With the new football alignment cutoffs coming into play in 2014, new schedules will have to be constructed by the WHSAA, as well.
The 2013 schedule was little more than a one-year stopgap in the three-year hiatus on reclassification — a hiatus that didn’t apply to football. That means the 2014 schedule is likely to be quite a bit different from the 2013 schedule, which was quite a bit different from the 2012 schedule.
And, with all due respect to the WHSAA, I want to take a crack at designing it.
First of all, a couple assumptions: I build this schedule with the assumptions that current enrollment ADMs will hold (meaning Tongue River and Big Horn drop down to 1A, prompting one school (I’m saying Thermopolis) to move to the 2A East Conference), that Cokeville and Burlington will opt up to 11-man in Class 1A (because the new enrollment cutoffs will have both schools in six-man), that Saratoga and Wyoming Indian will opt to move into 11-man after a year in six-man (because that’s where the enrollment numbers will put them), and that Upton and Sundance will break up their co-op.
I also didn’t design 4A or 1A six-man schedules; those classifications have no out-of-class action, save a random JV game that occasionally pops up in six-man play.
With these assumptions, in 2014, 3A schools, with six teams per conference, will get three nonconference games; 2A schools, with seven teams per conference, get two nonconference games; and 1A 11-man schools, with eight teams per conference, get one nonconference game.
Keep in mind that the WHSAA has proven in building schedules that geography and distance are not the lone considerations. Competitive balance is also a big factor in schedule design.
Nevertheless, I tried to have some fun in developing this schedule. I paired together some teams that haven’t played each other in a while (or have never played before) and I increased out-of-state play (easier said than done). I also tried to bring back natural regional rivalries, so games like Douglas-Glenrock, Sundance-Moorcroft, Greybull-Riverside, Wheatland-Torrington and Burns-Pine Bluffs were keys — and starting points — on my schedule.
Of course, several changes could have been made here. The last game I finalized (and, therefore, the game I like the least) is the Week 2 game between Newcastle and Big Piney. The second-to-last game I finalized was the Week 2 game between Glenrock and Lyman. Aside from those two games, I think the rest of the schedule is pretty reasonable, given the WHSAA’s past schedules and the desire for both geographically close and competitively equal games:
(Note: Game weeks are in parentheses.)
Buffalo: (W1) Worland, (W2) Powell and (W3) Cody
Douglas: (W1) Glenrock, (W2) Green River and (W3) Powell
Lander: (W1) Cody, (W2) Star Valley and (W3) Worland
Rawlins: (W1) Wheatland, (W2) Wright and (W3) Jackson
Riverton: (W1) Green River, (W2) Cody and (W3) Star Valley
Torrington: (W1) Somebody in Nebraska, (W2) Wheatland and (W3) Green River
Cody: (W1) Lander, (W2) Riverton and (W3) Buffalo
Green River: (W1) Riverton, (W2) Douglas and (W3) Torrington
Jackson: (W1) Teton, Idaho, (W2) Pinedale and (W3) Rawlins
Powell: (W1) Somebody in Montana, (W2) Buffalo and (W3) Douglas
Star Valley: (W1) Snake River, Idaho, (W2) Lander and (W3) Riverton
Worland: (W1) Buffalo, (W2) Lovell and (W3) Lander
Burns: (W1) Pine Bluffs and (W2) Somebody in Nebraska
Glenrock: (W1) Douglas and (W2) Lyman
Moorcroft: (W1) Sundance and (W2) Greybull
Newcastle: (W1) Southeast and (W2) Big Piney
Thermopolis: (W1) Lovell and (W2) Kemmerer
Wheatland: (W1) Rawlins and (W2) Torrington
Wright: (W1) Big Horn and (W2) Rawlins
Big Piney: (W1) Rocky Mountain and (W2) Newcastle
Greybull: (W1) Riverside and (W2) Moorcroft
Kemmerer: (W1) Wind River and (W2) Thermopolis
Lovell: (W1) Thermopolis and (W2) Worland
Lyman: (W1) Somebody in Utah and (W2) Glenrock
Mountain View: (W1) Cokeville and (W2) Somebody in Utah
Pinedale: (W1) Saratoga and (W2) Jackson
1A 11-man East
Big Horn: Wright
Lingle: Somebody in Nebraska
Pine Bluffs: Burns
Tongue River: Burlington
Upton: Wyoming Indian
1A 11-man West
Burlington: Tongue River
Cokeville: Mountain View
Rocky Mountain: Big Piney
Wind River: Kemmerer
Wyoming Indian: Upton
In an alternate Week 1 schedule where out-of-state games were tough to get, I had Lingle-Shoshoni, Lusk-Newcastle, Southeast-Wheatland and Rawlins-Lyman. Ultimately, though, I figured if Lyman could find a Utah game and Lingle a Nebraska game, that would work better for all eight schools; if that alternative didn’t work, this all-in-state option would suffice.
No matter how the 2014 schedule comes together, I’d consider trying to go through this same exercise yourself. Post your designs below. Going through this process helps you feel a lot of empathy for the process the WHSAA has to go through every year to make a schedule that works for as many programs as possible. It’s tough.