Each Friday, wyoming-football.com is examining a Wyoming high school football classification to preview this fall’s action. Today we’re checking out Class 3A, the fourth preview in the series.

Four questions to answer
How will Green River’s move to 3A affect the classification? Not as much as you might think. The Wolves, who are not playing in the big-school division for the first time since 1977, come into the classification at a brutal time when just about every school in the classification is better than it was last year. Meanwhile, Green River is coming off a 2-8 season that ended with a 45-point loss to eventual champ Natrona in the 4A playoffs and have a new coach in Don Maggi. Nevertheless, the Wolves’ move helps shift the power from the East Conference to the West Conference, where playoff qualifying will be a difficult task for even the best teams.

Can Douglas keep on winning? The short answer is yes. The Bearcats, winners of 30 consecutive games, are closing in on a pair of state records — the consecutive victories streak of 34 held by Laramie (1959-63) and the consecutive unbeaten streak of 36 held by Worland (1953-56). And while the Bearcats lose a bevy of talented seniors to graduation, similar losses the past two years have not yet stopped the team from winning all those games in a row.

Speaking of streaks… Can Rawlins break its losing streak? Hopefully. The Outlaws have lost 23 consecutive games dating back to 2008. A third consecutive 0-8 season would push the streak to 31 and into the territory of record-breaking… but for the sake of everyone involved in the Outlaw program, let’s hope it doesn’t reach that point.

Why does it seem like every team in the classification has a chance at the title? Because basically every team has an all-state player back. In all, 13 players who were all-state selections last fall are back this fall, an unusually high number for Class 3A.

Four players to watch
Vince Sleep, Powell. Sleep was the only sophomore to make the 3A all-state team last year, but it’s pretty easy to see why. He totaled 183 defensive points, and his 20.3 points per game led the classification. He also had 11 tackles for loss, a pair of fumble recoveries and an interception.

Josh Cragoe, Powell. While Sleep piled up the points for the Panthers’ defense, Cragoe piled up the big plays. He had three interceptions, three fumble recoveries and five tackles for loss last fall, all in all totaling 143 defensive points.

Bronson Hernandez, Worland. Hernandez was Worland’s leading rusher and leading tackler last fall. His rush numbers (76 carries, 418 yards, 3 TDs) were decent and could increase this fall, while his defensive numbers (125 points, 33 solo tackles, 5 tackles for loss and 2 fumble recoveries) made him stand out on that side of the ball, too.

Tanner Simpson and Derek Peil, Lander. I’m cheating a bit by taking two players here, but you can’t talk about one without talking about the other. They combined for 44 catches, 800 yards and 7 receiving touchdowns last year; defensively, Peil led team with 102 defensive points and 7 tackles for loss while Simpson led the Tigers with 3 interceptions.

Four key games
Douglas at Green River, Week 1. Really don’t need to explain this one, do I? Green River’s first 3A game… Douglas trying to keep its win streak going on the road… Intriguing.

Douglas at Buffalo, Week 4. If Douglas continues its win streak through nonconference play, the conference opener against the Bison will be to tie Laramie’s 34-game win streak record. But the Bison, last year’s state runners-up, will be no pushover.

Riverton at Buffalo, Week 5. Lost in the shuffle a bit this year is Riverton, which some people tend to forget was one of the four teams in the 3A semifinals last year. This trip to Buffalo could be the one that makes the rest of 3A sit up and take notice.

Cody at Powell, Week 7. My guess is that this game will decide the West Conference title. Both teams are loaded with talent and both want to earn that home-field advantage through the first two rounds of the playoffs.

Predicted order of finish
East: Douglas; Buffalo; Lander; Riverton; Torrington; Rawlins.
West: Powell; Cody; Green River; Star Valley; Worland; Jackson.

The last year Green River played in a classification below the big-school class was 1976. Why is that year memorable for Wolves fans?


22 Thoughts on “3A season preview

  1. Patrick,

    I’m guessing that was a great year because they won a state championship. Are there more reasons it was particularly memorable, though?

  2. Steve core on August 12, 2011 at 10:41 am said:

    They won the state championship at Buffalo, the last time the Wolves played the Bison. Two players not mentioned that need to be are Kolby Kester and Colter Hamel. Hamel will be one of the best QB’s and Kester is the fastest kid in the state. Check out the track results from last year Class 4a. Green River will be tougher than you think Patrick.

  3. Riverton on August 12, 2011 at 12:09 pm said:

    I think what is great this year is the schedule. The conference winners both will have beaten the best in their side but also play the best of the other side. Looks like we are rated about 7th, same as last year but we get to all 6 teams ahead of us. Last year we didn’t get to play Cody to decide 3rd and 4th but this year I think we will have played everyone rated ahead of us so it will be decided on the field. Could be a year where a 4th seed could beat a 1 seed in the playoffs.

  4. Dahl Erickson on August 12, 2011 at 1:21 pm said:

    That Western Conference is gonna be tough up top and Lander in the East definitely adds another quality program to that league. Dad Gum I’m ready for some ball!

  5. Dahl Erickson on August 12, 2011 at 1:28 pm said:

    Steve’s right about Hamel and Kester’s speed for sure. Braves and Wolves have played 64 times over the course of history, pretty darn close with SV leading the series 31-29-4.

    Some SV players to watch, Jason Lewis had 44 catches for 483 last year and 3 scores, TJ Guild had 293 yds rushing and 20 catches for 193. Conner Hoopes had 14 catches for 167 and 3 scores and started on defense the last few games and really came on strong. Ridge Hillyard, even though he wasn’t the starting QB last year has 118 career pass attempts, 496 rushing yards and 215 receiving yards. I expect a good year from him.

    Hard not to tip the hat to Powell at this time of year, lots of all-staters returning. Cody has a very strong program also.

  6. Patrick on August 12, 2011 at 3:25 pm said:

    I think the top three in the West are almost interchangeable. I think third in the West may be better than first in the East this year. Maybe. *Ducks flying footballs from Douglas and Buffalo.*

    It was sooooo tough to put Riverton so low. This may be the year that Riverton finishes in the top two in the East and hosts a playoff game. But Lander and Buffalo… and Douglas… my goodness. And the poster Riverton makes a great point about the schedule. The Wolverines have them all lined up on the schedule this season, so they have multiple opportunities to prove me wrong. I think they will, at least a couple times.

    Steve, quick question, why was Kester left off 4A all-state last year? He and Woods from East were both solid RBs last year. To have neither one on either first or second team was really surprising to me.

    Overall, I think the West is a tad stronger than the East top to bottom, but the East’s top four can compete with anyone. The scramble for that fourth spot in the West will be really interesting to watch unfold.

    Karl’s got the trivia, as does Steve. The Wolves won the Class A title in 1976 before moving on to Class AA in 1977.


  7. 3A Rocks on August 12, 2011 at 8:56 pm said:

    Patrick I have to disagree with you, I think that the west is full of parity just like it was last year, just better overall talent. The west is equal too but not better the the top in the east.

    Frankly, it amazes me how it is becoming an annual tradition to assume that Buffalo and Douglas will just fall off the face of Earth every time they graduate a senior class. Douglas in particular has proven an ability to reload,especially in the running game (Bohlander, Ethcemendy, Klava, Who’s Next 1000 yard rusher??). Secondly look at their numbers…80+..omg these are numbers that would rival 4A. What you see in Douglas is not a team but true program built for success (reminiscent of a Natrona, Gillette or Sheridan), they adapt to whatever the defense gives them; take away the run they kill you through the air….i.e. state championship games vs Buffalo-Cody-Buffalo. I would wager that this program is still on the rise not on the decline.

    Buffalo doesn’t have the numbers but they have the tradition. If you are a Bison you are going to be good, enough said. They have a mystique that is undeniable in 3A. They have been the team to beat for so long that their could hit the field and strike fear in many. If I have learned nothing from 3A football the past decade that is this. Coach Linch will have his team ready to play not because they think they can will they believe they will win. They lost some good seniors but their line was loaded with juniors and they will run it down your throat with a stable of running backs just like always. Remember it all starts up front and they may have the best and most experienced returning offensive line in 3A.

    My sleeper pick…is Riverton. I just don’t think anyone is giving them the respect they deserve. Remember Riverton beat Powell in Powell during the first round of the playoffs.Upset to some by I called way back when. I like the Wolverines, they are what football is all about 11 young men working to together with a common goal and game plan. Watch out for T.J. Galley.

    Lastly, I find it interesting Brady Guilde hasn’t been mentioned.

    Here is how I rank them:


  8. Patrick on August 12, 2011 at 9:14 pm said:

    I am LOVING it in 3A this year! No consensus picks, except that Douglas is No. 1 until otherwise proven.

    Thought about mentioning Brady in my key returners, and I know how dangerous he is, but I was surprised at how pedestrian his numbers were last year. I think that will change this fall as he plays a bigger role for the Broncs.

    Is there a Week 1 game that is drawing more statewide interest than Douglas-Green River? I can’t think of one.


  9. 3A Rocks on August 12, 2011 at 9:26 pm said:

    Week #1 will be fun.. (Buffalo at Worland), (Riverton at Powell) (Douglas at Green River). Will have a much better idea what to expect…can’t wait.

  10. Riverton on August 14, 2011 at 12:15 pm said:

    If you like week 1 how about week 2. Cody/Douglas,GR/Riv,Powell/Buff,Lander/SV. Can anyone give a preview of GR. Besides playing 4A last year why are they so highly rated? Also curious if kids are playing this year that didn’t before because of the drop to 3A. I know the past 2 years some kids decided to play that hadn’t before when we were 4A and were varsity starters.

  11. Dahl Erickson on August 14, 2011 at 6:13 pm said:


    I think Patrick was just looking at the teams in the West and felt like the Wolves were better than Jackson, Worland and SV on paper. Probably giving Powell the benefit of the doubt because of five returning all-staters and Cody because of the strength of the program.

    The Wolverines impressed me last year with their physicality at the line, if they can do that, they’ll beat some teams this year again.

    And for my money, Gulde is going to have a very good year, but hey, he can only pick a handful.

    Good luck to everybody tomorrow morning, hope nobody gets injured

  12. Mickey D on August 14, 2011 at 8:48 pm said:

    the west is gonna be extremely tight this year! I think Cody is the favorite right now but Green River and Powell are gonna be nippin at the heals and have a great chance to take the top spot. The Cragoe kid is going to be a stud for sure. However, if the Kester kid runs the ball hard for GR it is going to open up their passing game. They have a few kids with BIG play capabiliy.

  13. 3A Rocks is right about Buffalo and Douglas always being up at the top, no matter how many kids they graduated. But, the margin between these two teams and the rest of the field got smaller last year, and will definitely be smaller this year. Cody has a strong senior class that includes Brady Gulde. Powell will have a good senior class, also. Riverton took a step forward last year, and should take another one this year. From what I’ve seen of Worland’s practices, they could be another dark horse along with Riverton.

    Needless to say, the playing field should be a lot more even this year. Can’t wait for that first game!

  14. Another name that should be on the players to watch is Trevor Larson from Rawlins. Ended up 12th in the state for defensive points per game, missing one game due to injury. Should have been All-State. Over-looked due to the team he is on.

  15. Forgot to mention Star Valley also they have a lot of talent returning in their skill positions they have great potential

  16. For the bearcats, their next 1000 rusher will be Tanner Miller. could have easily started last year if klava hadn’t been ahead of him. Great linebacker as well. Hardest hitting kid on their team, including last years team

  17. Steve core on August 16, 2011 at 9:25 am said:

    Patrick—I see on your schedule you have Green River off zero week. The Wolves are headed to Erie Colorado for a Jamboree with Erie, Littleton and one other team. As for Kester not all-state, his missed one game and parts of others with injury, so I suspect that hurt him on the honor front.

  18. Riverton on August 16, 2011 at 12:14 pm said:

    When speaking of rushers don’t leave Kole Stewart out of the discussion. He probably had more yards last year than anyone else mentioned in 3A. Along with TJ Galey for power running they are going to be tough to stop!

  19. Steve core on August 16, 2011 at 12:27 pm said:

    Hey Patrick, one other thing. Being new to 3a football, can you email the head coaches names. Are all the coaches from last year returning? thanks

  20. Riverton- Kole Stewart only had 763 yards last year and Galey had 490

  21. Dahl Erickson on August 16, 2011 at 4:54 pm said:

    I got to know Galey from Riverton a bit during the wrestling season. That’s an impressive kid who’s going to have a couple of monster seasons in whatever he choses to do. He’s going to be a horse on the mat for the Wolverines again this year.

    Not a lot of news for Buffalo for my money, a very good program, can any Bison fans give us some insight as to their next group of kids?

  22. Riverton on August 16, 2011 at 5:05 pm said:

    Who that’s playing this year had more yards rushing. Not many I bet.

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