One of the beautiful things about high school football is that the best games aren’t always played between the best teams.
Sometimes, and especially early in the season, the best games come from teams who are trying to establish themselves as something more than also-rans, teams whose chances against the top teams won’t mean as much with losses early in the season.
Week 1 is full of such games — of teams trying to establish an identity, trying to make clear they are a threat, trying to put all that offseason training together for 48 minutes on a Friday (or 40 minutes on a Saturday). And early in a season, that’s what it’s all about. It’s a blast.
In 4A, though, we already have a week’s worth of results to guide us. Once again, none of 4A’s “Big Four” play each other this week, and as fate would have it, the two non-“Big Four” teams who had the best showings in Zero Week face each other this week — Laramie and Rock Springs.
Laramie won a season opener for the first time since 2009 by beating Kelly Walsh 24-17. Rock Springs lost to Sheridan but fought hard and made it competitive, falling 23-7.
When they meet Friday in Rock Springs, I think it will be the best game in 4A, and maybe the best game of the weekend, period.
Class 3A has a few of those games, as well, but the one that sticks out to me is Green River venturing to Lander.
Neither team is on the top of anyone’s preseason predictions. But both of them have that immeasurable quality of “potential,” and potential lasts only until kickoff.
Again — it just might be the best game of the weekend.
Here are some other games that look like pretty good contenders for “best” game of the week:
Powell looked tough in defeating Riverton in Zero Week. This week, the Panthers face Worland, who I think could be one of 3A’s breakthrough teams this fall. This one will be telling. …
Cokeville pulled a pretty big upset in Week 1 last year by beating Mountain View. The rematch is Friday, and although the Buffalos are again favored, don’t count out the Panthers in this one. …
Farson’s 1A six-man title defense starts Saturday at home against Guernsey. The Vikings are improved, and the Pronghorns are relying on some new players in new places. I’m curious to see if the defending champs can continue their momentum into this year — because if they can, they’ll be dangerous. …
Snaps for Encampment, playing in its first real game since 1990 when it faces Meeteetse’s varsity on Saturday. The Tigers have put together a decent schedule of a handful of six-man varsities and 4A sub-varsities, which may change as it’s possible the Tigers could fill some games left open by Ten Sleep’s departure. Nevertheless, I’m curious to see how they do in 2019 before jumping into a full varsity schedule in 2020.
Here are this week’s picks. I indicate the team I think will win in bold. Then they play the games, which is way more fun than just thinking about them:
Riverton JV at Kemmerer
Cheyenne East at Kelly Walsh
Cheyenne South at Thunder Basin
Gillette at Natrona
Laramie at Rock Springs
Sheridan at Cheyenne Central
Cody at Riverton
Evanston at Rawlins
Green River at Lander
Worland at Powell
Newcastle at Wheatland
Pinedale at Lyman
Class 1A 11-man
Lusk at Upton-Sundance
Class 1A six-man
NSI at Riverside
Snake River at Saratoga
Big Horn at Thermopolis
Buffalo at Douglas
Cokeville at Mountain View
Glenrock at Torrington
Lovell at Wind River
Moorcroft at Tongue River
Rocky Mountain at Greybull
Shoshoni at Big Piney
Wright at Burns
Bear Lake, Idaho, at Jackson
Mitchell, Neb., at Southeast
Pine Bluffs at Yuma, Colo.
Sioux County, Neb., at Lingle
Star Valley at Blackfoot, Idaho
Class 1A six-man
Encampment at Meeteetse
Guernsey-Sunrise at Farson
Kaycee at Burlington
Midwest at Dubois
St. Stephens at Hanna
Schedule TBD: Hulett. The Red Devils were supposed to play Ten Sleep this week and, last I knew, are trying to find a replacement game.
For a full schedule including kickoff times, as well as results from past weeks, go here. Click on “Week 1” on the top of the page for this week’s schedule.
Here are the results of my picks from last week and this season (which, right now, are the same thing):
Last week: 11-3 (79 percent). This season: 11-3 (79 percent).
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