The state championship games are 10 months away. Seems like the perfect time to predict who might win those games, right?

Here’s a peek at the 2017 top fives for each classification of Wyoming high school football, way sooner than is advisable to do so:

1. Sheridan: The two-time defending 4A champions return three all-state players (seniors Blayne Baker, Kyle Custis and Sam Smart) and tons of program momentum. The Broncs will need to find a new quarterback and rebuild big chunks of their line, but the precedent is there for Sheridan to do just that.
2. Natrona: No doubt, the most improved team in 4A last year was Natrona. The Mustangs relied a lot on juniors last year, and it showed early but paid off late — and will pay off big this year, as the Mustangs’ four returning all-state players (Mason Gallegos, Dan Slack, Brett Brenton and Riley Shepperson) is best among all 4A schools.
3. Gillette: With four first-team all-conference returning players, the Camels should be in good shape to challenge again. The big question hanging over the team in the offseason is how much talent will defect to Thunder Basin, putting into question something as simple as who’s back and who’s not.
4. Laramie: The Plainsmen are easy to overlook after losing a strong senior class, but they bring back three first-team all-conference players (seniors Nate Burman and Garrett Worden and junior Jason Upton) and are in great shape to notch their first winning season in almost two decades.
5. Rock Springs: This year is the test for the Tigers: Do they have a system that works, or did the players in that system the last couple years take it beyond expectations? With just a pair of first-team all-conference players back (senior linemen Bryan Mattinson and Will Petrovich), it’s time to see if the program can sustain itself.
Dark horse: Kelly Walsh. The Trojans had a nice breakthrough season in 2016; it’s easy to forget that KW hosted a playoff game last year. That should help build some momentum for a team that brings back only a pair of first-team all-conference picks.

1. Star Valley: The Braves have some holes to fill but bring back three all-state performers (seniors Josh Dawson, Cosmo Morgan and Noah Hutchinson), tied for the most in 3A. And then there’s the momentum of back-to-back championships.
2. Torrington: Six of the Trailblazers’ seven all-conference picks from a year ago are back. Yes, really. No team is in a better position to make an immediate run at a state title than Torrington; the key will be if it can continue to grow as the season (and this summer) goes along.
3. Powell: The Panthers were young but talented last year; they’ll have back three all-state picks from a team that finished as state runners-up. Seniors Brooks Asher and Max Gallagher will help make the Panthers a tough team to stop.
4. Green River: The Wolves will return four all-conference players, led by senior Cole White, Green River’s lone returning all-state selection. Quarterback Chance Hofer and running back Candon Croft could form one of 3A’s best 1-2 backfield punches in 2017; watch out.
5. Douglas: Riverton and Buffalo are lurking, but the Bearcats develop young talent as well as any team in the state, regardless of class. With just one of the 11 all-conference picks from last year returning this year, they’ll need to do so quickly.
Dark horse: Riverton. How many 3-6 teams actually outscore their opponents during the season? Riverton did just that in 2016. And the Wolverines get back a pair of offensive threats and defensive cornerstones in seniors Brodie Roden and Jaren Draper.

1. Glenrock: Believe it or not, no team in 2A brings back more than one all-state player this year. But the Herders also have back five all-conference players — highest in 2A — from a team that was undefeated until the semis.
2. Greybull: The Buffs lost a ton of seniors from last year’s state runner-up squad but return a pair of key all-conference players in senior Riley Hill and junior Zack Keisel.
3. Mountain View: The Buffalos’ depth will be a question, as seven all-conference players are gone, but Mountain View does return all-conference picks Jason Stoddard and Colby Rees and should be a contender again.
4. Lyman: The three all-conference players the Eagles return is second only to Big Piney in the West Conference. Beaudee Bluemel may be one of 2A’s most versatile players, while linemen Wesley Eyre and Dryden Menck will provide stability.
5. Wheatland: The Bulldogs get back a pair of all-conference players, and QB Trevor Vaughn and wideout Zac Gunter will form an explosive pairing. If the line can develop, the Bulldogs might be a surprise.
Dark horse: Big Piney. The Punchers were 1-7 last year but return all four of their all-conference players (most in the West Conference) after losing only a handful of talent to graduation.

1A 11-man
1. Big Horn: Last year’s 2A champ is the early favorite after moving down to 1A 11-man thanks to three returning all-state players. And Kade Eisele, Seth Mullinax and Kade VanDyken are all juniors — setting up the Rams for a title run not only this year but next year, too.
2. Cokeville: The Panthers are loaded. They return four of their five all-state players (Hunter Cheney, Rick Nate, Antheny Petersen and Cordell Viehweig will all be seniors) and six of seven all-conference choices. Cokeville’s stiffest challenge to a West Conference title will be injuries.
3. Pine Bluffs: Repeating as champs will be tough in a loaded 1A 11-man this year, but the Hornets are up to the challenge. They return three all-state choices with seniors Haize and Wyatt Fornstrom and junior Hunter Jeffres, and they’ll be buoyed by the confidence that comes from winning the school’s first state championship.
4. Upton-Sundance: Don’t write off the Patriots, who only return one all-state choice in Dawson Butts but have lost just twice in the past two years. There’s some rebuilding to do, but the Patriots’ pedigree for success runs deep.
5. Pick ’em: Any number of teams could fill this spot: Rocky Mountain, Saratoga, Shoshoni, Tongue River, Southeast… but all of them will rely on unproven talent to make a dent past the regular season.
Dark horse: Again, pick ’em. This will be a year of change in 1A 11-man. The four favorites are clear. Everything else looks muddy, muddy, muddy.

1A six-man
1. Kaycee: The defending champs ride a 20-game winning streak into 2017, and with class-best tallies in returning all-state players (four) and all-conference players (five), the Buckaroos are favorites to win it all again.
2. Farson: The Pronghorns were breakthrough challengers in the West and with three returning all-state players, they figure to challenge again. Juniors Lain Mitchelson and Clancy Gines and senior Cruz Lucero will put the Pronghorns in prime position to win the West for the second year in a row.
3. Meeteetse: The Longhorns return a trio of all-conference selections in seniors Braenn Smith and Josh Graybill and junior Kirwin Johnson. Meeteetse won’t be overlooked, but it will have work to do to catch up to Farson.
4. Snake River: The Rattlers get back one of six-man’s top players in J.D. Corson and two other returning all-conference selections in Kameron Evans and Thomas Duncan. But they’ll have to adjust to a new coach, which always takes time.
5. Guernsey-Sunrise: The most likely challenger to Kaycee in the East, the Vikings return three all-conference selections. Seniors Garrett Oneyear and Gage Koetmann and junior Dylan Rose will keep the Vikings in contention.
Dark horse: Burlington. The Huskies proved they could hang with six-man’s best last year. However, they only get back one all-conference player, and have some work to do to prove they can remain one of the West’s tougher teams to beat.

What do you think? Who’s poised for a breakthrough in 2017? Who’s falling off the radar too soon? Post a comment and let’s work through what the 2017 season may bring us!


In both 1970 and 1971, a Class B all-state team was not selected.

The reason given at the time? Extreme partisanship on the part of the voting from coaches.

This was a confusing time in all-state selections for Wyoming. The Wyoming Coaches Association started making its first official all-state team picks right around this time. The WCA’s picks were a direct challenge to the all-state teams as chosen by the Associated Press and the United Press International, which had chosen the all-state teams prior to the WCA.

The AP’s and UPI’s all-state teams were consistently chosen by a panel, but the makeup of that panel was (1) not made public and (2) varied from year to year. Some years, coaches participated; some years, media participated; some years, it was only one or the other. The first WCA all-state team I can find was published in 1969 — right in the middle of some unprecedented upheaval in Class B selections.

Coaches in certain regions, maybe out of loyalty, or maybe because they were following rules on how previous all-state teams were chosen, voted only for their region’s players for the all-state team. Consequently, certain all-state teams were loaded with players from a certain region or a certain side of the state, regardless of whether those players were actually the best players in the classification.

For example, look at 1969 — the last year that a Class B all-state team was picked prior to the non-choices of 1970 and 1971. Here’s the Class B all-state team from the Associated Press’ panel of coaches:

First team: HULETT: Ed Wilson, G; Wayne Aaberg, B. MIDWEST: Dave Harshman, E; Dale Miller, C; Randy Macy, B. SUNDANCE: Jim Viergets, T; Perry Livingston, G; Gary Roadifer, B. TONGUE RIVER: Jim Sobotka, E. UPTON: Terry Wham, T; Bimbo Rankin, B. Second team: BIG HORN: Jim Mackey, E. COKEVILLE: Keith Nate, B; Todd Dayton, B. LINGLE: Jim Hill, C. MIDWEST: Bob Eldridge, E; Brad Chapman, B. MOORCROFT: Jim Klentz, T. SUNDANCE: Alan Harper, B. TONGUE RIVER: Anton Bocek, T; J.C. Gupton, G. UPTON: Tom Barritt, G.

And here’s the 1969 all-state team from the Wyoming Coaches Association:

First team: BIG HORN: Joe Mackey, E/DE; Wayne Daly, LB. COKEVILLE: Terry Allen, E; Rick Netherly, OT; Sam Mennion, OG; Todd Dayton, QB; Keith Nate, HB; Dave Teichert, HB; Vaughn Lloyd, DT; Randall Thompson, LB; John Bird, DB. GOSHEN HOLE: Larry Yates, S. LINGLE: Greg France, OG/LB; Jim Hill, C. MOUNTAIN VIEW: J. Aimone, OG. PINE BLUFFS: Steve Thompson, E/DT. PINEDALE: Dale Wall, DE; Dave Heydt, DE. UPTON: Terry Wham, OT; Bimbo Rankin, FB; Tim Barrett, NG; Wayne Hudson, DB.

Notice a difference? Or a trend? In 1969, even with Lingle and Basin posting unbeaten seasons, Cokeville was the undisputed king of Class B play. Yet the AP all-state first team that year was made up completely of Northeast District players. Meanwhile, the WCA team neglected the Northwest District (which played eight-man, compared to 11-man for the other three districts) in its selections.

This was the continuation of a trend from 1967 and 1968, when the “all-state” teams from the AP and UPI mostly represented just one side of the state. In 1969, we got these competing — and hugely disparate — all-state teams. In both 1970 and 1971, no all-state Class B team was chosen (at least no team that I can find or am aware of), in part because of this extreme partisanship.

Instead, the districts picked their own all-conference teams those years, and Class B was left without an all-state squad of its own.

If you go looking for Class B all-state teams from those two years, good luck. Let me know if you find anything.

In the meantime, all we have left for individual player recognition from those two years are the all-conference teams. Jim Craig, an invaluable help to this site the past couple years, recently found the all-conference teams for Class B in those two years, and he was kind enough to share them with me for publishing here.

Even though all-state honors will forever elude these players — for reasons well beyond the scope of their control — we can draw attention to them here.

Powder River Conference
First Team Offense
Big Horn: Bill Haratyk, C; Randy Gates, QB.
Clearmont: Don Roush, E.
Midwest: David Rogers, T; Gary Gasser, G; Bryan Graham, RB.
Sundance: Randy Proctor, G.
Tongue River: Dennis McCarthy, RB.
Upton: Ron Clyde, E; Cecil Strong, T; Chuck McAulay, RB.
First Team Defense
Hulett: Steve Storie, S.
Midwest: Steve Lubkin, LB; Joe Kagle, LB.
Moorcroft: Chris Jespersen, DE; Frank Lauters, LB.
Sundance: Tom Ferrell, DE.
Tongue River: Steve Switzer, DT; Richard Wolney, DT.
Upton: John Bullard, NG; Randy Materi, LB; Mick Esquivel, S.
Honorable Mention
Big Horn: Bob Caiola; Rod Ross.
Clearmont: David Chapham; Jerry Landry.
Hulett: Mike Nieman; Monty Nieman.
Midwest: Gary Gilbert; Rick Macy.
Moorcroft: Gari Gill; Bob Norris.
Sundance: Jim Viergets; Robin Hibbard.
Tongue River: Greg Johnston; Mike Jolovich.
Upton: Jerry Hunt; Don Watt.

Texas Trail Conference
First Team Offense
Glenrock: Terry Rainey, E; Steve Potter, T; Mike Ragan, QB; Dave Hatfield, HB.
Goshen Hole: Dan Yeik, HB.
Guernsey-Sunrise: Tom Fronapfel, G; Mike Klipstine, HB.
Lingle: John Kissel, G; Doug Jackson, HB.
Pine Bluffs: Rich Thurlow, E; Greg Henan, T; Lloyd Soule, C.
First Team Defense
Burns: Ron Butler, DB.
Glendo: Joe Foy, NG.
Glenrock: Ken Hoyt, DE; Jim Davies, DT; Fred Hiser, LB.
Goshen Hole: Len Bedient, LB.
Guernsey-Sunrise: Greg Putnam, DE.
Hanna: Ron Borrego, NG; Rudy Borrego, DB.
Lingle: Dan Sterkel, DT.
Pine Bluffs: Chuck Schimmel, LB; Mike Janicek, DB.
Saratoga: Chuck Craig, LB.
Honorable Mention (incomplete)
Burns: Craig Anderson; Rich Black.
Pine Bluffs: Greg Wilhelm; Carey Lanning.

Southwest Conference
First Team Offense
Big Piney: Larry Vickrey, G.
Cokeville: Ron LaBlue, E; Ron Tiechert, RB.
Lyman: Tom Redmon, G.
Mountain View: Bob Brisko, E; Martin Lammers, T; Wade Ruby, C; Gary Rash, QB; Zane Roitz, RB.
Pinedale: Steve Wilder, T; Bruce Dugan, QB; Rod Williams, RB.
First Team Defense
Big Piney: Hugh Evitt, DE; Mark Mickelson, DL; Solon Murdock, LB; Mike Thursby, DB.
Cokeville: Kelly Renfro, DL; Bryant Teichert, DB.
Lyman: Dugan Reese, LB.
Mountain View: Wendall Fraughton, DE; Rudy Zampedri, DL; Robin Arthur, LB; Dale Micheli, DB.
Pinedale: Mark Jorgensen, LB.
Honorable Mention
Big Piney: Mike Bury, RB; David Wilkerson, DE; John Ball, DB.
Lyman: Dennis Powers, T.

Big Horn Basin Conference
First Team Offense
Basin: John Eggerman, HB.
Byron: Allan Petrich, QB.
Cowley: Don Strom, E.
Deaver: Jim Gomendi, HB; David Weaver, E; Larry Simpson, G; Dan Cozzens, C.
Meeteetse: Wayne Todd, G.
First Team Defense
Byron: John Paxton, DE; Allan Petrich, LB.
Deaver: Lane Roberts, DE; Dan Cozzens, DT; Larry Simpson, DT; John Gomendi, LB.
Dubois: John Burns, S; Otto Wells, LB.
Second Team Offense
Basin: Kevin Lewis, C.
Byron: Randy Ames, HB.
Deaver: Lane Roberts, HB.
Dubois: John Burns, QB; George Yarborough, G; Mike Hesseltine, C.
Shoshoni: John Haggerty, E; Gene Calvert, G.
Wind River: Dave Westling, E.
Second Team Defense
Deaver: Stan Roberts, DE; Leland Zlomke, S.
Dubois: George Yarborough, LB.
Meeteetse: Larry Todd, DT.
Shoshoni: Gene Calvert, LB.
Wind River: Bruce Samson, DE; Vince Harris, DT; Mark Williams, LB.
Honorable Mention
Basin: Rusty Wenke.
Burlington: Dan Johnson.
Byron: Paul Hessenthaler.
Cowley: Nick Lewis.
Deaver: Craig Sorenson; Paul Wambeke.
Dubois: Bob Mikel; George Johnson.
Manderson: John Nelson; Dan Frisbee.
Meeteetse: Mike Ray.
Shoshoni: Doc St. Clair.
Wind River: Dick Jacques; Mervin Miller.


Powder River Conference
Clearmont: Wayne Landrey, HB.
Big Horn: Dave Masters, C.
Hulett: Wayne Aaberg, QB.
Midwest: Charlie Coleman, E; Jim Kintz, T; Gary Gasser, T; Randy Macy, HB.
Moorcroft: Lynn Jesperson, G.
Sundance: Tom Pridgeon, G.
Tongue River: Gary Laya, E.
Upton: Clif Abbott, FB.
Big Horn: Lynn Daly, DE; Alan Dow, NG.
Hulett: Ed Willson, DE.
Midwest: Dave Rogers, DT; Brad Chapman, NG; Steve Lupkin, LB.
Moorcroft: Charles Norris, DB.
Sundance: John Temke, LB; Mark Ferrell, DB.
Upton: Jerry Walker; Randy Materi, LB.

Texas Trail Conference
First Team Offense
Burns: Craig Anderson, E.
Glendo: John Cowger, E; John Woods, QB.
Glenrock: David Hatfield, HB.
Hanna: Don Lane, T; Gary McKenzie, HB.
Lingle: David Johnson, T; Gary Unverzagt, G; Russell Oliver, G; Chuck Parish, C; Phil Martin, HB.
First Team Defense
Hanna: Andy Dorn, DE; Don Lane, DT.
Glenrock: Glen Davies, DT; Dennis Monger, NG; Steve Porter, DB.
Goshen Hole: Ray Oaks, LB.
Guernsey-Sunrise: Bill Gorman, LB; Larry Balzan, DB.
Lingle: Bruce Borton, DE.
Pine Bluffs: Chuck Schimmel, LB; Lee May, DB.
Saratoga: Chuck Craig, LB.
Honorable Mention
Burns: Rich Steege; Ron Bulten.
Glendo: Rocky Slager; Buster Lay.
Glenrock: Mike Ragan; Tom Hill.
Goshen Hole: Pat McKinney; Dave Eaton.
Guernsey-Sunrise: Neal Hughes; Tom Stoneking.
Hanna: Mike Shurten; Dan Sanchez.
Lingle: Don Bremer.
Pine Bluffs: Eugene Russell; John Redden.
Saratoga: Bob Johnston; Joe Gaspar.

Big Horn Basin Conference
First Team Offense
Basin: Judd Johnson, QB; R.J. Cost, C.
Byron: Chad Deaton, HB; Sid Hetland, E.
Deaver: Jim Gomendi, HB; Larry Simpson, G.
Dubois: Justin Allison, E.
Shoshoni: Gene Calvert, G.
First Team Defense
Basin: Judd Johnson, DB.
Byron: Sid Hetland, DE; Chad Petrich, NG; Chad Deaton, LB.
Cowley: Tony Frost, LB.
Deaver: Jim Gomendi, LB.
Meeteetse: Randy Sheppard, DE.
Shoshoni: Roger Clinton, NG.
Second Team Offense
Basin: John Eggerman, HB.
Byron: Allen Petrich, QB.
Cowley: Roy Strom, HB; Tony Frost, E.
Deaver: Dan Zwimmer, G.
Dubois: Bob Tutton, C.
Meeteetse: Randy Sheppard, E.
Shoshoni: Richard Wagner, G.
Second Team Defense
Basin: Don Riley, DE.
Deaver: Gary Van Lake, DE; Larry Simpson, NG; Gene Borcher, LB.
Shoshoni: Richard Wagner, NG; Gene Calvert, LB; Elliott Weisz, LB; Gordon Medow, S.
Honorable Mention
Basin: Chuck Hopkin.
Burlington: Rick Aagard.
Byron: John Paxton.
Cowley: Wayne Stubbs.
Deaver: Dennis Irion.
Dubois: Oscar Kelsey.
Meeteetse: Rich Beard.
Shoshoni: Lee Lockhart.
Wind River: Durant.

Southwest Conference
First Team Offense
Big Piney: Steve Wenz, QB.
Mountain View: Bob Brisko, E; Kim Halford, T; Joe Aimone, G; Zane Roitz, RB.
Pinedale: Don Hanson, E; Steve Wilder, T; Gary Shriver, G; Tom Jackson, C; Tom Mitchell, RB; Paul Strickland, RB.
First Team Defense
Big Piney: Randy Nielson, DT; Roy Cramer, LB.
Cokeville: Ricky Peterson, DE; Joe Buckley, DT; Craig Taylor, LB.
Lyman: Emery Beck, DT.
Mountain View: Dale Micheli, DB; Robin Davis, DB.
Pinedale: Tom Hydt, DE; Dwayne Schwab, NG; Charles Golden, LB; Mark Kerbeck, DB.
Honorable Mention
Big Piney: Jerry David, G; Tom Sullivan, C; Craig Mooney, B; Jerry David, DT; Lyle Porter, DB.
Cokeville: Boyd Sparks, T; John Bird, B; Kelly Renfro, B; Jim Bruce, NG; Ron Lableu, DB.
Lyman: John Fackrell, E; Greg Huntington, G; Steve Condos, LB; Jim Norton, DB, Dugan Rees, DB.
Mountain View: Pete Aimone, G; Marty Foreman, QB; Martin Lammers, DT; Miles Moretti, LB.


Steve Hanson will be the new head football coach at Tongue River, the Sheridan Press reported.

The Press reported Hanson was Tongue River’s defensive coordinator. Tongue River finished as the Class 1A 11-man runners-up each of the past two years, losing to Upton-Sundance in the 2015 title game and to Pine Bluffs in last year’s championship.

Hanson takes over for John Scott, who stepped down at the end of last season.

Hanson is the second new head coach to be hired this offseason, joining Trent Pikula at Thunder Basin in Gillette. Jackson and Snake River are also seeking new head coaches.


Individual schools lost the ability to host state football championship games in 2009 — a fact with which some folks around the Equality State still haven’t reconciled.

However, there’s some consolation in knowing that almost every school in the state had a chance to host at least one championship game before the state’s move to a neutral championship site eight years ago.

In all, 52 Wyoming high schools (and 50 separate cities) have hosted at least one state championship game; only 13 haven’t, and of those 13, eight are at the six-man level.

The five 11-man programs who haven’t hosted a state title game in their program history are Cheyenne South, Newcastle, Saratoga, Wright and Wyoming Indian. South’s inclusion makes sense, having joined the varsity ranks in 2011 after title games had already been moved to Laramie. Of the remaining four, Wyoming Indian has yet to play in a state football title game; Newcastle’s one title-game appearance in 1981 came on the road; Wright has played in two title games, both on the road; and Saratoga has played in two title games and “hosted” the 1975 B title game, but opted to play it in Rawlins instead of Saratoga.

Of the eight six-man programs who haven’t hosted a title game, two have the entirety of their histories since 2009, when six-man came back fully (Kaycee, Rock River) and two others (Farson and Snake River) had sparse histories prior to 2009. The other four include Ten Sleep, which hasn’t yet played in a title game; St. Stephens and Normative Services, who have each played in one title game, each on the road; and Dubois, who’s played three title games on the neutral field in Laramie and a fourth on the road.


In terms of host cities, Laramie, with 44 title games hosted (including all 40 since 2009), obviously leads the way. Casper also hosted neutral-site Class AA title games in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and has hosted 15 title games in all. Other towns around the state have hosted neutral-site title games for smaller-classification teams, mostly in the mid- to late 1970s. The total number of title games per town (not necessarily per school) includes:

Laramie: 44
Cokeville: 16
Casper: 15
Cheyenne: 10
Byron, Sheridan, Torrington: 8
Afton: 7
Big Piney, Evanston, Worland: 6
Big Horn, Douglas, Mountain View, Rawlins, Rock Springs, Thermopolis: 5
Buffalo, Cody, Lovell, Lusk, Midwest: 4
Burlington, Burns, Gillette, Hanna, Kemmerer, Riverton: 3
Dayton, Glenrock, Green River, Guernsey, Hulett, Jackson, Meeteetse, Powell, Sundance, Wheatland, Yoder: 2
Basin, Greybull, Lander, Lingle, Lyman, Moorcroft, Pavillion, Pine Bluffs, Pinedale, Shoshoni, Upton: 1

For more, dive into the newly rebuilt state championship game listings.


Thanks to Jim Craig and his continuing help with research, I’ve been able to make some more updates:

Added Byron’s 39-12 victory against Cowley on Oct. 22, 1948. (Added to the missing games list because a location could not be found.) This victory extended Byron’s verified win streak to 28 games for this era, tied for fourth-longest in state history; unofficially, Byron’s win streak is 41 games for this time, which at the time was a national six-man record and would be a state record for all schools.

Updated the 1949 all-state second team with three missing first names: Green River’s Dale Terwilliger and Worland’s Gene Schneider and Jerry Brown.


Trent Pikula will be the first head coach in Thunder Basin football history.

Pikula, a former head coach at Rapid City (S.D.) Central, will lead the new Class 4A high school in Gillette, the Gillette News-Record reported this morning and the Casper Star-Tribune also reported Wednesday.

Pikula, a Gillette native who graduated from Campbell County High School in 1988, led Rapid City Central from 2007-13 and was on the Cobbers’ staff as an assistant in 2006. The Rapid City Journal reported after Pikula’s resignation that in seven years as head coach, Pikula was 21-50 at Central. Before that, he was a head coach in Hot Springs, S.D., and assistant in Belle Fourche, S.D.

The ‘Bolts will take the field for the first time in 2017, playing at the 4A level as Gillette’s second comprehensive high school.


The five-member assistant coach groups are set for the North and South squads for the 2017 Shrine Bowl all-star football game.

The North squad, with head coach John Scott of Tongue River, will have Gillette’s Vic Wilkerson and Jason Gill, Riverton’s Pat Patterson, Greybull’s Marty Wrage and Meeteetse’s Matt Jensen on staff.

The South squad will be led by Pine Bluffs’ Will Gray along with assistants Pat Fackrell of Evanston, Corey Wheeler of Rawlins, Mitch Espeland of Pinedale, Brian Anderson of Pine Bluffs and Marvin “Trip” Applequist of Farson.

The staffs for the 44th annual game were announced by Shrine Bowl Executive Director John Cundall on Wednesday.

Each staff will pick 36 players plus several alternates for their respective squads. Those selections will be announced this spring.

The game is June 10 at Natrona County High School in Casper.


It’s likely that as you read this, the Wyoming Legislature is trying to figure out the best way to handle a $400 million education funding shortfall. Among the possible plans is a recommendation that would have a big effect on high schools (and high school sports) — cutting the number of school districts in Wyoming from 48 to 23, or one district per county.

That proposal puts several high schools in the state at the risk of being closed.

No matter what action the legislature takes, those vulnerable schools won’t close now, and probably not next year.

But soon enough. So far, in Wyoming, district consolidation has always led to school closure.

The district consolidation proposal is part of a much wider education spending reduction discussion, and the Legislature has made no concrete recommendations. The state superintendent of public instruction, Jillian Balow, offered a bunch of alternative ways to save money.

District consolidation, though, remains possible.

While lawmakers and educators say that consolidating districts will not lead to school closures, history shows us otherwise.

Wyoming has been at 48 school districts for a while now, after a wave of district consolidation in the 1950s and 1960s. When the state went through its last wave of district consolidation, numerous schools closed, including 16 high schools in the 18 years from 1954-71. The loss of local control made it much easier for schools to be closed — especially when the consolidated district was not represented by anyone from that community on the board. While that diversion of power wasn’t the only reason those 16 schools didn’t survive district and school consolidation efforts, it sure didn’t help.

The fear of something similar happening soon has taken hold in many small districts today.

For example, look at Sheridan County School District No. 3 for Arvada-Clearmont schools. At 97 students K-12, the district has the lowest enrollment in the state, and it has per-pupil spending among the highest in the state. If the district were to be eliminated and combined with the district in nearby Sheridan, chances are good that no one from Clearmont or Arvada would be on that school board. Especially in a budget crunch, a school like Arvada-Clearmont becomes a target because of its high per-student spending and likely lack of representation.

Class 1A schools at Ten Sleep, Meeteetse, Dubois and Guernsey-Sunrise are in similar positions as the only high school in their district in a county that has multiple districts, as are several larger (and therefore more protected) schools at the 2A, 3A and 4A levels.

If lawmakers go through with the plans to consolidate districts to one per county, several schools would be put in extremely vulnerable positions — most noticeably, the smallest schools and the schools closest to each other. In addition to the likes of Arvada-Clearmont, Ten Sleep, Meeteetse, Dubois and Guernsey-Sunrise, vulnerable high schools include the state’s medium-sized high schools (think 2A and 3A range) that are close to another school but separated by the current district lines. Those schools, which are now in separate districts but would be in the same district under the proposed consolidation plan, include Lyman and Mountain View (six miles apart in Uinta County), Lovell and Rocky Mountain (six miles apart in Big Horn County), Greybull and Basin (eight miles apart in Big Horn County) and Big Horn (nine miles from Sheridan).

Schools already in the same district but that face consolidation at the district level are a bit more insulated; this would include Burns and Pine Bluffs (19 miles apart in the same district in Laramie County) and Encampment and Saratoga (20 miles apart in the same district in Carbon County). Also, smaller schools already joined to a bigger district may have some more insulation from being affected by district consolidation in and of itself. This includes the state’s two smallest high schools in Chugwater and Glendo — schools that have been part of Platte County School District No. 1 with nearby Wheatland for decades.

Other somewhat vulnerable schools that, like Chugwater and Glendo, are close to a much larger school that they already share a district with include a pair of Goshen County schools. Lingle is 10 miles from Torrington, while Southeast is 13 miles from Torrington. Despite the short distances, these schools likely won’t be as affected by district consolidation than others.

I’ve talked about consolidation here before. A couple times. But those posts came in better economic times for the state. They were more fiction and fantasy than reality.

The governor and legislators suggested district consolidation would only reduce administrative costs, and in the short term, that’s probably true.

But give it a few years.

The idea that consolidation of districts won’t lead to consolidation of schools seems like an empty promise.

Wyoming has seen eight high schools close since 1980. All of them were part of districts with other, larger, high schools in them. Every high school that’s been in its own district — like Arvada-Clearmont and its cohorts — has survived.

If coal prices are still down, and funding is short, and previously separate districts are now consolidated? The next logical step is to consolidate schools, too.

Minus some significant changes to the school funding model — specifically by changing sources of state income to pay for education — or minus the continued reliance on energy booms to make up for energy busts, district consolidation can’t help but eventually lead to school closures.

And about a dozen of Wyoming’s high schools are really vulnerable to a change like this.

Legislators, and the governor, would do well to keep that in mind this session.


One small project I’ve tackled is getting first names for all first- and second-team all-state selections since 1946. This week, I added some first names to the 1951 AA second-team all-state lists: Cheyenne’s Ken Furman, Laramie’s Eldon Smith and Sheridan’s John Rawlings. Only one first name is missing from that team now, that of Cox from Rawlins. However, no one with that last name is listed for that year in the Rawlins yearbook. Help?

I also added eight first names to the 1949 all-state second team: Cheyenne’s Lyle Van Horne and Dick Mabie; Natrona’s Robert McConahay and Darrell Hougham; Newcastle’s Pete Thompson; Rock Springs’ Tom Lambert; and Sheridan’s Jim Askew and Gary Kaiser. However, I’m still missing first names for Green River’s Terwilliger (it could be either Dale or Eddie…) and Worland’s Schneider and Brown. Help again?

Thanks again to the help of Jim Craig, I made several other fixes/additions to the site:

I added two games to the database: Midwest’s victory against the Natrona JV on Sept. 21, 1962, in Midwest (added to the missing games list because a score has yet to be found) and Midwest’s 22-19 victory against the Natrona JV on Aug. 26, 1978, in Midwest.

I also noted the 1940 game between Douglas and Midwest was canceled.

I also updated the 1937 season page to accurately reflect Buffalo’s 20-0 victory against Gillette on Oct. 7. I had it as a 0-0 tie on the year page but as a 20-0 Buffalo victory on both team pages. That discrepancy is fixed.