It’s not a stretch to call this week’s game between Wind River and Shoshoni the most important game in the 53-year history of their rivalry.

The series itself has been one of the most even in the state between two consistent rivals. They’ve met every year since 1969, when Wind River became a school after the consolidation of Pavillion and Morton. Wind River leads the series 29-26, and the average score has been 20-19.

Even, but not always important.

Despite being neighbors, separated by 35 miles of farm and range in Fremont County, and despite being relatively the same size and often in the same conference, Wind River and Shoshoni have never finished first and second, side by side, when paired in the same conference. That has rendered most regular-season games between the programs important in terms of rivalry but not in terms of conference championships or home-field advantage.

Also, their only playoff meeting came in the first round of the 2000 Class 1A Division I playoffs, a game undefeated Shoshoni unsurprisingly won against a .500 Cougar team.

Of the 55 games the Wranglers and Cougars have played, none has been bigger than that one.

This week’s game, scheduled for Thursday night in Shoshoni, could surpass it.

Already in 2021, every other team in the Class 1A nine-man West has at least one conference loss. Shoshoni and Wind River are the exceptions. They’re atop the conference standings at 2-0 and 1-0, respectively, with everyone else is chasing them.

Moreover, both are undefeated at 3-0, and both have a victory over the defending state champions in 1A nine-man, Southeast.

This game is more than just critical for the season. It’s historic for a rivalry that has been great on the field but has rarely has implications beyond bragging rights.

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Week 4 is chock full of critical games — lots of opportunities for teams to prove they belong in championship chases. And several games are just downright interesting:

Is Class 4A more than a two-team race? Even with four teams at 3-1, all chasing 4-0 Sheridan, it’s easy to think so. However, two 3-1 teams can jump immediately back into the War Memorial conversation this week. Both Natrona (playing at Rock Springs) and Cheyenne East (hosting Sheridan) have tremendous opportunities to turn the 4A conversation into something new. …

The Coal Bowl between Thunder Basin Campbell County is a heck of a lot more interesting this year considering the Camels’ two victories have been by more than 40 points each, while the ‘Bolts’ Ws have been a bit more modest. …

The 3A West never disappoints, and every week of the season is filled with huge games. This week’s a little more special, though, as the rivalry games between Jackson and Star Valley (in Afton) and between Powell and Cody (in Cody) will set the pace for the rest of the season. Moreover, both Cody and Powell are undefeated so far this year, creating some extra motivation that goes beyond just a county rivalry. (And, oh yeah, Evanston is 4-0 and playing at Green River. Like I said, never disappoints.)…

The 1A six-man West is also loads of fun, and Saturday’s game between Dubois and Snake River will be right at the top of the list of ones I’d love to see in person. The Rattlers are rolling, but the Rams are dangerous. …

Hanna took the last two weeks off, canceling games against East’s and Natrona’s sophomores. The Miners are (hopefully) entering this week’s game with Guernsey refreshed and healthy. But it’s weird to be at the end of September and seeing a team playing just its second game this year, and its first home game to boot.

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Each week, I surmise who I think will win and lose each game. Sometimes I’m right, sometimes I’m wrong, but I always note the teams I think will win in bold so you and I can look back after games are done and see just how much I’ve screwed it up that week:

Thursday
Class 2A

Big Piney at Lyman
Class 1A nine-man
Riverside
at Wyoming Indian
Wind River at Shoshoni
Friday
Class 4A

Cheyenne South at Cheyenne Central
Laramie at Kelly Walsh
Natrona at Rock Springs
Sheridan at Cheyenne East
Thunder Basin at Campbell County
Class 3A
Evanston at Green River
Jackson at Star Valley
Lander at Worland
Powell at Cody
Rawlins at Buffalo
Riverton at Douglas
Class 2A
Burns at Big Horn
Cokeville at Pinedale
Lovell at Thermopolis
Mountain View at Kemmerer
Tongue River at Newcastle
Torrington at Upton-Sundance
Wheatland at Glenrock
Class 1A nine-man
Greybull at Rocky Mountain
Lusk at Lingle
Pine Bluffs at Southeast
Wright at Moorcroft
Class 1A six-man
Meeteetse at Burlington
Saturday
Class 1A nine-man

Saratoga at St. Stephens
Class 1A six-man
Dubois at Snake River
Guernsey-Sunrise at Hanna
Kaycee at Hulett
Interclass
Kelly Walsh sophs at Midwest
Natrona sophs at Encampment
Open: Farson.

For a full schedule including kickoff times, as well as results from past weeks, go here. Click on “Week 4” 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: 25-7 (78 percent). This season: 88-23 (79 percent).

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Which Week 4 game has you ready to make a trip across the state to see it, even if you don’t know any of the players? Leave a comment here, or hit me up on the Facebook page or on Twitter.

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–patrick

2 Thoughts on “Week 4 picks: Fremont County’s small-school rivalry hits the big time

  1. Major Good on September 23, 2021 at 8:58 am said:

    Your predictions are incredibly accurate, even those you make in January.

  2. Too kind, Major… I miss my share, that’s for sure. And I love to see upsets and surprises! Makes it a lot more interesting. 🙂
    –patrick

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