Every year, when I put together the playoff scenarios entering the final week of the season, I dread what has come to pass in the 3A East this year.
Entering the final week of the season, the four-way tie is possible.
Unlikely, but still chaos.
With Douglas, Buffalo and Riverton all at 3-1 in conference play, the most likely tie is the three-way tie. With each one of those three teams playing a team lower in the East’s caste this season — Douglas traveling to Lander, Buffalo hosting Rawlins and Riverton hosting Worland — the most likely scenario is those three teams all win, finishing tied for the conference title at 4-1.
But what if they all lose?
Pick your scenario; I mean, chaos comes in many forms. Food poisoning at the team dinner. History test that no one can pass and everyone’s ineligible. Nationwide phone glitch and everyone sleeps through their pregame nap.
Choose your scenario, or choose three of them. But, for argument’s sake, it happens.
Then Douglas, Buffalo and Riverton are all 3-2 in conference play — and so, too, all of a sudden, is Worland.
It’s the most interesting possibility for postseason chaos in a Week 8 that’s surprisingly devoid of such drama.
It feels a bit weird, but of the 31 games this week, only 15 — less than half — will have any effect on playoff qualification or seeding. As far as qualifying, all eight spots in 4A, 1A nine-man and 1A six-man, seven of eight in 3A and six of eight in 2A have been claimed. In what remains, the 3A West (three teams going for one spot) and 2A West (three teams going for two spots) have any drama in them whatsoever about who’s either in or out of the playoffs.
In the 3A West, it’s Evanston, Jackson and Green River facing a half-simple, half-convoluted scenario. First, the simple: Evanston is in with a win against Green River. But if the Wolves win, well — it gets messy. The Wolves’ only pathway into the playoffs is to win by at least 12 points, have Star Valley beat Jackson, and then win a three-way coin flip. It’s better than nothing… and it’s entirely possible. Meanwhile, the drama at the bottom of the conference hides what might be the best game of the week near the top, where Cody and Powell will face off in an intra-county rivalry game that will decide playoff hosting duties for the first round.
Meanwhile, in the 2A West, Lyman, Lovell and Thermopolis are all in the running for the final two available spots in that conference. Conveniently, Lovell hosts Thermopolis this week, making the scenarios a bit easier to follow. But in two of the four possibilities, a three-way tie could happen, including one where two of the three tied teams make it in and the third one is out.
Maybe the most interesting game of the schedule has nothing to do with the playoffs, and that is the nonconference game between Dubois and Burlington. The South is the stronger of the two six-man conferences this year, so it will be interesting to see how the North’s top seed in the Huskies stacks up against the South’s No. 3 in the Rams.
While every other game will have its drama, and its place, the stakes will be muted for most teams.
No worries, though. Plenty will be on the line starting next week, when the playoffs make every game a potential season-destroyer. Or season-maker, if you’re the optimist.
Just maybe make sure that potato salad hasn’t been sitting in the sun. Study for that history test just a little bit more. Set a backup alarm.
Fight the chaos. (Or, if you’re Worland or Green River, embrace it.)
Here are this week’s picks. Bold means that team will likely win. It’s simple, just like me.
Evanston at Green River
Cokeville at Lyman
Class 1A nine-man
Wind River at Rocky Mountain
Rock Springs JV at Snake River
Cheyenne Central at Rock Springs
Cheyenne East at Kelly Walsh
Laramie at Cheyenne South
Natrona at Thunder Basin
Sheridan at Campbell County
Douglas at Lander
Jackson at Star Valley
Powell at Cody
Rawlins at Buffalo
Worland at Riverton
Burns at Big Horn
Mountain View at Kemmerer
Newcastle at Torrington
Thermopolis at Lovell
Tongue River at Wheatland
Upton-Sundance at Glenrock
Class 1A nine-man
Big Piney at Riverside
Lingle at Saratoga
Moorcroft at Guernsey
Pine Bluffs at Southeast
Wright at Lusk
Class 1A six-man
Casper Christian at Hulett
Encampment at Midwest
Rich County, Utah, at Pinedale
Class 1A six-man
Burlington at Dubois
Farson at Kaycee
Hanna at Ten Sleep
Open: Greybull, Meeteetse, Wyoming Indian. Shoshoni and Wyoming Indian are playing a hybrid varsity-JV game on Thursday that won’t count in the standings; Shoshoni’s varsity also played the Natrona sophomores on Tuesday this week.
For a full schedule including kickoff times, click here. You can click on “Week 8” 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: 29-3 (91 percent). This season: 213-37 (85 percent).
If you like what you see here, consider a page sponsorship.