Cover of the Wyoming high school football preview magazine.

The 2023 edition of the Wyoming high school football magazine is out now! It’s the most complete and comprehensive preview of the 2023 football season you’ll find anywhere in the state.

This is the 12th year of the magazine, which includes previews of every team in the state. This year, I interviewed every coach in the state (except one… can you find it?) for this magazine. Thanks to the coaches for all their help!

Printed copies will be shipped to the locations of the advertisers in the magazine in the next week or so. You’ll be able to pick up a free print copy of the magazine at their locations. Please support the advertisers who support the magazine — we can’t do it without them!

And, in case you missed it: Click or tap here to read the magazine online.


I don’t know if my joy for the Class 4A football season was properly expressed in that classification’s season preview last week.

So let me say it out loud, clearly: This is gonna be a fun season.

Well, not fun in a competitive kind of way. There’s still clear separation among 4A’s tiers, and that’s not going to change in 2023.

Instead, the individual performances in 4A this year could be so much fun to watch, on both sides of the ball.

With the top five quarterbacks and seven of the top eight tacklers returning this season, 4A is rife with possibility for some amazing individual performances this season. The fun starts Friday with a full slate of Class 4A games, the classification that begins a week earlier than the rest of the state because, well, size matters.

From the team end of things, though, it makes sense to look at the defending champs — well, to be specific, the two-time defending champs — and the challenge they have to start. Sheridan will have a tough trip and a tough draw against Cheyenne Central in what is, on paper, the best 4A game of the week.

The two new Class 4A coaches, Orah Garst at Campbell County and Ted Holmstrom at Rock Springs, will make their debuts at home. The Camels host Cheyenne East, one of the most loaded teams entering the season, while the Tigers host a Kelly Walsh team looking to rebound after a tough season.


Most of the teams who are opting for games over scrimmages or jamborees this week will play out-of-state foes, with six such games on the schedule. My favorite will be in Uinta County. Evanston and Ben Lomond, Utah, have developed a fun rivalry the past couple seasons. Each of the past two games has been decided by one point, Evanston winning 14-13 two years ago and Ben Lomond winning 23-22 last year.

Beyond that, five other games are on the schedule, including a hybrid 9-man/11-man game between Sublette County rivals Pinedale and Big Piney that won’t officially count. If you’ve never seen a hybrid game before, you’re in for a treat. When Big Piney has the ball, teams will use nine players; when Pinedale has the ball, teams will use 11. These kinds of games were actually quite common back in the early 1990s with Wyoming’s previous nine-man setup — I saw quite a few growing up in Midwest — and I’m glad to see their return.

One late switch to the schedule moves what was the Shoshoni jamboree to Greybull.


On to the picks. Since it’s the opening weekend, some of you might have forgotten that bold means I pick that team to win. You’ll catch on quick, though.

Class 4A
Cheyenne East
at Campbell County
Kelly Walsh at Rock Springs
Laramie at Natrona
Sheridan at Cheyenne Central
Thunder Basin at Cheyenne South
Class 3A
Lander at Cody
Powell at Riverton
Class 1A six-man
Casper Christian at Kaycee
Burns at Rawlins
Pinedale at Big Piney
Ben Lomond, Utah, at Evanston
Gering, Neb., at Torrington
Malad, Idaho, at Lyman
Mitchell, Neb., at Wheatland
Star Valley at Shelley, Idaho
Teton, Idaho, at Jackson

Mountain View at Green River
Tongue River
at Sheridan JV

Several teams are playing near-games this week, as well, with modified rules for certain situations or special teams plays. I try to keep those listed separately on the schedule. As usual during Zero Week, here is a reminder of the rules I use to determine whether a Zero Week contest is a game or is something else:

  • 1. Was the game played with four 12-minute quarters with normal timing rules?
  • 2. Were officials used? And were normal rules of play instituted for the game?
  • 3. Was score kept?

If these three criteria are met, I call it a game and record it as such on this site.

The list of scrimmages and jamborees for the week:

Kemmerer at Cokeville
Big Horn at Natrona sophs
Burlington, Dubois, Encampment, Farson at Dubois jamboree
Lingle, Pine Bluffs, Saratoga, Southeast at Pine Bluffs jamboree
Lusk, Newcastle, Shoshoni, Wind River, Wright at Wright jamboree
Moorcroft at Upton-Sundance (at Sundance)
Worland at Thermopolis
Greybull, Riverside, Wyoming Indian at Greybull jamboree
Lovell at Buffalo
Open: Douglas, Glenrock, Guernsey-Sunrise, Hanna, Hulett, Meeteetse, Midwest, Rocky Mountain, St. Stephens, Snake River, Ten Sleep.

For a full schedule including kickoff times, click here. You can click on “Week 0” at the top of the page to take you directly to this week’s schedule.


What’s your bold prediction for the 2023 season? Remember, it only counts if you say it before the season starts. Leave a comment here, or hit me up on the Facebook page or on Twitter.

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Editor’s note: This post was written by “Stat Rat” Jim Craig, formerly of Lusk and now of Cheyenne, who has provided significant help to the research on Wyoming sports history.


In amassing and compiling data about Wyoming prep basketball from the early 1930s to the late 1960s, it’s sometimes fun to answer obscure questions. Information for this article centers within the decade of the 1940s and coaching. To wit: Which hoops coaches were the most successful during the 1940s? I’ll be using research from the 1939-40 basketball season up to and including the 1948-49 campaign, 10 seasons total.

This was a tough decade to coach in, made more difficult by the four years that World War II lasted. Coaches, generally being younger men, found themselves to be prime candidates for the military. Many volunteered right after the Pearl Harbor attack in December 1941 and several Wyoming schools had to scramble to find replacement coaches mid-season. Often, older school superintendents—many were ex-coaches— stepped in as coaches pro tem. The average tenure for a coach at any one school was only 1.75 years for the entire decade. Longest tenures of the decade at any one school totaled eight years by Clarence Birch at Cokeville and Lincoln Gardner at Star Valley. Only three coaches coached every season of the 1940s: Coach Birch (also Encampment), Carl Murphy (Lingle and Riverton) and Charlie Roberts (Burlington, Lovell and Worland).

Top Ten 1940s Coaching Records by Wins
*Okie BlanchardCentral, Natrona81870.8421.0000.8756
Charlie RobertsBurlington, Lovell, Worland101450.5820.6000.1001
Carl DirManville, Shoshoni, Worland, Rawlins91390.6120.3330.1110
Lincoln GardnerStar Valley81230.7450.5000.0000
Joe SchwartzSaratoga, Rawlins, Natrona61200.7220.6670.3331
Chester ChristiansenLovell, Evanston61140.7130.6670.6670
Silas LymanBuffalo, Ranchester71090.6090.7140.0000
William EngstromSuperior, Rock Springs61020.6181.0000.1670
Clarence BirchCokeville, Encampment10990.5690.4000.2001
Archie ConnChugwater, Torrington7910.6070.7140.0000
Darrell HathawayNatrona4870.7311.0000.5000
Norman MikkelsonSuperior, Glenrock6830.610.5000.0000
Nerbert CrossmanRozet6820.6670.5000.1670
Joseph WellerAlbin5810.7570.2000.0000
Walter DowlerRock Springs, Central3790.841.0001.0002
Floyd ForemanLaramie4760.6971.0000.7500
*Wilford MowerByron4740.7471.0000.5002
John BaysMidwest4740.6921.0000.0000
Henry HartwellMidwest4740.7051.0000.0000
Frank MathewClearmont, Powell4730.640.7500.0000
Floyd HartLusk5730.5530.4000.0000

Q-Factor=percentage of times qualified for the state tourney; Medal=percentage of times finishing 1st, 2nd, or 3rd; *Wyoming Coaches Association Hall of Fame member

The chart above answers most questions about the decade, showing that C. H. ‘Okie’ Blanchard is by far and away the best hoops coach of the 1940s. (The same thing occurs for the 1930s and 1950s by the way, articles for a different day, maybe.) Okie leads in total wins by 42 games, win percentage, qualified all of his teams for the state tourney, medaled (first, second or third) seven of eight times, and won six of 10 big-school state championships. And he spotted two years of the 1940s to his prep hoops coaching brethren by stepping away from prep sports to coach and work at the University of Wyoming.

Best of the rest? Because he only coached three years in the 1940s, Walter Dowler doesn’t make the top 10 win list, but still rings up an impressive total of 79. Coach Dowler succeeded Okie at Rock Springs as head coach and won the 1937-38 state championship—too early to count on this arbitrary time span—won it again for the Tigers in 1940-41 and the next year in Cheyenne in 1941-42. Coach Dowler might’ve won another state title the following year but the Uncle Sam had different plans for him. Coach Blanchard was named his replacement and took the 1942-43 state title. After his stint in the Navy, Dowler turned his energies toward school administration and Okie continued to post a string of championships for the Indians. (Dowler’s lowest 1940s finish was second place in the 1939-40 season to—you might’ve guessed it— Coach Okie’s NCHS Mustangs.)

Three to consider—Byron’s Wilford Mower took home two 1940s state championships, coaching the final four years of that decade. He posted 74 wins, added another state title in 1950 and 111 1950s wins to his Hall of Fame total. Laramie’s Floyd Foreman ended his stellar coaching career in the 1940s with 76 wins in the four years he coached during the decade, qualifying the Plainsmen for tourney play each year and medaling three times. Just missing the top ten was Natrona County’s Darrell Hathaway with 87 wins during a four-year span of the 1940s. His Mustangs qualified each time for the state tourney and medaled twice. That average of over 21 wins a year is enviable.

Halls of Fame are a rather recent phenomena, and Wyoming started theirs in 1984. Have any 1940s coaches been omitted by the Wyoming Coaches Hall of Fame? The biggest stumbling block is the 20-year requirement of coaching with at least 80% of that occurring in Wyoming. As mentioned before, WWII disrupted many coaching careers during this decade and as a result, most fall short of the required two decades. Coaches then coached ALL sports all year long: football in the fall, basketball during the winter and track in the spring. Such investments in time tended to shorten coaching careers. The same can be said for coaches during the 1930s, where the Great Depression affected school budgets, cancelled or reduced seasons and caused all teachers uncertain employment circumstances.

Personally I’d like to see Floyd Foreman added to the Hall of Fame list, even if he’s a few years short of 20. My records go back to the 1930-31 season and I believe Coach Foreman started in Laramie the year before in the 1929-30 school year. My records—minus the 1929-30 campaign—show an amazing career. Coach Foreman qualified the Plainsmen for all the state tourneys except one, and that was the state tourney cancelled by the scarlet fever in 1935-36. His teams medaled 10 times: two state championships, five runners-up and three third place finishes. Minus that first year, he totaled 257 wins and a .754 win percentage. Pretty impressive accomplishments, even if his 14 years served are shy of 20, and certainly worthy of recognition in the Wyoming Coaches Hall of Fame.

Four questions to answer

Can we expect the usual suspects again in 4A this year? Yes, but parity is slowly creeping its way in. It’s Sheridan, Cheyenne East and Natrona, per usual, who are among the favorites. However, Cheyenne Central has reached the semifinals twice in the past four years, and Thunder Basin is eager to re-establish itself as a title threat after two consecutive quarterfinal exits. Meanwhile, both Rock Springs and Campbell County have been mentioned as programs who could surprise depending on how they find their footing with new head coaches.

Where does defending champ Sheridan have an advantage? The offensive line. Two of Sheridan’s closest competitors, East and Natrona, will have all-new starters on the line; Sheridan, meanwhile, returns beaucoup experience up front, including all-stater Alex Haswell. Thunder Basin is the only other 4A team that returns linemen with comparable experience, and even there the Broncs still have the edge.

Is this the year of the quarterback in 4A? Potentially, but it’ll also have to be the year of the pass-catcher. The five players who had the most passing yards per game in Class 4A all return — Thunder Basin’s Alonso Aguilar, Cheyenne East’s Cam Hayes, Campbell County’s Mason Drube, Rock Springs’ Michael Faigl and Laramie’s Ben Malone. All of them are seniors except for Drube, a junior. The challenge across the board will be bringing less experienced receivers up to speed; each team except for Rock Springs lost, at minimum, its top receiver from 2022.

What else is it the year of? The tackler. Of the top eight players in defensive points last season, six of them are back — Campbell County’s Levi Palmer, Sheridan’s Dane Steel and Alex Haswell, Cheyenne East’s Colby Olson and Kolbe Dierks and Cheyenne South’s Damien Pino. (Kelly Walsh’s Kadon Boyce would have also made the list, but KW coach Aaron Makelky said Boyce transferred away this summer, and it’s not clear at this point who Boyce will play for this fall.)

Preseason class MVP

Drew Jackson, Cheyenne East. The East Conference offensive player of the year in 2022, Jackson has to be accounted for on every play no matter what side of the ball he’s on. He ran for 1,017 yards and 11 touchdowns and also had 601 receiving yards and six more TDs; he’s East’s leading returner in both rushing and receiving. Defensively, he was sixth for the T-Birds with 55.5 tackles and led East with five interceptions.

Preseason class breakout player

Noah Sides, Natrona. Technically, Sides’ breakout season came last year, when he led Natrona’s defense with 76.5 tackles. As Natrona’s only returning first-team all-conference selection, though, Sides’ presence on an experienced Mustang defense will be accentuated as a senior leader, and his productivity could reach even greater heights this fall because of that.

Other players to watch

Cam Hayes, Cheyenne East. One of Wyoming’s most complete quarterbacks entering 2023, Hayes can do it all. He’s got the accuracy, completing 216 passes on 309 attempts last year; he’s got the ability to move the ball, throwing for 2,867 yards and running for 621 more; he’s got the nose for the end zone, running for seven TDs and throwing for 40. You can’t ask for much more from a quarterback — and he still has his senior season to go.

Dane Steel, Sheridan. The reigning West Conference defensive player of the year, Steel led the Broncs with 103.5 tackles last season; he notched 10 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and two interceptions. He was nearly as busy on offense, reeling in 22 catches for 390 yards and leading the Broncs with six receiving touchdowns.

Alex Haswell, Sheridan. The Bronc lineman was doing a man’s job as a junior, controlling the Broncs’ defense up front — and he put up some big numbers in doing so. His 15.6 defensive points per game ranked him fifth among all players in Class 4A. He finished with 13 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks to lead 4A in both categories, and added two fumble recoveries, four pass deflections and a blocked kick to all that.

Levi Palmer, Campbell County. It’s hard to talk defense in Class 4A without talking about Palmer, the only player in the classification last year to average more than 10 tackles per game. Palmer’s 10.4 tackles per game — 104 over 10 games — led 4A last year. He also had five tackles for loss, two sacks and three interceptions to go with his seemingly omnipresent tackling abilities.

Four key games

Cheyenne Central at Natrona, Sept. 8. Both the Indians and Mustangs have been on the edge of breakthroughs the past couple years, but neither one has players who knows what it feels like to be in a championship game. The frustrating part for both is that to make that jump, they’ll have to go through the other.

Thunder Basin at Cheyenne East, Sept. 8. After two consecutive quarterfinal playoff exits, the ‘Bolts are eager to prove they belong in the championship conversation. Well… what better opportunity to do so than on the road against the Thunderbirds early in the season? The precedent exists: The ‘Bolts have won their last two regular-season games on the road at East.

Sheridan at Cheyenne East, Sept. 29. The consensus top two teams in Class 4A this year meet in Week 5 in the Capital City. Whether they’ll still be 1-2 by this time remains to be seen, but it will still represent a rematch of last year’s title game.

Natrona at Sheridan, Oct. 13. In a rivalry that speaks for itself, the annual game between the Mustangs and Broncs has typically been key in deciding playoff seeding and, eventually, home-field advantage in the playoffs. This Week 7 matchup figures to have similarly high stakes this year, but that’s nothing new for either program.

Predicted order of finish

Cheyenne East; Sheridan; Natrona; Cheyenne Central; Thunder Basin; Rock Springs; Campbell County; Kelly Walsh; Laramie; Cheyenne South.

Way-too-early title game score prediction

Cheyenne East 40, Sheridan 32. The Thunderbirds’ talent on offense should be enough to make other defenses nervous, and that’ll draw a lot of early attention, but East’s defense is also top-notch. They’ll start the season with the edge, but they’ll have to improve to keep it.

Is this East’s year, or will someone else bring some surprises to 4A this season? Leave a comment, or drop a line on Twitter or Facebook.


On Monday, WyoFile published my story on Cokeville’s longtime coaching duo of Todd Dayton and Keith Nate. In July, I had the pleasure of going to Cokeville and meeting with the Dayton and Nate families, who were incredibly gracious with their time and thoughts. It’s one of the most ambitious stories I’ve ever taken on. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to check it out.


Back in 2012, I wrote a blog post indicating the most-played opponents for each Wyoming high school football program.

But over the past 11 years, a ton more games have been played. Some series have been discontinued, while others have had significant additions to their lore.

A few series have even cracked 100 games, with the rivalry between Torrington and Wheatland scheduled to become the latest addition to that group this season.

Here are the most-played in-state opponents for each Wyoming high school, entering the 2023 season, with their series record in parentheses:

Class 4A
Campbell County: Sheridan, 80 games (She 48-31-1)
Cheyenne Central: Laramie, 138 games (CC 70-62-6)
Cheyenne East: Central, 73 games (CC 43-30)
Cheyenne South: Campbell County, 13 games (Cam 11-2)
Kelly Walsh: Natrona, 64 games (NC 50-14)
: Central, 138 games (CC 70-62-6)
: Sheridan, 116 games (NC 59-51-6)
Rock Springs: Green River, 96 games (RS 60-32-4)
Sheridan: Natrona, 116 games (NC 59-51-6)
Thunder Basin: Sheridan, 8 games (She 6-2); Natrona, 8 games (NC 5-3); Kelly Walsh, 8 games (TB 6-2); Cheyenne East, 8 games (TB 5-3); and Cheyenne Central, 8 games (TB 5-3)

Class 3A
Buffalo: Douglas, 73 games (Buf 37-35-1) and Campbell County, 73 games (Buf 35-31-7)
Cody: Powell, 125 games (Cody 67-54-4)
: Wheatland, 96 games (Dou 57-36-3)
Evanston: Green River, 100 games (GR 59-35-6)
Green River: Evanston, 100 games (GR 59-35-6)
Jackson: Star Valley, 87 games (SV 69-18)
: Riverton, 126 games (Riv 63-56-7)
: Cody, 125 games (Cody 67-54-4)
Rawlins: Rock Springs, 78 games (RS 53-22-3)
Riverton: Lander, 126 games (Riv 63-56-7)
Star Valley: Evanston, 95 games (SV 55-36-4)
Worland: Thermopolis, 97 games (Wor 58-34-5)

Class 2A
Big Horn: Tongue River, 61 games (TR 34-26-1)
Burns: Pine Bluffs, 54 games (PB 31-23)
Cokeville: Big Piney, 70 games (Cok 37-32-1)
Glenrock: Newcastle, 49 games (Glk 28-21)
Kemmerer: Evanston, 76 games (Eva 47-27-2)
: Greybull, 92 games (Lov 58-30-4)
: Big Piney, 87 games (BP 48-38-1)
Mountain View
: Lyman, 83 games (MV 49-34)
Newcastle: Buffalo, 71 games (Buf 44-26-1)
Pinedale: Big Piney, 107 games (BP 61-46)
Thermopolis: Worland, 97 games (Wor 58-34-5)
Tongue River: Big Horn, 61 games (TR 34-26-1)
Torrington: Wheatland, 99 games (Tor 78-20-1)
Upton-Sundance: Pine Bluffs, 10 games (US 7-3) and Tongue River, 10 games (US 9-1)
(Sundance: Upton, 75 games (Upt 38-32-5))
(Upton: Sundance, 75 games (Upt 38-32-5))
Wheatland: Torrington, 99 games (Tor 78-20-1)

Class 1A nine-man
Big Piney: Pinedale, 107 games (BP 61-46)
Greybull: Lovell, 92 games (Lov 58-30-4)
Guernsey-Sunrise: Lingle, 52 games (Lin 27-25)
Lingle: Pine Bluffs, 67 games (Lin 40-25-2)
: Lingle, 60 games (Lus 45-12-3)
: Sundance, 62 games (Mor 36-26)
Pine Bluffs: Lingle, 67 games (Lin 40-25-2)
Riverside: Greybull, 32 games (Gre 17-15)
Rocky Mountain: Wind River, 36 games (RM 28-8)
St. Stephens: Meeteetse, 13 games (Met 9-4)
Saratoga: Hanna, 54 games (Sar 33-21)
Shoshoni: Wind River, 59 games (Sho 30-29)
Southeast: Lusk, 48 games (Lus 26-22)
Wind River: Shoshoni, 59 games (Sho 30-29)
Wright: Moorcroft, 31 games (Wri 20-11)
Wyoming Indian: Shoshoni, 37 games (Sho 30-6-1)

Class 1A six-man
Burlington: Meeteetse, 63 games (Brl 33-26-4)
Dubois: Shoshoni, 40 games (Sho 25-15)
Encampment: Farson, 13 games (Far 8-5)
: Snake River, 21 games (SR 14-7)
: Saratoga, 54 games (Sar 33-21)
: Midwest, 57 games (Mid 32-24-1)
: Midwest, 17 games (Kay 12-5)
: Burlington, 63 games (Brl 33-26-4)
Midwest: Upton, 57 games (Upt 33-22-2) and Hulett, 57 games (Mid 32-24-1)
Snake River: Farson, 21 games (SR 14-7)
Ten Sleep: Meeteetse, 58 games (Met 29-28-1)


Four questions to answer

Who will it be — Cody or Star Valley? Early advantage, Star Valley. These two programs have combined to win the past nine Class 3A championships — five for Star Valley, four for Cody — and they played against each other in last year’s 3A title game. So it makes sense that the early eyes are on the two most consistent programs. Moreover, they have proven their dominance by beating everyone but each other: Five of Cody’s six most recent losses dating back to 2018 are to Star Valley, and Star Valley’s three most recent in-state losses are all to Cody.

Does anyone else have a chance? Yes, but statistically there’s always a chance. Programs like Douglas, Buffalo and Powell have the most realistic chances of breaking through the Cody/Star Valley championship monopoly this year, in part because they’re the programs that return the most players from teams that had some success last year; Douglas and Buffalo actually lead 3A in returning all-conference players this year with four apiece.

How much will four new coaches change the look of 3A? Maybe not much in the first year, but look out long-term. Four Class 3A programs will have new head coaches, including three of the four programs that failed to make the playoffs last year. Jim Burton makes the move from Evanston to Lander, and former assistant Steve Moore takes over as Evanston’s head coach. Mark Lenhardt jumped into the open position at Riverton, leaving 4A Rock Springs to do so, and Blaine Christensen left an assistant’s spot at Rock Springs to become the head coach at Green River. Combined, those four teams were 10-26 last year, and Lander was the only one of the bunch to make the playoffs.

And how’s the rest of the classification looking? Better than usual. To be honest, conversations with basically every 3A coach this summer left me feeling like every one of them was a darkhorse to do some damage in the standings this season. The bottom half of 3A could make some significant strides this year, and several teams — including all the teams with first-year coaches, as well as Jackson, Rawlins and a handful of others, could be teams that give the top-tier teams true challenges this fall.

Preseason class MVP

Tegen Seeds, Douglas. It’s not often that a lineman earns this spot, but Seeds’ play demands this kind of attention. The Class 3A East lineman of the year last year as a junior has been tearing it up on both sides of the ball for a while now. His defensive statistics — 59.5 tackles and a team-high three sacks — put him among Douglas’ top defenders last year, and his prowess as an offensive linemen is already well-known by opposing coaches.

Preseason class breakout player

Daniel Lopez, Worland. Lopez split time between Worland and Colorado last year and only got to play about half his sophomore year with the Warriors. But he made an immediate impact on Worland’s offensive and defensive lines, and he could be the team’s most formidable big man as a junior.

Other players to watch

Trey Stenerson, Powell. Class 3A’s top returning receiver isn’t just an offensive threat. Sure, he can frustrate an opposing defensive backfield — his 54 catches for 813 yards and 10 touchdowns shows that — but he also caused chaos on defense as well. He was one of Powell’s most opportunistic defenders, with three interceptions and six pass break-ups, a pair of fumble recoveries and 24.5 tackles.

Jayden Crook, Star Valley. On a Star Valley defense that returns just four of its top 15 tacklers from last year’s championship team, Crook will be the focus. He was third on the team in 2022 with 65.5 tackles and had a team-high five interceptions. He’s also Star Valley’s top returning receiver, although those numbers (three catches, 63 yards) aren’t quite as impressive.

Trey Rinn, Douglas. No other returning 3A quarterback threw for more yards (1,789) or touchdowns (23) as Rinn did last season. He also added 543 rushing yards and leads Douglas’ returners in that category, as well. His ability to make plays in a variety of ways will make him tough for opposing defenses to stop.

Cohen Morrow and Brady Roberts, Evanston. For a team constantly trying to earn its place in a tough 3A West, the backfield pairing of Morrow and Roberts gives the Red Devils a fighting chance. They combined for 1,126 rushing yards (Roberts 650 from the running back spot, Morrow 526 at quarterback) and 137 tackles (Morrow 81, Roberts 56). They’re key pieces of what could be 3A’s most improved team this fall.

Four key games

Lander at Evanston, Sept. 15. Don’t call it the “Burton Bowl” just yet, but it will be interesting to see how coach Jim Burton’s new team, Lander, matches up against his team from last year, Evanston, in Uinta County.

Riverton at Star Valley, Sept. 15. New Riverton coach Mark Lenhardt starts his Wolverine tenure with a murderer’s row of West Conference opponents — Powell, Cody, Evanston and Star Valley — in the first four weeks. The last of those games, against the defending state champions in Afton, will say a lot about how the Wolverines might fare in the East Conference race in Lenhardt’s first year.

Buffalo at Douglas, Sept. 29. All signs point to this game being the one that will eventually decide the East Conference title. And although four other teams will have a say in that presumption, that doesn’t make this one any less valuable of a victory for both teams.

Star Valley at Cody, Oct. 6. I mean, come on.

Predicted order of finish

East Conference: Douglas; Buffalo; Worland; Riverton; Lander; Rawlins.

West Conference: Star Valley; Cody; Powell; Evanston; Jackson; Green River.

Preseason top five: 1. Star Valley; 2. Douglas; 3. Cody; 4. Powell; 5. Buffalo.

Way-too-early title game score prediction

Star Valley 28, Douglas 20. The Braves’ depth is a feature not many 3A teams can match. Though many of the challengers (Douglas, Buffalo, Cody, Powell) are on the same step, the Braves still stand a smidge taller than the field.

Is Class 3A the purview of old favorites, or is this the year somebody breaks up the Cody/Star Valley bi-opoly? Leave a comment, or drop a line on Twitter or Facebook.

Next Thursday: Class 4A preview.


The two things we all could use more of are time and money.

And if I had both of those things in an unlimited supply, I would use it to venture around the state, catching football game after football game.

Work through the scheduling and travel logistics, and I could make it to 31 games over the nine regular-season weeks of the year. And, after consulting the 2023 schedule, here’s what I’d hit up, when I’d hit it up and why I’d hit it up to enjoy the season without time or money worries:

Week 0
Thursday, Aug. 24
: Kemmerer at Cokeville scrimmage, 4 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 25: Malad, Idaho, at Lyman, 3 p.m.; Kelly Walsh at Rock Springs, 6 p.m.
The only Zero Week Thursday action is in Lincoln County, so a Southwest swing makes the most sense. Picking up the Eagles in some interstate action, plus a 4A game to cap the weekend, is a good way to start a busy season.

Week 1
Tuesday, Aug. 29
: Casper Christian at Meeteetse, 7 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 31: Shoshoni at Pine Bluffs, 4 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 1: Riverside at Southeast, 2 p.m.; St. Stephens at Lingle, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 2: Burlington JV at Casper Christian, 1 p.m.
The only Tuesday game of the year is one of the Week 1 highlights. The Thursday game between Shoshoni and Pine Bluffs, a rematch of last year’s 1A nine-man title game, is the can’t miss game of the week, but seeing the two Goshen County nine-man teams is also an opportunity that’s not worth missing. The only in-state game on Saturday is Casper Christian, again, so we’ll see the Mountaineers, Wyoming’s newest football program, twice in a week.

Week 2
Friday, Sept. 8
: Lovell at Cokeville, 1 p.m.; Sugar-Salem, Idaho, at Star Valley, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 9: Dubois at Snake River, 2 p.m.
Lincoln County gives us two of what might be the best games of Week 2, so it made sense to hit up both of them. It’s a long drive from Afton to Baggs on Saturday morning, but worth it to see what might be the most important six-man game of the year.

Week 3
Thursday, Sept. 14
: Rocky Mountain at Wyoming Indian, 5 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 15: Ten Sleep at Kaycee, 2 p.m.; Kelly Walsh at Natrona, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 16: Farson at Casper Christian, noon; Burlington at Midwest, 5 p.m.
We’re a little all over the place, but that’s OK — in the middle of everything is the Oil Bowl, and that should make it all worth it. Saturday’s schedule allows us to pick up two more six-man games in Natrona County, so why not?

Week 4
Thursday, Sept. 21
: Big Piney at Wind River, 5 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 22: Meeteetse at Burlington, 2 p.m.; Douglas at Worland, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 23: Shoshoni at Rocky Mountain, 2 p.m.
The 1A nine-man West Conference should be crazy this year, and no two games personify that better than the Thursday and Saturday games in Week 4. In between are two more Bighorn Basin games that should be worth the admission price.

Week 5
Friday, Sept. 29
: Sheridan at Cheyenne East, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 30: Midwest at Hanna, noon.
Other options could have gotten me more games, but there’s absolutely no way I’m missing the Sheridan-East game, a rematch of last year’s 4A championship game. So with that game the priority, others had to fall by the wayside — except Hanna.

Week 6
Thursday, Oct. 5
: Ten Sleep at Meeteetse, 7 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 6: Star Valley at Cody, 5 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 7: Wyoming Indian at St. Stephens, noon.
Again, other ways could have landed more games, but Star Valley-Cody was must-see football last season and could be again this season. I’m not taking the risk of missing it.

Week 7
Thursday, Oct. 12
: Rocky Mountain at St. Stephens, noon.
Friday, Oct. 13: Big Horn at Tongue River, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 14: Kaycee at Hulett, 11 a.m.
For the third straight week, I’m taking quality over quantity and finally making my way up to the far Northeast corner. The Thunder Bowl between Big Horn and Tongue River will be huge this year, at least on paper, and I wouldn’t want to miss it.

Week 8
Thursday, Oct. 19
: Cokeville at Lyman, 4 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 20: Douglas at Lander, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 21: Burlington at Dubois, 1:30 p.m.
The Week 8 schedule is heavy on Friday night games, and with a Thursday schedule that’s heavily skewed toward teams on the west side of the state, this schedule will do quite nicely.

What’s your can’t-miss game of the 2023 season, at least before the season starts? Leave a comment below.


Four questions to answer

Does Class 2A have a clear-cut favorite? Absolutely not. Class 2A may give us one of the most even title races in recent memory. Several teams are legitimate title contenders, among them Big Horn, Tongue River, Lovell, Lyman, Mountain View, Cokeville, Torrington… the list goes on and on. Two teams that got bumped in the quarterfinals last year (Tongue River and Mountain View) have drawn a lot of attention due to their returning talent, but they, along with Big Horn and Lyman, all have two returning all-state selections apiece.

So, quit playing, who’s it really going to be? Probably somebody from Uinta or Sheridan counties. The four teams getting the most attention from coaches this offseason are the two Uinta schools (Lyman and Mountain View) and the two Sheridan schools (Tongue River and Big Horn). Mountain View and Tongue River have the most returning talent from quarterfinal-exit finishes last year, while Lyman and Big Horn have the pedigree from recent championships, Lyman in 2020 and 2021 and Big Horn in 2022, to drive preseason respect.

And what about Lovell? Hmmm. Well, the Bulldogs — runners-up in 2A each of the past two season — present an interesting conundrum. They clearly know how to develop success, and they have a large senior class. But they also lost five all-staters to graduation, a loss that’s going to be difficult to overcome. At least the Bulldogs have a chance to prove themselves right out of the gate, by hosting defending champ Big Horn in Week 1 and 2020/2021 champ Lyman in Week 3 with a trip to Cokeville sandwiched between. If Lovell survives that, watch out.

Anyone else a threat? No, but it’s going to be fun to see how programs develop. Wheatland, Glenrock and Thermopolis all have new head coaches, while coaches in Burns, Pinedale and Cokeville are in their second years. Cokeville and Burns were playoff qualifiers last year, and it will be interesting to see if they can keep that momentum rolling.

Preseason class MVP

Colter Hanft, Tongue River. Not too many players lead their teams in both receiving and tackles, but that’s exactly what Hanft did last season — as a junior, no less. His 29 catches for 481 yards led all of Tongue River’s receivers, and his exactly 100 tackles also put him at the head of the Eagles’ lists, too. Among those tackles? Seven sacks.

Preseason class breakout player

Justus Platts, Mountain View. Never heard of him? That’s OK. Platts is a sophomore who’s never taken a snap for the Buffalos. A transfer from Texas, Platts has the potential — always a dangerous word — to take over as Mountain View’s quarterback this season. Coach Brent Walk came away impressed, though, after seeing Platts work with the returning Buffs at summer camps.

Other players to watch

Carter Bradshaw, Lyman. The Eagles’ option offense is predicated heavily on decisions made by the quarterback, and Bradshaw proved to be an effective decision-maker last season in season-long relief. He carried 241 times for 1,013 yards and scored 11 touchdowns and also chipped in 23 pass completions for 248 yards for an offense that doesn’t throw much.

Jayce Schultz, Mountain View. Schultz was the Buffalos’ top rusher and tackler in 2022, carrying for 901 yards and seven TDs while notching 87 tackles and four sacks on defense. On a defense that returns 12 of its top 14 tacklers, Schultz remains the leader of the unit ready for big strides this season.

Kiefer Dunham, Big Horn. The defending state champs have a leader on the line in Dunham. An all-state pick last year, Dunham is Big Horn’s top returning tackler, and it’s not really that close. He was a half-tackle shy of 100 last year and had 11.5 tackles for loss. He will be paramount in the Rams’ attempt at a title defense.

Ty Bennick, Torrington. Speaking of linemen, the Trailblazers have a good one in Bennick, who led the team in defensive points last season. He had 72 tackles last year, four of those sacks, and was Torrington’s only all-state selection last season. He also leads the ‘Blazers’ offensive line — no small role on a team that likes to run.

Four key games

Lovell at Cokeville, Sept. 8. The Bulldogs unceremoniously dumped the Panthers out of the playoffs last year in the semifinals, and Cokeville — in the conference opener for both teams — would love to get their revenge early in the season. A loss for either team so early in the conference schedule could be devastating to conference title hopes.

Mountain View at Lyman, Sept. 22. The Bridger Valley rivalry is always important, but in 2023 it could be the game that decides the West Conference in addition to regional bragging rights. And don’t think the fact that Lyman has won the last three in the series isn’t on the Buffalos’ minds.

Big Horn at Tongue River, Oct. 13. The Thunder Bowl, in Week 7 this year, might just lead to an attendance overflow in Walt Gray Field in Dayton. In a year where the Rams and Eagles — despite plenty of threats — could be the best two teams in the East, this rivalry game could be the game that ultimately decides it all.

Newcastle at Torrington, Oct. 20. These two bypassed each other in the East Conference standings last year — Newcastle ascending, Torrington descending. And if the rest of the conference comes together in the way that last year did, this one could be critical for postseason momentum. Or postseason access.

Predicted order of finish

East Conference: Tongue River; Big Horn; Torrington; Upton-Sundance; Newcastle; Wheatland; Burns; Glenrock.

West Conference: Lyman; Mountain View; Lovell; Cokeville; Thermopolis; Kemmerer; Pinedale.

Preseason top five: 1. Lyman; 2. Mountain View; 3. Tongue River; 4. Big Horn; 5. Lovell.

Way-too-early title game score prediction

Lyman 20, Mountain View 14. Sure, a Uinta County title showdown would be epic. But in 2A this year, any of the top six or seven teams are true contenders. Don’t be surprised if other teams emerge by November.

Who’s the team you see emerging from a muddled mix of favorites in Class 2A this year? Leave a comment, or drop a line on Twitter or Facebook.

Next Thursday: Class 3A preview.


The Wyoming high school football preview magazine — which I write every summer — mentions several hundred Wyoming high school football players before each season.

Every once in a while, though, somebody who should be a part of their team’s story that year isn’t there.

Sometimes, the reasons are explainable, and some reasons more common than others. Moved away. Ineligible. Transferred. Decided to focus on another sport. Had a falling out with a coach. Incarcerated.

In a dozen years of preview magazines, and almost 20 years of covering high school football in the Equality State, I’ve heard all of these.

But sometimes, when I ask the question “What about ____?”, I can hear an audible sigh from the coach, followed by silence on the other end of the line.

I know what’s coming.

That teenager is dead.

Usually, the coach fills me in on the details. I’ve talked to coaches that have had players who have died in car crashes, drowned on rafting trips, been accidentally shot, and more.

But the hardest reason to hear, by far: He killed himself.

I can’t help but feel my heart break harder for those deaths than the others. And I know why — it’s because that could have been me.


During my freshman and sophomore years in high school, depression manifested in me in the kinds of changes that few people could notice. Even I struggled to see it in the moment. In retrospect — through both individual introspection and therapy — I see it much more clearly, though. Specifically for me, my depression came out in small bits of anger and frustration that grew increasingly more frequent as I got older. By the time I turned 16, right at the start of my sophomore year, I had mastered the “non-response.” If someone said something that brought out my ever-more-frequent feelings of anger or frustration, I stared daggers, but my face didn’t change and my voice stayed silent.

What people didn’t see was how often I turned those daggers inward, beating myself up for my perceived shortcomings. As those moments became more and more frequent, they slowly became tied to thoughts of suicidal ideation.

From an outside perspective, my depression could have simply looked like basic teenager stuff. What teenager doesn’t occasionally come off like a jerk? That’s part of growing up; not every jerk is depressed, and not every depressed person is a jerk. In fact, on a traditional depression checklist, I didn’t hit many of the key indicators that would normally indicate clinical depression.

No matter what, though, the idea of not being there was hard for me to escape.

I didn’t realize that I was struggling as hard as I was until I had an epiphany during my sophomore year. In an instant, I realized something wasn’t right. I asked my parents for help, and fortunately they listened and acted. I started taking antidepressants and going to therapy.

The brain chemistry started changing, slowly at first, although a higher dose of Prozac accelerated the good changes. Therapy gave me more tools to handle my daggers and keep them from stabbing me.

Recovery was proof: I wasn’t broken. I was sick.

Today, more than 20 years later, the sickness still lingers. But now I know how to keep that sickness from killing me.

Unfortunately, not everyone receives that help.


The coaches I talk to always struggle to find the words. Their words represent the same words uttered by family, friends, mentors, community members. We’re never ready for it. Why him? Why now?

I think the surprise is misplaced. In Wyoming, we should be ready for it. And that sucks.

Wyoming ranked first — or last, depending on how you want to look at it — in per capita suicides in 2021, with a rate of 32.3 suicide deaths per 100,000 people, in the last full year that CDC data is available. Wyoming also led the country in per capita suicides in 2020. And 2019. And 2018.

Suicide is the No. 2 cause of death in Wyoming for people from ages 10-44. Men die more often than women, and in Wyoming, 75% of suicide deaths involve a firearm.

Some good news? Wyoming’s rates fell in 2022.

But that’s in the aggregate. The individual suicides remain — holes in families, communities, schools and teams that will remain unfilled.

That’s why we have to talk about it.

I believe the only reason I’m alive is that I felt comfortable talking about my emotional darkness with someone I trusted. Maybe most importantly, I had engaged in difficult, emotional, vulnerable conversations already with people that I trusted, and they had shown me they were ready to handle them. Friendship and rapport are a start; love, trust and vulnerability are even better.

Conversation isn’t the sole solution. Even the most trusting and open relationship may not be enough to save someone. But it’s a start.

From the Wyoming Department of Health: If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of harming themselves, please call 911. If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 or text “WYO” to 741-741 for the Crisis Text Line.