Torrington will enter the 2019 season having had back-to-back losses in the Class 3A championship game the past two seasons.
So, naturally, the Trailblazers should be an early favorite for the 3A title, ready to avenge the past two seasons of near-titles.
Ah, if only it were that simple.
In all, 45 Wyoming high school football teams have lost two championship games in a row. Of those, only six won the title the next year — and two of those instances came in 2018.
So the long-term history is against Torrington, but the fact that this feat was pulled off twice last season is a pretty amazing statistic.
The teams that won championships after back-to-back title-game losses were Natrona and Farson in 2018, Cheyenne East in 2007, Star Valley in 1992, Evanston in 1985 and Hanna in 1952.
In fact, it’s more likely that a team won’t qualify for the playoffs at all than win a title after two consecutive championship losses. That’s happened 13 times, compared to the six title winners. And it’s almost twice as likely that teams who reach the title game again after two consecutive title-game losses will lose on their third try — that’s happened to 11 of the 17 teams who made it back to the championship game for a third chance.
The most heart-wrenching of these instances actually comes from Torrington itself. The Trailblazers had six consecutive runner-up finishes in Class A from 1953 to 1958. Losses in the 1953, 1954, 1955 and 1956 title games were all to Worland; Torrington lost to Powell in 1957’s title game and Cody in 1958.
Losing six consecutive title games is unprecedented in Wyoming. Only one other program in the state — Mountain View from 1999-2002 — has had even four consecutive runner-up finishes.
Here’s a breakdown of the programs who have lost two consecutive title games and how they did in the season immediately after their second title-game loss, with the teams that won titles in bold:
Torrington 2019: ??????
Natrona 2018: Champs
Farson 2018: Champs
Tongue River 2017: Did not qualify for playoffs
Gillette 2016: Semifinals
Douglas 2015: Quarterfinals
Lusk 2015: Did not qualify for playoffs
Lusk 2014: Runners-up again
Buffalo 2009: Semifinals
Big Horn 2009: Quarterfinals
Cheyenne East 2007: Champs
Gillette 2004: Quarterfinals
Gillette 2003: Runners-up again
Star Valley 2003: Semifinals
Mountain View 2003: Semifinals
Mountain View 2002: Runners-up again
Mountain View 2001: Runners-up again
Pinedale 2000: Quarterfinals
Star Valley 1999: Did not qualify for playoffs
Upton 1999: Did not qualify for playoffs
Sheridan 1998: Semifinals
Thermopolis 1998: Semifinals
Lusk 1998: Semifinals
Lusk 1997: Runners-up again
Lander 1996: Did not qualify for playoffs
Lander 1995: Runners-up again
Hulett 1995: Quarterfinals
Buffalo 1994: Quarterfinals
Hulett 1994: Runners-up again
Gillette 1993: Quarterfinals
Star Valley 1992: Champs
Lovell 1992: Quarterfinals
Upton 1989: Did not qualify for playoffs
Cody 1986: Did not qualify for title game
Evanston 1985: Champs
Midwest 1985: Did not qualify for playoffs
Rock Springs 1982: Did not qualify for title game
Riverton 1974: Did not qualify for title game
Worland 1970: Did not qualify for title game
Torrington 1959: Did not qualify for playoffs
Torrington 1958: Runners-up again
Kemmerer 1958: Did not qualify for playoffs
Torrington 1957: Runners-up again
Torrington 1956: Runners-up again
Torrington 1955: Runners-up again
Hanna 1952: Champs