Our five-part season preview wraps up today with Class 4A.

Four questions to answer
What can Natrona do with six returning first-team all-state selections? Whatever it wants. Consider this: Last season, there were only three returning first-team all-state selections in ALL of Class 4A. This year, Natrona alone has six, including Dan Reese, a Casper Star-Tribune Super 25 first-team selection last fall, and Ryan Anaya, who’s already committed to play at Wyoming. Linemen Colter Bentley and Adam Britton, running back/punter Josh Flanigan and wideout/defensive back/quarterback Brecken Biggs give the Mustangs a good mix of returning talent and make NC the favorite to win it all in 4A this year.

Was Cheyenne East’s run to the title game last year a fluke? No. East’s 24-19 upset of Natrona in last year’s 4A semifinals was an upset. But it was not a fluke. (And, yes, there is a difference.) The Thunderbirds had one of the most gifted teams in 4A last year, and with three returning first-team all-state picks — Tod Wenger, Austen Motily and Joe Ash — East has to be in the title discussion again this year.

Can Sheridan make it four trips in a row to Laramie? The short answer is a qualified yes. This year, maybe more than the past three, the Broncs have some rebuilding to do. The bulk of key players on last year’s championship team were seniors. Although it looks like the line will come together pretty well, the players outside the trenches have some work to do to prove themselves.

Who is this year’s surprise team? Rock Springs. I saw the Tigers at what was probably their lowest point last season — the loss to Kelly Walsh in Casper — and I still came away impressed. Running back Tanner McQuillan and receiver Zach Legerski are going to make a solid 1-2 offensive combination for what I think could be an explosive team this fall.

Four players to watch
Ryan Anaya, Natrona. He’s already committed to play at Wyoming. That alone should speak volumes. His numbers last year did not blow anyone away, but his presence and his ability will force teams to account for him. That should free up some opportunities for his teammates, too.

Collin Eisenman, Sheridan. The reigning Class 4A defensive player of the year, Eisenman was always around the ball last season. His numbers might actually dip this year as teams do a better job of accounting for him, but he will also be a stronger, better player this fall and will play a huge role as one of the centerpieces of the Broncs’ defense.

Tanner McQuillan, Rock Springs. Last year was the “Year of the Running Back” in 4A, and McQuillan was lost a bit in the shuffle. However, he will make sure he’s not ignored this year. He is the top returning rusher in the classification this year — he ran for 1,132 yards last year, trailing the “Big Four” of Roberts, Woods, Eddington and Bazemore — and could improve on those numbers this year.

Dani Fischer, Gillette. Fischer, the Camels’ only returning first-team all-state choice, is an explosive triple threat as a receiver, defensive back and returner. He racked up an unusually high 23.4 yards per catch last fall, led the team with five interceptions and was the Camels’ go-to kick and punt returner. His explosiveness will help keep Gillette in every game — and may help the Camels win a few, too.

Four key games
Gillette at Evanston, Aug. 24: Finally, the Red Devils get to play the Camels in Uinta County. The past two years, Evanston has had to trek to Gillette for its season openers; this year, the Camels have to make the trip. And, of course, Evanston wants revenge for last year, when Gillette pulled out a 40-36 victory late in the fourth quarter.

Natrona at Sheridan, Aug. 31: The longtime rivals are playing for the 100th time in a series that dates back to 1921. Add on the fact that the winner will likely be considered the early favorite for the 4A state title this year, and you can see why this one will be a big one.

Cheyenne East at Cheyenne Central, Sept. 14: The East-Central showdown is always for bragging rights and occasionally for more. It will be interesting to see if this one is for bragging rights, or for more.

Gillette at Natrona, Oct. 19: The last four regular-season meetings have finished 15-13, 21-20, 47-32 and 41-34. If nothing else, the Camels and Mustangs put on a good show when they get together; that alone should be worth the price of admission.

Predicted order of finish
Natrona, Sheridan, Gillette, Cheyenne East, Evanston, Rock Springs, Cheyenne Central, Laramie, Kelly Walsh, Cheyenne South.

Completely outlandish, way-too-early title game score prediction
Natrona 31, Sheridan 21

Numerous extensive series exist between Class 4A schools. Laramie and Central have played each other 127 times; Natrona and Sheridan will play for the 100th time this year, while Natrona and Central will play for the 99th. But — EXCLUDING Cheyenne South from the discussion — what is the least-played series between two current Class 4A schools? And how many times have they played? And what is the series record entering 2012? Post your guesses below — but feel free to add anything else you’re looking forward to seeing in the 2012 4A season.


12 Thoughts on “Class 4A preview: A big year for the Mustangs?

  1. Patrick on August 15, 2012 at 7:17 am said:

    A short word…. I’ll be in and out of training all day today, so comment moderation may be a bit slow.


  2. Dahl Erickson on August 15, 2012 at 11:09 am said:

    Same reasoning as before with the 3A trivia, I’ll throw out there that it’s Evanston and Gillette.

  3. Patrick on August 15, 2012 at 2:05 pm said:

    And there’s the right answer. Evanston and Gillette haven’t played much.

    Any guesses on how many times they’ve played? And what the series record is entering this season?


  4. Patrick, I was just thinking about your trivia questions. Since you have all the records at your fingertips, which school in Wyoming has played the most different schools in Wyoming. Not sure if your records can spit that out, but a top ten list would be interesting, I think. Once again, good stuff on the blog.

  5. Patrick on August 16, 2012 at 9:39 am said:

    Steve, I bet I could put that together. Give me some time (getting ready for the start of classes on Monday), but it should be a pretty simple thing for me to track down.


  6. Patrick on August 16, 2012 at 5:15 pm said:

    OK, it’s calculated. Any guesses?

    Hint: Only four schools have played more than 45 in-state opponents. The top school has played 55.


  7. Good, fun stuff here, Patrick. I’d go with either of those schools who will face each other for the 127th time as what I would guess are two of the oldest Wyoming High Schools, as well. Either Laramie or Cheyenne, as in, or later on, Central, is my guess for 55.

  8. Patrick on August 17, 2012 at 6:55 am said:

    Neither Laramie nor Central… Think smaller.


  9. So what your saying is this school has played 55 different Wyoming opponents? If so, thats amazing. Its got to be a school that has played in different classifications. Those bubble schools. Got to think about this one.

  10. Patrick on August 17, 2012 at 3:14 pm said:

    Yep, 55 different Wyo opponents. Of course, some of those schools may be closed/consolidated now.


  11. Jeremiah on August 23, 2012 at 8:33 am said:

    I’m going to guess it’s a school that’s gone up and down in class a couple of times. Southeast maybe?

  12. Patrick on August 23, 2012 at 11:29 am said:

    Answered this on another post… crud. Thought it was this one. Anyway…

    The “winner” is Greybull. The Buffs have the honor of winning that bit of trivia.

    Glenrock is second at 52 and Midwest and Hanna are tied for third at 48.

    Makes sense when you think about it. All four schools have bounced around several classifications and have played in a variety of conferences. That leads to a lot of different opponents.

    By the way, anyone want to take a stab at the Gillette-Evanston series record? Not a lot there to calculate, I guess….


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post Navigation