The 1A six-man West Conference is going to be perhaps the most competitive conference, top to bottom, in the whole state this year.

If you believe the Wyopreps.com coaches and media poll to start the season, the five best teams in six-man all reside out west. And it just might be true.

Let’s break down the West:

  • Farson is the defending champs and has two undefeated seasons the past three years.
  • Meeteetse was runners-up last year and has maybe six-man’s biggest playmaker in Dace Bennett.
  • Encampment lost by ONE to Farson in the semis and returns a core of talented players.
  • Dubois is the odds-on favorite to win six-man in 2023 with a talented group of sophomores.
  • Snake River is not far removed from an unbeaten season and didn’t graduate anyone — like, zero seniors last year.
  • Burlington somehow managed to go under the radar but is never, ever the weak link.

There’s a chance the West could sweep the East this week in the five six-man inter-conference games this week.

The stakes go up quickly in the West Conference after this week, though. Conference play starts in Week 2 with two of the 15 games that will decide the standings for a conference that won’t disappoint, as Encampment goes to Snake River and Farson hosts Burlington.

But that’s next week.

This week, the focus is a fast start.

And this week, five West teams (Meeteetse is off) face the five East teams to try to do just that.

The sweep has a better than average chance of happening this week, but beware the spoiler. If an East team can win this week, that squad basically becomes the de facto favorite for a top seed from six-man’s forgotten side in 2021.

If you can beat one team from the even West conference, you automatically know you can play with them all.

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Other games that have piqued (not peaked) my interest:

Central was shut out last week against Natrona; Kelly Walsh put up 70. Which one was a fluke, and which one was a harbinger? We’ll find out when the Indians and Trojans meet this week. …

Thunder Basin picked up a pretty amazing victory last week, rallying from a 28-0 deficit to beat Cheyenne East 39-34. The ‘Bolts can ill afford another slow start against Rock Springs, which lived up to some big offseason hype by thumping on Campbell County. …

Would defending 4A champ Cheyenne East really start 0-2? Natrona would love it if they did. …

Sheridan County’s two 2A programs, Big Horn and Tongue River, are both intriguing this year. I’m curious to see how they stack up against Bighorn Basin programs Lovell and Thermopolis, respectively, in a pair of inter-conference games. …

Prior to 2011, Southeast and Shoshoni had never played each other. Now they’ve played eight times, including playoff games in 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2019 and 2020. And this will be the second straight year that Shoshoni will begin its season by playing the team that ended its previous season. It’s the kind of unexpected rivalry that helps define an era, and I’m glad to see it going in 2021.

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Here are the Week 1 picks. Teams I think will give it everything they have are and quite possibly spring an upset are in the regular type; the teams I think they might spring the upset against are in bold.

Thursday
Class 1A nine-man
Pine Bluffs
at Riverside
Interclass
Big Piney
at Evanston JV
Lyman at Rawlins
Friday
Class 4A

Cheyenne Central at Kelly Walsh
Cheyenne East at Natrona
Cheyenne South at Sheridan
Laramie at Campbell County
Rock Springs at Thunder Basin
Class 3A
Cody at Riverton
Green River at Lander
Worland at Powell
Class 2A
Big Horn at Lovell
Glenrock at Pinedale
Wheatland at Kemmerer
Class 1A nine-man
Lingle at Wind River
Moorcroft at Greybull
Rocky Mountain at Wright
St. Stephens at Lusk
Southeast at Shoshoni
Wyoming Indian at Saratoga
Class 1A six-man
Dubois at Kaycee
Encampment at Midwest
Farson at Guernsey-Sunrise
Hulett at Burlington
Interclass
Buffalo at Newcastle
Evanston at Mountain View
Torrington at Douglas
Interstate
Bear Lake, Idaho, at Jackson
Cokeville at Rich County, Utah
Star Valley at Preston, Idaho
Upton-Sundance at Lead-Deadwood, S.D.
Saturday
Class 1A six-man
Hanna at Snake River
Interclass
Sheridan JV at Tongue River
Open: Meeteetse.

Thermopolis’ game with Tongue River this week was canceled, and Burns forfeited its game against Mitchell, Neb. The loss of both games was COVID-19-related. Please mask up and vaccinate, if not for you, then for the football players you obviously care about if you’re this deep into reading this blog post.

Update: St. Stephens also forfeited its game this week against Lusk. A St. Stephens school Facebook post said the forfeit was “due to numbers, lack of practices, eligibility, and injuries.”

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.

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Here are the results of my picks from last week and this season:

Last week: 13-4 (76 percent). This season: 13-4 (76 percent).

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Is the 1A six-man West really the most competitive conference top to bottom? In what other leagues do you see the lowest-ranked team having a realistic chance of beating the highest-ranked team? Leave a comment here, or hit me up on the Facebook page or on Twitter.

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–patrick

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