No superfluous intros this week. We’ve got too much to talk about. So let’s get into the picks, with projected winners in bold, for this week’s semifinal playoff round of Wyoming high school football:
(5) Thunder Basin at (1) Sheridan: The number 29 looms large in this game. It’s the number of consecutive victories Sheridan has had, and it’s also the margin of victory Sheridan had in its 41-12 Week 4 victory against the ‘Bolts in Gillette. Sheridan has been the most consistent program in 4A for years now — this is their 16th consecutive semifinal trip — and barring what would be one of the larger 4A playoff upsets we’ve seen in a while, I don’t think that will stop this week.
(2E) Buffalo at (1W) Star Valley: Don’t get me wrong. Buffalo has been solid this season. But I don’t know that anyone outside Johnson County has them as title contenders. Then the Bison go and beat Powell in pretty commanding fashion in the first round. I still like the Braves here, but they better be on their toes. Because now, everyone’s putting “Bison” and “title contention” in the same sentence.
(4W) Evanston at (2W) Cody: As I mentioned in last week’s picks, Evanston is now 3A’s Cinderella story. After 15 seasons without a playoff victory, the Red Devils finally have one. And I think this game will be closer than the 48-13 victory Cody put on Evanston in Week 7… but not a lot closer.
(2E) Torrington at (1W) Mountain View: Even with all the parity in the 2A ranks this year, no one has been able to figure out Mountain View. But Torrington has won five straight, and its only loss since Week 1 was a nail-biter to Big Horn. The Trailblazers will be ready for that challenge, and that could make this one close late.
(2W) Lyman at (1E) Big Horn: Both teams showed a pretty amazing resiliency last week. Lyman rallied from a 13-0 deficit to win; Big Horn only led by seven entering the final quarter and won by 21. They’ll both be ready for late-game challenges. I’m only picking Big Horn because of home field — in Lyman, I would have taken the Eagles. Best game of the week?
Class 1A nine-man
(2E) Southeast at (1W) Wind River: I really, really think if there’s a coach in 1A nine-man who can prepare his team for this kind of challenge, it’s Southeast’s Mark Bullington. The Cyclones will absolutely be prepared for what the Cougars bring. I think it’ll be close, and I think the Cougars will need to be playing their best to come out of this with their first trip to a championship game since 1997. But I think they will be up for it. As you can tell, I’ve thought about this game a lot. Best game of the week?
Class 1A six-man
(3S) Dubois at (1S) Snake River: What the Tremblys — coach David and son Wyatt — have helped Dubois accomplish in their final seasons in their roles leading the Rams have been memorable. Those emotions might be enough to help the Rams hang with the Rattlers, who have proven time and again to be the state’s best six-man team this year. Ultimately, though, the Rattlers have won 29 in a row for a reason.
(2S) Encampment at (1N) Burlington: No. Don’t make me pick. I’ve seen this game coming for weeks now, and I’ve tried to parse out what might give one of these teams an advantage over the other. I’ve come up with nothing. Both teams have consistent offenses, solid defenses and winning traditions. They’re both coached well and play disciplined. And they both are deserving of a spot in Laramie. I think Encampment has a slight edge, but don’t be surprised to see the Huskies make it back to the War for a second consecutive year, especially at home. Best game of the week?
(3) Natrona at (2) Cheyenne East: The Mustangs have been a bit frustrating — they’ve played well against lesser competition but have struggled to play up to that next level. That included a 45-7 loss to East in Week 1. The Thunderbirds, meanwhile, are on an offensive hot streak. All they have to do is score 32 points against the Mustangs this week to break the state 11-man record for points in a season. The record is 577 (Big Horn in 2018), and East has 546 already this season.
Class 1A nine-man
(2W) Big Piney at (1E) Lingle: Both of these teams should enter this game with every reason in the world to feel confident. Lingle hasn’t lost yet this season, while Big Piney is 8-1 and comes in off a quarterfinal victory where they vanquished the defending state champions. While Lingle has shown a lot of resolve and hasn’t lost yet, I think Big Piney has been more consistent this year, and that might be the difference.
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: 18-2 (90 percent). This season: 255-45 (85 percent).
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