOOTBALL SEASON? Comment below!