When Cheyenne Central opens the 2015 season on Friday in Casper against Natrona, the Indians and Mustangs will extend a tradition that dates back 96 years.
The two schools have played each other every season since 1920, the longest such streak in state history — and a streak that shows no signs of stopping any time soon.
Although the two schools first played each other in 1908, they’ve played each other in every season since 1920. Of course, in 1920, Wyoming schools didn’t have many options: Only six schools in the state had football teams.
Central and Natrona have been on each other’s regular-season schedules for 95 of those 96 years. In 2004, the two teams did not have a regular-season game scheduled, but they met in the Class 5A playoff semifinals to continue their consecutive years played streak.
Natrona and Central played each other twice in a season four times: in 1935 (the second game was part of the first triangular playoff in state history), 1936 (to decide a playoff qualification after tying in their regular-season game), 1990 (in the playoff semifinals) and 2005 (again in the playoff semifinals).
Their meeting this season will be the 102nd in the series. NC leads the all-time series 52-46-3, with Central having a 28-22-1 series lead in Cheyenne while NC leads in Casper 29-18-2 (NC won the only neutral-site matchup).
Even so, this series is not the most-played series in state history. That honor goes to the Central-Laramie series, which has been played 130 times. However, the Indians and Plainsmen didn’t play each other in 1999, breaking a series that dated back to 1919.
The 20 longest active series in Wyoming high school football that are scheduled to continue this year, and the year the streak began, are:
1. Cheyenne Central-Natrona, 1920
2. Lander-Riverton, 1922
3. Cody-Powell, 1941 (they’ve been on each other’s schedules since 1921 but the 1940 game was not played; Powell won it in a forfeit)
4. Powell-Worland, 1945
5. Big Piney-Pinedale, 1952
6. Lyman-Mountain View, 1955
7t. Big Piney-Lyman, 1956
7t. Big Piney-Mountain View, 1956
9. Jackson-Star Valley, 1959
10t. Cheyenne Central-Cheyenne East, 1960
10t. Cheyenne East-Laramie, 1960
12t. Gillette-Kelly Walsh, 1965
12t. Kelly Walsh-Natrona, 1965
14. Douglas-Torrington, 1967
15. Shoshoni-Wind River, 1969
16. Gillette-Sheridan, 1970
17t. Gillette-Natrona, 1971
17t. Natrona-Sheridan, 1971
19. Glenrock-Newcastle, 1974
20. Pine Bluffs-Southeast, 1978
Several other series have been active for at least 20 years and are scheduled to continue this year. Those series, with starting year, include:
Lusk-Southeast, 1979; Kemmerer-Lyman, 1980; Evanston-Rock Springs, 1983; Jackson-Lander, 1983; Kemmerer-Mountain View, 1983; Lusk-Pine Bluffs, 1983; Powell-Star Valley, 1983; Star Valley-Worland, 1983; Douglas-Rawlins, 1985; Natrona-Rock Springs, 1985; Greybull-Riverside, 1987 (the Basin-Greybull series goes back to 1983); Big Piney-Kemmerer, 1989; Cheyenne East-Rock Springs, 1990; Laramie-Rock Springs, 1990; Buffalo-Powell, 1991; Cheyenne East-Evanston, 1991; Lingle-Lusk, 1991; Lingle-Pine Bluffs, 1991; Burlington-Riverside, 1993.
Streaks that have been going at least 10 years and are scheduled to continue this year include: Burns-Wright, 1995; Burlington-Shoshoni, 1999; Cheyenne Central-Laramie, 2000; Cheyenne Central-Rock Springs, 2000; Buffalo-Rawlins, 2001; Buffalo-Worland, 2001; Cokeville-Shoshoni, 2001; Jackson-Teton, Idaho, 2001; Kemmerer-Pinedale, 2001; Lyman-Pinedale, 2001; Mountain View-Pinedale, 2001; Jackson-Powell, 2002; Kelly Walsh-Sheridan, 2002; Cheyenne Central-Evanston, 2003; Evanston-Laramie, 2003; Greybull-Lovell, 2003; Lyman-Greybull, 2003; Newcastle-Custer, S.D., 2003; Rawlins-Torrington, 2003; Buffalo-Douglas, 2004; Buffalo-Lander, 2004; Buffalo-Torrington, 2004; Cheyenne East-Gillette, 2004; Cheyenne East-Kelly Walsh, 2004; Riverside-Rocky Mountain, 2004; Rocky Mountain-Wind River, 2004.
In addition to the Central-Laramie streak, which was broken in 1999, one other long streak was recently broken: Torrington-Wheatland. The series ended in 2012, as the two schools staged a Zero Week scrimmage instead of a game in 2013, breaking a streak that began in 1923. They had a Zero Week scrimmage again in 2014 and are scheduled for another scrimmage this week.
On to this week’s picks. As usual, the programs in bold are the ones I’ve picked to win this week.
Cheyenne South at Evanston
Gillette at Kelly Walsh
Natrona at Cheyenne Central
Rock Springs at Cheyenne East
Sheridan at Laramie
Lyman at Altamont, Utah
Custer, S.D., at Newcastle
Miles City, Mont., at Powell
Teton, Idaho, at Jackson
Southeast at Bridgeport, Neb.
The rest of the Zero Week schedule as I have it:
Scrimmages and jamborees
Buffalo at Lovell
Cokeville at Bear Lake, Idaho
Farson, NSI at Casper (at Kelly Walsh)
Lander, Mountain View at Green River
Pine Bluffs at Saratoga
Pinedale at Big Piney
Riverside at Tongue River
Shoshoni, Thermopolis at Greybull
Torrington at Wheatland
Worland at Riverton
Wyoming Indian at Kemmerer
Big Horn, Moorcroft, Wright at Upton-Sundance (at Upton)
Burns, Lingle, Wind River at Lusk
Dubois, Meeteetse, Midwest, Snake River at Riverton
Guernsey-Sunrise, Ten Sleep at Kaycee
Rawlins at Glenrock
Off: Burlington, Cody, Douglas, Hanna, Hulett, Rock River, Rocky Mountain, St. Stephens, Star Valley.
For a full schedule including kickoff times, click here.
As usual, Zero Week picks for all classifications except 4A 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….
This season, Class 4A has the only contests that will be Wyoming-vs.-Wyoming “games.” Every other contest involving Wyoming teams alone is set up as a controlled scrimmage or jamboree of some kind.
This also marks the first week that guest pickers Tad and Homer will make their picks. Here’s what the brothers have to say:
Tad: Natrona over Cheyenne Central; Powell over Miles City, Mont.
Homer: Cheyenne Central over Natrona; Miles City, Mont., over Powell.
Both: Evanston over Cheyenne South; Cheyenne East over Rock Springs; Laramie over Sheridan; Lyman over Altamont, Utah; Custer, S.D., over Newcastle; Jackson over Teton, Idaho; Bridgeport, Neb., over Southeast.
Cheyenne South at Evanston (Evanston 4-0 overall, Evanston 2-0 at this location)
Gillette at Kelly Walsh (Gillette 33-20 overall, Gillette 15-12 at this location)
Natrona at Cheyenne Central (Natrona 52-46-3 overall, Central 28-22-1 at this location)
Rock Springs at Cheyenne East (East 23-18 overall, East 16-7 at this location)
Sheridan at Laramie (Laramie 43-34 overall, Laramie 25-14 at this location)
Altamont, Utah, at Lyman (Lyman 4-2 overall, Lyman 2-1 at this location)
Custer, S.D., at Newcastle (Custer 28-17-3 overall, Custer 12-9-2 at this location)
Miles City, Mont., at Powell (tied 4-4, Miles City 3-1 at this location)
Teton, Idaho, at Jackson (Jackson 17-16-1, Jackson 10-7-1 at this location)
Southeast at Bridgeport, Neb. (Bridgeport 9-5, Bridgeport 3-2 at this location)
Weekly reminder: Tad picks the series leader; Homer picks the location leader; when a series is tied, both Tad and Homer pick the home team.
Of course, I welcome your thoughts, too. So what do you think about the opening week of the season? Go ahead and leave a comment and we can chat about what’s going on in Wyoming during Zero Week.
Post updated 10:48 p.m. Aug. 27 to fix location of Lyman game.