Six-man football in Wyoming has a magic number: 22.
Every six-man state champion since 2009 has given up fewer than 22 points per game. And only once has a six-man team given up fewer than 22 points per game and not won the six-man title.
Re-read that last paragraph. And then think about it.
Like Bear Bryant used to say, offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships. He was talking 11-man, but nowhere else does it ring truer than in six-man.
Over the past 10 seasons, it’s held true that to win a championship, six-man defenses HAVE to allow fewer than 22 points per game. Here’s a quick breakdown of who’s met that magic number, and by how much:
Kaycee 2017 (10-0), 10 ppg (state champ)
Snake River 2010 (10-0), 15.2 ppg (state champ)
Kaycee 2016 (11-0), 15.27 ppg (state champ)
Kaycee 2015 (10-1), 15.73 ppg (state champ)
Guernsey 2014 (11-0), 15.8 ppg (state champ)
Guernsey 2009 (9-0), 16 ppg (state champ)
Snake River 2017 (8-2), 16.8 ppg
Dubois 2012 (11-0), 19.18 ppg (state champ)
Snake River 2011 (11-0), 20.5 ppg (state champ)
Farson 2018 (11-0), 21 ppg (state champ)
Meeteetse 2013 (11-1), 21.42 ppg (state champ)
Only once we wrap our heads around that magic number can we fully understand, embrace and appreciate what’s happening with Snake River this season.
Through five games, Snake River has allowed zero points.
Zero. None. Nada. Zilch. Zip-a-dee-doo-dah. An average of 0.0 ppg.
Scores of 71-0 (sorry, Saratoga), 52-0 (bye-bye, Burlington), 62-0 (mashed Meeteetse), 53-0 (sayonara, St. Stephens) and 56-0 (ripped Riverside) have put the Rattlers on a path of not only championship proportions, but of heretofore unmatched historic defensive prowess.
At one point in Kaycee’s 2017 title season — the one that capped a 30-game winning streak and three consecutive state titles while putting the Buckaroos on top of that six-man defensive list at 10 points per game — the Buckaroos notched four consecutive shutouts.
I thought we may never see that in six-man again. Yet here we are, and Snake River’s got five shutouts in its first five games.
Five consecutive shutouts is unprecedented in Wyoming’s six-man records. The closest such six-man stretch I can find, beyond Kaycee’s 2017 season, came with Byron’s six-man team in 1939, which went 5-0 and never gave up a point; the caveat is that I can’t find results for two of Byron’s games that season.
(By the way, the all-time state record for consecutive shutouts, regardless of classification, is nine. Three programs share that record. Rock Springs did that in the 1940 and 1941 seasons, including eight straight shutouts to close out its 1940 championship season; Sheridan did that in 1916-19, including a 1917 season in which they outscored opponents 300-0; and Ten Sleep had nine straight shutouts from 1935-36.)
All that said, it makes sense that Snake River is the top-ranked team in six-man.
The Rattlers’ biggest challenge to date comes Friday, when second-ranked and defending state champion Farson brings its tied-for-state-best 16-game winning streak to Baggs.
Farson has to feel overshadowed by Snake River’s success this year. How many defending state champs start a season with five consecutive victories, string together a 16-game winning streak — and, oh by the way, give up a championship-pace 13.4 points per game — and STILL can’t crack the top spot in the rankings?
Well… when the team ranked higher is on some kind of crazy record-breaking shutout streak, there’s not much Farson can do.
A ton of rivalries dot the schedule in Week 6, but that’s not all that’s important. After all, the Oil Bowl (Natrona-Kelly Walsh) and the Energy Bowl (Sheridan-Gillette) are both this week. Bold prediction: Neither will be all that competitive by the fourth quarter. But some other games might be….
Like Central-East in what we used to call the Capital Bowl. With South’s struggles, maybe we still can. To be honest, I thought Central was a year away from being a true competitor in 4A. Yet the Indians are 4-2 and have won four in a row. That kind of momentum builds confidence and turns a team with potential into a team with power. East is the favorite, but Central might be closer to turning the tide in this series than anyone outside their locker room thought possible in August. …
In Week 5, Worland finally showed that spark I thought the Warriors would have all season in defeating Rawlins. After an 0-4 start, it would be easy to write off Worland’s hopes. But if the Warriors can surprise Douglas at home this week — and based on last week’s performance, they very well could — they might be a surprise second-half team, and beyond. …
Jackson’s mad. And Star Valley is in the Broncs’ way. Although the Braves have the edge in this one, if you think Jackson won’t be playing like its hair’s on fire, you’ve got another thing coming. …
The Bridger Valley Bowl between Mountain View and Lyman is this week. As I’ve said before, I wholly underestimated Lyman this season. But I haven’t overestimated Mountain View… the Buffalos have been everything that everyone thought they might be this season. I’m curious to see how much of a fight the underdog Eagles might give them in a rivalry showdown. Speaking of underestimating teams….
I don’t mind admitting that the team I was most wrong about this year was Southeast. The Cyclones have won four in a row and are tied for first in the 1A 11-man East. Are they for-real championship threats? Well, they host Upton-Sundance this week. Let’s talk after that game. …
Here are the Week 6 picks. Bold is for teams I think will win, and I use it carefully, because ink is expensive:
Wyoming Indian at Cody JV
Cheyenne Central at Cheyenne East
Kelly Walsh at Natrona
Laramie at Cheyenne South
Sheridan at Gillette
Thunder Basin at Rock Springs
Douglas at Worland
Evanston at Green River
Jackson at Star Valley
Lander at Rawlins
Powell at Cody
Torrington at Riverton
Greybull at Lovell
Kemmerer at Glenrock
Mountain View at Lyman
Newcastle at Thermopolis
Pinedale at Big Piney
Wheatland at Buffalo
Class 1A 11-man
Lusk at Wright
Cokeville at Rocky Mountain
Tongue River at Big Horn
Upton-Sundance at Southeast
Wind River at Shoshoni
Class 1A six-man
Kaycee at Lingle
Meeteetse at Riverside
Burns at Pine Bluffs
Class 1A six-man
Farson at Snake River
NSI at Hulett
St. Stephens at Dubois
Saratoga at Hanna
Gillette sophs at Moorcroft
Natrona frosh at Encampment
Open: Burlington. Guernsey has already defeated Midwest this week via forfeit.
For a full schedule including kickoff times, as well as results from past weeks, go here. Click on “Week 6” 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: 30-2 (94 percent). This season: 141-39 (78 percent).
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