I don’t know if my joy for the Class 4A football season was properly expressed in that classification’s season preview last week.
So let me say it out loud, clearly: This is gonna be a fun season.
Well, not fun in a competitive kind of way. There’s still clear separation among 4A’s tiers, and that’s not going to change in 2023.
Instead, the individual performances in 4A this year could be so much fun to watch, on both sides of the ball.
With the top five quarterbacks and seven of the top eight tacklers returning this season, 4A is rife with possibility for some amazing individual performances this season. The fun starts Friday with a full slate of Class 4A games, the classification that begins a week earlier than the rest of the state because, well, size matters.
From the team end of things, though, it makes sense to look at the defending champs — well, to be specific, the two-time defending champs — and the challenge they have to start. Sheridan will have a tough trip and a tough draw against Cheyenne Central in what is, on paper, the best 4A game of the week.
The two new Class 4A coaches, Orah Garst at Campbell County and Ted Holmstrom at Rock Springs, will make their debuts at home. The Camels host Cheyenne East, one of the most loaded teams entering the season, while the Tigers host a Kelly Walsh team looking to rebound after a tough season.
Most of the teams who are opting for games over scrimmages or jamborees this week will play out-of-state foes, with six such games on the schedule. My favorite will be in Uinta County. Evanston and Ben Lomond, Utah, have developed a fun rivalry the past couple seasons. Each of the past two games has been decided by one point, Evanston winning 14-13 two years ago and Ben Lomond winning 23-22 last year.
Beyond that, five other games are on the schedule, including a hybrid 9-man/11-man game between Sublette County rivals Pinedale and Big Piney that won’t officially count. If you’ve never seen a hybrid game before, you’re in for a treat. When Big Piney has the ball, teams will use nine players; when Pinedale has the ball, teams will use 11. These kinds of games were actually quite common back in the early 1990s with Wyoming’s previous nine-man setup — I saw quite a few growing up in Midwest — and I’m glad to see their return.
One late switch to the schedule moves what was the Shoshoni jamboree to Greybull.
On to the picks. Since it’s the opening weekend, some of you might have forgotten that bold means I pick that team to win. You’ll catch on quick, though.
Cheyenne East at Campbell County
Kelly Walsh at Rock Springs
Laramie at Natrona
Sheridan at Cheyenne Central
Thunder Basin at Cheyenne South
Lander at Cody
Powell at Riverton
Class 1A six-man
Casper Christian at Kaycee
Burns at Rawlins
Pinedale at Big Piney
Ben Lomond, Utah, at Evanston
Gering, Neb., at Torrington
Malad, Idaho, at Lyman
Mitchell, Neb., at Wheatland
Star Valley at Shelley, Idaho
Teton, Idaho, at Jackson
Mountain View at Green River
Tongue River at Sheridan JV
Several teams are playing near-games this week, as well, with modified rules for certain situations or special teams plays. I try to keep those listed separately on the schedule. As usual during Zero Week, here is a reminder of the rules I use to determine whether a Zero Week contest is a game or is something else:
- 1. Was the game played with four 12-minute quarters with normal timing rules?
- 2. Were officials used? And were normal rules of play instituted for the game?
- 3. Was score kept?
If these three criteria are met, I call it a game and record it as such on this site.
The list of scrimmages and jamborees for the week:
Kemmerer at Cokeville
Big Horn at Natrona sophs
Burlington, Dubois, Encampment, Farson at Dubois jamboree
Lingle, Pine Bluffs, Saratoga, Southeast at Pine Bluffs jamboree
Lusk, Newcastle, Shoshoni, Wind River, Wright at Wright jamboree
Moorcroft at Upton-Sundance (at Sundance)
Worland at Thermopolis
Greybull, Riverside, Wyoming Indian at Greybull jamboree
Lovell at Buffalo
Open: Douglas, Glenrock, Guernsey-Sunrise, Hanna, Hulett, Meeteetse, Midwest, Rocky Mountain, St. Stephens, Snake River, Ten Sleep.
For a full schedule including kickoff times, click here. You can click on “Week 0” at the top of the page to take you directly to this week’s schedule.
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