For first-year head coaches in Wyoming high school football, it’s not uncommon to see a coach find immediate success.
In all, 31 coaches in Wyoming high school football — including current Big Horn coach Kirk McLaughlin — started their coaching careers with an undefeated season (with at least four games in the season).
However, maintaining that success has been tricky.
Of the 31 coaches who went undefeated (four or more games) in their first season, 14 of them didn’t return to coach the next season. Of the remaining 17, six posted losing records the following season.
The only other coach to go undefeated his first two seasons as head coach (minimum four games per season) is Joseph Weller, who led Albin to a 5-0 season in 1942 and a 4-0 season in 1943. Those were Weller’s only two seasons as a head football coach in Wyoming.
That brings us to McLaughlin.
McLaughlin started his head coaching career in Wyoming with an 11-0 season in 2018 followed up by a 2019 campaign that, so far, is 10-0, with the Class 1A 11-man state championship game against Cokeville scheduled for Saturday in Laramie.
The 21 consecutive victories to start a head coaching career in Wyoming is a state record.
Prior to McLaughlin, the coach who started his Wyoming head coaching career with the most consecutive victories was Jim Rooks. Rooks led Jackson to a 9-0 season his first season in 1981 and then won his first six in 1982 before losing to Star Valley in the second-to-last game of the 1982 season — notching 15 straight victories before a loss.
Third on the list is Talbot Rudolph, who posted 11 consecutive victories to start his career in one of the most circuitous paths a coach has ever taken. He started his Wyoming career with a 7-0 season at Pine Bluffs in 1941, then went 1-0 in the only game I can find for Big Piney in 1942. I don’t know where he was in 1943… but in 1944, he was coaching again, this time at the Heart Mountain internment camp, where he went 3-1 (winning the first three games to extend his start to 11 consecutive victories).
Three other coaches posted 10 consecutive victories to start their Wyoming head coaching careers — Lou Maiben (10 straight at Byron in 1954 and 1955), Tony Rouse (10 straight at Kaycee in 2017) and Bill Sollars (10 straight at Shoshoni in 1959).