More than a million yards from scrimmage have been gained in 11-man football in Wyoming since 2009.
But how many of those were through the air? And how many were on the ground?
And which teams were the best at what they do?
An analysis of statistics from 2009 to 2016 shows certain teams have varied only slightly in their attacks the past eight seasons, while others have completely changed their approaches based on the talent of the players or the philosophies of coaches.
A cloud of dust (or black rubber): The best at the running game
In 2016, the trend was clear: Keep it on the ground.
Statewide, coaches and players in 2016 gave us a season that focused on the run — much more so than any season since at least 2009. In 2016, 65.06 percent of all yards gained were gained on the ground, a total higher than 2015 (61.07 percent), 2014 (60.92), 2013 (61.4), 2012 (62.71), 2011 (61.86), 2010 (61.95) and 2009 (64.55).
That was shown most clearly in the approach of the Glenrock Herders.
The most run-heavy team since 2009 was last year’s Glenrock team, which gained 99.08 percent of its yards via the rush (3,757 rushing yards to 35 passing yards.) In second was Lingle’s 2015 team, which got 95.79 percent of its yards on the ground (3,322 rushing to 146 passing).
Overall, from 2009 to 2016 combined, the most run-heavy program was Lingle, with 93.37 percent of its yards coming on the ground in that time. Glenrock was next at 89.11 percent of its yards gained on the ground, while Lusk was third at 86.38. Others above 80 percent were Cokeville (82.43), Burlington (80.8) and Kemmerer (80.32).
Air it out: The best at the passing game
Oddly enough, the teams that have gained the highest percentage of their yards through the air got there by accident.
For example: The most pass-heavy team since 2009 was NSI’s 2011 team, which gained just 4.46 percent of its yards on the ground (40 rushing yards to 856 passing yards). But that came in part because of two factors — (1) NSI was a horrible rushing team that year, and (2) lots of negative rushing yards came via quarterback sacks. A similar fate befell Rawlins in 2010, when the Outlaws gained 4.99 percent of their yards on the ground (35 rushing yards, 667 passing yards) after taking a bunch of negative yardage on QB sacks.
Of teams that weren’t just sacked into oblivion, the lowest percentage of rushing yards came with Riverside in 2013; the Rebels got 22.58 percent of their yards on the ground (466 rushing yards to 1,598 passing yards).
In the past eight seasons combined, NSI was the most pass-happy team, with only 37.86 of its yards coming on the ground. Rawlins was second at 39.4 percent, while Riverside (44.51), Wheatland (48.17), Cheyenne Central (48.74) and Laramie (49.89) were all more pass-heavy than run-heavy.
Always the same… or always different
Some teams take the Remember the Titans approach and run just six plays.
For an example of that, look no further than Lingle, the team that varied its offensive approach the least over the past eight seasons.
The Doggers’ yardage percentages had a standard deviation of 2.48, the lowest in the state; Lingle’s percent of yardage gained on the ground, from 2009 to 2015, was 94.96, 92.86, 90.35, 95.1, 94.22, 89.45 and 95.79.
Of programs with at least four years of data, Upton-Sundance, Lusk and Lovell also had standard deviations below 5, meaning they had the most consistent offensive approaches.
The programs with at least four measured seasons with the highest standard deviation was Mountain View, which had a deviation of 20.23. From 2009 to 2016, Mountain View’s percent of yards gained on the ground were 86.43, 87.72, 75.45, 45.19, 51.61, 72.17, 35.89 and 46.1. Rock Springs, Rawlins and Greybull also had high standard deviations. The changes came in part because those programs saw coaching changes in those spans and offensive gameplans adjusted accordingly — Mountain View, Rawlins and Greybull toward more pass-heavy approaches and and Rock Springs to a more run-heavy style.
Of programs that retained the same coach from 2009 to 2016, the one that saw the highest standard deviation — or, in layman’s terms, the most ability to be flexible with the talent of the players it has — was Newcastle. Coach Matt Conzelman has had percentage of run yardage be as low as 36.43 in 2009 and as high as 87.35 in 2015.
If you want to dive into the data and explore teams’ rushing and passing yardage totals from 2009-16, click here. What sticks out to you?
Note: Six-man play was not included due to the lack of consistency in six-man statistics from 2009 to 2016. Seasons were excluded if team statistics were missing from three or more games. The following 11-man seasons were excluded due to lack of consistent statistics: Burlington 2015, 2013, 2010 and 2009; Rocky Mountain 2015; Wyoming Indian 2015, 2014 and 2010; Wind River 2010; Shoshoni 2015 and 2009; Riverside 2010; NSI 2009; Upton 2009.