For more than seven decades, Wyoming state football championship games were played on the field of the higher-seeded team.

The system worked — teams displayed all kinds of hometown pride, stadiums filled and trophies went to deserving teams.


But every once in a while, the location of the game helped shape its outcome, and the team that won the title wasn’t the better team.

From 1990 — when Wyoming expanded to five classifications for football — until 2008, home teams went 65-30 in state championship games. That means those home teams had a .684 winning percentage, far above the usual 56-percent rate at which home teams win.

That changed in 2009, when the Wyoming High School Activities Association made the decision to move all state football title games to the University of Wyoming’s War Memorial Stadium in Laramie.

While the decision has had both supporters and detractors, there’s no denying that moving the title games to Laramie has given Wyoming high school teams, for lack of a better term, a more even playing field for state championship contests.

Since 2009, the team that would have been the home team has gone 18-12 (.600) in the Laramie title games.

While detractors of the title games’ move to Laramie have valid points about community pride, Laramie’s sketchy November weather and a mostly empty War Memorial Stadium, even they can’t overlook that the move to Laramie has produced state title games that turn out more representative champions than in previous years.

By employing a neutral site for championship games, Wyoming is more likely to have its best teams win state titles.

This is most evident at classifications below the big schools in Class 4A.

In Class 4A, where teams play a round-robin regular-season schedule to determine playoff seeding, higher-seeded teams are 6-0 in title games. In the state’s other four classifications, where the honor of “hosting” the title game is often determined by an annual rotation between the East and West conferences and is not necessarily awarded to the team with the better record, higher-seeded teams are actually 11-13 (.458) in Laramie — 3-3 in every classification except six-man, where higher-seeded teams are 2-4.

The neutral site has a clear ability to help eliminate any advantage given rather than earned. Maybe that’s why, in part, the Wyoming High School Activities Association voted last week to continue Laramie’s privilege of hosting state championship games through 2017.


Another myth that’s been dispelled in the first six years of title games in Laramie: The team that is closer to Laramie has no advantage over the team that has to travel further to reach Laramie. Since 2009, the team that’s closer to Laramie has gone 15-15 in the title game. Apparently, distance doesn’t matter if both teams are traveling.


Here’s the breakdown of each state football championship game in Laramie since 2009. The team listed first is the winning team. Game winners are indicated by location (closer or further from Laramie than opponent) and seeding (higher or lower than opponent).

4A: CLOSER/HIGHER Natrona-Gillette
2A: CLOSER/HIGHER Mountain View-Big Horn
1A11: FURTHER/LOWER Cokeville-Lusk
1A6: CLOSER/LOWER Guernsey-Dubois

4A: CLOSER/HIGHER East-Natrona
3A: FURTHER/LOWER Powell-Douglas
2A: FURTHER/LOWER Big Horn-Mountain View
1A11: FURTHER/HIGHER Cokeville-Lusk
1A6: FURTHER/LOWER Meeteetse-Midwest

4A: CLOSER/HIGHER Natrona-Gillette
3A: CLOSER/HIGHER Powell-Star Valley
2A: CLOSER/HIGHER Lyman-Lovell
1A11: CLOSER/LOWER Southeast-Lusk
1A6: FURTHER/LOWER Dubois-Snake River

4A: FURTHER/HIGHER Sheridan-East
3A: FURTHER/LOWER Powell-Douglas
1A11: FURTHER/LOWER Cokeville-Southeast
1A6: CLOSER/LOWER Snake River-Dubois

4A: CLOSER/HIGHER Natrona-Sheridan
3A: CLOSER/HIGHER Douglas-Buffalo
2A: CLOSER/LOWER Thermopolis-Big Horn
1A11: FURTHER/HIGHER Cokeville-Lusk
1A6: FURTHER/HIGHER Snake River-Hanna

4A: FURTHER/HIGHER Sheridan-Central
3A: CLOSER/LOWER Douglas-Cody
2A: FURTHER/LOWER Thermopolis-Glenrock
1A11: CLOSER/HIGHER Southeast-Lingle
1A6: CLOSER/HIGHER Guernsey-Kaycee

Of the games listed here, which game won by a lower seed is the most likely to have been won by the higher seed if it had been played on the higher seed’s home field? Post your thoughts about that question, or about anything related to what’s shown here, with a comment. I’d love to chat about this fun stuff!


Last month, we looked at Tongue River girls basketball coach Dianne Moser’s chasing of an interesting, and unknown, milestone — the state record for victories as a Wyoming high school basketball coach.

That title belongs to Okie Blanchard, who won 706 games in his coaching career, but then came out of retirement for one season to coach Hillsdale in 1969. No one knew Hillsdale’s record in 1969, though, leaving the state’s total victories chase a mystery.

However, thanks to some helpers in Laramie County, we have the answer.

And Moser still has work to do.

Jeremiah Johnke at the Wyoming Tribune Eagle in Cheyenne, working with Barry Ward at Burns High School, found that Hillsdale’s boys won 12 games with Blanchard as head coach in 1969. That puts Blanchard’s state-best victory total at 718.

Moser enters this weekend with 710 career victories. The Eagles (13-5) have four regular-season games remaining — against Sundance on Friday, against Lovell on Saturday, at Wright on Feb. 20 and against Big Horn on Feb. 21. Tongue River has already beaten Sundance, Wright and Big Horn this season but has not yet played Lovell.

The Eagles would need at least two victories, and maybe three, at the East Regional tournament to qualify for state, where another three games are possible.

If Tongue River wins out, Moser, who told the Casper Star-Tribune this year is her last, will finish her career with 720 victories — two more than Blanchard.

And now we know, for better or for worse.


This started as a joke last week on Twitter: A quiz that would help decide which Wyoming high school football coach you are.

But then I built it. You answer seven questions to find your spirit coach. Is it Gillette’s Vic Wilkerson? Natrona’s Steve Harshman? Cokeville’s Todd Dayton? Dubois’ David Trembly? Douglas’ Jay Rhoades? Big Horn’s Michael McGuire? Or Rawlins’ Corey Wheeler?

Find out and play the quiz!