So, here’s the scenario: 44 of Wyoming’s 64 high school football teams have completed their seasons.
Of the 20 remaining, maybe you’re looking for an underdog, a team that maybe hasn’t made it this far in a while, a Cinderella story full of unexpected twists and turns.
This season? Keep looking.
Of the 20 remaining teams, 15 were semifinalists last year; the entire 1A nine-man bracket is a repeat of last year’s matchups, even down to the locations. Every team that’s still alive has reached the semifinals at least once in the past four years; Burlington, at three years removed, is the only team that hasn’t made the semis at least once the past three years.
Meanwhile, Sheridan is in the semifinals for the 15th consecutive season, Cody and Cheyenne East for their sixth consecutive seasons.
And all of last year’s state champs — Sheridan, Cody, Lyman, Shoshoni, Snake River — are still alive. Four of them are playing at home this week.
So this week’s action is punctuated by teams that have been here before, that know the pressure of being this close and have histories of success.
That will make the games close, thrilling, interesting. And it will keep the glass slipper in the closet for another year.
Of the remaining teams, Wind River is the closest thing we might have to a Cinderella story — the Cougars haven’t made a state championship game, or won a championship, in 24 years.
Cheyenne Central hasn’t been to a title game in 12 seasons and hasn’t won one in 16.
Douglas and Dubois, meanwhile, are sitting on seven-year streaks of not making it to the title game.
It’s Burlington, though, that has the longest title drought. The Huskies made a title game four years ago but haven’t won a title in 27 years.
However, all of them have had success in the playoffs in recent years and aren’t strangers to the semifinals.
Just like everyone else this year.
On to this week’s picks, which are significantly tougher choices than the quarterfinals because not a single game on the schedule this week looks like a sure thing. Every team that’s still alive has earned its spot; no Cinderellas means no fake contenders. Projected winners in bold, but this is honestly one of the most solid rounds of semifinal football across every classification we’ve seen in a long time.
(4) Cheyenne Central at (1) Sheridan: Central has put together a solid season, right at or maybe slightly above expectations for 2022. But it will take a game of a season to knock off the undefeated Broncs at home, who make a living off winning playoff games at Homer Scott Field.
(3) Natrona at (2) Cheyenne East: I love this matchup for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the contrasting styles the teams have. I like East’s ability to strike for a score from basically any place on the field, and at any time, and I think a couple lightning strikes from the Thunderbirds are the difference in this one.
(2W) Star Valley at (1E) Douglas: Ultimately, both teams won their quarterfinal games. But the Braves were quite a bit more on their game in the first round than the Bearcats. That said, Douglas was everything it needed to be when it had to be, and if that momentum carries over into this week, this one could be an exciting one late.
(2E) Buffalo at (1W) Cody: Buffalo was one of just a handful of teams to give Cody a game that actually lasted four quarters this season. So the Broncs should be ready for a bigger challenge than what they’ve seen in a while. Cody’s still got the edge, but it’s hardly a walkover.
(2W) Lyman at (1E) Big Horn: The Rams got pushed to the edge last week by Mountain View; the Eagles had the same happen to them by Burns. I honestly believe this game is a toss-up, as last week’s results totally offset each other and gave me no indication which way this one will lean. This could be the best game of the week.
(3W) Cokeville at (1W) Lovell: Cokeville’s quarterfinal victory against Tongue River was impressive, and the Panthers’ 372-mile one-way trip to Lovell is actually quite a bit shorter than the bus ride they had in the first round. Still, Lovell is undefeated for a reason, and the Bulldogs will be the favorites to make it back to Laramie.
Class 1A nine-man
(2W) Rocky Mountain at (1E) Pine Bluffs: Well, well, well. Don’t think for a second that the Hornets will overlook the Grizzlies, who in 2021 were Pine’s title spoilers (in the semifinals, in Pine Bluffs). To be honest, no 1A-9 team has looked as unbeatable the past two weeks as Rocky, so Pine has to be focused to get this one.
(3W) Wind River at (1W) Shoshoni: A nice intra-county rivalry is on display for the second consecutive year in the semifinals, and for the second consecutive year the Wranglers host. Both teams looked good in the quarterfinals, and expect this one to be closer than last year’s playoff meeting. If Shoshoni’s focused…
Class 1A six-man
(2S) Dubois at (1N) Burlington: The Week 8 game between these two teams — Burlington’s first loss of the season by 60-52 — was either a perfect preview of what we’re about to see this week, or it’s an anomaly because both teams were holding back, knowing they’d likely see each other in the semis. My guess is a bit of both, which means neither has an advantage.
(3S) Encampment at (1S) Snake River: The Rattlers haven’t lost since 2020, and this rematch of last year’s state championship doesn’t look like the type of game to end that streak, especially the way Snake dominated the first matchup.
For a full schedule including kickoff times, click here. You can click on “Semifinals” at the top of the page to take you directly to this week’s schedule.
Here are the results of my picks from last week and this season:
Last week: 19-1 (95 percent). This season: 260-39 (87 percent).
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