Nothing comes easy in the game of football.
Class 4A’s “Big Four” programs have worked hard to reach the point they’re at — and they work hard to win the games they win.
When they do that, though, we tend to see games with scores like 63-0, 62-0, 58-6, 54-8, 50-0, 49-6… all scores of actual 4A games last year. Two 4A Zero Week games last year ended with identical 59-0 scores.
Thunder Basin, Natrona, East and Sheridan have been Class 4A’s consistent semifinalists and title contenders for the better part of a decade (subbing Thunder Basin in for Gillette starting two years ago), as previously documented here, here, here, here, here and elsewhere on this site.
The Week 0 schedule does not pit any of these “Big Four” teams against each other in the opening week, probably purposefully. Moreover, all the “Big Four” teams start their seasons at home. For those four teams, expect “easy” victories, knowing full-well that reaching that level of success isn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination.
Still, that means the most interesting game on the schedule for 4A, at least the one that looks the most interesting before the games are played, is the one between the two non-“Big Four” teams: Kelly Walsh at Laramie.
Kelly Walsh has a fresh approach under new coach Aaron Makelky. Everything from helmet stickers to personnel approaches has been revamped — something that all sounds good the first three weeks, before any opponents have smacked your ear hole. If KW can smack back, watch out.
Laramie, meanwhile, was 4A’s clear fifth team behind the “Big Four” last year. Actually, a loss to KW in Zero Week last year, a loss that looks odd in retrospect, was all that kept the Plainsmen from a .500 record in 2019. But the Plainsmen had a lot of losses to graduation and have to break in key players all over the place.
In short, I don’t know whether this game will be one of 4A’s best (two programs full of players eager to prove themselves could bring out the best in everyone) or one of 4A’s worst (unknown quantities are unpredictable and volatile, especially early in a season).
Either way, I think it should be close, and that’s probably more than we can say for any of the other 4A games this week.
Outside of 4A, Zero Week is a hodgepodge of real games, scrimmages, jamborees and hand-sitting. I’ve done my best to give you an accurate representation of what’s happening this weekend, with changes often happening after schedules have been set and sent out.
Regardless, a few items on the schedule look interesting:
The game between a pair of champions in Utah should be fun, with the Beehive State’s 3A champion, Salt Lake Summit Academy, hosting the Equality State’s 3A champion, Star Valley. …
The Jackson-Teton rivalry game is this week, and after narrowly losing last year’s game, a revived Bronc program should have the advantage this year. …
The biggest jamboree of the weekend is in Shoshoni, where five teams (Kemmerer, Thermopolis, Wind River, Wyoming Indian and the host Wranglers) are scheduled to meet. Sounds like fun — and a scheduling headache. …
Here’s the full picks for Zero Week, with projected winners in bold, as I’ve done for a decade-plus:
Cheyenne Central at Thunder Basin
Cheyenne South at Natrona
Gillette at Cheyenne East
Kelly Walsh at Laramie
Rock Springs at Sheridan
Powell at Riverton
Big Piney at Cokeville
Moorcroft at Wright
Pinedale at Lander
Rawlins at Lyman
Tongue River at Greybull
Custer, S.D., at Newcastle
Star Valley at Salt Lake (Utah) Summit Academy
Teton, Idaho, at Jackson
Upton-Sundance at Lead-Deadwood, S.D.
Natrona JV at Lovell
Rocky Mountain at Powell JV
Jamborees and scrimmages
Friday: Big Horn at Cody; Dubois, Encampment, Saratoga at St. Stephens Jamboree; Farson at Green River Jamboree; Glenrock at Pine Bluffs; Lingle, Midwest at Guernsey-Sunrise Jamboree; Mountain View at Green River.
Saturday: Burlington, Ten Sleep at Riverside Jamboree; Burns, Lusk, Torrington at Southeast Jamboree; Douglas at Wheatland; Kaycee, Meeteetse at Hulett Jamboree; Kemmerer, Thermopolis, Wind River, Wyoming Indian at Shoshoni Jamboree; Worland at Buffalo.
Open: Evanston, Hanna, NSI, Snake River.
For a full schedule including kickoff times, go here.
As usual during Zero Week, here is a reminder of the rules I use to determine whether a Zero Week contest is a game or is something else:
- 1. Was the game played with four 12-minute quarters with normal timing rules?
- 2. Were officials used? And were normal rules of play instituted for the game?
- 3. Was score kept?
If these three criteria are met, I call it a game and record it as such on this site.
And now we’re finally ready for the 2019 season. What game/scrimmage/jamboree/competitive something-or-other will you watch this weekend? Leave a thought with a comment, a visit to our Facebook page or a stop by Twitter.
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