Something special is happening in Gillette on Friday.

In just its second season, Thunder Basin is hosting its first playoff game in program history when the ‘Bolts take to the field against Cheyenne Central.

For Thunder Basin to have accomplished that feat so quickly is nearly unprecedented in recent state history.

Since 1980, eight programs (Wright, NSI, Kaycee, Farson, Snake River, Cheyenne South, St. Stephens and Rock River) have either started or restarted programs from scratch. Three other programs (Rocky Mountain, Riverside and Upton-Sundance) combined programs to form something new.

Of those 11 programs, the only one to host a playoff game in its first season was six-man Snake River in 2009. The only one to host its first playoff game in its second season was six-man Kaycee.

In fact, of 11-man programs, Thunder Basin is the fastest to its first home playoff game, beating Campbell County companion Wright by one year — the Panthers hosted a playoff game in their third season as a program.

The ‘Bolts’ run of success this season is a testament to how fast they built their own identity and program after splitting from the Gillette Camels two years ago. It also comes at a cost to football in Gillette — the Camels have now lost 19 games in a row after losing most of the city’s best players to the new school on the south side.

Nevertheless, the ‘Bolts are hosting a playoff game sooner than any other new 11-man program in recent memory. For the Thunder Basin program, that’s worth celebrating.

However, the ‘Bolts would celebrate even more if they could host another one next week.

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Outside of Thunder Basin, for Wyoming this is a pretty standard-looking playoff bracket. Wright is in the playoffs for the first time in nine years, and Kemmerer is in the playoffs for the first time in five years, but everyone else has been a recent visitor to the postseason, and all the other hosts have been recent hosts. The rich get richer?

Here’s some pics, wait, I mean picks, with the bold team expected to be the winning team:

Class 4A
(8) Kelly Walsh at (1) Natrona: Natrona won the Oil Bowl by 30 points three weeks ago. That sounds about right. The Mustangs have been playing well all season and will be big favorites against their cross-town rivals. (First playoff meeting since 2016 quarterfinals.)
(5) Laramie at (4) Cheyenne East: East won the first matchup 31-14 a month ago. Laramie could put up more of a challenge this time around, though — but the Thunderbirds are still the favorites. (First playoff meeting since 2001 quarterfinals.)
(7) Cheyenne Central at (2) Thunder Basin: How much has changed since Week 0, when the ‘Bolts popped the Indians 47-0? Well, plenty has changed. But that doesn’t mean Thunder Basin still shouldn’t win this game going away. (First playoff meeting.)
(6) Rock Springs at (3) Sheridan: The rumors of the Broncs’ death have been highly exaggerated. Sheridan’s still in the hunt for a four-peat, and they’re very, very dangerous this time of year. (First playoff meeting since 2016 semifinals.)
Class 3A
(4E) Worland at (1W) Star Valley: I expected a much bigger fall-off this year in Afton. The fact that the Braves went undefeated in conference play and earned the top seed out of the west (again) is proof that the program is strong and sustainable. (First playoff meeting since 2007 quarterfinals.)
(3W) Cody at (2E) Douglas: ‘Member last year, when Cody was a 3-seed and ended up as state champs? ‘Member how they were on the same side of the bracket as Star Valley? I betcha Cody does, and I bet the Broncs are feeling mighty confident right now. (First playoff meeting since 2016 quarterfinals.)
(4W) Evanston at (1E) Torrington: Torrington has been rolling. But Evanston will put up a tough fight — something that should help the Trailblazers get into playoff mode and prepare for what’s to come. (First meeting since 1985 title game.)
(3E) Lander at (2W) Jackson: The two best coaching jobs in 3A this season were by John Scott in Lander and David Joyce in Jackson. It’s kind of fitting that they face off in the first round. If they continue on their current trends, this could be a title-game matchup in a few years. (First playoff meeting since 2004 quarterfinals.)
Class 2A
(4W) Kemmerer at (1E) Buffalo: It’s great to see Kemmerer back in the playoffs. Shame it’ll have to end so soon. Buffalo’s loaded for a title run, and that will show on Friday. (First meeting since 1995 quarterfinals.)
(3E) Wheatland at (2W) Greybull: People have been sleeping on Wheatland all year. This is the time for the Bulldogs to show just how good they are — and I think they’ll take advantage. (Rematch of a 2017 quarterfinal. And a 2016 quarterfinal.)
(4E) Thermopolis at (1W) Mountain View: After a Week 1 stumble, Mountain View has been the powerhouse everyone thought they might be entering this season. Remember, last year’s title march started by shutting out Thermopolis at home in the first round. …  (Obviously, a rematch of a 2017 quarterfinal.)
(3W) Big Piney at (2E) Glenrock: Big Piney put together a really nice season. However, it’ll take a Herculean effort to overcome the Herders in Glenrock. (Rematch of a 2017 semifinal.)
Class 1A 11-man
(4W) Wind River at (1E) Big Horn: The Rams have been crushing teams all season. There’s little reason to think the Cougars are going to be the one to stop that trend. (Rematch of a 2017 quarterfinal game.)
(3E) Pine Bluffs at (2W) Shoshoni: Shoshoni is 2-6 and a No. 2 seed. That tells you all you need to know about the West Conference this season. (First playoff meeting.)
(4E) Wright at (1W) Cokeville: Beating a top-seeded Cokeville team, in Cokeville? The black-and-gold Panthers better hope they didn’t use up all their luck on that coin flip last week. (First playoff meeting.)
(3W) Rocky Mountain at (2E) Upton-Sundance: In a word: tradition. These two teams have met in the quarterfinals in 2014, 2015 and 2017. U-S has won all three, by scores of 48-14, 39-12 and 39-22. (Obviously, a rematch of a 2017 quarterfinal.)
Class 1A six-man
(4E) Hulett at (1W) Farson: Hulett did a really nice job in the last three weeks of the season, overcoming an 0-4 start to make the postseason. The Red Devils’ “reward” is playing unbeaten and favorite Farson in the first round. (First playoff meeting since 2015 quarterfinals.)
(3W) Snake River at (2E) Kaycee: The Buckaroos’ four-peat attempt will face some severe challenges. The challenge the Rattlers present might be too tough for Kaycee to overcome. (First playoff meeting since 2015 semifinals.)
(4W) Burlington at (1E) Hanna: Here it is: My upset call for the week. The West Conference was significantly deeper and tougher than the East Conference this season, and while Hanna is unbeaten and talented, Burlington has been tested more and should be more hardened for a playoff run. (First playoff meeting.)
(3E) Guernsey at (2W) Meeteetse: The Longhorns are senior-laden and confident. If they don’t overlook the Vikings, they should be in good position to continue their postseason. (First playoff meeting since 2015 quarterfinals.)

For a full schedule including kickoff times, as well as results from past weeks, click here. Click on “Quarterfinals” on the top of the page for this week’s schedule.

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Here are the results of my picks from last week and this season:

Last week: 27-3 (90 percent). This season: 212-56 (79 percent).

It’s the postseason, so that means we should have plenty to talk about! Leave a comment to do just that, or hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

–patrick

Glenrock football coach Ray Kumpula, who built a legacy of hard-nosed, championship football in two separate stints as the Herders’ head coach, will retire at the end of the season.

The Douglas Budget’s Eddie Poe first reported Kumpula’s retirement on Twitter after the Herders’ 61-8 victory against Moorcroft on Friday in Glenrock’s final regular-season game.


Heading into the Class 2A playoffs as the No. 2 seed from the East Conference, Glenrock will be trying to win its fourth championship under Kumpula. He led the Herders to state championships in 2002, 2003 and 2008.

Kumpula’s all-time record of 133-87 unofficially places him tied for 14th all-time among the state’s coaches. His victory total is fourth among active coaches statewide, behind only Cokeville’s Todd Dayton, Natrona’s Steve Harshman and Southeast’s Mark Bullington.

Kumpula started as Glenrock’s head coach in 1990. He led the Herders to three playoff appearances in seven seasons before stepping down after the 1996 season. He re-assumed the position of head coach prior to the 2002 season, winning titles in his first two seasons back as head coach.

He also led Glenrock to title-game appearances in 2005, 2007, 2009, 2015 and 2017.

Glenrock will host Big Piney in the quarterfinals of the 2A playoffs on Friday.

A replacement for Kumpula has not yet been named.

–patrick

Here are the quarterfinal pairings for the 2018 Wyoming high school football season:

Class 4A
(8) Kelly Walsh at (1) Natrona
(5) Laramie at (4) Cheyenne East
(7) Cheyenne Central at (2) Thunder Basin
(6) Rock Springs at (3) Sheridan
Class 3A
(4E) Worland at (1W) Star Valley
(3W) Cody at (2E) Douglas
(4W) Evanston at (1E) Torrington
(3E) Lander at (2W) Jackson
Class 2A
(4W) Kemmerer at (1E) Buffalo
(3E) Wheatland at (2W) Greybull
(4E) Thermopolis at (1W) Mountain View
(3W) Big Piney at (2E) Glenrock
Class 1A 11-man
(4W) Wind River at (1E) Big Horn
(3E) Pine Bluffs at (2W) Shoshoni
(4E) Wright at (1W) Cokeville
(3W) Rocky Mountain at (2E) Upton-Sundance
Class 1A six-man
(4E) Hulett at (1W) Farson
(3W) Snake River at (2E) Kaycee
(4W) Burlington at (1E) Hanna
(3E) Guernsey at (2W) Meeteetse

Dates and kickoff times will be set by the WHSAA.

–patrick

One of the most unique situations we’ve ever seen in Wyoming high school football comes to us Friday in, of all places, Ethete.

Chiefs Intertribal Stadium will host a Class 1A 11-man West doubleheader on Friday, with the host Chiefs playing Rocky Mountain at 2 p.m. for a playoff spot and nearby Wind River taking on Cokeville at 6 p.m. in the game that will decide the conference’s top seed for the playoffs.

It’s bizarre that both games are being played at the same location; a weird set of circumstances that made Wind River’s home field unplayable all season long led to that.

It’s also bizarre that the location for a pair of games with postseason implications is Ethete.

The Wyoming Indian Chiefs haven’t played a game with playoff implications in the final week of the season since 2002, the only time since the program’s only playoff appearance in 1996 that the Chiefs have been a part of any postseason discussions heading into the last week.

In 2002, the Chiefs were one of several teams pursuing a Class 2A playoff spot in the days of power ratings. At 3-4 and in potential position to take the seventh or eighth seed in 2A, they needed to win their game against rival Wind River to keep those postseason hopes alive. But Wind River won 40-12 in Pavillion, as the Chiefs finished 3-5 and tumbled to 11th out of 12 schools in the final 2A power ratings.

Since then, the Chiefs have entered every Week 8 scenario knowing that they weren’t in the postseason hunt.

This year wasn’t supposed to be WIHS’s year, either. The Chiefs have yet to play any varsity opponents this season. They’re 1-3 this season after games against JV teams from Natrona, Wind River, Cody and Shoshoni. They’ve forfeited every conference game so far to make room for sub-varsity matchups that are more conducive to developing a program that’s long struggled for both numbers and relevancy.

When the 2018 schedule finally solidified, only one other 1A 11-man West school — Rocky Mountain — decided to pit its varsity against the Chiefs’ varsity.

Meanwhile, Saratoga’s inability to field an 11-man team this season left the West Conference with five teams. And as things have played out this season, all it will take for the Chiefs to qualify for the playoffs is one conference victory. That’s what they can earn on Friday against Rocky Mountain.

Sure, the Chiefs will be heavy underdogs. But on Friday afternoon, they will meet the Grizzlies on the field as equals, with a chance to extend their season.

That alone will make the day pretty special in Ethete.

Throw in another game on the same field that night that will decide a conference champion, and you’ve got the perfect atmosphere for a fantastic, and unique, day of football in Wyoming.

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Ethete isn’t the only place where playoff seedings are in play. In all, 18 games this week — including all five in Class 4A — will have some influence on the playoff seeding. Of those 18, 11 will have direct influence on who qualifies for the playoffs and who doesn’t.

However, only two games — Burns at Thermopolis in the 2A East and the aforementioned Rocky Mountain at Wyoming Indian game in the 1A 11-man West — are direct winner in/loser out scenarios.

+++

Four top seeds still need to be determined, as 4A, the 2A West, the 1A 11-man West and the 1A six-man East will use Week 8 to determine their champions.

In 4A, the most influential game on determining the top seed is Sheridan traveling south to play Cheyenne East, the only game that has two of the top four teams facing each other. On paper, East has the advantage, having won five in a row since an early loss to Thunder Basin. However, Sheridan has won four in a row after early back-to-back stumbles against Natrona and Thunder Basin in consecutive weeks.

Natrona’s game with Rock Springs and Thunder Basin’s game with Laramie will also influence the top half of 4A seeding, but East-Sheridan will be 4A’s marquee game in Week 8. …

+++

Mountain View and Greybull will meet to determine the conference champ in the 2A West. Last year, Greybull beat up on Mountain View pretty handily in Week 8… and Mountain View won the state championship three weeks later. This year’s competitiveness should be a bit different with more on the line. …

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The 1A six-man East title is also up for grabs this week as Hanna meets Guernsey to help decide it all. Hanna wins the conference outright if it can continue its unbeaten season. Guernsey wins the conference outright with a victory and some help from NSI, who would need to beat Kaycee to avoid a three-way split for the conference championship. Otherwise, with Guernsey and Kaycee winning, it’ll be coin flip time. Personally, I’d prefer a Ro-Sham-Bo over a coin flip to decide who finishes where. …

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Pinedale is in a weird position this week. The Wranglers’ conference season in the 2A West is done; they’ll play Wheatland this week. You can forgive the Wranglers, though, if their focus is more on Kemmerer than on Wheatland. Kemmerer hosts Lovell this week, and the math is simple: If Kemmerer wins, Pinedale is out. If Kemmerer loses, Pinedale is in. Distraction level=high. …

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Another team in a weird position is NSI. Just like Lovell last year, there’s a scenario where NSI could be in the playoffs with a loss but out of the playoffs with a victory. The Wolves could coin flip their way into the 1A six-man East’s No. 4 seed with a loss and a Hulett loss to Lingle, but if NSI wins AND Hulett wins, NSI is out. So will NSI forfeit or throw their game this week to gain a shot at a playoff game? Nope… because the Hulett-Lingle game is Friday, NSI will have a lot better understanding of its playoff fate by the time the Wolves play Kaycee on Saturday — and if the Wolves are still in the hunt by then, they’ll have to win Saturday to stay alive. …

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On to some picks for Week 8. When I say bold, you say projected winner….

Thursday
Interclass

Shoshoni at Natrona sophs
Friday
Class 4A

Cheyenne Central at Cheyenne South
Kelly Walsh at Gillette
Laramie at Thunder Basin
Natrona at Rock Springs
Sheridan at Cheyenne East
Class 3A
Douglas at Riverton
Green River at Cody
Jackson at Powell
Star Valley at Evanston
Torrington at Rawlins
Worland at Lander
Class 2A
Burns at Thermopolis
Lovell at Kemmerer
Lyman at Big Piney
Moorcroft at Glenrock
Mountain View at Greybull
Newcastle at Buffalo
Pinedale at Wheatland
Class 1A 11-man
Cokeville at Wind River (at Ethete)
Lusk at Pine Bluffs
Rocky Mountain at Wyoming Indian
Southeast at Big Horn
Tongue River at Wright
Class 1A six-man
Farson at St. Stephens
Guernsey-Sunrise at Hanna
Hulett at Lingle
Riverside at Burlington
Saturday
Class 1A six-man

Kaycee at NSI
Snake River at Dubois
Open: Meeteetse, Midwest, Saratoga, Upton-Sundance.

For a full schedule including kickoff times, as well as results from past weeks, click here. Click on “Week 8” on the top of the page for this week’s schedule.

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Here are the results of my picks from last week and this season:

Last week: 29-3 (91 percent). This season: 185-53 (78 percent).

The picks are in for the final week. How do you think it’s all going to shake out? Post a comment, because I’d love to know what you think.

–patrick

Here’s a quick look at the playoff scenarios for Wyoming high school football teams entering Week 8 of the 2018 season:

Class 4A
Week 8 games affecting playoff seeding: Central at South, Kelly Walsh at Gillette, Laramie at Thunder Basin, Natrona at Rock Springs, Sheridan at East.
Cheyenne East, Natrona, Sheridan, Thunder Basin: In. Will be seeded 1-4 in some way. (See below.)
Laramie: In. No. 5 seed.
Rock Springs: In. No. 6 seed with victory. Seeded 6, 7 or 8 with a loss. (See below.)
Cheyenne Central: Neither in nor out. No. 7 seed with victory. No. 8 seed with loss and Gillette victory. Out with loss and Kelly Walsh victory.
Kelly Walsh: Neither in nor out. Seeded 6, 7 or 8 with victory. (See below.) No. 8 seed with loss and Cheyenne Central victory. Out with loss and Cheyenne South victory.
Cheyenne South: Neither in nor out. Seeded 6, 7 or 8 with victory. (See below.) Out with loss.
Gillette: Out.

Here’s all 32 scenarios for the 4A playoffs:

South beats Central
East Natrona Thunder Basin Sheridan Laramie Rock Springs Central KW South
Kelly Walsh, Laramie, Natrona, Sheridan win 4 1 2 3 5 8 out 6 7
Kelly Walsh, Thunder Basin, Natrona, Sheridan win 4 1 2 3 5 8 out 6 7
Kelly Walsh, Laramie, Rock Springs, Sheridan win Tie 1-2-3-4 (coin flip) Tie 1-2-3-4 (coin flip) Tie 1-2-3-4 (coin flip) Tie 1-2-3-4 (coin flip) 5 6 out 7 8
Kelly Walsh, Laramie, Natrona, East win 1 2 3 4 5 8 out 6 7
Kelly Walsh, Thunder Basin, Rock Springs, Sheridan win 4 2 1 3 5 6 out 7 8
Kelly Walsh, Thunder Basin, Natrona, East win Tie 1-2-3 (coin flip) Tie 1-2-3 (coin flip) Tie 1-2-3 (coin flip) 4 5 8 out 6 7
Kelly Walsh, Laramie, Rock Springs, East win 1 2 3 4 5 6 out 7 8
Kelly Walsh, Thunder Basin, Rock Springs, Cheyenne East win 2 3 1 4 5 6 out 7 8
Gillette, Laramie, Natrona, Sheridan win 4 1 2 3 5 7 8 out 6
Gillette, Thunder Basin, Natrona, Sheridan win 4 1 2 3 5 6 8 out 7
Gillette, Laramie, Rock Springs, Sheridan win Tie 1-2-3-4 (coin flip) Tie 1-2-3-4 (coin flip) Tie 1-2-3-4 (coin flip) Tie 1-2-3-4 (coin flip) 5 6 8 out 7
Gillette, Laramie, Natrona, East win 1 2 3 4 5 7 8 out 6
Gillette, Thunder Basin, Rock Springs, Sheridan win 4 2 1 3 5 6 8 out 7
Gillette, Thunder Basin, Natrona, East win Tie 1-2-3 (coin flip) Tie 1-2-3 (coin flip) Tie 1-2-3 (coin flip) 4 5 6 8 out 7
Gillette, Laramie, Rock Springs, East win 1 2 3 4 5 6 8 out 7
Gillette, Thunder Basin, Rock Springs, Cheyenne East win 2 3 1 4 5 6 8 out 7
Central beats South
East Natrona Thunder Basin Sheridan Laramie Rock Springs Central KW South
Kelly Walsh, Laramie, Natrona, Sheridan win 4 1 2 3 5 6 7 8 out
Kelly Walsh, Thunder Basin, Natrona, Sheridan win 4 1 2 3 5 6 7 8 out
Kelly Walsh, Laramie, Rock Springs, Sheridan win Tie 1-2-3-4 (coin flip) Tie 1-2-3-4 (coin flip) Tie 1-2-3-4 (coin flip) Tie 1-2-3-4 (coin flip) 5 6 7 8 out
Kelly Walsh, Laramie, Natrona, East win 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 out
Kelly Walsh, Thunder Basin, Rock Springs, Sheridan win 4 2 1 3 5 6 7 8 out
Kelly Walsh, Thunder Basin, Natrona, East win Tie 1-2-3 (coin flip) Tie 1-2-3 (coin flip) Tie 1-2-3 (coin flip) 4 5 6 7 8 out
Kelly Walsh, Laramie, Rock Springs, East win 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 out
Kelly Walsh, Thunder Basin, Rock Springs, Cheyenne East win 2 3 1 4 5 6 7 8 out
Gillette, Laramie, Natrona, Sheridan win 4 1 2 3 5 6 7 8 out
Gillette, Thunder Basin, Natrona, Sheridan win 4 1 2 3 5 6 7 8 out
Gillette, Laramie, Rock Springs, Sheridan win Tie 1-2-3-4 (coin flip) Tie 1-2-3-4 (coin flip) Tie 1-2-3-4 (coin flip) Tie 1-2-3-4 (coin flip) 5 6 7 8 out
Gillette, Laramie, Natrona, East win 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 out
Gillette, Thunder Basin, Rock Springs, Sheridan win 4 2 1 3 5 6 7 8 out
Gillette, Thunder Basin, Natrona, East win Tie 1-2-3 (coin flip) Tie 1-2-3 (coin flip) Tie 1-2-3 (coin flip) 4 5 6 7 8 out
Gillette, Laramie, Rock Springs, East win 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 out
Gillette, Thunder Basin, Rock Springs, Cheyenne East win 2 3 1 4 5 6 7 8 out

Class 3A East
Week 8 games affecting playoff seeding: Worland at Lander.
Torrington: In. No. 1 seed.
Douglas: In. No. 2 seed.
Lander, Worland: In. No. 3 seed with victory. No. 4 seed with loss.
Rawlins, Riverton: Out.

Class 3A West
Week 8 games affecting playoff seeding: Green River at Cody, Star Valley at Evanston.
Star Valley: In. No. 1 seed.
Jackson: In. No. 2 seed.
Evanston: Neither in nor out. No. 3 seed with victory and Green River victory. No. 4 seed with Cody victory, win or lose. Tie for 3-4-5 spots (coin flip to break) with loss and Green River victory.
Cody: Neither in nor out. No. 3 seed with victory. Tie for 3-4-5 spots (coin flip to break) with loss and Star Valley victory. Out with loss and Evanston victory.
Green River: Neither in nor out. No. 4 seed with victory and Evanston victory. Tie for 3-4-5 spots (coin flip to break) with victory and Star Valley victory. Out with loss.
Powell: Out.

Class 2A East
Week 8 games affecting playoff seeding: Burns at Thermopolis.
Buffalo: In. No. 1 seed.
Glenrock: In. No. 2 seed.
Wheatland: In. No. 3 seed.
Burns, Thermopolis: Neither in nor out. No. 4 seed with victory. Out with loss.
Moorcroft, Newcastle: Out.

Class 2A West
Week 8 games affecting playoff seeding: Lovell at Kemmerer, Mountain View at Greybull.
Greybull, Mountain View: In. No. 1 seed with victory. No. 2 seed with loss.
Big Piney: In. No. 3 seed.
Pinedale: Neither in nor out. No. 4 seed with Lovell victory. Out with Kemmerer victory.
Kemmerer: Neither in nor out. No. 4 seed with victory. Out with loss.
Lovell, Lyman: Out.

Class 1A 11-man East
Week 8 games affecting playoff seeding: Lusk at Pine Bluffs, Tongue River at Wright.
Big Horn: In. No. 1 seed.
Upton-Sundance: In. No. 2 seed.
Pine Bluffs: Neither in nor out. No. 3 seed with victory. No. 4 seed with loss and Tongue River victory. Tie for 3-4-5 spots (coin flip to break) with loss and Wright victory.
Lusk: Neither in nor out. No. 3 seed with victory and Tongue River victory. Tie for 3-4-5 spots (coin flip to break) with victory and Wright victory. Tie for 4-5-6 spots (coin flip to break) with loss and Tongue River victory. Out with loss and Wright victory.
Wright: Neither in nor out. No. 4 seed with victory and Pine Bluffs victory. Tie for 3-4-5 spots (coin flip to break) with victory and Lusk victory. Tie for 4-5-6 spots (coin flip to break) with loss and Pine Bluffs victory. Out with loss and Lusk victory.
Tongue River: Neither in nor out. Tie for 4-5-6 spots (coin flip to break) with victory and Pine Bluffs victory. Out with loss OR Lusk victory.
Southeast: Out.

Class 1A 11-man West
Week 8 games affecting playoff seeding: Cokeville at Wind River, Rocky Mountain at Wyoming Indian.
Cokeville: In. No. 1 seed with victory. No. 2 seed with loss.
Wind River: In. No. 1 seed with victory. No. 2 seed with loss and Wyoming Indian victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (coin flip to break) with loss and Rocky Mountain victory.
Shoshoni: In. No. 3 seed with Wind River victory OR Wyoming Indian victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (coin flip to break) with Cokeville victory and Rocky Mountain victory.
Rocky Mountain: Neither in nor out. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (coin flip to break) with victory and Cokeville victory. No. 4 seed with victory and Wind River victory. Out with loss.
Wyoming Indian: Neither in nor out. No. 4 seed with victory. Out with loss.
Saratoga: Ineligible for playoffs.

Class 1A six-man East
Week 8 games affecting playoff seeding: Guernsey at Hanna, Hulett at Lingle, Kaycee at NSI.
Hanna: In. No. 1 seed with victory. Tie for 1-2-3 seeds (coin flip to break) with loss and Kaycee victory. No. 2 seed with loss and NSI victory.
Kaycee: In. Tie for 1-2-3 seeds (coin flip to break) with victory and Guernsey victory. No. 2 seed with Hanna victory. No. 3 seed with loss and Guernsey victory.
Guernsey: In. No. 1 seed with victory and NSI victory. Tie for 1-2-3 seeds (coin flip to break) with victory and Kaycee victory. No. 3 seed with loss.
Hulett: Neither in nor out. No. 4 seed with victory. Tie for 4-5-6 spots (coin flip to break) with loss and Kaycee victory. Out with loss and NSI victory.
NSI: Neither in nor out. No. 4 seed with victory and Lingle victory. Tie for 4-5-6 spots (coin flip to break) with loss and Lingle victory. Out with Hulett victory.
Lingle: Neither in nor out. Tie for 4-5-6 spots (coin flip to break) with victory and Kaycee victory. Out with loss OR NSI victory.
Midwest: Out.

Class 1A six-man West
Week 8 games potentially affecting playoff seeding: None.
Farson: In. No. 1 seed.
Meeteetse: In. No. 2 seed.
Snake River: In. No. 3 seed.
Burlington: In. No. 4 seed.
Dubois, St. Stephens: Out.
Riverside: Ineligible for playoffs.

–patrick

Updated 3:54 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, with scenarios for 1A six-man East; updated 4:47 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, with scenarios for 1A six-man West.

Three — A — West! (clap clap clap)

Is — the — Best! (clap clap clap)

3A West (clap) is the best (clap) come on people yell it! (clap clap)

Clapping yet? You should be.

Because the 3A West has been the best football conference in Wyoming in 2018.

Now, when I say “best,” I don’t necessarily mean the best football, although the top four teams in the conference have been playing exceptionally well this season (more to come on that).

Instead, I mean “best” as the most interesting, the most intriguing, the most watchable football Wyoming has to offer in 2018.

Two games this week will pair the four top teams in the conference, as Cody travels to Afton to play Star Valley and Evanston heads north to face Jackson. Right now, Star Valley’s at the top of the heap at 3-0 in conference play, with Cody, Jackson and Evanston all at 2-1, trying to figure out the best way to move forward.

Moreover, the four squads are a combined 21-6. Three of those losses came to Idaho programs. The other three came against each other.

Those three games between them so far have been, shall we say, weird? Cody beat Evanston 46-26; Jackson beat Cody 27-7; Star Valley beat Jackson 32-14. However, comparing scores in the 3A West is a dangerous game, friend-o. By comparing the scores of these three games, we’d think Star Valley has a distinct advantage.

Look deeper, though. Star Valley barely eked past Powell 14-7 two weeks ago; Evanston had to hold on like crazy to beat Green River 19-14 last week; Jackson got pushed by Green River 33-23; Cody struggled with Powell before surging late to win 22-10. Powell and Green River are both 0-3 in conference play.

In short, no one has the advantage they think they have.

So… what’s the difference between the 3A West and the 3A East, where the conference records are literally the same from top to bottom (3-0, 2-1, 2-1, 2-1, 0-3, 0-3)?

Well, there’s the fact that the 3A West is 10-4 in games against the 3A East this year. Also, Torrington has been crushing teams in the 3A East and has eliminated pretty much all drama about who will emerge with the top seed.

The 3A West has both uncertainty and quality, and that makes it really fun to watch. Especially this week. (clap clap clap)

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Outside of the 3A West, this week’s schedule is honestly kind of meh. It seems like there’s a lack of interesting games; outside the 3A West, there’s only six games that pit teams with winning records against each other (Laramie vs. Sheridan, Buffalo vs. Big Piney, Lusk vs. Big Horn, Pine Bluffs vs. Upton-Sundance, Farson vs. Burlington, Kaycee vs. Hanna). The six-man games are the best of that bunch.

However, the way Farson and Hanna have been cruising through the season, their games against Burlington and Kaycee, respectively, may be little more than slightly more difficult challenges than usual on their way to conference championships. …

That leaves Pine Bluffs facing Upton-Sundance as the big game of the week. Even that game leaves something to be desired as it’s more or less for the No. 2 seed from the 1A 11-man East. Still, it should be an excellent matchup and one of the best games of the week. …

While the Lusk-Big Horn game also pits two teams with winning records in the 1A 11-man East, the real story out of the 1A 11-man East could be Wright. With winnable games against Southeast and Tongue River in the last two weeks, watch for the Panthers to make a run late in the season here, potentially stealing that No. 4 seed from Lusk thanks in part to their 13-6 victory against the Tigers last week. With that momentum, Wright could push push the team it faces in the first round of the playoffs. …

On a purely competitive standpoint, the game between one-win Riverside and one-win St. Stephens may be the most even game of Week 7. Legit excited to see how it turns out. …

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The picks for the week are here. The team I think will win is in bold. But you play to win the game, not to be picked to win the game.

Thursday
Interclass

Natrona sophomores at Shoshoni
Friday
Class 4A

Cheyenne Central at Natrona
Cheyenne East at Rock Springs
Gillette at Cheyenne South
Laramie at Sheridan
Thunder Basin at Kelly Walsh
Class 3A
Cody at Star Valley
Evanston at Jackson
Lander at Douglas
Powell at Green River
Riverton at Rawlins
Torrington at Worland
Class 2A
Buffalo at Big Piney
Glenrock at Thermopolis
Greybull at Lyman
Kemmerer at Mountain View
Newcastle at Burns
Pinedale at Lovell
Wheatland at Moorcroft
Class 1A 11-man
Lusk at Big Horn
Pine Bluffs at Upton-Sundance
Wind River at Rocky Mountain
Wright at Southeast
Class 1A six-man
Farson at Burlington
Guernsey-Sunrise at Lingle
Meeteetse at Dubois
Saturday
Class 1A 11-man

Wyoming Indian at Shoshoni JV
Class 1A six-man
Kaycee at Hanna
Midwest at Hulett
St. Stephens at Riverside
Interclass
Evanston JV at Cokeville
Sheridan JV at Tongue River
Open: NSI, Saratoga, Snake River.

For a full schedule including kickoff times, as well as results from past weeks, click here. Click on “Week 7” on the top of the page for this week’s schedule.

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Here are the results of my picks from last week and this season:

Last week: 27-5 (84 percent). This season: 156-50 (76 percent).

Comment if you want. You’ve got free will.

–patrick

Here’s a quick look at broad playoff scenarios entering Week 7 of the 2018 Wyoming high school football season:

Class 4A
In: Cheyenne East, Natrona, Thunder Basin, Sheridan, Laramie.
Neither in nor out: Rock Springs, Cheyenne Central, Kelly Walsh, Cheyenne South, Gillette.
Out: No one.
Can the top seed be decided this week? HAHAHAHAHAHA no. There’s WAY too many scenarios possibly happening to make this a reality in Week 7.

The key game for seeding in the lower half keeps looking like the South-Central matchup in Week 8. The top half, meanwhile, looks like it’s going to end with a coin flip deciding the top three seeds. There’s parity, but it’s split in two.

Class 3A East
In: Torrington.
Neither in nor out: Douglas, Lander, Worland, Riverton.
Out: Rawlins.
Can the top seed be decided this week? Yep. Torrington can earn the top seed by beating Worland in Week 7.

Even if Rawlins wins its final two games, the Outlaws would tie with teams they’ve already lost to, so they’re out. Riverton still has a wide outside chance to make it, but the Wolverines would need to pull an upset over Douglas in Week 8 and get some help (not to mention beating Rawlins next week.

Class 3A West
In: Star Valley.
Neither in nor out: Evanston, Cody, Jackson, Powell, Green River.
Out: No one.
Can the top seed be decided this week? Yep. Star Valley can wrap up the No. 1 seed if it beats Cody and if Jackson beats Evanston.

Powell and Green River are both on the outside looking in, and each needs to win next week (against each other) to stay in consideration. The top is messy, though, as an “upset” in any of the remaining games between the top four teams (Star Valley faces Evanston and Cody and Evanston faces Jackson in the final two weeks) could make this a mess.

Class 2A East
In: Buffalo.
Neither in nor out: Glenrock, Wheatland, Thermopolis, Burns, Moorcroft, Newcastle.
Out: No one.
Can the top seed be decided this week? Actually, this one’s already been decided. Buffalo is the No. 1 seed.

Newcastle is the longest of the long shots, needing a lot to go right to keep hope alive. Glenrock has the best chance at the No. 2 seed and can wrap that up by beating Thermopolis this week. And Wheatland can secure the No. 3 seed by beating Moorcroft this week (and maybe move up to No. 2 if some wild things go down).

Class 2A West
In: Mountain View.
Neither in nor out: Greybull, Big Piney, Kemmerer, Pinedale, Lyman, Lovell.
Out: No one.
Can the top seed be decided this week? Yep. Mountain View wins the conference with a victory against Kemmerer combined with a Greybull loss to Lyman.

In between Mountain View at 4-0 and Lovell at 0-4, this whole conference is just a dang mess. I don’t even want to think about it until Week 8 is done, and then I’ll break out my tiebreaking guidelines.

Class 1A 11-man East
In: Big Horn, Upton-Sundance.
Neither in nor out: Pine Bluffs, Lusk, Wright, Tongue River, Southeast.
Out: No one.
Can the top seed be decided this week? Yep. Big Horn will be the top seed with a victory against Lusk this week.

This one could get either really messy or really simple really fast. Really. Big Horn and Upton-Sundance are in, and the game between Upton-Sundance and Pine Bluffs this week will help sort out the second and third seeds. After that, it’s a chase for No. 4, with Lusk, Wright and Tongue River (and barely Southeast) all going after that final playoff slot.

Class 1A 11-man West
In: Cokeville, Wind River, Shoshoni.
Neither in nor out: Rocky Mountain, Wyoming Indian.
Out: No one (except Saratoga, who’s ineligible).
Can the top seed be decided this week? Nope. That’s a Week 8 discussion.

Pretty simple here: The Cokeville-Wind River game in Week 8 will likely decide 1 and 2. Shoshoni’s probably 3. The winner of Rocky Mountain-Wyoming Indian in Week 8 is likely 4. The only way that isn’t the case is if Rocky upsets Wind River this week.

Class 1A six-man East
In: Hanna, Kaycee.
Neither in nor out: Guernsey, NSI, Lingle, Hulett.
Out: Midwest.
Can the top seed be decided this week? Yep, in a couple ways. Kaycee can win the conference outright with a victory against Hanna. Hanna can win the conference with a victory AND a Guernsey loss to Lingle.

There’s a weird scenario where Guernsey, NSI and either Lingle or Hulett could tie for the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. Meanwhile, Hanna hosts Kaycee this week, with Guernsey lurking to potentially force a three-way tie in Week 8 (or potentially win the conference outright) if Hanna wins in Week 7.

Class 1A six-man West
In: Farson, Meeteetse, Snake River.
Neither in nor out: Burlington, St. Stephens.
Out: Riverside (ineligible), Dubois.
Can the top seed be decided this week? Yep. Farson wins the No. 1 seed with a victory against Burlington in Week 7.

St. Stephens is the team on the outside looking in right now, needing two victories and two Burlington losses to sneak into the fourth spot. Farson is the likely top seed, with Meeteetse needing only to beat winless Dubois this week to secure the No. 2 seed. Snake River’s in as the third seed if it beats Dubois in Week 8.

Wanna see the standings for yourself? Click here.

Updated at 4:44 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, to reflect updated Class 1A six-man West possibilities after Saturday’s game between Meeteetse and Riverside finished.

–patrick

Rivalry Week is in full swing on Friday: Capital Bowl. Energy Bowl. Oil Bowl. Bridger Valley Bowl. Thunder Bowl. Cody-Powell whatever-it’s-called. Sublette County something-or-other.

They’re all secondary this week to a 3A West rivalry game that normally doesn’t have much intrigue but is bubbling over with it this year.

Jackson hosts Star Valley on Friday, and that’s important because Jackson and Star Valley are the only two remaining teams unbeaten in 3A West Conference play.

And even though league foes Evanston and Cody will make it interesting the next couple weeks, the Jackson-Star Valley winner will be way ahead of everyone else for the conference title and home-field advantage in the 3A playoffs.

That’s a lot to say for a Jackson-Star Valley game — a rivalry that, most of the time, gives us games that aren’t all that interesting.

The most interesting recent matchup between these two teams came in 2015, when Jackson won a heck of a regular-season game 14-7 but Star Valley won the 3A title without having to play Jackson in the playoffs.

However, the 2015 game was the only time since 1998 that the Braves and Broncs faced off in a season in which both teams finished with winning records. And despite being in the same conference for a heck of a lot of time (every year since 1961 except 1974), the last time a Star Valley-Jackson game directly separated first place from second place in a conference race — prior to 2015 — was in a three-team 3A Southwest Conference in 1990.

A three-team race in 1987 was also decided by this rivalry, but the only other time the Jackson-Star Valley game separated first from second in the 56 years they spent in the same conference was in 1982, when Star Valley’s 20-7 victory against Jackson propelled the Braves to the Class A title game (and a state title), ended a Jackson winning streak at 16 games and prevented the Broncs from a repeat title attempt.

Moreover: Star Valley leads the all-time series 65-16.

The Braves have absolutely owned this rivalry. When they started annual play in 1959, the Braves won the first 10 matchups and 18 of the first 20; they also won 15 in a row from 1990-2003.

Heading into this season, it looked like this would be another easy notch in the win column for Star Valley. Jackson had lost 15 in a row (eventually 16), while Star Valley was one upset loss to Cody away from a potential three-peat of 3A championships.

But second-year coach David Joyce has Jackson moving quickly in a positive direction. The Broncs went from 16 straight losses to five straight victories. Jackson will enter Week 6 ranked second in 3A — all but unfathomable at the start of the season.

And Star Valley is right there with Jackson. Setbacks to a couple of Idaho schools didn’t stop the Braves from winning their first two West Conference games, topping Green River and Powell the past two weeks to set up a suddenly meaningful contest with the Broncs.

For a rivalry that hasn’t had much juice for the past 60 years, it’s fun to see this one take center stage for once.

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The other rivalry games on tap this week will all have their own kind of pulse to them. In descending order from “HIIT workout pulse” to “comatose pulse,” they’re ranked as follows:

  1. Big Piney-Pinedale in a 2A West game that will be critical in the postseason chase
  2. Cody-Powell as the Panthers try to play spoiler and make a postseason push of their own after two tough losses
  3. Capital Bowl between East and Central with the Indians coming off victory No. 1 and East chugging right along
  4. Pine Bluffs-Burns in a gift from the scheduling gods to keep this rivalry going
  5. Oil Bowl as a wounded Kelly Walsh hosts a confident Natrona
  6. Bridger Valley Bowl with Mountain View trying to keep a stranglehold on the 2A West with Lyman in the way
  7. Shoshoni-Wind River in a new production of “who cares because the playoffs are guaranteed anyway”
  8. Thunder Bowl with Big Horn preparing to thump Tongue River just like the Rams have thumped everyone else
  9. Energy Bowl as Sheridan faces Gillette in a game that might be good next year

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Other not-so-rivalry games with my attention this week:

Buffalo is playing a trap game this Friday against Wheatland. Bison need to be careful on that trip to Platte County. However, with a victory, the Bison can be the first team in the state to secure a conference championship, so the motivation should be strong. …

Someone will get their first win of the season when St. Stephens hosts Dubois in six-man. There’s actually only six winless teams statewide — Gillette, Riverton, Southeast, Hulett, St. Stephens and Dubois — and three are in six-man. …

Don’t look now, but Worland is 2-0 in the 3A East. If the Warriors can beat Douglas in Douglas, the rest of the state just may have to take them seriously. …

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As is tradition, here are some picks, with teams I think will win in bold because, you know, tradition:

Thursday
Interclass

Cody JV at Wyoming Indian
Friday
Class 4A

Cheyenne East at Cheyenne Central
Cheyenne South at Laramie
Gillette at Sheridan
Natrona at Kelly Walsh
Rock Springs at Thunder Basin
Class 3A
Cody at Powell
Green River at Evanston
Rawlins at Lander
Riverton at Torrington
Star Valley at Jackson
Worland at Douglas
Class 2A
Big Piney at Pinedale
Buffalo at Wheatland
Glenrock at Kemmerer
Lovell at Greybull
Lyman at Mountain View
Thermopolis at Newcastle
Class 1A 11-man
Big Horn at Tongue River
Rocky Mountain at Cokeville
Shoshoni at Wind River (at Ethete)
Southeast at Upton-Sundance (at Upton)
Wright at Lusk
Class 1A six-man
Dubois at St. Stephens
Hulett at NSI
Lingle at Kaycee
Midwest at Guernsey-Sunrise
Riverside at Meeteetse
Snake River at Farson
Interclass
Pine Bluffs at Burns
Saratoga at Burlington (six-man)
Saturday
Interstate
Moorcroft at Rapid City Central, S.D., JV
Open: Hanna.

For a full schedule including kickoff times, as well as results from past weeks, click here. Click on “Week 6” on the top of the page for this week’s schedule.

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Here are the results of my picks from last week and this season:

Last week: 26-5 (84 percent). This season: 129-45 (74 percent).

Finally, as is tradition, I’d like to invite you to comment on this post and share your thoughts on Wyoming high school football. Or try me on Twitter @wyomingfootball, or join the Facebook group.

–patrick