For the first time in a long time, I can honestly say this about any round of semifinal playoffs:
That looks fresh.
I’m talking specifically about the Class 2A bracket, where we’ll see two games between programs who have never faced each other before now.
In a parity-filled classification, it only seems right to get the only two such games in the state happening in the same classification.
Torrington and Mountain View meet in one semifinal game, while Upton-Sundance and Lyman meet in the other.
In short, no one knows what to expect, least of all me.
Torrington and Mountain View are both 7-2, with each of them suffering a loss to a 3A program (Torrington to Douglas, Mountain View to Evanston) as well as a conference opponent.
It’s a great matchup for two programs that crossed paths in both 2017 and 2018, but as ships passing in the night, not ships destined for a collision. Those years, both the Buffalos and Trailblazers reached Laramie, with the ‘Blazers finishing as 3A runners-up both seasons and the Buffalos winning the 2A title in 2017 and finishing second in 2018.
Now, they get to finally meet each other. And that’s pretty cool.
Also pretty cool? Lyman (9-1) and Upton-Sundance (8-1) are meeting in a semifinal game that will likely be defined by defense. Upton-Sundance and Lyman are the only two teams in 2A who have allowed fewer than 100 points this season, with the Patriots allowing 89 and the Eagles just 67.
These two programs, too, are strangers to each other, but that’s to be expected with the Upton-Sundance co-op being less than a decade old. However, Lyman also never played either Upton or Sundance when they were separate programs.
Of the other eight games this week, six (East-Sheridan, Kelly Walsh-Thunder Basin, Powell-Cody, Shoshoni-Southeast, Lusk-Rocky Mountain, Encampment-Farson) give us matchups have already been played this season. So… not as fresh, as most of those games weren’t all that close in the regular season. Cheyenne East and Sheridan played a 16-14 thriller in Week 4, but all the other games were decided by double-digit margins.
Jackson and Douglas haven’t played since 2013, so that game has a semblance of freshness. And Meeteetse and Kaycee haven’t played each other since 2017, but they played against each other in every postseason from 2013 to 2017, so it’s almost nostalgic to see that pairing brought back.
Class 2A, though — Wyoming’s biggest and most parity-filled classification — will draw much of my attention this week. That attention has been earned by a pair of games that help make the bracket even more unexpected — and fun.
Here are my picks for this week’s games. Chances are you’re not even reading this paragraph, because you know by now that bold means that I’m picking that team to win. So you’re just glazing right past this to see who I think will win. Glaze… mmmm, donuts…
(4) Sheridan at (1) Cheyenne East: Unstoppable force, immovable object, blah blah blah. The bottom line is that these are the two hottest teams in 4A, and it seems weird to have them playing in the semis. East, but just barely, in what could be the game of the year in the entire state, all season.
(7) Kelly Walsh at (3) Thunder Basin: The Trojans proved their mettle last week and will give the ‘Bolts a challenge, but I still like Thunder Basin at home in this one.
(3W) Powell at (1W) Cody: Think Cody won’t be ready for this one? Then again, think Powell won’t be? Broncs in a tight one in an intra-county rivalry that deserves all the love it’s gonna get this week.
(2W) Jackson at (1E) Douglas: Jackson’s offense looked on point last week, and even though I think Douglas will present a challenge, I like what the Broncs have going right now. I wish it was more nuanced than that, but it’s not.
(2W) Mountain View at (1E) Torrington: With the parity that’s present in 2A this year, I’m totally not going to be surprised by a Mountain View victory. But Torrington looked great last week, and the Trailblazers have home field.
(2E) Upton-Sundance at (1W) Lyman: If there’s one team that can give the Eagles’ defense fits, it might just be the Patriots. I get the feeling this is one of those that’s gonna be decided by extra points, like 14-13 or something close to that.
Class 1A nine-man
(2W) Shoshoni at (1E) Southeast: The Cyclones shut out the Wranglers 22-0 in Yoder in Week 1. The problem for an improved Shoshoni team is that Southeast has improved, too.
(2E) Lusk at (1W) Rocky Mountain: We saw this matchup four weeks ago. Remember how wild that 62-50 shootout Grizzlies victory was? Well, that means anything could happen this time around, and the Tigers are dangerous.
Class 1A six-man
(3W) Encampment at (1W) Farson: Undefeated Farson won the first go-round of this season 74-32 back in Week 3. It’ll be closer this time, but the undefeated Pronghorns have too much depth.
(2W) Meeteetse at (1E) Kaycee: The Longhorns have been lights out basically all season, and I like their chances against a Kaycee team who’s — get this — playing its seventh home game in the past eight weeks.
For a full schedule including kickoff times, as well as results from past weeks, go here. Click on “Semifinals” 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: 20-1 (95 percent). This season: 227-60 (79 percent).
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