The Rawlins football program is desperate for success.
The Outlaws’ football history is filled with more troughs of frustration than peaks of success; with 471 losses over 93 seasons, Rawlins has lost more games than any other program in Wyoming.
But this season is different.
What Rawlins has done through five games in 2017 already has the Outlaws on track for their most memorable campaign in almost two decades. With its 5-0 start, a record at least at .500 is guaranteed — and that’s something that has happened just twice (1999 and 2000) in the past 30 years of Outlaw football.
This week, the Outlaws will have the chance to show they aren’t just settling for .500.
However, when 5-0 Rawlins hosts 4-0 Douglas on Friday night, the Outlaws will play in unfamiliar conditions. The last time Rawlins as many as five consecutive games was in 1999 and 2000; the Outlaws won their last game in 1999 and then went 9-0 to win the 3A championship in 2000. Prior to that, Rawlins hadn’t won five in a row since winning six straight to open the 1986 season.
Rawlins’ opponent on Friday is in a completely different historical era.
Douglas has won at least five straight games eight different times since 1999, including a 30-game winning streak from 2008-10. And the last 17 times Rawlins and Douglas have played, Douglas has won; Rawlins hasn’t beaten Douglas since the 2001 regular season.
The fact that Rawlins comes into the game not only undefeated but with perhaps a slight edge speaks volumes to what the coaches and players have been able to do since Corey Wheeler took over as head coach in 2014. The former Cheyenne Central star immediately led Rawlins to a 4-5 mark, then slipped back to 2-6 before again finishing 4-5 last year.
Last year’s Outlaws started 4-1 before losing their final four games.
This year’s Outlaws are proving they learned lessons from that frustrating finish.
Slowly but surely, Rawlins’ desperation for success has morphed into an expectation of success.
Other games that might be halfway decent this week:
Beyond Rawlins-Douglas, the other 3A East games are also big this week. After losing to Rawlins last week, Buffalo needs to beat Torrington to keep any hopes for a home playoff game alive. Meanwhile, Lander and Riverton face off in the Fremont County rivalry after both losing last week in their conference openers, meaning both teams will be on edge that much more. …
Star Valley’s trip to Cody might be interesting. Even though the Broncs lost to Green River last week, they’ve proven they have the ability to play close with anyone in 3A, including the top-ranked Braves. But Star Valley has owned this series, winning 10 straight in Cody since the early 1990s. …
The battle of tough nonconference schedules comes to a head in the 2A East when Wheatland (which played three 3A foes in Weeks 1-3) plays Glenrock (which played two 3A foes and top 2A contender Greybull in Weeks 1-3). They both won their conference openers last week. …
Upton-Sundance has a potential trap game this week in its venture to Yoder to play Southeast. The Patriots have Big Horn next week, and if they get caught looking ahead, the Cyclones might be an upset-maker. …
The toughest game of the week to pick may be Lingle at Hanna. Barring a late-season upset of some kind, the winner of this game likely makes the playoffs, and the loser is likely out. That means both teams should feel a little urgency, which can be either a blessing or a curse. …
Here are the Week 5 picks. Winners, or so I think.
Star Valley JV at Lyman
Cheyenne Central at Kelly Walsh
Cheyenne East at Laramie
Cheyenne South at Sheridan
Gillette at Rock Springs
Natrona at Thunder Basin
Buffalo at Torrington
Douglas at Rawlins
Evanston at Green River
Lander at Riverton
Star Valley at Cody
Worland at Jackson
Kemmerer at Greybull
Lovell at Big Piney
Moorcroft at Thermopolis
Mountain View at Pinedale
Newcastle at Burns
Wheatland at Glenrock
Class 1A 11-man
Pine Bluffs at Lusk
Rocky Mountain at Wind River
Saratoga at Shoshoni
Upton-Sundance at Southeast
Wright at Big Horn
Wyoming Indian at Cokeville
Class 1A six-man
Dubois at Farson
Meeteetse at Burlington
Riverside at St. Stephens
Class 1A six-man
Guernsey-Sunrise at Kaycee
Lingle at Hanna
NSI at Hulett
Snake River at Ten Sleep
Open: Midwest, Powell, Tongue River.
For a full schedule including kickoff times, check out the 2017 schedule and results page.
Here’s how well I did last week. This should give some hope to those teams I didn’t bold. I’m wrong often enough to feel good about your chances.
Last week: 26-6 (81 percent). This season: 122-24 (84 percent).
So who’s your boo for Week 5? Who’s ready to spring a big upset? Leave a comment so we can talk about it!