The Wyoming High School Activities Association on Tuesday voted to give Class 1A schools the option of joining either six-man or 11-man in 2013.

In doing so, the WHSAA acknowledged problems might arise from the offer, as four schools have approached the WHSAA about moving from 11-man to six-man next year.

An article in the Casper Star-Tribune said 11-man schools Wyoming Indian, Saratoga and NSI let the WHSAA know they were interested in moving from 11-man to six-man for the 2013 season, while St. Stephens — which has a sub-varsity six-man program — said it wanted to move to the varsity level next year.

Such moves would leave 11 programs in Class 1A 11-man and would give Class 1A six-man 14 programs, but WHSAA Commissioner Ron Laird and Associate Commissioner Trevor Wilson told the Star-Tribune they will ask NSI to stay in 11-man and ask St. Stephens to play another year of JV in order to balance the number of schools in each division at 12 apiece, in order to facilitate scheduling.


My take

Good on Saratoga, Wyoming Indian, NSI and St. Stephens for trying to get into the six-man game. And, from what I can gather from the article, even though two of these schools — NSI and St. Stephens — might be stonewalled in 2013, it sounds like they’ll both be welcomed in 2014 after the WHSAA can take care of the scheduling problems an 11-team Class 1A 11-man creates.

But boo on the WHSAA for attempting to thwart those two schools from joining six-man in 2013.

I understand the scheduling problems inherent in a switch like this. Heck, the 2013 football schedule will be out in just more than a month. But we’ve seen patchwork schedules before (the Natrona JV team is in the running for the 1A title this year, right?) and a schedule could be turned around in time for 2013.

(I’m no genius, and I’m not privy to all the demands of the individual schools, but I drew up a nonconference schedule that would work for most schools in about 15 minutes — lots of 2A vs. 1A games Week 1, a East vs. West rotation in Weeks 2-3, conference games in Weeks 4-8.)

Of course, the one problem with that schedule is that it would be extremely patchwork, as most out-of-state schools already have their dates filled.

The WHSAA could also just be buying time until the two-year cooperative agreement between Sundance and Upton ends after the 2013 season. Then, with the programs splitting back into two independent teams, the WHSAA could look at having an even number of schools in each classification, which will help scheduling immensely.

All that said, I think the athletes who would be playing for NSI and St. Stephens in 2013 are being asked to unfairly shoulder a burden being asked of them. For St. Stephens to play another year of junior varsity — that would make three in a row — is a difficult task. And for NSI to play 11-man (where they’ve been getting worked for several years) instead of moving to six-man is a bit unfair when two other schools who asked the same request will likely have theirs granted, more out of convenience and geography than anything else.

As a small aside, it’s worth noting that Rock River, who is playing a sub-varsity six-man schedule this season, was not in the discussion for varsity play in 2013.


Here is how the Class 1A football conferences would look in 2013 with all requests honored:

Class 1A 11-man West Conference: Burlington, Cokeville, Riverside, Rocky Mountain, Shoshoni, Wind River.
Class 1A 11-man East Conference: Lingle, Lusk, Pine Bluffs, Southeast, Upton-Sundance.
Class 1A six-man North Conference (anticipated): Dubois, Hulett, Kaycee, Meeteetse, NSI, St. Stephens, Ten Sleep.
Class 1A six-man South Conference (anticipated): Farson, Guernsey, Hanna, Midwest, Saratoga, Snake River, Wyoming Indian.
(Six-man might also work east-west with Dubois, Farson, Meeteetse, St. Stephens, Snake River, Ten Sleep and Wyoming Indian in the West and Guernsey, Hanna, Hulett, Kaycee, Midwest, NSI and Saratoga in the East.)

Here is how the Class 1A football conferences would look in 2013 with the WHSAA suggestions:

Class 1A 11-man West Conference: Burlington, Cokeville, Riverside, Rocky Mountain, Shoshoni, Wind River.
Class 1A 11-man East Conference: Lingle, Lusk, NSI, Pine Bluffs, Southeast, Upton-Sundance.
Class 1A six-man North Conference (anticipated): Dubois, Hulett, Kaycee, Meeteetse, Ten Sleep, Wyoming Indian.
Class 1A six-man South Conference (anticipated): Farson, Guernsey, Hanna, Midwest, Saratoga, Snake River.


Your thoughts? What does Tuesday’s vote mean for your school? What do you think of the WHSAA telling a couple schools to wait a year before entering six-man? Post some thoughts below and we can discuss this as long as you want.


12 Thoughts on “WHSAA extends six-man/11-man option for 2013

  1. By the way, my proposed 2013 1A 11-man schedule that would honor all requested changes (NSI, Saratoga and Wyoming Indian all opting to six-man) is as follows:

    Week 1:
    Games (1A and 2A) that would carry over from current schedule: Big Piney-Burlington, Cokeville-Mountain View, Kemmerer-Wind River, Newcastle-Southeast, Pinedale-Riverside, Lovell-Wright, Lyman-Tongue River.
    New games: Lusk-Glenrock, Big Horn-Thermopolis, Greybull-Rocky Mountain, Moorcroft-Upton/Sundance, Pine Bluffs-Burns, Lingle-Shoshoni.

    Weeks 2-3 would be 1A East vs. 1A West, based on three rotating two-team pods in each conference.

    Week 2: Rocky Mountain-Lusk, Shoshoni-Southeast, Riverside-Lingle, Burlington-Upton/Sundance, Cokeville-Pine Bluffs, Wind River-Natrona JV.

    Week 3: Rocky Mountain-Southeast, Shoshoni-Lusk, Riverside-Upton/Sundance, Burlington-Lingle, Cokeville-Evanston JV, Wind River-Pine Bluffs.

    Weeks 4-8 are conference play, round robin. The trick here is just five teams in the East Conference, so finding someone to fill the open week (much like now) would fall to sub-varsity teams and Hill City, S.D.



  2. Also, in Twitter-talking with the CST’s Clint Robus, it sounds like St. Stephens won’t have seniors playing in 2013. That makes the WHSAA’s request to the Eagles to stay JV a lot more palatable.


  3. Also, per Robus, it sounds like NSI was open to the idea of waiting a year before moving to six-man. So there’s that. Still, I don’t like the idea of singling out schools for requests like this…


  4. Dahl Erickson on September 26, 2012 at 1:53 pm said:


    I’m always impressed at your knowledge of the small schools, you are still my go-to guy on WHSAA stuff. I just wanted to comment on singling out schools and changing classes in general.

    Before we made such a change a few years ago (SV), the idea is just that. An idea. What you don’t know is how it impacts scheduling, coaching staffs, sometimes participation, the ability to gameplan for your opponents year to year etc. I was amazed at how many little details there were that change when you cross over that classification line and then again when and if you change back. Before we had that experience I had little to no real opinion on schools that had to deal with it.

    Now I really feel for schools like Lyman and Wheatland who have done it multiple times. I hope a more long-term situation can help schools avoid it but I also know there is no easy answer in the Cowboy State

  5. Coach Bullington on September 26, 2012 at 8:29 pm said:

    I don’t know how other 1A teams feel but I would just as soon opt up to 2A than have another year of open date and scheduling nightmare. We would at least have a full schedule and know who we are playing from year to year.

  6. I have said before and will comment again that I think that there is far too much emphasis on keeping everything balanced in Wyoming. This problem that many of the decision-makers have with an odd number of schools competing within a classification seems to force all sorts of other counter-productive things to happen.

    There was a great deal of criticism about the old Power Ranking system because of the imperfections that happened in the state playoff seedings. However, the complete, in-state, round-robin regional schedules we have now are going to prevent a school from even fielding a varsity team. I also assume that, based on what happened to Tongue River last year and Sundance this year, NSI might have a real reason for wanting to move to 6-man rather than 11-man.

    What we need is a system that will allow more room for individual schools to play more local games, even if that means playing more interclass or out-of-state games.

  7. Dahl Erickson on October 1, 2012 at 11:43 am said:

    Gotta say I like a lot of what Boyd says. Evanston was (and still is) Star Valley’s most prolific series. More games than anyone else, even Jackson. But we can’t play the Devils anymore. I can only assume that like he says, the problem is compounded at the 1A and 2A levels. From my unofficial conversations, I think that’s the way the Braves will be trying to go, picking up regional out-of-state games like Preston, Idaho (2 hours). Obviously if your town isn’t close to the border, this isn’t even an option.

  8. Patrick on October 1, 2012 at 5:59 pm said:

    I still think four four-team conferences in 2A would work better for flexibility in scheduling than two eight-team conferences….

    I also think Class 3A in all other sports, with 16 schools, would work better with quadrant scheduling for conference play (much like 2A and 1A have).

    Of course, several schools will complain that without a mandated amount of conference games, they have a tough time filling out their schedules. It’s a valid complaint.


  9. I have always favored a quadrant system as suggested by Patrick. I even wonder whether rethinking the classification structure to facilitate more localized schedules might be in the best educational interest of the students?

    How would a 3-region, instead of quadrants, system with at-large bids selected and seeded by a power-rating work?

    Looking at a map, I think that if the WHSAA would work from the inside out by helping the schools in Fremont, Natrona, and Sublette Counties fill their non-conference schedules in-state; the rest of the schools should then be in a good position to reduce travel by scheduling out-of-state games with towns just across the nearest border. Salt Lake City, Billings, Rapid City, the Front Range + Denver, and the Nebraska Panhandle are all close to Wyoming. Surely there are opportunities there?

    Finally, by my count, almost 2/3 of Wyoming’s high schools have enrollments under 250. When I was in school, 250 was the cut-off between 2A & 3A. At the time Lovell was the largest 2A school with right at 250 students. Since then more schools have gotten smaller.

    Roughly 2 out of every 7 high schools have 112 students or less.

  10. Dahl Erickson on October 2, 2012 at 12:38 pm said:

    Good points Boyd,

    This latest five-class model that was voted down had some “tweaks” to it from the original model as I understand. A group of administrators worked for two years to come up with something that would address scheduling and equity on the playing field but that’s not really the version the board voted on. The split would have brought Riverton, Evanston and Green River into the current 3A class for all sports and put MV and Lyman into the next one down in size. It also would have addressed some of the traveling issues. It will be interesting to see how this 1A 11-man football situation may impact the smaller schools in terms of who is playing where.

    Your thoughts on the small schools is extremely valid and something I’ve mentioned in a lot of conversations. The WHSAA is an organization where every school has a voice, and the majority of them are 2A and 1A. So if they aren’t happy, it’s not going to pass. That being said, sometimes there are instances where a school’s performance overshadows student population. For example, Buffalo and Pinedale are fairly close in student population, but nobody talks about equal playing fields for the Bison. Your cutoff for classification is pretty close to what is happening now, with MV and Lyman at about 220 or so, but everybody is dropping in this bad economy.

  11. Patrick on October 2, 2012 at 10:31 pm said:

    FWIW, former Natrona (and current KW) boys basketball coach Randy Roden put forward a three-region Class 4A proposal a few years ago. He even went to the trouble of putting together a potential schedule for basketball that incorporated tournaments, conference play, nonconference play, etc. It went nowhere.

    At the time, I asked him if he would be interested in tweaking it and bringing it up again. He said no way; the idea was just too out there for most people on the WHSAA board to grasp, let alone support.

    It might be interesting, given the recent five-class discussions, to see if the WHSAA might bring that idea back around again, or if Roden would tweak it and float it again.


    As for the reclassification discussion, it’s worth noting that by separating schools into classifications based on number of schools rather than a set school enrollment cutoff, it’s possible for schools to fall in ADM from one reclass period to the next and still move up in classification. I’ve seen that happen a few times. That’s one sign of a system that maybe needs some attention.

    Also worth noting too that, at 1990s classification cutoffs, four schools (Newcastle, Glenrock, Mountain View, Lyman) would be 2A, not 3A.

    I’ve suggested several times that a 12-school Class 3A could in many ways work a lot better than a 16-school Class 3A; then, leave 2A at 20 and bump the four smallest 2A schools (right now Pine Bluffs, Shoshoni, Riverside and Saratoga) to 1A, and expand 1A by four schools. With 12-12-20-rest, the 4A cutoff would be ADMs of 766-plus, 3A would be schools with ADMs 286-734, 2A would be 112-248 and 1A would be 108 and fewer….

    If you want to keep an even number of set schools in each class, that might be an effective answer that would address some of the competitive equality and enrollment gap issues…. Maybe….


  12. Pingback: Regular-season games we’ve only seen once: accident, mistake or missed opportunity? – WHSFB HQ — The Wyoming high school football blog

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