Go ahead: Pick any team in 2A.

Chances are good that the team you’ve chosen has won a championship in the past decade.

Wheatland, Big Horn, Lyman, Lovell, Thermopolis, Big Piney, Kemmerer, Glenrock, Mountain View… they’ve all won titles in this classification since 2006. And Burns won one in a different classification in that span.

That’s 10 programs out of 14 that have tasted championship-level success in the classification this decade. It’s easier to count the programs that haven’t won titles the past 10 years than the ones that have.

No wonder it feels like basically every program in the classification has the ability to take home a championship. Within the past few years, most of them have.

Four questions to answer

Defending champion Wheatland has to be the favorite, right? Well… no. Wheatland had a great 2015, but that title season was built with seniors, more than you could count on both hands. Now, the Bulldogs are restructuring, both with personnel and with new coach Tom Waring. They’ll still be in the hunt, but they won’t be the favorites from Day 1 like they were last year.

What team WILL be the favorite on Day 1? No one knows. Really. A strong case can be made for several teams — Greybull, Big Horn, Glenrock, Wheatland, Mountain View, Lovell — but no one team has a better case than any other. Parity may be the rule of the season.

Is this surprising? No way. Not for Class 2A. As noted, nine different programs have won the Class 2A title the past 10 years. Parity atop the classification has defined 2A for a decade, and this year appears no different.

Surprise me: Which team has the best chance to come out of nowhere? Pinedale. The Wranglers have a new coach (Mitch Espeland) and a new approach. As West Conference opponents can tell you, Pinedale was a tough team to beat last fall and was nearly in position to host a playoff game, but some bad bounces left the team out of the playoffs entirely. With nine starters back on both sides of the ball, the Wranglers might just be the surprise team of the classification.

Four players to watch

Garrett Schwindt, Glenrock. Last year’s 2A East Offensive Player of the Year ran for 1,341 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2015. With the Herders’ No. 2 and 3 options in the running game lost to graduation, Schwindt will take on an even bigger role in Glenrock’s option offense. Oh, and he was the Herders’ leading tackler a year ago, too.

Dawson Forcella, Greybull. Forcella was one of the Buffs’ top players on both offense and defense. He ran for 848 yards and 11 scores on one side of the ball and notched six tackles for loss, four pass breakups and an interception on the other. His versatility will be key for Greybull’s playoff push.

Nolan McCafferty, Big Horn. McCafferty is the only returning 2A player who was on the Casper Star-Tribune’s Super 25 first team last year. And it was mostly for his work on defense, where he was the Rams’ leading tackler. That’s likely to continue — after all, he is 2A’s leading returning tackler — but look for McCafferty to also take on more responsibilities on the offensive side of the ball this year, as well.

Jaret Collins, Lovell. Collins was the 2A West Lineman of the Year last season and is back for his senior year. He led the Bulldogs in tackles for loss (6) and sacks (3) last season, but on a Lovell team that lost four of its top six tacklers to graduation, he will be called on to do even more to get the Bulldogs back to the top of the West.

Four key games

Mountain View at Lyman, Sept. 9. The Bridger Valley Bowl is now in Week 2. So, in addition to being the rivalry game, this game takes on the added dimension of being both programs’ first conference game. A victory or a loss here might dictate the course of an entire season.

Lovell at Greybull, Sept. 16. Last year, this game was a squeaker; Lovell’s 18-15 victory gave it the West Conference championship. The stakes for this year’s game could be just as high.

Glenrock at Wheatland, Sept. 23. Games won’t get much bigger than this. Rematch of last year’s title game… regional rivals… contenders for the conference crown again… Yeah, this game has just about everything going for it.

Big Horn at Wheatland, Oct. 21. People tend to forget how efficiently and completely the Rams beat the Bulldogs last year. That’s because the Bulldogs overcame the loss to win the state title, while the Rams cratered in the quarterfinals. Even so, this Week 8 matchup should again have huge postseason implications.

Predicted order of finish

East Conference: Glenrock, Big Horn, Wheatland, Newcastle, Thermopolis, Burns, Moorcroft. West Conference: Greybull, Mountain View, Lovell, Pinedale, Lyman, Big Piney, Kemmerer.

Preseason top five: Glenrock, Greybull, Big Horn, Wheatland, Mountain View.

Way-too-early title game score prediction

Glenrock 20, Greybull 18. The thing about the 2A playoffs this year? Every game could be decided by a single possession. Don’t count on anyone running away with the championship this year.

Cheesy 80s pop song that should play over the loudspeakers at War Memorial Stadium after this classification’s title game

Who Can it Be Now? by Men At Work. For obvious reasons. If you haven’t detected a trend for 2A yet, double-check those reading comprehension skills.

We can always count on 2A to be competitive at the top. So what do you think? Is this another year of dynasty-destroying parity? If so, who’s going to knock Wheatland from the catbird’s seat? Post a comment and let’s try to figure out this riddle together.

Next Thursday: Class 3A.


9 Thoughts on “Class 2A preview: Who can it be now? (Because it could be anybody.)

  1. Rawlins on August 6, 2016 at 10:41 am said:

    The other question is…can Kemmerer break the streak? Meaning either their own or the state record?

  2. Patrick on August 6, 2016 at 7:20 pm said:

    What I said about Kemmerer last year I think is true this year: If the Rangers are going to break the streak, they’ll break it early in the season — the first half. If they start 0-4, it’ll be tough to stay strong mentally and not let the streak overwhelm their processes. I think Kemmerer has a good chance to break the streak early, as it’s got a good group of freshmen and sophomores who aren’t carrying the weight of the streak like the juniors and seniors are. If they get one of those early ones, they could pick up two or three Ws by the end of the season.


  3. I like your picks Patrick. Mine differ a little bit. I agree that Greybull is the team to beat going into the season and I have them as my number 1. They were tough last year and have about everything back. My 2 and 3 are tough. I’m going to go with Mt. View at number 2 and here is why. They are loaded on both sides of the ball. Not only do they have almost all of their skill kids back….they even picked up 2 more potential all-staters that weren’t able to play last year. They have athletes all over the field, and the biggest problem I see with the skill positions is finding time for them all. Of course none of that matters without a line…..but I think they could be strong there as well with 3 kids right around 300 pounds and a couple of more that are solid football players. These guys have a lot of varsity experience. The 300 pounders aren’t big nonathletic kids either. One is a very good basketball player and can move…..He too was unable to go last year. I believe they will have 9 or 10 senior starters…several returning all-staters, and the 3 that didn’t play last year might have been all-staters if they could have played. My number 3 team is Glenrock, and could have just as easily been my number 2. I haven’t forgotten the whoopin they gave Mt. View in the playoffs last year, and it sounds like they return their top back and the majority of a very good, physical line. That double wing offense they run is bruising and oh so tuff to prepare for. My number 4 is Big Horn…..just because they are Big Horn. To tell you the truth, I don’t know much about them yet this year, but I know they have one of the top programs and coaching staffs in the state. When the dust settles I always expect them to be in the mix. My five is a tie between Lyman and Lovell. Lyman returns most of it’s team. They did graduate all-state running back Ryker Bess, but they have Beaudee Bluemel, a year older now to step in alongside his brother Brighton Bluemel who I feel is the best returning player in the state. Their line is experienced. The scary part for Lyman is their depth. They are very low in numbers and one or 2 key injuries would be devastating. Lovell is Lovell…..they always field some of the best athletes in the state and are always in the mix. Any of these six teams I believe could contend. I also noticed your discussion about Kemmerer above. I think Kemmerer and especially Pinedale could be sleepers. Kemmerer has a little wing back that has blazing speed, and a big bruising fullback that has decent wheels as well. Pinedale returns a whole lot….and with a new coach…..ya just never know.

  4. Patrick on August 11, 2016 at 10:16 am said:

    Thanks for the insights, Mike! Always appreciate hearing from you here. 🙂

    Mountain View was tough for me to place. In putting together my rankings, I had them as high as third in the state and as low as seventh or eighth. But it’s for sure the Buffalos have a TON of people back, and that makes them really dangerous. There’s lots of parallels between the Mountain View team that won the state title and this year’s Mountain View team. Ultimately, though, they still have a lot to prove. The potential is there, though…


  5. Mike Walk on August 12, 2016 at 2:35 pm said:

    7th or 8th?……really? Do you have a little ice to put on that Buff cheek from the slap in the face. A team that has been in 2 of the last 4 title games, returns most of their team, and replaces the few they lost with all state caliber talent?…..Considering their record the last few years and their tradition that seems a little low but what do I know…..lol. Time will tell.

  6. Putter on August 16, 2016 at 6:11 pm said:

    Heard Big Horn is trying to go 1A in football. Hope that isn’t true.

  7. Mike Walk on August 16, 2016 at 9:42 pm said:

    I doubt they are trying….the schools don’t usually have a say. Its dictated by the numbers in the school.

  8. Patrick on August 16, 2016 at 9:43 pm said:

    Putter, that’s not fully true. Big Horn may go to 1A in 2017 when Thunder Basin opens. That would push Evanston to 3A, Buffalo to 2A and Big Horn to 1A 11-man, and Lingle would become playoff eligible in 1A six-man. However, the WHSAA may change football classifications to adjust for Thunder Basin’s opening. That will be determined this fall; nothing’s set yet for 2017.

    Here’s a story from the Sheridan Press on Big Horn: http://thesheridanpress.com/?p=48686

    Buffalo has already told the WHSAA it would opt up to 3A.


  9. Pingback: Class 2A preview: Clear delineations, but no favorites | WHSFB HQ — The Wyoming high school football blog

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