Calling Natrona’s 2013 season gut-wrenching is like calling the pope Catholic.
You’re right, but you’re still a long ways away from the truth.
The pope is the ultimate Catholic. And it turns out Natrona’s 2013 season was the ultimate gut-wrenching season in state history.
In 2013, Natrona went 8-4, and all four losses were by one point. No other team in state history has had as many one-point losses in a season. And it’s not even close.
Three Natrona losses — 42-41 to Cheyenne East, 24-23 to Gillette and 21-20 to Kelly Walsh — came in the regular season, while the fourth, 14-13 to East again, came in the 4A state title game.
That season-long run has only been challenged by schools in two other seasons.
In 1987, Kemmerer lost three games by a single point, falling 9-8 to Pinedale, 8-7 to Saratoga and 14-13 to Cokeville, en route to a 2-6 season. In fact, the Rangers’ first three games of the season were one-point games, as they beat Big Piney 7-6 before losing to Pinedale in the second week and Saratoga the following week.
And in 1991, Cheyenne East lost three times by one point, also finishing 2-6. East’s narrow losses came to Green River (15-14), Cheyenne Central (22-21) and Laramie (21-20), losses made more difficult because they came in three consecutive weeks. In the game before the three one-point losses, East fell to Rock Springs 17-14; the Thunderbirds’ four consecutive losses in this stretch were by a combined six points.
No other teams in state history have had more than two one-point losses in a season.
Alternatively, six teams have won three games by a single point in a season. The most recent? Cheyenne East in 2013 — the same team that beat the historically hard-luck Natrona team. That season, East had its two one-point victories against Natrona and a 28-27 victory against Sheridan in the 4A semifinals on its way to the 4A title and a 10-2 season.
The other teams that had three one-point victories in a season were:
Lander in 1945. The Tigers also lost a game by a single point, too.
Worland in 1951. The Warriors also won a game by two points and finished as Class A runners-up.
Newcastle in 1979.
Cheyenne East in 1983.
Cokeville in 1994. Cokeville won the 1A title this year, winning back-to-back 7-6 games in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
The 1994 Cokeville team was part of an amazing streak for the Panthers: From 1985 to 2004, Cokeville won 15 consecutive one-point games.
And the 2013 Natrona and Cheyenne East teams were both part of some interesting ongoing streaks. East has won nine consecutive one-point games dating back to 2004, the longest such active streak in the state. Meanwhile, Natrona has lost nine consecutive one-point games, tied for the longest active such run. East’s last loss in a one-point game came in a 20-19 loss to Sheridan in the 2004 consolation playoffs; Natrona hasn’t won a one-point game since beating Gillette 29-28 on Sept. 28, 2001.
The other program with nine consecutive one-point losses is Midwest. The Oilers have not won a one-point game in 56 years, with their last coming in a 7-6 victory against the Natrona JV on Sept. 23, 1960.
Other long active streaks belong to Riverside, which has won five one-point games in a row, and Glenrock, which has lost eight in a row. Glenrock hasn’t won a one-point game since 1981.
On the flipside, several squads have gone decades since losing a one-point game. Hulett and Lyman have not lost one-point games since 1987; however, Hulett has had only one one-point game since 1987, while Lyman has only had two. Dubois hasn’t lost a one-point game since 1990, Hanna hasn’t lost one since 1991 and Burns hasn’t lost one since 1994.
After the long streaks of Midwest and Glenrock, the longest droughts without one-point game victories belong to Wyoming Indian (1993) and Rawlins (1994).
I don’t know how much we can glean from looking at one-point games. Usually, the winners and losers in these types of games arise from a little good fortune.
Natrona’s 2013 season, though, stands alone as the one season where fortune favored the opponent in close game after close game after close game after close game — more often than any other season in state history.