I’ve already talked a lot leading into this season about what fun Class 1A nine-man will be this season, so I won’t belabor it anymore.

This week, the hype can stop and the games can start.

Finally, the fun actually begins.

Prime on the schedule is the showdown between last year’s two conference champions — West champ and eventual state champion Shoshoni and East champ and semifinalist Pine Bluffs.

It’s the game many (including me) thought would be the nine-man championship game last year. And it’s also a reprisal of one of the best-played nine-man games of last year’s regular season, Pine Bluffs’ 34-25 victory against Shoshoni in the Wranglers’ only loss of a championship campaign.

They didn’t get to reprise that game in Laramie after Rocky Mountain upset Pine Bluffs in last year’s nine-man semifinals.

So Week 1 this season will have to do.

A postseason rematch is certainly no guarantee, as the Hornets can attest. Rocky Mountain and Wind River loom large in the West as legit title contenders, while a host of other programs have enough potential to play spoilers’ roles.

Regardless of who picks up the victory in Week 1, this game will be an indicator of just how awesome a season we really might have on our hands in this classification.

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Week 1 is always full of intrigue. Every game will uncover secrets we didn’t understand about the 2022 season until it actually started being played. Nevertheless, some games that are drawing a particular bit of curiosity for me include some under-the-radar choices:

East-Natrona and Thunder Basin-Rock Springs will draw the 4A attention, because all four teams won their openers last week. But the Campbell County-Laramie game might be the most intriguing because both teams, despite losing, had their moments last week. Time to see who might be a spoiler. …

Every 2A game is tough to pick, in part because 2A is such a mysterious classification this year. Many of these are literally coin flips — as in, I actually flipped a coin to pick a potential winner. Hopefully 2A clears itself up a bit after this week. Or not. That’s fun too. …

Hulett is in one of the weirdest situations ever — playing the same team three times in a row. Hulett closed its 2021 season with two games against Dubois, one a Week 8 victory, the next a quarterfinal loss. And guess who Hulett gets in Week 1 of 2022? Yep, Dubois, as the two teams meet in a neutral-site game in Ten Sleep. Off the top of my head, the last time I can remember this happening was when Kelly Walsh played Campbell County three straight times in 2003-04, again in a regular season closer –> quarterfinal –> season opener trio. Can anyone else think of other times when this has happened?

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On to this week’s picks. Week 1 picks are tough, but I bold teams I think will win anyway because, well, someone has to win. We don’t allow ties anymore.

Wednesday
Interclass
Cokeville at Smithfield Sky View, Utah, JV (as seen on Twitter)
Thursday
Class 1A nine-man
Moorcroft at Greybull
Pine Bluffs at Shoshoni
Wind River at Saratoga
Friday
Class 4A
Campbell County
at Laramie
Cheyenne East at Natrona
Kelly Walsh at Cheyenne Central
Sheridan at Cheyenne South
Thunder Basin at Rock Springs
Class 3A
Douglas
at Jackson
Lander at Green River
Powell at Worland
Riverton at Cody
Class 2A
Kemmerer
at Glenrock
Lovell at Big Horn
Mountain View at Wheatland
Tongue River at Thermopolis
Class 1A nine-man
Big Piney
at Lusk
Lingle at St. Stephens
Southeast at Riverside
Wright at Rocky Mountain
Wyoming Indian at Guernsey
Class 1A six-man
Kaycee
at Hanna
Snake River at Meeteetse
Interclass
Newcastle at Buffalo
Rawlins at Pinedale
Interstate
Evanston at Jordan, Utah
Lyman at Bear Lake, Idaho
Mitchell, Neb., at Torrington
Preston, Idaho, at Star Valley
Yuma, Colo., at Burns
Saturday
Class 1A six-man

Casper Christian at Burlington
Dubois
vs. Hulett (at Ten Sleep)
Ten Sleep at Encampment
Interclass
Kelly Walsh sophs at Midwest
Open: Farson, Upton-Sundance.

For a full schedule including kickoff times, click here. You can click on “Week 1” at the top of the page to take you directly to this week’s schedule.

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

Last week: 12-3 (80 percent). This season: 12-3 (80 percent).

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Which teams are ready to draw attention their way with a Week 1 victory? Leave a comment here, or hit me up on the Facebook page or on Twitter.

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–patrick

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