Welcome to zero week — the most secretive week of the Wyoming high school football season.
Oh, sure, games are scheduled. So are some jamborees and scrimmages. But verifying what’s what is definitely a pain, at least for me.
My displeasure with the opening weekend of football season has been voiced on more than one occasion (click here and here to see past rants). Don’t get me wrong here — I love the chance that Wyoming’s teams from the smaller schools have with this week. For me, though, it’s a logistical nightmare. That’s really my only beef with it — it’s inconvenient for me to have to figure out what’s a game, what’s a scrimmage, who’s taking the week off and what I count.
It reached a frustrating peak for me this week when I called a school to try and figure out if the school’s football team was playing this weekend. That school’s representatives refused to tell me if the team was playing or not until I answered a series of questions — who I was, why I wanted to know, why I cared. Even then, the secrecy surrounding what should be a fun way to start the season was unnerving and, frankly, insulting. I eventually gave up — I felt so uncomfortable by the questioning that I just hung up. (By the way, I eventually got the information from another school that was more than happy to help. Mad props to not being weird about it.)
But never mind my problems. The players don’t care about those. This is supposed to be a fun week, and in the right situations, it is. Minus the Class 4A’s official start to the season, this week gives teams chances to experiment, to have some fun going against someone other than their teammates and to see just what is in store for the next eight to 11 weeks. That’s cool.
As a reminder for what I do in the way of record-keeping during this week: I keep track of games. Games execute normal timing rules, use officials and keep score. If it meets those criteria, I count the game in a team’s win-loss record. Below I’ve picked the winners for the games and posted the remainder of the schedule along with it. Remember, projected winners are in bold.
If you see any discrepancies between your knowledge and the schedule I have posted below, please let me know ASAP so I can set it straight. After all, me calling the school directly might lead to a list of questions of which the FBI would be proud.
Cheyenne Central at Natrona: Having a game this big this early in the season is a real treat. I am really excited to see how this game turns out, because the winner receives an automatic target on its collective back. The loser avoids the target. Both options are dangerous when handed to good teams — and the Indians and Mustangs both plan on being quite good this year. 7 p.m.
Evanston at Gillette: Both teams have generated some unique buzz around them this offseason. Can Evanston flourish under a new coach? Can Gillette replace all of its talented players that graduated? Lots of questions will be answered in this one. 7 p.m.
Green River at Cheyenne East: I will wander over the hill to Cheyenne to check this one out on Friday. I’m anticipating a fantastic game — I think Green River is underestimated and I think East has expectations no team coming off a 2-7 season should have to endure. 6 p.m.
Laramie at Rock Springs: Both teams will be trying out some inexperienced players in some new positions. That means this game could swing on one big play — and that should make it a really fun game to attend. 7 p.m.
Sheridan at Kelly Walsh: The Trojans have to be eager to have their rematch with the Broncs so early in the season. Remember, KW was only two points away from playing at the War last year. But Sheridan is the defending champ and they, too, are eager to start the season strong. I’ll give the edge to the Broncs, but not by much. 7 p.m.
Lovell at Thermopolis: Can the Bobcats go on another run like they did last year? This intriguing game against the Bulldogs in the opener will help answer that question. (PS — I LOVE this game. The two schools made an effort to really get the full potential out of Zero Week by scheduling this one and I was thrilled to see it on the schedule. Mad props to both schools.) 7 p.m.
Greybull at Riverside: After four consecutive losses — a streak snapped by Greybull’s win over Riverside last year — the old rivalry between the Buffs and Rebels might finally be swinging back Greybull’s way. (Another excellent example of fully realizing the potential of the openness of zero week. Mad props to both schools for keeping this rivalry going.) 7:30 p.m.
Lyman at Altamont, Utah: Altamont is consistently one of the better teams in Utah. Lyman will get tested in this one — but it will also give the Eagles a great opportunity to gear up for the season and will definitely make them a better team. 7 p.m.
Newcastle at Custer, S.D.: Last season, Newcastle beat Custer for the first time since 1991 by topping the Wildcats in double overtime in zero week. I’m sure Custer remembers — and wants revenge. 6 p.m.
Rich County, Utah, at Mountain View: Rich County consistently puts out one of Utah’s top small-school teams. Mountain View can win it, but the Buffs need the sort of consistency in this game that the Rebels tend to have game in and game out. 4 p.m.
Jackson at Riverton: This one should be fun. Both teams are a bit under the radar this fall, but they both have potential to be huge spoilers in 3A this fall. That said, I think Riverton could be the least talked-about dangerous team in the classification this year. We’ll see, at least in part, on Saturday. 1 p.m.
Hulett at Midwest (six-man): A last-minute addition to the schedule after Hulett couldn’t field an 11-man team, this game might give the Red Devils a taste of the game that they might play full-time for the next couple years. 1 p.m.
Southeast at Cheyenne East JV: The four-time defending state champs start the quest for “one for the thumb”… even though as a player you can only win four titles in a four-year high school career… There goes that metaphor. Oh, well. 1 p.m.
Wind River at Big Piney: Another great zero week opportunity for two teams of about equal strength (on paper) to hash it out on the gridiron. By the way, did everyone forget about Big Piney? Looking at how the West is shaping up this fall, the Punchers could be fighting it out with Greybull for home-field advantage come their Week 7 showdown. Noon.
Cody at Laurel, Mont.: Laurel has beaten Cody three out of the past four years. Even so, I’ll lean on the law of averages and a little home-state pride and call for the Broncs to pull the slight upset on the road. 7 p.m.
Powell at Miles City, Mont.: If you have the chance, get on up to Miles City on Saturday night. This could be the best game of the week — especially if you appreciate good defense. Remember, these two teams played to a 7-0 score last year in Powell…. 7 p.m.
The remainder of the zero week schedule:
Scrimmages and Jamborees
Cokeville, Kemmerer at Lander, 6 p.m.
Big Horn, Glenrock, Normative Services, Rocky Mountain, Tongue River at Sheridan jamboree (at NSI), 9:30 a.m.
Burns, Lusk, Pine Bluffs, Torrington at Torrington jamboree, 9 a.m.
Cheyenne South, Saratoga, Wright at Casper (NCHS), 10 a.m.
Shoshoni at Wyoming Indian, 10 a.m.
Wheatland at Rawlins, 11 a.m.
Off: Buffalo, Burlington, Douglas, Dubois, Guernsey-Sunrise, Farson, Guernsey-Sunrise, Hanna, Kaycee, Lingle, Meeteetse, Moorcroft, Pinedale, Snake River, Star Valley, Sundance, Ten Sleep, Upton, Worland.
As always, remember that I do these picks to have a little fun. After all, we have to remember that, when we boil it down, we’re talking about children playing games. Don’t take it too seriously and hopefully you will have fun with it, too. 🙂
So there they are — the picks for opening weekend. Agree? Disagree? Something wrong with my schedule? Post your thoughts below, then let’s go enjoy some football (without the KGB-style questioning).