Friday’s interstate games look like doozies. The belle of the ball, though, is the game between two defending Class 3A champs.
Yes, you read that right. Star Valley and Sugar-Salem, Idaho, will play on Friday in Afton. Both won their respective 3A titles last year.
And with apologies to everyone outside of northern Lincoln County, I think this might be the most highly anticipated out-of-state game involving a Wyoming team in decades. It’s definitely the game I’m most curious about this week.
Both coaches (McKay Young at Star Valley and Tyler Richins at Sugar-Salem) pride themselves on putting together a tough nonconference schedule to prepare their teams for what they’ll face in league play and beyond.
Well, they’ve got just that on Friday.
Last year’s game wasn’t nearly as hyped. Star Valley and Sugar-Salem both came in at 1-1, each trying to find their way after losses in their season openers.
The Diggers found their way faster, as they smoked Star Valley 36-7.
Neither one lost again.
They both went on to win 3A titles in their states. The Diggers finished 10-1, the Braves 10-2.
Sugar-Salem looks loaded again this year; so far, the Diggers are 2-0, winning their two games by a combined 94-0. In their season opener, they ended the 25-game winning streak of Declo — the only team to beat Sugar-Salem last year. They’ve got five returning all-Idaho players, including senior quarterback Tanner Harris, who was the all-Idaho 3A MVP last year as a junior, and 275-pound lineman Kenneth Copley.
But Star Valley looks loaded, too. The Braves have five all-state and seven all-conference players back from last year’s team, and they’re 2-0 already with victories against Utah’s defending 3A champs, Summit Academy, and Idaho 4A program Blackfoot.
No matter what happens Friday, there’s more than a slight chance that both teams won’t lose again this season.
Other games that are looking good on paper, with high hopes that they’ll turn into good games on grass or turf:
Class 4A’s top teams spring into the teeth of competition this week when we get the first of our “Big Four” matchups. Natrona goes to Sheridan, Thunder Basin to Cheyenne East. The Natrona-Sheridan game is a rematch of last year’s championship, but don’t overlook Thunder Basin-East, which might end up being the better game. …
The entire 3A slate is tough to pick, in part because last week’s 3A games were for the most part pretty close. There might be more parity than we think. Except for Star Valley. …
I’ve been really impressed with Tongue River so far this fall. The Eagles’ game with Lusk this week has me intrigued. …
Six-man’s results in Week 1 showed just how much fun this season might be. St. Stephens playing tough with Hanna, newcomer Encampment bopping Meeteetse, Dubois (which was winless last year) beating Midwest by 60, Kaycee handling Burlington with ease… the race for playoff seeding will be messy this year, and that makes it a lot of fun.
On to some picks. Bolded names mean I think they’ll win. Non-bolded teams are just as worthy of your love, though.
Cokeville at Evanston JV
Cheyenne Central at Rock Springs
Kelly Walsh at Cheyenne South
Laramie at Gillette
Natrona at Sheridan
Thunder Basin at Cheyenne East
Cody at Worland
Green River at Rawlins
Powell at Lander
Riverton at Evanston
Burns at Moorcroft
Kemmerer at Lyman
Mountain View at Big Piney
Newcastle at Glenrock
Thermopolis at Buffalo
Class 1A 11-man
Pine Bluffs at Wright
Tongue River at Lusk
Wind River at Rocky Mountain (nonconference)
Class 1A six-man
Encampment at Farson
Hulett at Guernsey-Sunrise
Kaycee at Saratoga
Lingle at NSI
Riverside at Dubois
Greybull at Big Horn
Jackson at Pinedale
Shoshoni at Lovell
Wheatland at Upton-Sundance
Belle Fourche, S.D., at Douglas
Sugar-Salem, Idaho, at Star Valley
Torrington at Gering, Neb.
Class 1A six-man
Burlington at Snake River
Meeteetse at St. Stephens
Midwest at Hanna
Natrona frosh at Wyoming Indian
Southeast at Cheyenne East JV
For a full schedule including kickoff times, as well as results from past weeks, go here. Click on “Week 2” on the top of the page for this week’s schedule.
Here are the results of my picks from last week and this season:
Last week: 24-10 (71 percent). This season: 35-13 (73 percent).
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