Wyoming will have 14 new high school football series begin in 2017, but nine of them will belong to the same school.

Obviously, the entire Thunder Basin schedule will consist of new series starting — nine new series with each one of the other 4A schools. The new high school in Gillette is scheduled to open this fall and start varsity football immediately.

The other five new series on the 2017 schedule include Rock River/Meeteetse (Week 1), Rawlins/Wind River (Week 3), Big Horn/Upton-Sundance (Week 6), Kemmerer/Lusk (Week 6) and Worland/Pinedale (Week 8).

Also, 13 other series will include their first meeting at a particular location: Snake River at Lingle (Week 1), Shoshoni at Thermopolis (Week 1), Jackson at Sugar-Salem, Idaho (Week 1), Newcastle at Upton-Sundance (Week 2), Riverside at Snake River (Week 2), Shoshoni at Tongue River (Week 3), Wright at Upton-Sundance (Week 4), Burlington at St. Stephens (Week 4), Riverside at St. Stephens (Week 5), Kaycee at Lingle (Week 6), Riverside at Farson (Week 7), Snake River at Burlington (Week 7) and Rock River at Lingle (Week 8). Most, but not all, of these series began last year and are the second meeting between these programs.

–patrick

A couple of updates to share:

Coaches: (1) Found the first name (and corrected the spelling of the last name) of Shoshoni’s coach in 1932-33; he was Robert Outsen. … (2) Updated records to Natrona and to Wheatland and Thermopolis to differentiate between two different Bill Hilemans; one, William H., was the head coach at Natrona, while the other, Bill W., coached at Wheatland and Thermopolis. (And I believe this was a father-son pair. Anyone who can verify that?) … (3) Corrected the spelling for Torrington’s coach in 1970 to Tim Gottberg.

All-state: (1) I fixed a couple names on Newcastle’s 1970 Class A all-state listings. I fixed the incorrect names I had for Bob Dilts and John Halsey. Thanks to fellow Dogie Bill Lunney for catching the errors! … (2) I also corrected the spelling of Powell’s Randy Waln on the 1970 Class AA all-state listings; thanks to him for letting me know!

Season standings: Thanks to the help of friend of the site Jim Craig, I have also posted standings for 1950, 1949 and 1948 seasons. A side note: The 1948 season was the first to use district records for playoff qualification at multiple classification levels. Prior to this, the state basically had just one classification of football, and district records were part — but not all — of the playoff qualification method. Therefore, standings prior to 1948 weren’t really a big deal, and basically no press outlets ran full statewide standings. Also, some schools didn’t even try to fit in a district and played whichever opponents they could at whatever level they could; Hanna, for example, rarely played a district schedule and bounced between 11-man and six-man play, sometimes in the same season. That inconsistency, coupled with the haphazard starting and stopping of programs around World War II, has made piecing together districts and levels of play prior to 1948 much more challenging. I hope to post standings prior to 1948 soon, but they won’t include district records.

–patrick

Last week, I looked at 24 former University of Wyoming basketball players who went on to become high school football coaches in Wyoming.

But the number of former UW football letterwinners to become football coaches around the state is much more impressive.

At least 88 former University of Wyoming Cowboy football letterwinners have gone on to be high school football coaches in the state.

This trend has faded recently, but numerous former Cowboys stood on high school sidelines throughout the 1950s and 1960s. In one year, 1954, a full 16 schools had former UW football letterwinners as their head coaches. At least nine schools had former Cowboys on their sidelines every year from 1949 to 1966.

While this trend peaked in the 1950s and 1960s, by the early 1990s, it had faded out. Throughout the 1980s, no more than two schools had former UW letterwinners, and from 1991 to 2003, not a single UW football letterwinner was a head coach in the state.

That changed in 2004, when Kelly Walsh hired Jim Horne, who lettered at UW in 1979 and 1980. Then, in 2009, Hanna hired UW letterwinner Tom Waring (he later coached Rawlins and now leads Wheatland), and in 2014, Cheyenne Central brought on former Cowboy Drew Severn.

Waring and Severn are the only former UW letterwinners who are current head football coaches in Wyoming.

+++

With 88 former letterwinners scattered around the state, more schools in the state have had a former Cowboy on the sidelines than those that haven’t.

The former Cowboys tended toward bigger schools — of the 10 4A and 12 3A programs, only the two recently opened 4A schools (Cheyenne South and Thunder Basin) and far-from-Laramie 3A Star Valley haven’t had a former UW letterwinner on the sidelines as head coach. Other schools that have never had former UW letterwinners as their head coach include 2A schools Burns, Lyman, Moorcroft and Mountain View; 1A 11-man schools Big Horn, Rocky Mountain, Southeast, Sundance, Tongue River, Upton, Wright and Wyoming Indian; and 1A six-man schools Burlington, Dubois, Farson, Guernsey-Sunrise, Hulett, Kaycee, NSI, Rock River, Riverside and St. Stephens.

The school that’s had more years than any other with a UW letterwinner as its head coach is Rock Springs, which has been led by a former Cowboy for 43 seasons.

+++

Below is the full list of 88 former UW football letterwinners to go on to be head coaches in the state. This count does not include players who were squad members but did not letter; however, UW lists all squad members prior to 1930 as letterwinners.

Reverse chronologically, they are:

  • Drew Severn: Lettered 2002-03-04-05, coach Cheyenne Central 2014-present
  • Tom Waring: Lettered 1999-2000, coach Hanna 2009-12, Rawlins 2013, Wheatland 2016-present
  • Jim Horne: Lettered 1979-80, coach Kelly Walsh 2004-10
  • Keith Mills: Lettered 1977-78, coach Wind River 1979
  • Mike Lopiccolo: Lettered 1971-73-74, coach Rock Springs 1981-91
  • John Schulein: Lettered 1972-73, coach St. Mary’s 1975
  • Jim Keen: Lettered 1967-68-69, coach Kemmerer 1977-79, Powell 1980-81, Cheyenne East 1982-88
  • Rich Trautwein: Lettered 1967-69, coach Cheyenne Central 1976-78
  • Jim House: Lettered 1966-67-68, coach Douglas 1970-71, Green River 1972-73
  • Tim Gottberg: Lettered 1965-66-67, coach Torrington 1970
  • Jerrold/Jerry Durling: Lettered 1965-66, coach Wheatland 1975-76
  • Charles “Chuck” Shelton: Lettered 1964-65-66, coach Green River 1969-71
  • Art Kissack: Lettered 1963-64-65, coach Cheyenne East 1970-77
  • John Dowler: Lettered 1963-64, coach Gillette 1972-76
  • Harry Reed: Lettered 1962-63-64, coach Newcastle 1965-68
  • Tom Delaney: Lettered 1961-62-63, coach Wheatland 1965-66, Lusk 1967-68-69
  • Vince Zimmer: Lettered 1961-62, coach Lusk 1964, Powell 1965-66
  • Don Heidt: Lettered 1961, coach Rawlins 1970-72
  • Stan Popeck: Lettered 1961, coach Worland 1966-69, Lander 1975-78
  • Delman “Del” Wight: Lettered 1958-60, coach Worland 1965
  • John “Jack” Allen: Lettered 1957-58, coach Pinedale 1964
  • Herb Taylor: Lettered 1957-58, coach Kemmerer 1961
  • Paul Muratore: Lettered 1956-57-58, coach Sunrise 1959
  • Jim Crawford: Lettered 1954-55-56, coach Lovell 1957, Greybull 1965-68
  • Vince Guinta: Lettered 1954-55-56, coach Wheatland 1968-69, Kemmerer 1970-76
  • John Maffoni: Lettered 1954-55, coach Rawlins 1962-67
  • Ray Lutterman: Lettered 1950-51-54-55, coach Greybull 1956
  • Claude “Wimp” Hewgley: Lettered 1952-53-54, coach Worland 1959
  • Richard Viner: Lettered 1951-52-53, coach Saratoga 1962-64
  • Adolph “Ox” Zellner: Lettered 1951-52-53, coach Greybull 1957-58
  • Ed Strube: Lettered 1952, coach Kelly Walsh 1968-70
  • Bill Hileman: Lettered 1951-52, coach Wheatland 1957-58, Thermopolis 1961-64
  • Harry Geldien: Lettered 1950-51-52, coach Natrona 1957-64
  • William “Bill” Baker: Lettered 1949-50-51, coach Newcastle 1952-54
  • Bob Harp: Lettered 1949-50-51, coach Evanston 1952-55, Riverton 1956
  • Jim Godfrey: Lettered 1950, coach Cheyenne East 1960-64
  • Ivan Jones: Lettered 1950, coach Baggs 1955-56
  • Marion Ladd: Lettered 1950, coach Wheatland 1954
  • Marv Strauch: Lettered 1950, coach St. Mary’s 1954-59
  • Jerry Parker: Lettered 1949-50, coach Big Piney 1955-57, Evanston 1958-66
  • John Melton: Lettered 1948-49-50, coach Thermopolis 1952-56
  • Eddie Talboom: Lettered 1948-49-50, coach Evanston 1951, Rock Springs 1957-65
  • Carl Rollins: Lettered 1947-48-49, coach Sheridan 1950-58
  • John Kosich: Lettered 1946-47-48-49, coach Greybull 1950-55
  • Fred Taucher: Lettered 1946-47-48-49, coach Jackson 1950-51
  • Fran Connor: Lettered 1947-48, coach Rawlins 1953-61
  • George Grace: Lettered 1947-48, coach Buffalo 1951-67
  • Ray Haskins: Lettered 1946-47-48, coach Huntley 1954-56
  • Lawrence “Shad” Martoglio: Lettered 1946-47-48, coach Cody 1949, 1957-62
  • George Waters: Lettered 1946-47-48, coach Riverton 1949-50, Manville 1951
  • Carl Selmer: Lettered 1947, coach Worland 1947-56**
  • Earl “Shadow” Ray: Lettered 1941-42-47, coach Midwest 1944
  • Robert Cooper: Lettered 1946, coach Greybull 1947-48
  • Henry “Hank” Rohn: Lettered 1946, coach Torrington 1947, Riverton 1951-55
  • Warren Capellen: Lettered 1942-46, coach Pinedale 1950-54, Kemmerer 1955-58*
  • Antone “Tony” Katana: Lettered 1942-46, coach Superior 1948-53
  • Frank Gruden: Lettered 1942, coach Evanston 1947-50, Basin 1957-58
  • Al Lokanc: Lettered 1940-41, coach Rock Springs 1948-54
  • Bill Strannigan: Lettered 1940, coach University Prep 1941*
  • Lou Thorpe: Lettered 1939-40, coach Hanna 1941
  • Seth Banks: Lettered 1939, coach Guernsey 1941
  • George Dorrington: Lettered 1937-38-39, coach Hanna 1950-52, Gillette 1953-60*
  • Thomas Odwin Nipper: Lettered 1937-38, coach Pine Bluffs 1939
  • Sam Fratto: Lettered 1936-37-38, coach University Prep 1939
  • Lee Kizzire: Lettered 1934-35-36, coach Riverton 1939-40
  • Warren Scoggan: Lettered 1934-35, coach Lusk 1938-40
  • John E. Deti: Lettered 1933-34-35, coach Meeteetse 1941, Shoshoni 1942, Laramie 1944-76
  • Willard “Buzz” West: Lettered 1932-34, coach Green River 1935-37, Thermopolis 1938-40, 1945*
  • Carl Dir: Lettered 1930-31-34, coach Manville 1938-40, Shoshoni 1941, Worland 1942-43, Rawlins 1944-48
  • Howard Bash: Lettered 1933, coach Torrington 1934-35, Gillette 1936, Rock Springs 1941
  • Homer Bash: Lettered 1932-33, coach Lingle 1934
  • Walter Dowler: Lettered 1931-32-33, coach Basin 1934-35, Rock Springs 1937-40, Cheyenne Central 1941-42
  • William Engstrom: Lettered 1931-32-33, coach Manville 1934-35, Superior 1937-41, Rock Springs 1942-44
  • Walter Kingham: Lettered 1929-30-31, coach Basin 1933, Riverton 1934-36, Natrona 1940-43
  • Vincent “Joe” Schwartz: Lettered 1930, coach Rawlins 1942-43, Natrona 1944-46, Rawlins 1949-52*
  • Jess Eckdall: Lettered 1928-29, coach Lusk 1933-34 (and likely Manville 1932)
  • Ralph Stewart: Lettered 1927-28-29, coach Torrington 1930-31
  • Wedge Thompson: Lettered 1927-28-29, coach Gillette 1930-31
  • Don Harkins: Lettered 1926-27-28, coach University Prep 1929*
  • Ray Thompson: Lettered 1926-27, coach University Prep 1930, Ten Sleep 1934, Heart Mountain 1943
  • Oscar E. “Oc” Erickson: Lettered 1924-25-26, coach Sheridan 1929-31*
  • Claire “Okie” Blanchard: Lettered 1922-23-24, coach Glenrock 1925, Cokeville 1928, Rock Springs 1929-36, Natrona 1937-39, Central 1942-52
  • Orion Neff: Lettered 1920, coach University Prep 1921, Laramie 1922
  • Fred Layman: Lettered 1917-19-20, coach Natrona 1925*
  • Hary Sheldon: Lettered 1919, coach Lingle 1923
  • Bill Talbert: Lettered 1916-19, coach University Prep 1920
  • Andrew Willis: Lettered 1914-15-19, coach Cowley 1921-23, 1925, Lovell 1927-28*
  • Charles C.A. Jones: Lettered 1905-06-07-08-09-11, coach Cheyenne Central 1912-14

*-Nine coaches — Capellen, Strannigan, Dorrington, West, Schwartz, Erickson, Harkins, Layman and Willis — appeared on both this list and the UW basketball letterwinners list.

Another five former UW letterwinners and coaches could be members of this list, too. However, I couldn’t verify that these people with similar first names and the same last name were actually the same people (and if you can help with these mysteries, leave a comment!):

  • Henry Brown/Hank Brown: Lettered 1940-41, coach Lovell 1947
  • H.H. Hill/Harry Hill: Lettered 1904-08-10, coach Laramie 1909
  • Ernest Hitchcock/Ed Hitchcock: Lettered 1912-13-14, coach Laramie 1919-20
  • Jim Martin: Lettered 1949-50, coach Kemmerer 1962
  • Jack McGee/McGee: Lettered 1942, coach Big Piney 1943

–patrick

The head coaches from Tongue River and Pine Bluffs — the two schools that played each other in the Class 1A 11-man championship game this season — will be the head coaches for the 44th annual Shrine Bowl.

Will Gray from Pine Bluffs will lead the South team, while John Scott will lead the North, a release from the Shrine Bowl said.

“It is very exciting to work with the best of the best while also representing a great cause,” Gray said in the release. “I hope to represent our school and community well and have some fun doing it.”

Gray will be a head coach in the Shrine Bowl for the first time. Scott was previously a Shrine Bowl head coach in 1995 while at Kemmerer and 2001 while at Gillette.

“I am grateful to have been chosen for this opportunity and look forward to teaming with Wyoming’s best high school players and the Shriners towards such a worthy cause,” Scott said in the release.

The coaches will choose a coaching staff from across classes from their region, and those staffs will assemble the rosters for each squad.

Gray’s Hornets beat Scott’s Eagles 10-7 in the 1A 11-man title game in November.

The Shrine Bowl will be June 10, 2017, in Casper. The North leads the series 22-18-3. The North has won the last four Shrine Bowls, including last year, 41-26.

–patrick

The 1943 NCAA champion Wyoming Cowboy basketball team had 15 members. Of those 15, six became head high school football coaches in Wyoming — an amazing ratio considering the total number of former UW basketball players to end up as head football coaches in the state.

The members of the 1943 national champs who went on to be head football coaches in the state were:

  • Vernon Jensen, of Lyman, was the head football coach at Lyman from 1948-51, going 10-9.
  • Antone “Tony” Katana, of Rock Springs, was the head football coach at Superior from 1948-53, going 26-24.
  • Earl “Shadow” Ray, of Casper, was the head football coach at Midwest in 1944, going 4-4.
  • Kenny Sailors, of Laramie via Hillsdale, was the head football coach at University Prep in 1942, going 0-1.
  • Jim Weir, of Green River, was the head football coach at Green River from 1947-52, going 38-18-3.
  • Donald Waite, of Scottsbluff, Neb., was the head football coach at Huntley in 1967, going 1-9.

Katana and Weir faced each other nine times while the coaches at their respective schools from 1948-51; Weir’s Wolves went 7-2 against Katana’s Dragons, with the biggest win a conference championship tiebreaker game in 1950 that helped propel Green River to the Class A title that year.

+++

Not all of the 15 members of the 1943 team lettered for the Cowboys that season. In all, though, 18 more Cowboy basketball lettermen beyond those on the 1943 team ended up as head football coaches in the state. However, it’s been a while since a Cowboy basketball player ended up as a head football coach; the last to do so was Ralph Winland, who lettered for the Cowboy basketball team 48 years ago, in 1968. Reverse chronologically by last letter date, they were:

  • Ralph Winland (lettered 1968, coach Cowley 1976, North Big Horn 1977-78)
  • Mike Harris (lettered 1961, coach Riverton 1974)
  • Nick Eliopulos (lettered 1952-54-55, coach Basin 1956)
  • Morris Samuelson (lettered 1950-51-52, coach Evanston 1956-57)
  • Robert Porter (lettered 1945-46, coach Shoshoni 1947-49)
  • Warren Capellen (lettered 1945, coach Pinedale 1950-54 and Kemmerer 1955-58)
  • Bill Strannigan (lettered 1941-42, coach University Prep 1941)
  • Jack Smith (lettered 1940-41, coach Reliance 1946-54)
  • George Dorrington (lettered 1938-39-40, coach Hanna 1950-52, Gillette 1953-60)
  • Lew Young (lettered 1936-38-39, coach Lingle 1942, Gillette 1944-46)
  • Willard West (lettered 1932-33-34-35, coach Green River 1935-37, Thermopolis 1938-40 and 1945)
  • Joe Schwartz (lettered 1930-31-32-33, coach Rawlins 1942-43, Natrona 1944-46, Rawlins 1949-52)
  • Jim Jiacoletti (lettered 1928-29-30, coach Superior 1932-36, Kemmerer 1937-42)
  • Robert Outsen (lettered 1926-27-28-29, coach Shoshoni 1932-33)
  • Oscar Erickson (lettered 1924-25-26-27, coach Sheridan 1929-31)
  • Don Harkins (lettered 1926-27, coach University Prep 1929)
  • Fred Layman (lettered 1918-19-20-21, coach Natrona 1925)
  • Andrew Willis (lettered 1915-16-17, coach Cowley 1921-23 and 1925, Lovell 1927-28)

The number of former Cowboy football lettermen who ended up as head football coaches in the state is much higher; that will be detailed in a future post.

–patrick

John Scott, the head football coach at Tongue River who helped rebuild the program from nonexistent to state runners-up at Class 1A 11-man the past two seasons, has resigned.

Scott confirmed his resignation Wednesday via email to wyoming-football.com.

In the email, Scott said he would stay at Tongue River as the school’s activities director and teach.

“I believe there are many ‘energies’ a head coach must possess in building and sustaining a program,” Scott wrote. “Building this program the past five years was as demanding as any position I have held in my career.”

In 2011, the Eagles did not field a team due to lack of interest. Scott came on in 2012 and took the team from 0-8 to 2-6 to 5-4 to back-to-back 8-3 seasons and back-to-back Class 1A 11-man runner-up finishes.

The Eagles lost the 2015 championship game to Upton-Sundance and this year’s title game to Pine Bluffs.

Scott went 23-26 as Tongue River’s head coach. Scott previously was the head coach at Kemmerer and Gillette — winning state championships at both schools — before eventually moving out of the high school ranks to be the coach at Black Hills State, where he stayed for six seasons. In his Wyoming head coaching career, Scott is 91-42.

A replacement has not yet been named. Scott is the third coach in the state to step down this offseason, joining Jackson’s James Howell and Snake River’s Michael Bates.

–patrick

Now that the 2017 Wyoming high school football schedule is (mostly) put together, we can start to see some clear patterns emerge. Some schools won. Some schools lost. Some schools just changed. And two games in particular are just plain baffling.

THE WINNERS

Thunder Basin might have the best schedule of any 4A team, and the ‘Bolts had nothing to do with it. With the WHSAA setting the full schedule for 4A teams, Thunder Basin benefited. First — Thunder Basin only has four road games. Second — one of those four road games is just down South Douglas Highway at in-town foe Gillette. Third — of the three out-of-town road trips Thunder Basin has, two come in the last three weeks, meaning the ‘Bolts only leave Campbell County once in the first six weeks of the season. Clearly, the WHSAA learned from experience; the last new 4A school, Cheyenne South in 2011, was forced to open its program by playing at defending 4A champ Natrona in Casper for its first game.

Four teams also finagled the schedule to score five home games against only three road games: Farson, Meeteetse, Southeast and Moorcroft. Southeast and Moorcroft scored their fifth home game via sub-varsity opponents; Farson and Meeteetse, meanwhile, have full varsity schedules but managed to score five home games. Also, Farson scheduled a couple of its home games for darkness hours. Is a new football facility — with lights — in the works for the 1A six-man runners-up? (Let me know if it is!)

THE LOSERS

Douglas and Riverton ended up being the odd teams out of the Week 1 nonconference bonanza. While everyone else scored an opponent, these 3A East Conference foes were left with only each other. The answer, for now, will be a jamboree in Riverton involving the Wolverines, Bearcats, Bear Lake (Idaho) and JV teams from Gillette and Natrona — a schedule that is subject to change. It’s not perfect, but given the circumstances, it might be the best either team can do.

Rocky Mountain scheduled Big Horn for its season opener but still has open weeks for Weeks 2 and 3. The kicker is everyone else has filled their schedules for those weeks, so the Grizzlies will likely have to go the sub-varsity route to fill those weeks.

Both NSI and St. Stephens got put in a poke by ending up with only three home games this season; each team has five games on the road.

Newcastle also got five road games in weeks 1-8 but augmented that with a home game against traditional Zero Week foe Custer, S.D., so the Dogies aren’t in the dire straits that NSI and St. Stephens are.

THE SHIFTERS

Glenrock went up, big time. The 2A Herders went out and scheduled last year’s 2A runner-up and the team that knocked them out of the playoffs in last year’s semis, Greybull, for Week 1 before hosting 3A Lander in Week 2 and going to 3A Riverton in Week 3. Last year, Glenrock had Pinedale and Lyman in its nonconference slate — no slouches, but not the caliber of foe the Herders will see in 2017.

Conference rival Wheatland did Glenrock one better. The 2A Bulldogs scheduled three 3A teams — Torrington, Rawlins and Douglas — before its 2A East schedule starts.

Traditional 1A 11-man power Cokeville also upgraded its nonconference slate, picking up games against three 2A foes — Mountain View, Pinedale and Lyman — in Weeks 1-3.

Kemmerer, which enters 2017 on a state-record 36-game losing streak, had the chance to pick up a couple winnable games in its schedule. The 2A Rangers scheduled a pair of 1A 11-man teams that failed to qualify for last year’s playoffs — Saratoga in Week 1 and Lusk in Week 6 — in an attempt to get off the schneid.

Wyoming Indian scheduled three sub-varsity teams (JVs from Lander, Wind River and Riverton) for its nonconference games; however, if the Chiefs decide to play Lander in Lander, they won’t have a home game until Week 6.

+++

THE PLUSES

At a glance, travel does seem to be reduced, although maybe not as significantly as hoped due to the dominance of conference games on the schedule. Moorcroft, Lyman, Southeast, Wind River and Wyoming Indian had chances to fill their schedules with nearby sub-varsity opponents, while several teams have open weeks that may be filled with similar opponents prior to the start of the season. That’s fortunate — after all, that was one of the goals in giving nonconference scheduling abilities back to the schools.

Also, conference rearranging means we get to see a few rivalries come back — the Thunder Bowl between Big Horn and Tongue River is back for the first time since 2012, while is the rivalries between Burns and Pine Bluffs and the one between Upton-Sundance and Moorcroft are back after one-year hiatuses.

THE MINUSES

Two games on the 2017 schedule make absolutely no sense to me. Anyone out there want to try to explain these matchups to me logically? Because I can’t figure them out:

Rawlins at Wind River. In Week 3, the 3A Outlaws will make the trip to Pavillion to play the 1A 11-man Cougars. In some fantasy worlds, a 3A vs. 1A 11-man game would be cool to see, especially if the 1A 11-man team was wildly successful and the 3A school was among the smaller ones. (For example, wouldn’t it be fun to see Upton-Sundance or Big Horn take on Buffalo?) Instead, the Outlaws — who were 4-5 last year and a coin flip away from the playoffs — are playing a Wind River team that went 1-7 and beat only winless Wyoming Indian in the state’s smallest 11-man division. I don’t see how this game will be good for either team.

Torrington at Star Valley. I thought this Week 2 meeting between 3A rivals was the exact kind of nonconference game schools were trying to avoid. Instead, the Trailblazers will go 490 miles, one way, to Afton for this contest. FYI: Torrington is closer to Iowa and to Texas than it is to Afton.

What are your thoughts on the 2017 schedule? Leave a comment and let me know who you think did the best — and the worst — with their 2017 options.

–patrick

Jackson coach James Howell has resigned after seven seasons as the Broncs’ head coach.

The resignation was first reported by Clark Forster of the Jackson Hole News & Guide on Twitter.

Howell went 29-36 in seven years as Jackson’s head coach. The Broncs’ best year under Howell came in 2016, when they went 9-2 and reached the 3A semifinals. The Broncs went 1-8 last season.

He is the second coach in the state to step down this offseason, joining Snake River’s Michael Bates.

–patrick

As schools are now scheduling their own nonconference games, the 2017 Wyoming high school football schedule is likely to be much more malleable than previous seasons.

Even so, most schools have their 2017 schedules set. The schedules by week, as provided by the schools, are available here. (When schools listed different days or start times, the time provided by the home team was used. Evanston and Natrona did not submit schedules to wyoming-football.com despite repeated requests.)

+++

Here are the early picks for games of the week for each of the nine regular-season weeks:

Week 0: Rock Springs at Sheridan. Class 4A gets the jump start on everyone else, as usual, and this rematch of a 4A semifinal game from 2016 will probably be the most telling game of the week. Other key game: Cheyenne Central at Thunder Basin (first game for the ‘Bolts).

Week 1: Gillette at Natrona. Gillette’s only losses last year were to Natrona. Normally late in the season, this rivalry game between the Camels and Mustangs will be staged early in 2017. Other key games: Glenrock at Greybull; Snake River at Lingle; Cokeville at Mountain View; Wheatland at Torrington; Guernsey-Sunrise at Farson.

Week 2: Burlington at Farson. Beating Burlington early last season helped set the course for Farson’s undefeated regular season in 2016. Another early meeting could set the stage similarly in 2017 — for either team. Other key games: Natrona at Sheridan; Torrington at Star Valley; Lingle at Guernsey-Sunrise; Burns at Pine Bluffs; Newcastle at Upton-Sundance.

Week 3: Pine Bluffs at Big Horn. The 2016 2A champs host the 2016 1A 11-man champs. And it’s a conference game. Of all the games on the schedule for 2017, this one might be the most intriguing. Other key games: Cheyenne East at Cheyenne South; Star Valley at Evanston; Lovell at Mountain View; Shoshoni at Tongue River; Glenrock at Riverton; Snake River at Meeteetse.

Week 4: Riverton at Douglas. Riverton finished a deceiving 3-6 last season; the Wolverines have the firepower to keep up with anyone. 3A East rival Douglas knows that better than anyone. Other key games: Thunder Basin at Gillette; Cody at Green River; Greybull at Pinedale; Newcastle at Glenrock; Cokeville at Rocky Mountain; Tongue River at Pine Bluffs.

Week 5: Evanston at Green River. Since 1932, these two teams have missed each other on the schedule only a handful of times: From 1977-80 and from 2011-16. It’s nice to see this traditional rivalry back on the schedule. Other key games: Cheyenne East at Laramie; Gillette at Rock Springs; Lander at Riverton; Wheatland at Glenrock; Upton-Sundance at Southeast; Meeteetse at Burlington; Guernsey-Sunrise at Kaycee.

Week 6: 4A rivalry week. This week, we get the Capital Bowl with Cheyenne Central playing at Cheyenne East; we get the Oil Bowl with Kelly Walsh at Natrona; and we get the Energy Bowl with Sheridan at Gillette. These won’t just be rivalry games — they’ll likely all be key to playoff seeding, as well. Other key games: Jackson at Star Valley; Torrington at Douglas; Greybull at Lovell; Lyman at Mountain View; Pinedale at Big Piney; Big Horn at Upton-Sundance; Shoshoni at Rocky Mountain; Farson at Meeteetse; Kaycee at Lingle.

Week 7: Powell at Star Valley. This is one of three championship rematches this season (Natrona-Sheridan in Week 2 and Pine Bluffs-Tongue River in Week 4 the others). And this one might be the best game of that trio. Other key games: Pinedale at Lovell; Upton-Sundance at Tongue River; Kaycee at Midwest; Snake River at Burlington.

Week 8: Mountain View at Greybull. Both of these teams came up short of their championship dreams last season — Mountain View in a shocking quarterfinal upset, Greybull on the turf at War Memorial. This game could be key in 2017 to decide the 2A West champion. Other key games: Cheyenne East at Sheridan; Cheyenne South at Cheyenne Central; Rock Springs at Natrona; Powell at Cody; Riverton at Torrington; Star Valley at Green River; Cokeville at Shoshoni; Tongue River at Big Horn; Upton-Sundance at Pine Bluffs; Burlington at Riverside; Farson at Snake River.

See the full 2017 schedule here.

Coming later this week: The winners and losers with the new schedule. Which program benefited the most from scheduling its own nonconference games — and which schools got burned?

What are your thoughts on next year’s schedule? Leave a comment here and let’s use our words to express ourselves…

–patrick