How Big Horn and Upton-Sundance have missed each other the past few seasons defies a convenient explanation.
Big Horn hasn’t played Upton since the two teams played in the 2004 2A championship against each other and hasn’t played Sundance since 2008.
That’s weird. In Wyoming terms, they’re pretty close to each other — it’s 160 miles from Big Horn to Sundance and 147 from Big Horn to Upton. And they’re in the same classification and conference for every single other sport.
Also, the past three years, the schools have been dominant in their respective classifications:
- In 2014, Big Horn was 10-1; Upton-Sundance was 6-4.
- In 2015, Big Horn was 7-2; Upton-Sundance was 10-1.
- In 2016, both programs finished 10-1.
Tally that up, and combined the past three seasons, Big Horn and Upton-Sundance are 53-10. Not too shabby.
However, despite being close in proximity, enrollment and success, the two programs tallied those records in different football classifications — 2A for Big Horn, 1A 11-man for Upton-Sundance.
This year, though, football classification shakeups brought this rivalry back to the fore. Big Horn is in the smallest 11-man division for the first time since playing in Class 1A Division II in 2000. Upton-Sundance, meanwhile, has been in the 1A 11-man ranks for the entirety of its co-op, remaining playoff eligible through a quirk of WHSAA rules that allows co-ops to claim only partial enrollments of schools.
In other words, Big Horn has been the small guy in the big division for a long time, while Upton-Sundance has been the big guy in the small division for a long time.
That changed this year, when Big Horn — after winning the 2A title in 2016 — came back to the 1A ranks and joined Upton-Sundance in the same classification (and the same conference) for the first time in football.
As expected, both teams have continued their streaks of dominance amid the conference restructuring. The Rams are 4-1, the lone loss by a single point in overtime to defending 1A 11-man champ Pine Bluffs and the four victories all by at least 28 points, while the Patriots are 6-0, their closest game last week’s 28-14 victory against Southeast.
In terms of the 2017 season, this game is critical for both programs as the 1A 11-man playoff race finds its form.
In terms of the rivalries that exist between the three schools — and the two programs — the game is more than just an opportunity to gain a better playoff seed. It’s an opportunity to revive a dormant regional rivalry between two programs that have consistently displayed excellence.
Other games that look like they’re halfway decent:
The 3A East showdown between Torrington and Douglas could be for the conference crown. They’re the only two teams in the conference who are still unbeaten in league play. Winning Friday is no guarantee of a title, but the team that wins will be in control of its own destiny. …
The Bridger Valley Bowl is always interesting, full stop. Mountain View has the edge, but in a rivalry game, Lyman could be dangerous. Also, don’t overlook the Sublette County rivalry bubbling between Big Piney and Pinedale. …
The only interclass game of the week has Kemmerer at Lusk, and it could be a tight one. If it was in Kemmerer, maybe I’d go with the Rangers, but with almost 400 miles between the two communities — who are playing each other for the first time, by the way — the edge goes to the home team. …
Oh yeah, it’s rivalry week in 4A. Capital Bowl with East-Central, Oil Bowl with Kelly Walsh-Natrona, Energy Bowl with Sheridan-Gillette… and yet the best game in 4A might be Thunder Basin facing off against Rock Springs. Both teams desperately need this one to keep any dreams of a home playoff game alive. …
On to some picks. As usual, the team I anticipate winning is bolded. Because the reverse of that would just look ridiculous and confusing. I have standards.
Cheyenne Central at Cheyenne East
Kelly Walsh at Natrona
Laramie at Cheyenne South
Sheridan at Gillette
Thunder Basin at Rock Springs
Buffalo at Lander
Cody at Worland
Green River at Powell
Jackson at Star Valley
Rawlins at Riverton
Torrington at Douglas
Burns at Wheatland
Glenrock at Thermopolis
Greybull at Lovell
Lyman at Mountain View
Moorcroft at Newcastle
Pinedale at Big Piney
Class 1A 11-man
Big Horn at Upton-Sundance
Cokeville at Saratoga
Pine Bluffs at Wright
Shoshoni at Rocky Mountain
Southeast at Tongue River
Wind River at Wyoming Indian
Class 1A six-man
Farson at Meeteetse
Hanna at Guernsey-Sunrise
Hulett at Midwest
Kaycee at Lingle
Ten Sleep at Riverside
Kemmerer at Lusk
Class 1A six-man
Burlington at Dubois
St. Stephens at Snake River
Open: Evanston, NSI.
For a full schedule including kickoff times, check out the 2017 schedule and results page.
Thank goodness Evanston is off this week. They can’t screw up my picks. They were the *only* team to do so last week. Oh well. Maybe this week I finally have a perfect week in the regular season? Meh. It’s more fun when it’s not predictable.
Last week: 30-1 (97 percent). This season: 152-25 (86 percent).
So what rivalry in Week 6 are you most happy to see — revived or not? Post your thoughts in a comment and let me know!