When the 2022 schedule came out, the Dubois Rams knew they had to start their season fast.

After all, Week 2 and the South Conference opener brought defending state champion Snake River to Fremont County. And Week 3 sent the Rams to play at Encampment, last year’s runners-up.

The gauntlet of the second and third weeks will prove to be a testing ground for a team with big aspirations.

It wasn’t that long ago — just back to 2018 — when Dubois went winless. The next season wasn’t much better, as the Rams went 1-7.

But younger players grew, and players even younger entered the program. Bit by bit, victories accumulated, as Dubois went 3-5 in 2020 and 5-5 last season. Last year also brought the program’s first playoff victory since 2014. Success in other sports has accompanied the success on the field — a tribute not only to the football program but to athletics as a whole, coaches and players and community together.

Meanwhile, with the bulk of their players returning, the Rams are counting on a breakout year in 2022. But they have to prove their potential in the next two weeks, that is.

No bigger challenge exists for Dubois than the one the one facing it this week. Snake River was undefeated last season and returns a Class 1A six-man high four all-state selections. The Rattlers started 2022 fast, shutting out Meeteetse 48-0 last week.

Snake beat Dubois 46-0 last year, which served as a reality check for the up-and-coming Rams that they still had work to do.

That leads into this week’s big question: How much better is Dubois? And if anyone is going to threaten Snake River’s chances at another championship, can Dubois be the one to do it?

And if the Rams somehow emerge as six-man’s favorites after knocking off the top-ranked Rattlers, can they muster the same kind of effort to do the same against Encampment next week?

Then again, Dubois has known since last November what kind of challenge the schedule presented and just how important a fast start would be.

For a program on the rise, that kind of challenge is both welcomed and necessary.

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Other games that are creating beeps on my doppler in Week 2:

Cheyenne East and Thunder Basin are both 2-0. East is in the middle of a tough stretch where four of five games are outside Cheyenne; this one is the second of that five-game stretch, with a home game against Laramie sandwiched in between two road games on either side. How East handles this stretch will dictate much of its season, although it started well last week with at road victory at Natrona. …

Time to figure out which 4A 1-1 team is a real contender: Natrona or Cheyenne Central. Should be a good one in the Capital City. …

Evanston has lost two consecutive one-point games. Will the Red Devils shake off the frustration of two losses like that against Riverton — the third of four consecutive road games for Evanston to start its season? …

Both Glenrock and Tongue River looked sharp to start the season. They’ll meet in the 2A East opener, and I’m extremely intrigued by this matchup. With as even as the East could be this year, the winner will be immediately in the discussion for home field — for now. …

The state’s longest active winning streak ended at 20 games last week with Lyman’s 28-0 loss to Bear Lake, Idaho. The Eagles face struggling Pinedale in their 2A West opener, and although the Eagles are still the favorite, how they match up against the Wranglers will tell us a lot about how the two-time defending 2A champs might fare the rest of the season. …

Wyoming Indian looked much improved in its first victory of the season against Guernsey, a game that broke the Chiefs’ 16-game losing streak. Moreover, that victory was Wyoming Indian’s first against a varsity opponent since Sept. 27, 2013, when the Chiefs beat Ten Sleep in six-man. Riverside will put up a bigger challenge, but the Chiefs should come to Basin confident. …

Speaking of losing streaks, Rawlins ended an 18-game losing streak last week by beating Pinedale. The Outlaws step up from 2A to 3A this week by playing Green River… but the Wolves have lost 14 in a row. Can the Outlaws show they can compete at that level, or will the Wolves break their own losing streak at the expense of the Outlaws? …

Star Valley and Sugar-Salem, Idaho, will renew what has become one of the best interstate rivalries in recent memory on Friday. With both teams coming in undefeated, something will have to give. …

Rich County, Utah, ventures into “2A West” play this week against Mountain View, winners against Wheatland last week, in the Bridger Valley. Get to know the Rebels — they’ll be around this side of the state all season long. …

Another out-of-state game that has my interest is Buffalo’s Saturday game with Resurrection Christian from Loveland, Colo. Resurrection Christian has consistently been one of Colorado’s best 2A teams and is jumping to 3A this year. That jump came with scheduling issues, though, as Buffalo is the second of three consecutive out-of-state foes the Cougars have. And the Bison are the closest of the three, by far. Last week, Resurrection Christian hosted — and beat — Orangewood Christian from Florida. Next week, the Cougars travel to Katy, Texas, to play St. John XXIII. It’s one of the most interesting three-week stretches I’ve ever seen on an out-of-state schedule, and the Bison are right in the thick of it.

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On to this week’s picks. Bolded teams are the ones I anticipate winning, but I’m often wrong, and I appreciate teams pointing out to me when they’re better than I think they are. It helps.

Thursday
Class 1A nine-man
Greybull at Shoshoni
St. Stephens at Wind River
Friday
Class 4A
Cheyenne East
at Thunder Basin
Cheyenne South at Kelly Walsh
Laramie at Sheridan
Natrona at Cheyenne Central
Rock Springs at Campbell County
Class 3A
Evanston
at Riverton
Lander at Powell
Rawlins at Green River
Worland at Cody
Class 2A
Big Horn
at Upton-Sundance
Cokeville at Lovell
Glenrock at Tongue River
Lyman at Pinedale
Newcastle at Wheatland
Thermopolis at Kemmerer
Torrington at Burns
Class 1A nine-man
Lingle
at Lusk
Pine Bluffs at Guernsey
Rocky Mountain at Big Piney
Saratoga at Moorcroft
Southeast at Wright
Wyoming Indian at Riverside
Class 1A six-man
Snake River
at Dubois
Interstate
Douglas
at Gering, Neb.
Rich County, Utah, at Mountain View
Star Valley at Sugar-Salem, Idaho
Wood River, Idaho, at Jackson
Saturday
Class 1A six-man
Burlington
at Hulett
Encampment at Farson
Meeteetse at Kaycee
Ten Sleep at Midwest
Interclass
Cheyenne East frosh at Hanna
Interstate
Buffalo at Loveland Resurrection Christian, Colo.

For a full schedule including kickoff times, click here. You can click on “Week 2” 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: 27-8 (77 percent). This season: 39-11 (78 percent).

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Whose Week 1 performance was an aberration and is ready for redemption in Week 2? Leave a comment here, or hit me up on the Facebook page or on Twitter.

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–patrick

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