Cheyenne East was facing a team that had allowed it to score just six points in their past two meetings combined.
Powell was facing a team that obliterated it just 14 days ago.
But football is a fun and funny game. The past means nothing once toe meets ball and the game starts.
On Friday, both Cheyenne East and Powell reminded us why we love football so much. We don’t love football because it is rote and predictable; we love it because we never can tell what might happen over the next minute, much less the following 47.
Cheyenne East shook off a 26-3 loss to Natrona on Sept. 30 in Cheyenne and beat the previously unbeaten Mustangs 24-19 in Casper, while Powell scored in the waning seconds to beat Green River — a team it had lost to 38-14 just 14 days ago on the same field — and end the Wolves’ season with a 23-21 victory.
Maybe no one other than the most faithful and romantic of fans actually believed either upset could happen. Maybe the players themselves still can’t believe what they’ve accomplished.
Doesn’t matter now. Both the Panthers and the Thunderbirds are headed to War Memorial Stadium for the state championship games.
East controlled Natrona from the start, building a 21-7 lead before relying on its defense to bring home the victory. Even that wasn’t assured until late, until after Natrona scored in the final two minutes but could not recover an onside kick.
Powell’s victory was a bit more dramatic.
The Panthers rallied from a 14-3 halftime deficit and scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter. However, after Green River scored with 41 seconds remaining to take a 21-17 lead, Powell had to summon all of its gusto to come back — and did so by scoring with 12 seconds to go to take the lead.
The only other road team to win on Friday was Lyman, which beat Glenrock 22-14 in a game that got really, really good in the fourth quarter. I was fortunate enough to be at this game and I was having a lot of trouble just keeping up with all the action in the fourth quarter: three turnovers, two goal-line stands, a missed field goal. It was a great end to what, up until that point, had been a less-than-memorable game. But, again, it’s supposed to be a fun and funny game. Lyman-Glenrock was both.
Douglas (20-14 over Buffalo) and Lovell (23-20 over Newcastle) also eked out too close for comfort victories on Friday, too. Douglas staved off Buffalo in what was a typical Douglas-Buffalo game, both in the score and, recently, in the victor. Lovell, however, led 23-6 before the upstart Dogies came roaring back and very nearly pulled of what would have been an upset for all time. Instead, it’s just another close call for the undefeated Bulldogs.
The other games were less intense. Sheridan, Cokeville, Southeast, Snake River and Dubois all won with relative ease when compared to the other five games on Friday. Nevertheless, these five teams, at this point in the season, aren’t really sweating the method too much — they’re just happy to survive and move on to Laramie.
So what did you see on Friday that drew your attention? Comment below with your thoughts and let’s start talking semifinals, Laramie, fun and funny.
This week: 8-2 (80 percent). This season: 249-50 (83 percent).