Even though Torrington’s 2015 season did not end in Laramie, it still carried significance in the annals of Blazer football successes.
Last year, the Trailblazers won the Class 3A East Conference championship — the program’s first conference title since 1996 and its first outright title since 1994. I wrote about this in October when I looked into Torrington’s eventual conference title; I knew it had been a while.
But Torrington’s 20-year stretch without a conference title actually isn’t all that rare in Wyoming.
Cheyenne South, Wyoming Indian, Normative Services, Rock River, Farson and St. Stephens haven’t won conference titles yet, or in the case of Farson and St. Stephens, none since 1967 (when my season-by-season conference record listings end).
The next-longest drought belongs to Kelly Walsh, which hasn’t won or shared a conference championship since 1981. Other programs that haven’t won or shared a conference title in this century are Pine Bluffs (1988), Hanna (1989), Big Piney (1990), Lander (1995), Wind River (1997), Thermopolis (1998), and Moorcroft and Pinedale (1999).
These listings come with the caveat that, for several years — some classes more than others — power ratings, not conference standings, determined playoff qualifications. So, for several years in the early 2000s, Wyoming did not have official conference champions. Teams that finished atop the regular-season power ratings for their classifications those years are not awarded conference championships in this analysis.
Big Piney has the most curious case, as the Punchers have won five state titles in the span since their last conference title: 1998 (2nd in conference), 2000 (2nd), 2001 (no conferences due to power ratings), 2004 (no conferences due to power ratings), and 2006 (4th).
Several other programs have shared conference titles this century but haven’t won an outright title in the 2000s:
Newcastle (last shared 2011, last outright 1981)
Rock Springs (last shared 2003, last outright 1989)
Worland (last shared 2009, last outright 1989)
Wheatland (last shared 2015, last outright 1989)
Cheyenne Central (last shared 2007, last outright 1990)
Saratoga (last shared 2007, last outright 1995)
Lingle (last shared 2015, last outright 1996)
Moorcroft (last shared 1999, last outright 1997)
Hulett (last shared 2015, last outright 1999)
Lander’s last title in 1995 was shared; its last outright title came before 1967, when my conference standings records stop.
It’s worth noting here that this list will probably grow rather than shrink over the next few years. Class 4A has just one conference, while other classifications have only two conferences apiece. Winning a conference title has gotten much more difficult the past 15-20 years… which is why so many schools haven’t won conference titles in, oh, 15 or 20 years.
Folks in Torrington know all too well.