I want you to go through a little mental exercise right now. Think about the last time your favorite Wyoming high school football team won an outright conference championship.

For half of the state’s football programs, this doesn’t require you to think back too far — 32 programs have won an outright conference title this decade. Another 13 have won an outright conference title in the past 20 years; 13 more than that have won one in the past 40.

Now, a handful of programs (newer programs like Thunder Basin, Cheyenne South and NSI, as well as Wyoming Indian) have never won an outright conference title. And St. Stephens took a long break before bringing back football, so the Eagles haven’t won one since 1963.

That leaves one program.

Lander.

The Tigers’ last outright conference championship came 71 years ago, in 1948. Players on that team are now likely in their late 80s.

The actual conference title drought isn’t that long — Lander last shared a conference title in 1995. And the Tigers played in state title games in 1993, 1994, 1995 and 2004, so it’s not like the Tigers have been pushovers.

So why does it matter now? Well… take a look at the 3A East standings. Lander is the last remaining undefeated team in conference play. The Tigers are 3-0; Douglas, Riverton and Worland are all at 2-1, chasing a Lander team that, for the first time in a long time, controls its own destiny.

Destiny, meet Douglas.

Lander and Douglas have been in the same conference since 2011. In that time, Douglas has won all eight games between the programs, winning by an average score of 39-7. In fact, Douglas has won 12 in a row against Lander.

On Friday night, Douglas comes to Lander, where the Tigers have a chance to undo a decade’s worth of frustration against the Bearcats and come one step closer to ending more than seven decades’ worth conference shortfalls.

With the right set of circumstances — a Lander victory paired with a Torrington upset of Worland — the Tigers would be conference champs by the end of the night on Friday, although we wouldn’t know until after Week 8 if the title would be outright or shared.

Either way, 48 good minutes for Lander could help undo 71 years of delayed gratification.

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Other games that have me wondering if we broke the simulation:

The obvious answer for “Game of the Week” is Star Valley-Cody in the 3A West championship game. I’m not sure how anyone can doubt Star Valley’s cred after the way the Braves held down Jackson last week, but Cody presents a significant challenge (and potential Laramie lookahead). …

The week is chock full of games that will affect playoff seeding and qualification, and I absolutely love the fact that Cheyenne South-Gillette is in that conversation. Both the Bison and Camels beat Laramie this year, and for the first time in a couple years this game is for something more than just pride. If 4A is going to develop parity, it starts with these two programs, and their jumps forward this year, however small, are worth noting. …

I’m not sure when or where or how this happened, but I think Riverton might be the most improved team in the state over the past month. The Wolverines host Rawlins this week, and I’m really interested to see if Riverton keeps building on the momentum it has in its favor. …

Speaking of scary teams, Wright notched a huge victory last week against Lusk that put the Panthers in prime playoff position. Now, Wright has what might even be a bigger game against Southeast — and both these teams are aware of how critical the difference is in the 1A 11-man East to be the No. 3 seed going into the playoffs as opposed to the No. 4 seed. This could be the state’s best game this week regardless of classification. …

Burlington and Farson are meeting in a rematch of last year’s six-man title game. Funny how that means a heck of a lot less this deep into the season. Still, it’s cool to see happen. …

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On to some picks, where I pick ’em. But I don’t establish lines. Nah, this ain’t Vegas. So I just pick a team, put ’em in bold, and then watch the fun unfold.

Thursday
Interclass

Star Valley JV at Cokeville
Friday
Class 4A

Cheyenne South at Gillette
Kelly Walsh at Thunder Basin
Natrona at Cheyenne Central
Rock Springs at Cheyenne East
Sheridan at Laramie
Class 3A
Douglas at Lander
Green River at Powell
Jackson at Evanston
Rawlins at Riverton
Star Valley at Cody
Worland at Torrington
Class 2A
Big Piney at Buffalo
Burns at Newcastle
Lovell at Pinedale
Moorcroft at Wheatland
Mountain View at Kemmerer
Thermopolis at Glenrock
Class 1A 11-man
Big Horn at Lusk
Rocky Mountain at Wind River
Shoshoni at Wyoming Indian
Southeast at Wright
Upton-Sundance at Pine Bluffs
Class 1A six-man
Burlington at Farson
Dubois at Meeteetse
Lingle at Guernsey-Sunrise
Riverside at St. Stephens
Saturday
Class 2A
Lyman at Greybull
Class 1A six-man

Hanna at Kaycee
Saratoga at NSI
Interclass
Natrona sophs at Encampment
Tongue River at Sheridan JV
Open: Snake River. Hulett has a forfeit victory against Midwest already notched this week and won’t play this week.

For a full schedule including kickoff times, as well as results from past weeks, go here. Click on “Week 7” on the top of the page for this week’s schedule.

+++

Here are the results of my picks from last week and this season:

Last week: 25-6 (81 percent). This season: 166-45 (79 percent). 

+++

What were you up to in 1948? Leave a comment here, or hit me up on the Facebook page or on Twitter.

If you like what you see here, consider a page sponsorship

–patrick

Here’s a quick look at broad playoff scenarios entering Week 7 of the 2019 Wyoming high school football season:

Class 4A
In: Thunder Basin, Sheridan, Cheyenne East, Natrona, Cheyenne Central, Rock Springs.
Neither in nor out: Cheyenne South, Gillette, Kelly Walsh, Laramie.
Out: No one.
Can the top seed be decided this week? Yep. Thunder Basin can earn the No. 1 seed with a victory against Kelly Walsh.
Break it down for me: The bottom four teams in 4A are all 1-6, chasing the final two playoff seeds. Gillette is probably in the best position to control its own destiny, as the Camels face South and Kelly Walsh while the other three schools play at least one team from the top six (and Laramie plays a pair) in the final two weeks.

Class 3A East
In: Lander.
Neither in nor out: Douglas, Riverton, Worland, Rawlins, Torrington.
Out: No one.
Can the top seed be decided this week? Only if Lander beats Douglas and Torrington upsets Worland; if so, then Lander will be the top seed.
Break it down for me: Rawlins and Torrington are both 0-3 and play each other in Week 8. They both need victories in Week 7 to stay alive. Meanwhile, Douglas, Riverton and Worland are all fighting it out at 2-1.

Class 3A West
In: Star Valley, Cody.
Neither in nor out: Jackson, Powell, Green River, Evanston.
Out: No one.
Can the top seed be decided this week? It WILL be decided this week; the winner of Friday’s game between Star Valley and Cody will be the West’s No. 1 seed.
Break it down for me: After the top seed, a lot is up in the air with Jackson, Powell and Green River all 1-2 and Evanston still in it at 0-3 but needing some help. Powell and Green River play each other this week, and that will kickstart the sorting process.

Class 2A East
In: Buffalo.
Neither in nor out: Thermopolis, Burns, Wheatland, Glenrock, Moorcroft, Newcastle.
Out: No one.
Can the top seed be decided this week? It’s already decided; Buffalo is the East’s top seed.
Break it down for me: I’ve already talked about how crazy the 2A East is. Thermopolis, Burns and Wheatland are in the best shape to reach the postseason, and Glenrock, Moorcroft and Newcastle (all 1-3) will need some victories and some help to sneak in.

Class 2A West
In: Mountain View, Big Piney.
Neither in nor out: Lovell, Lyman, Pinedale, Greybull, Kemmerer.
Out: No one.
Can the top seed be decided this week? Sure can be; Mountain View earns the top seed by beating winless Kemmerer this week.
Break it down for me: Kemmerer has the most difficult climb; at 0-4, the Rangers need to beat No. 1 Mountain View this week and get some help to tie the right teams to force a tiebreaker. Beyond that, the rest of the conference is a big, muddled mess right now as four other teams chase two spots.

Class 1A 11-man East
In: Big Horn, Upton-Sundance.
Neither in nor out: Southeast, Wright, Lusk, Pine Bluffs.
Out: Tongue River.
Can the top seed be decided this week? Big Horn would win the top seed by defeating Lusk paired with a Southeast loss to Wright; otherwise, it’ll be decided in Week 8.
Break it down for me: In the chase for the final two playoff spots, Southeast and Wright are most comfortable, at 3-1 and 2-2, respectively. That leaves Lusk and Pine Bluffs, both at 1-3, trying to leap ahead of Wright for the fourth spot. Lusk and Pine Bluffs play each other in Week 8, and they’ll both need upsets in Week 7 (Lusk over Big Horn, Pine Bluffs over Upton-Sundance) to keep pace with the Panthers. And Wright holds the tiebreaker over both of them.

Class 1A 11-man West
In: No one.
Neither in nor out: Everyone.
Out: No one.
Can the top seed be decided this week? Simply, no.
Break it down for me: This conference is a bit tricky, as Cokeville and Wyoming Indian don’t play each other this season. But Shoshoni is in position to be the No. 2 seed behind the Panthers, and Rocky Mountain and Wind River are potentially Nos. 3 and 4… unless upsets happen, like they did last year.

Class 1A six-man East
In: Hanna, Hulett.
Neither in nor out: Lingle, Kaycee, Guernsey, NSI.
Out: Midwest.
Ineligible: Saratoga.
Can the top seed be decided this week? Sure can; Hanna will be the top seed with a victory against Kaycee in Week 7.
Break it down for me: The chase for the final two spots really boils down to Lingle, Kaycee and Guernsey. Lingle is in a better spot, being 3-2 to Kaycee and Guernsey’s 2-3. This week’s Lingle-Guernsey game will be crucial. Meanwhile, NSI is the longest long shot, needing victories in the final two weeks and a LOT of help just to force a tiebreaker.

Class 1A six-man West
In: Snake River.
Neither in nor out: Farson, Burlington, Meeteetse, St. Stephens, Dubois.
Out: No one.
Ineligible: Riverside.
Can the top seed be decided this week? It’s already been decided — Snake River will be the top seed out of the West.
Break it down for me: Farson at 3-1 needs only one win to secure a playoff spot. After that, Burlington at 2-2 and Meeteetse at 2-3 are in the best positions for the postseason. St. Stephens at 1-3 needs an upset or two, while Dubois at 0-4 REALLY needs some victories and some help, although the Rams still mathematically alive.

–patrick

Six-man football in Wyoming has a magic number: 22.

Every six-man state champion since 2009 has given up fewer than 22 points per game. And only once has a six-man team given up fewer than 22 points per game and not won the six-man title.

Re-read that last paragraph. And then think about it.

Like Bear Bryant used to say, offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships. He was talking 11-man, but nowhere else does it ring truer than in six-man.

Over the past 10 seasons, it’s held true that to win a championship, six-man defenses HAVE to allow fewer than 22 points per game. Here’s a quick breakdown of who’s met that magic number, and by how much:
Kaycee 2017 (10-0), 10 ppg (state champ)
Snake River 2010 (10-0), 15.2 ppg (state champ)
Kaycee 2016 (11-0), 15.27 ppg (state champ)
Kaycee 2015 (10-1), 15.73 ppg (state champ)
Guernsey 2014 (11-0), 15.8 ppg (state champ)
Guernsey 2009 (9-0), 16 ppg (state champ)
Snake River 2017 (8-2), 16.8 ppg
Dubois 2012 (11-0), 19.18 ppg (state champ)
Snake River 2011 (11-0), 20.5 ppg (state champ)
Farson 2018 (11-0), 21 ppg (state champ)
Meeteetse 2013 (11-1), 21.42 ppg (state champ)

Only once we wrap our heads around that magic number can we fully understand, embrace and appreciate what’s happening with Snake River this season.

Through five games, Snake River has allowed zero points.

Zero. None. Nada. Zilch. Zip-a-dee-doo-dah. An average of 0.0 ppg.

Scores of 71-0 (sorry, Saratoga), 52-0 (bye-bye, Burlington), 62-0 (mashed Meeteetse), 53-0 (sayonara, St. Stephens) and 56-0 (ripped Riverside) have put the Rattlers on a path of not only championship proportions, but of heretofore unmatched historic defensive prowess.

At one point in Kaycee’s 2017 title season — the one that capped a 30-game winning streak and three consecutive state titles while putting the Buckaroos on top of that six-man defensive list at 10 points per game — the Buckaroos notched four consecutive shutouts.

I thought we may never see that in six-man again. Yet here we are, and Snake River’s got five shutouts in its first five games.

Five consecutive shutouts is unprecedented in Wyoming’s six-man records. The closest such six-man stretch I can find, beyond Kaycee’s 2017 season, came with Byron’s six-man team in 1939, which went 5-0 and never gave up a point; the caveat is that I can’t find results for two of Byron’s games that season.

(By the way, the all-time state record for consecutive shutouts, regardless of classification, is nine. Three programs share that record. Rock Springs did that in the 1940 and 1941 seasons, including eight straight shutouts to close out its 1940 championship season; Sheridan did that in 1916-19, including a 1917 season in which they outscored opponents 300-0; and Ten Sleep had nine straight shutouts from 1935-36.)

All that said, it makes sense that Snake River is the top-ranked team in six-man.

The Rattlers’ biggest challenge to date comes Friday, when second-ranked and defending state champion Farson brings its tied-for-state-best 16-game winning streak to Baggs.

Farson has to feel overshadowed by Snake River’s success this year. How many defending state champs start a season with five consecutive victories, string together a 16-game winning streak — and, oh by the way, give up a championship-pace 13.4 points per game — and STILL can’t crack the top spot in the rankings?

Well… when the team ranked higher is on some kind of crazy record-breaking shutout streak, there’s not much Farson can do.

Except score.

+++

A ton of rivalries dot the schedule in Week 6, but that’s not all that’s important. After all, the Oil Bowl (Natrona-Kelly Walsh) and the Energy Bowl (Sheridan-Gillette) are both this week. Bold prediction: Neither will be all that competitive by the fourth quarter. But some other games might be….

Like Central-East in what we used to call the Capital Bowl. With South’s struggles, maybe we still can. To be honest, I thought Central was a year away from being a true competitor in 4A. Yet the Indians are 4-2 and have won four in a row. That kind of momentum builds confidence and turns a team with potential into a team with power. East is the favorite, but Central might be closer to turning the tide in this series than anyone outside their locker room thought possible in August. …

In Week 5, Worland finally showed that spark I thought the Warriors would have all season in defeating Rawlins. After an 0-4 start, it would be easy to write off Worland’s hopes. But if the Warriors can surprise Douglas at home this week — and based on last week’s performance, they very well could — they might be a surprise second-half team, and beyond. …

Jackson’s mad. And Star Valley is in the Broncs’ way. Although the Braves have the edge in this one, if you think Jackson won’t be playing like its hair’s on fire, you’ve got another thing coming. …

The Bridger Valley Bowl between Mountain View and Lyman is this week. As I’ve said before, I wholly underestimated Lyman this season. But I haven’t overestimated Mountain View… the Buffalos have been everything that everyone thought they might be this season. I’m curious to see how much of a fight the underdog Eagles might give them in a rivalry showdown. Speaking of underestimating teams….

I don’t mind admitting that the team I was most wrong about this year was Southeast. The Cyclones have won four in a row and are tied for first in the 1A 11-man East. Are they for-real championship threats? Well, they host Upton-Sundance this week. Let’s talk after that game. …

+++

Here are the Week 6 picks. Bold is for teams I think will win, and I use it carefully, because ink is expensive:

Thursday
Interclass

Wyoming Indian at Cody JV
Friday
Class 4A

Cheyenne Central at Cheyenne East
Kelly Walsh at Natrona
Laramie at Cheyenne South
Sheridan at Gillette
Thunder Basin at Rock Springs
Class 3A
Douglas at Worland
Evanston at Green River
Jackson at Star Valley
Lander at Rawlins
Powell at Cody
Torrington at Riverton
Class 2A
Greybull at Lovell
Kemmerer at Glenrock
Mountain View at Lyman
Newcastle at Thermopolis
Pinedale at Big Piney
Wheatland at Buffalo
Class 1A 11-man
Lusk at Wright
Cokeville at Rocky Mountain
Tongue River at Big Horn
Upton-Sundance at Southeast
Wind River at Shoshoni
Class 1A six-man
Kaycee at Lingle
Meeteetse at Riverside
Interclass
Burns at Pine Bluffs
Saturday
Class 1A six-man

Farson at Snake River
NSI at Hulett
St. Stephens at Dubois
Saratoga at Hanna
Interclass
Gillette sophs at Moorcroft
Natrona frosh at Encampment
Open: Burlington. Guernsey has already defeated Midwest this week via forfeit.

For a full schedule including kickoff times, as well as results from past weeks, go here. Click on “Week 6” on the top of the page for this week’s schedule.

+++

Here are the results of my picks from last week and this season:

Last week: 30-2 (94 percent). This season: 141-39 (78 percent). 

+++

What’s your favorite Wyoming high school football rivalry? Leave a comment here, or hit me up on the Facebook page or on Twitter.

If you like what you see here, consider a page sponsorship

–patrick

Midwest will forfeit the final four games of its football schedule for 2019, as low numbers forced the Oilers to end their season early.

A statement from the school on Facebook said the following:

Midwest will finish the season 1-7. Midwest beat NSI for its only victory of the season.

The Oilers had forfeited last week’s game with Lingle and were scheduled to play Guernsey this week. Games against Hulett and Saratoga were also upcoming.

–patrick

Thanks to the continuing work of “Stat Rat” Jim Craig, I have updated names and spellings for members of the 1946 and 1947 all-state football teams, mostly members of the third team or the honorable mention team who didn’t have first names available.

Although the Casper Tribune-Herald’s team is listed on the all-state listings for both years, Mr. Craig also sent the all-state teams as chosen by two other newspapers, the Wyoming State Tribune in Cheyenne and the Sheridan Press, for both years. Here they are, for posterity… and comparison.

1947
As chosen by the staff of the Casper Tribune-Herald
ALL CLASSES
First team
CHEYENNE CENTRAL: George Kingham, sr, C.
CODY: Bill Martin, sr, HB.
LARAMIE: Bill McCalla, sr, LG.
LOVELL: Lowell Earl, sr, HB.
NATRONA: Tom Scott, sr, LE; Stanley Cadwell, sr, RG; Deroy Smith, sr, RT; Clark Stroud, jr, FB.
RAWLINS: Charles Cooper, sr, LT; Bill McKay, sr, QB.
RIVERTON: Burr Reding, sr, RE.
Second team
CODY: Dick Null, sr, RT.
KEMMERER: Stanley ‘Chubby’ Legarra, sr, HB.
LANDER: George Bozanic, jr, QB.
LARAMIE: Jack Logan, jr, HB.
NATRONA: Art Pierce, jr, LE; Bob Rhodes, sr, C; George Payton, jr, RG.
RAWLINS: Frank Sannes, sr, RE; Gerald Jordan, sr, FB.
RIVERTON: Bill Franklin, sr, LT.
ROCK SPRINGS: Tony Gosar, sr, LG.
Honorable mention
CHEYENNE CENTRAL: Dick Haag, E; John Whitesides, T; Andy Bunten, QB; Bob Buckles, HB.
CODY: Myron Burt, C; Kenny Miller, QB; Bill Sharp, HB.
DOUGLAS: Harry Dunham, T; Jack McKelvey, G; Earl Shatto, HB.
EVANSTON: Paul Taggart, G; Morris Samuelson, FB.
GREEN RIVER: Byron Toone, QB.
KEMMERER: Jim Joslin, T.
LARAMIE: Russ Eads, E; Jim Wood, T.
LOVELL: Dick Doerr, E; Bob Averett, E; Bob Moncur, C; Bill Whelan, HB.
LUSK: Ken Butler, T.
MIDWEST: Ivan Million, T; Vic Nottingham, QB; Keith Bieg, HB; Carl Wilson, FB.
NATRONA: Mike Bouzis, T; John Kapeles, FB.
NEWCASTLE: Lloyd Avery, G; Carl Wake, HB.
POWELL: Donald Bender, HB.
RAWLINS: Bob Lavato, G; Jack Cramer, G; Nick Eliopulous, C; Ray Roberts, HB.
RIVERTON: Lawrence Valdez, G; Bob Stouffer, C; Harry Fabrizius, QB; Leonard Blumenshine, HB.
ROCK SPRINGS: Dave Hawks, E; Ed Fermelia, E; Frank Goglio, C; Stanley Jereb, HB; Bill Mau, FB.
SHERIDAN: Floyd Businga, G; George Zowada, C; Don Hamstreet, HB; Gerry Carroll, FB.
THERMOPOLIS: Eddie Haratyk, E.
TORRINGTON: Tom Cassidy, T; Don Spence, QB.
WORLAND: Harry Ujifusa, G; Wayne Hilgendorf, QB.
Player of the year: Lowell Earl, Lovell.
Wyoming State Tribune  All-State Prep Grid Team   11/21/47 (poll of 15 coaches)
First team
CHEYENNE: George Kingham, C; Dick Haag, RE; Bob Buckles, HB.
KEMMERER: Stanley Legarra, HB.
LOVELL: Lowell Earl, UTL B.
CASPER NATRONA: Tom Scott, LE; Deroy Smith, RT; Clark Stroud, FB.
RAWLINS: Charles Cooper, LT; Jack Cramer, RG; Bill McKay, QB.
ROCK SPRINGS: Tony Gosar, LG.

Second team
CHEYENNE: Andy Bunten, QB.
CODY: Dick Null, RT; Bill Martin, HB.
EVANSTON: Neil Fearn, C; Morris Samuelson, UTL B.
GREEN RIVER: Dick Paxton, FB
KEMMERER: Jim Joslin, LT.
LARAMIE: Bill McCalla, RG.
LOVELL: Dick Doerr, RE.
NEWCASTLE: Lloyd Avery, LG.
RAWLINS: Frank Sannes, LE; Ray Roberts, HB.

Honorable mention
CHEYENNE: Glen Oslund, E; Carol Clark, G.
EVANSTON: Mark Phipps, E; Paul Taggart, G.
GILLETTE: Jay Stopher, E.
GREEN RIVER: James Valencia, G.
KEMMERER: Bryan Archer, T.
LANDER: George Bozanic, B.
LARAMIE: Jack Logan, B.
LOVELL: Bob Averett, E.
MIDWEST: Keith Bieg, B; Ivan Million, T.
CASPER NATRONA: Stanley Cadwell, G; Bob Rhodes, C.
NEWCASTLE: Carl Wake, B.
RAWLINS: Gerald Jordan, B; Bob Lavato, G.
RIVERTON: Leonard Blumenshine, B; Burr Reding, E; Bill Franklin, T.
ROCK SPRINGS: Bill Mau, B; Ed Fermelia, E; Frank Goglio, C.
SHERIDAN: George Zowada, C.

Sheridan Press All-Star Elevens   11/22/47
First team
CODY: Bill Henry, B.
CHEYENNE: Dick Haag, E.
KEMMERER: Stanley Legarra, B.
LARAMIE: Jim Wood, T; Bill McCalla, G.
LOVELL: Dick Doerr, E; Lowell Earl, B.
CASPER NATRONA: Bob Rhodes, C; Deroy Smith, T; Clark Stroud, B.
NEWCASTLE: Carl Wake, B.
RAWLINS: Jack Kramer, G; Ray Roberts, B.

Second team
CHEYENNE: George Kingham, C; Bob Buckles, B.
EVANSTON: Morris Samuelson, B.
LARAMIE: Dewey McConnell, E; Jack Logan B.
CASPER NATRONA: Tom Scott, E.
MIDWEST: Keith Bieg, B.
NEWCASTLE: Lloyd Avery G.
RAWLINS: Charles Cooper, T; Bill McKay, B.
RIVERTON: Burr Reding, E.
SHERIDAN: Floyd Businga, G.
THERMOPOLIS: Marko Jukanovich, T.

Honorable mention
BUFFALO: Bill Campbell, T.
CODY: Bill Sharp, B; Bill Martin, B; Peter Simpson, E; Dick Null, T.
CHEYENNE: Verl Nash, B; Andy Bunten, B; Glen Oslund, E; Jack Beahm, T.
EVANSTON: Mark Phipps, E; Paul Taggart G.
GILLETTE: Rich Davis, B; Jay Stopher, E; John Hubbard, G.
GREEN RIVER: Byron Toone B; Merrell Phelps T; Dick Paxton T; James Valencia G.
KEMMERER: John Millich, E; Jim Joslin, T; Bryan Archer, T & G; Jerry Floyd, C.
LANDER: George Bozanic, B.
LARAMIE: Pat Cowper, B; Russ Eads, E; Doug Bird, G.
LOVELL: Bill Whelan, B; Grant Goodrich, T; Jerry Horsley, G; Don Moncur, C.
MIDWEST: Carl Wilson, B; Dave Adams, E; Ivan Million T.
CASPER NATRONA: Dick Sedar, B; Art Pierce, E; Mike Bouzis, T; Stanley Cadwell, G; George Peyton, G.
NEWCASTLE: Bobby Carmine, C.
RAWLINS: Gerald Jordan, B; Frank Sannes, E; Bob Lavato, G; Nick Eliopulous, C.
RIVERTON: Leonard  Blumenshine, B; Bob Stouffer, C.
ROCK SPRINGS: Bill Mau, B; Dave Hawks, E; Tony Gosar, G; Frank Goglio, C.
SHERIDAN: Gerry Carroll, B; Don Hamstreet, B; Mike Zowada, B. Neal Carroll, E; Bill Lucas, T; Freddie Richardson G; George Zowada, C.
STAR VALLEY: Kirk Luthi, G.
SUNDANCE: Jimmy Wham, G.
THERMOPOLIS: Ken Bolich, B; Eddie Haratyk, E; Rex Patterson, T.
UPTON: Jerry Pridgeon, B.
WORLAND: Wayne Hilgendorf, B; Garrett Eckerdt, G.

1946
Casper Tribune-Herald
ALL CLASSES
First team

CHEYENNE CENTRAL: Marvin Strauch, sr, LT; Bob Buckles, jr, QB.
CODY: Bill Martin, jr, HB.
EVANSTON: Ronnie Stevens, sr, RE.
GILLETTE: Richard Clark, sr, C.
LARAMIE: Bob Quisenberry, sr, HB.
NATRONA: Bob Davis, sr, RG; Deroy Smith, jr, RT.
SHERIDAN: Joe Zowada, sr, LE; Carl McManis, sr, LG; Ray Hobbs, sr, FB, POY
Second team
CHEYENNE CENTRAL: John Genova, sr, LE.
CODY: Jack Johnston, sr, RE.
DOUGLAS: Bob Weatherwax, sr, RG.
LARAMIE: Bob Pender, sr, QB.
LOVELL: Lowell Earl, sr, RT.
MIDWEST: Jack Hahn, sr, HB.
NATRONA: Clark Stroud, soph, HB.
POWELL: Dick Holmes, sr, FB.
RAWLINS: Hawley Pixler, sr, LT; Bill Laramore, sr, C.
SHERIDAN: Ed Zowada, sr, LG.
Honorable mention
BUFFALO: Dale Wilson, T.
CHEYENNE CENTRAL: Jack Froistad, E; Dick Wilson, T; Bill Foy, G; George Kingham, C; Vernon Gale, FB.
CODY: Kenneth Lindsey, E; Don Anderson, T; Rob Ranck, QB.
DOUGLAS: Don Jacobs, T; Warren Goodrich, HB; Russell Vetter, HB.
EVANSTON: Morris Samuelson, QB; Don Stevens, HB; Elvin Nielson, HB.
GREEN RIVER: Jack Desmond, HB; Don Coffey, HB.
GREYBULL: Ed Rech, T; John Rowland, HB; Bob Tolman, FB.
KEMMERER: Johnny Millich, E; Phil Flanagan, C; Leonard Georges, QB; Stanley Legarra, HB.
LANDER: Gene Hallock, FB.
LARAMIE: Ray Eads, E; Wendell Cosner, C.
LOVELL: Ed Horsley, QB.
MIDWEST: Ivan Million, T; Everett Chaffin, G; Richard Moore, HB; Keith Bieg, FB.
NATRONA: Joe Robb, G; Ted Scott, C.
RAWLINS: Charles Cooper, T; Alfred Lopez, G; Bill McKay, QB; Raymond Roberts, HB.
RIVERTON: Burr Redding, E; J. C. Sollars, G; Pierre Geraud, QB; Leonard Blumenshine, FB.
ROCK SPRINGS: Ray Confer, E; Urban Mrak, G; Carl Sandstrom, G; Joe Angelovic, QB; Fred Behring, HB.
SHERIDAN: Bob Hendrickson, C; Dick Switzer, QB; Amos Littler, HB.
STAR VALLEY: Dean Van Noy, E; Don Baldwin, HB.
SUNDANCE: Jimmy Wham, G.
TORRINGTON: Franklin Redfield, E; George Eaton, E; Lyle Baysinger, G.
WHEATLAND: Larry Mylett, T; George Irwin, C.

Wyoming State Tribune’s All-State football team 11/19/46 (poll of sportswriters, coaches and other observers)
First Team

Cheyenne: Marvin Strauch, T; John Genova, E; Bob Buckles, HB; Vernon Gale, UTL.
Cody: Bill Martin, HB.
Gillette: Richard Clark, C.
Casper Natrona: Delroy Smith, T.
Rawlins: Alfred Lopez, G.
St. Mary’s: Bob Wallace, QB.
Sheridan: Joe Zowada, E; Carl McManis, G; Ray Hobbs, FB.
Second Team
Cody: Virgil Johnson, E.
Cheyenne: Dick Wilson, T.
Evanston: Ronnie Stevens, E; Samuelson, HB.
Laramie: Bob Pender, QB.
Midwest: Jack Hahn, HB.
Casper Natrona: Bob Davis, G.
Powell: Dick Holmes, FB.
Rawlins: Bill Laramore, C; Hawley Pixler, T; Bill McKay, UTL.
Sheridan: Ed Zowada, T.

Sheridan Press All-State football team 11/15/46
First Team

Cheyenne: Marvin Strauch, T; Bob Buckles HB.
Cody: Virgil Johnson, E; Bill Martin HB.
Gillette: Richard Clark, C.
Laramie: Jack Bath, G; Bob Pender, QB.
Casper Natrona: Delroy Smith, T.
Sheridan: Carl McManis, G; Joe Zowada, E; Roy Hobbs, FB.
Second Team
Cheyenne: Vernon Gale, HB.
Cody: Don Anderson, T.
Evanston: Ronnie Stevens, E.
Kemmerer: George Daneluk, E.
Laramie: Bob Quisenberry, QB.
Casper Natrona: Clark Stroud, FB.
Rawlins: Jack Cramer, G; Bill Laramore C; Raymond Roberts, QB.
Sheridan: Ed Zowada, G; Vince Lenertz, T.
Honorable Mention
Buffalo: Dale Wilson, T; John Taffner, T; Tom Hubbard, B.
Cheyenne: George Kingham, C; Bill Taylor, G; Jim Adsit, T; John Genova, E.
Cody: Ken Lindsey, E.
Evanston: Eugene Martin, G.
Greybull: Bill Reilly, E; Bob Tolman B.
Kemmerer: Phil Flanagan, C; Leonard Georges, B; Stanley Legarra, B.
Lander: Bob Bosnic, B.
Laramie: Wendell Cosner, C; Billy McCalla, G; Ray Eads, E; Bill Gordon B.
Lovell: Lowell Earl, B.
Midwest: Everett Chaffin, G; Jack Hahn, B.
Casper Natrona: George Mackey, C; Bob Davis, G; Mike Bouzis, T; John Kapeles, B.
Newcastle: Lloyd Avery, G; Carl Wake B.
Rawlins: Alfred Lopez, G; Hawley Pixler, T; Leonard Hurst, E; Jack Williams, B.
Rock Springs: Urban Mrak, T; Fred Behring, B.
Sheridan: Bob Hendrickson, C; Frank Mediate, T; Phil Shellinger E; Amos Littler, B; Phil Oatts B.
Star Valley: ValDee Erickson, G; Doran Wilkes, B.

–patrick

Normally, in this space every week, I spend some time discussing what appear to be the best games in the state for that week.

Not this week.

Instead, I want to look at the weirdest conference in the state — so far — the 2A East.

Through the first half of the season, all seven teams in the 2A East have all secured at least one conference victory. That’s incredibly strange for this early in the season.

So how did we get here? Well…

Starting this week, Buffalo stands alone undefeated in conference pay at 3-0, with victories against Thermopolis, Burns and Glenrock.

Next is Wheatland at 2-1, which beat Newcastle and Glenrock but lost to Burns.

Then it’s Thermopolis at 1-1; the Bobcats lost to Buffalo but beat Moorcroft.

Then it’s four teams at 1-2: Burns, Glenrock, Moorcroft and Newcastle. Burns beat Wheatland but lost to Moorcroft and Buffalo; Glenrock beat Newcastle but lost to Wheatland and Buffalo; Moorcroft beat Burns but lost to Thermopolis and Newcastle; Newcastle beat Moorcroft but lost to Wheatland and Glenrock.

Whew.

Now, take a breath, and then try to follow this logic train as it leaves the station. … Newcastle beat Moorcroft; Moorcroft beat Burns; Burns beat Wheatland; Wheatland beat Glenrock; Glenrock beat Newcastle. At least one of those was an upset. The problem is, right now, we can’t tell which.

That leaves the 2A East with conference standings it has now, and we’re not even halfway through the conference season.

And while Buffalo and Thermopolis have seemed to separate themselves as the top two teams in the conference (at least for now, but who knows?), that leaves five others fighting it out for the conference’s final two playoff spots. This week, Glenrock and Burns face each other in an opportunity for clarity. Or more confusion.

September is barely over, and I’m already looking at the WHSAA’s tiebreaker scenarios.

If this kind of stuff keeps up, we’ll need them.

+++

Here’s the other games drawing my attention in Week 5:

Natrona’s game at Thunder Basin is the marquee matchup in 4A this week. Natrona’s star rose significantly last week after a double-OT victory against Cheyenne East that was accomplished without star running back Dante Wallace in the lineup. Thunder Basin, meanwhile, is still unbeaten and wants to stay that way. Who wouldn’t? …

Powell’s fast rise back to the upper echelon of 3A has been one of the most emotional stories of the season. There isn’t anyone in the state who isn’t rooting for the Panthers’ success this fall — unless Powell is on the opposite sideline. The Panthers’ potential will be put to the ultimate test this week with a trip to Afton to face top-ranked and defending champ Star Valley. A good showing in Lincoln County, even if it doesn’t translate into a victory, could keep Powell pointed in the right direction. …

Don’t overlook the Fremont County rivalry game this week between Riverton and Lander. It just got big. Both teams won their conference openers last week, and one of them will be 2-0 and in control of their own destiny after this game. …

When did Lovell-Big Piney become a HUGE game? Because that’s what it is in the 2A West this week. That conference has developed three distinct tiers — Mountain View at the top, four teams in the middle, and winless Greybull and Kemmerer now in spoiler roles — and both Lovell and Big Piney are in that middle tier right now. This is a great opportunity for both teams to prove they belong in the race for a home playoff game. …

Don’t look now, but Southeast is 2-0 in the 1A 11-man East and has a huge opportunity with its trip to Dayton to play Tongue River, which is 0-3. But the East Conference has proven unpredictable, too. …

The six-man game that looks like the most intriguing one to me is Hulett at Kaycee. Given how the conference is shaping up, the loser here will have a really hard time staying in contention for a home playoff game. …

+++

On to the picks. If a team is bolded, that means I think they’ll win. Sixty percent of the time, I’m right every time.

Thursday
Interclass

Cokeville vs. Natrona JV (at Green River)
Lyman at Star Valley JV
Friday
Class 4A

Cheyenne Central at Kelly Walsh
Cheyenne East at Laramie
Cheyenne South at Sheridan
Gillette at Rock Springs
Natrona at Thunder Basin
Class 3A
Cody at Evanston
Green River at Jackson
Powell at Star Valley
Rawlins at Worland
Riverton at Lander
Torrington at Douglas
Class 2A
Buffalo at Moorcroft
Glenrock at Burns
Kemmerer at Greybull
Lovell at Big Piney
Pinedale at Mountain View
Thermopolis at Wheatland
Class 1A 11-man
Pine Bluffs at Big Horn
Shoshoni at Rocky Mountain
Southeast at Tongue River
Wright at Upton-Sundance
Wyoming Indian at Wind River
Class 1A six-man
Burlington at Dubois
Farson at Meeteetse
Guernsey-Sunrise at Saratoga
Hanna at NSI
Hulett at Kaycee
Riverside at Snake River
Interclass
Newcastle at Lusk
Interstate
Encampment vs. Fleming, Colo. (at Briggsdale, Colo.)
Open: St. Stephens.

This week’s game between Lingle and Midwest is now a forfeit victory for the Doggers.

For a full schedule including kickoff times, as well as results from past weeks, go here. Click on “Week 5” on the top of the page for this week’s schedule.

+++

Here are the results of my picks from last week and this season:

Last week: 24-8 (75 percent). This season: 111-37 (75 percent). 

+++

Is the 2A East the biggest mess of conference standings you’ve ever seen through half a season? Leave a comment here, or hit me up on the Facebook page or on Twitter.

If you like what you see here, consider a page sponsorship

–patrick

Two of my biggest questions of the 2019 offseason will be answered on Friday:

  1. Which Class 3A team is the biggest threat to defending champ Star Valley — Jackson or Cody?
  2. Can anyone threaten Big Horn in Class 1A 11-man?

Week 4 gives us two absolutely massive games with Jackson traveling to Cody for a nutty 3A West game, which helps us with the answer to the first question.

Since November, Star Valley has been the clear No. 1 team in Class 3A. However, both Jackson and Cody have proven to be completely capable of making a championship run themselves.

Throughout the offseason, I flip-flopped these two teams in my projected 3A West standings so many times that after awhile, I gave up. These two teams were both proven contenders with proven returners and proven coaches. They both deserved championship consideration. I flipped a coin.

Four weeks into the regular season, both Bronc squads have proven to be worthy of their preseason adulation — as well as my consternation about having to choose between the two of them for the No. 2 spot in the West. Cody is 3-0, Jackson 3-1, with both playing so well that neither one has separated themselves from the other.

Now, the day of reckoning has come, and I have to actually choose one of these teams to win the game between them.

Uh… where’s that dime?

Meanwhile, in Class 1A 11-man, the big game of the week — my top-ranked team, Big Horn, heading east to play at my No. 2 team, Upton-Sundance — has just as much intrigue around it.

Big Horn hasn’t lost since 2017, having won 14 in a row. The Rams of 2018 were one of the most dominant groups in state history, and the Rams of 2019 — while not quite as dominant — are completely capable of running the table again.

But Upton-Sundance is always hanging around. This year, the Patriots have started 4-0 and have looked sharp in those four victories, outscoring their opponents by a combined 175-29.

If anyone in 1A 11-man is going to threaten Big Horn, it’s Upton-Sundance.

And yet, the past two years, Big Horn has owned the series, beating U-S 53-13 two years ago and 55-14 last year.

At least on Friday, the Patriots’ and Rams’ effort, and by proxy the final score, will answer one of my biggest questions about Wyoming high school football this season.

+++

Every game is special in its own right. But some games are more special than others. These are those:

In the mishmash that is the top of Class 4A, Friday’s game between Cheyenne East and Natrona could end up being for one of the top two seeds — of course, Sheridan still has something to say about that. But I love what East is doing this year, and I’m on the T-Bird bandwagon after being in the opposite camp to start the season. Y’all won me over. …

How crazy would the Energy Capital of the World be on Friday night if the Camels somehow beat the ‘Bolts in the Coal Bowl? …

Rawlins showed me something in the nonconference season and could give Douglas fits, especially at home in Rawlins. I still like the Bearcats to win it, but don’t be surprised to see the Outlaws hang tough. …

Lyman-Lovell might be the most interesting game on the 2A schedule. They’re both at 2-2, and both will need this game in what appears to be a competitive 2A West (after Mountain View, of course). And I got reminded this week that I’ve picked against Lyman in both the Eagles’ victories, so Lovell… sorry, either way? …

In addition to the Big Horn/Upton-Sundance game, another Week 4 game is a battle of unbeatens, with Riverside traveling to Farson in the 1A six-man West. After this week, there’s only two more potential opportunities for regular-season games between unbeaten teams. Cody and Star Valley are both unbeaten (for now) in the 3A West and meet in Week 7; also, the winner of this game potentially could make an unbeaten run before meeting also-potentially-unbeaten Snake River. (Snake plays Riverside in Week 5 and Farson in Week 6.) …

I have no idea what to make of the six-man showdown between Meeteetse and Burlington. They’ve both had flashes of brilliance and moments of head-shaking frustration. This one will be key in the 1A six-man West playoff chase, and neither one wants to play from behind the rest of the season — not in a conference that still has three unbeaten teams (see above). …

+++

Now it’s time for choices! I think the teams in bold will win. But, to be honest, I kind of like this sport more when the unexpected happens.

Thursday
Interclass

Natrona JV at Rocky Mountain
Friday
Class 4A

Cheyenne East at Natrona
Kelly Walsh at Sheridan
Laramie at Cheyenne Central
Rock Springs at Cheyenne South
Thunder Basin at Gillette
Class 3A
Douglas at Rawlins
Evanston at Powell
Jackson at Cody
Lander at Torrington
Star Valley at Green River
Worland at Riverton
Class 2A
Big Piney at Kemmerer
Burns at Wheatland
Glenrock at Buffalo
Greybull at Pinedale
Lyman at Lovell
Moorcroft at Newcastle
Mountain View at Thermopolis
Class 1A 11-man
Big Horn at Upton-Sundance
Cokeville at Shoshoni
Lusk at Southeast
Tongue River at Pine Bluffs
Wind River at Wright
Class 1A six-man
Kaycee at Midwest
Meeteetse at Burlington
NSI at Guernsey-Sunrise
Riverside at Farson
Snake River at St. Stephens
Saturday
Class 1A six-man

Encampment at Dubois
Lingle at Hanna
Saratoga at Hulett
Interclass
Wyoming Indian at Cokeville JV

For a full schedule including kickoff times, as well as results from past weeks, go here. Click on “Week 4” on the top of the page for this week’s schedule.

+++

Here are the results of my picks from last week and this season:

Last week: 29-4 (88 percent). This season: 87-29 (75 percent). 

+++

Week 4 marks the halfway point of the regular season. Whose YOUR big surprise team to this point? Leave a comment here, or hit me up on the Facebook page or on Twitter.

If you like what you see here, consider a page sponsorship

–patrick

Some big changes were coming to the Wyoming football landscape in 2020, with or without shifts due to reclassification.

But reclassification in and of itself will bring some changes, as well.

With Class 1A 11-man football changing to nine-man next fall, several schools have petitioned to opt up to Class 2A to keep the 11-man version of the sport going at their school. Between petitions and enrollment changes, as many as 12 schools could play football in a different classification next fall.

With the reclassification numbers released to schools by the Wyoming High School Activities Association during the organization’s district meetings this month, some schools will have easier decisions than others.

Before we dive into the breakdowns for each sport, let’s take a look at the “Average Daily Membership” numbers — projected grade 9-12 enrollment numbers — that the WHSAA will use for enrollment-based classification:

1. Kelly Walsh, 1,996.72
2. Natrona, 1,943.63
3. Rock Springs, 1,642.46
4. Cheyenne East, 1,513.53
5. Cheyenne South, 1,492.05
6. Cheyenne Central, 1,410.04
7. Campbell County, 1,289.55
8. Thunder Basin, 1,238.04
9. Laramie, 1,159.28
10. Sheridan, 1,093.16
11. Jackson, 869.91
12. Evanston, 846.25
13. Star Valley, 816.05
14. Green River, 764.81
15. Riverton, 748.15
16. Cody, 619.23
17. Powell, 586.88
18. Lander, 559.10
19. Douglas, 543.84
20. Rawlins, 473.09
21. Worland, 442.94
22. Buffalo, 356.91
23. Torrington, 352.13
24. Pinedale, 341.15
25. Wheatland, 282.30
26. Mountain View, 275.54
27. Newcastle, 262.35
28. Lyman, 237.37
29. Burns, 229.00
30. Lovell, 226.03
31. Thermopolis, 213.29
32. Kemmerer, 188.70
33. Moorcroft, 188.08
34. Glenrock, 182.35
35. Tongue River, 174.00
36. Big Piney, 160.72
37. Greybull, 147.59
38. Wyoming Indian, 146.95
39. Rocky Mountain, 129.86
40. Big Horn, 127.86
41. Wind River, 127.01
42. Wright, 126.78
43. Sundance, 123.11
44. Shoshoni, 122.63
45. Pine Bluffs, 112.46
46. Lusk, 90.67
47. Riverside, 87.27
48. St. Stephens, 82.74
49. Saratoga, 82.62
50. Lingle, 78.54
51. Cokeville, 77.41
52. Southeast, 76.77
53. Burlington, 76.41
54. Guernsey-Sunrise, 69.39
55. Upton, 66.68
56. Normative Services, 65.00
57. Hanna, 62.87
58. Midwest, 61.00
59. Farson, 57.90
60. Hulett, 56.57
61. Kaycee, 52.82
62. Snake River, 51.40
63. Fort Washakie, 49.93
64. Encampment, 43.44
65. Dubois, 42.79
66. Arapaho Charter, 40.01
67. Meeteetse, 34.50
68. Arvada-Clearmont, 31.06
69. Ten Sleep, 31.04
70. Rock River, 27.67
71. Glendo, 16.42
72. Chugwater, 7.65

Here’s a quick look at how reclassification will likely affect each sport (with football’s changes noted at the end of this post):

BASKETBALL, VOLLEYBALL, TRACK (16-16-16-rest): The only likely change in 3A comes in the Southwest. Kemmerer and Big Piney will switch places, with Kemmerer moving up to Class 3A and Big Piney down to Class 2A.

The only other anticipated change comes with St. Stephens and Southeast, as St. Stephens jumps to 2A and Southeast moves down to 1A.

In 2A, it’s probable (and at this point, my conjecture) that Wright will move to the SE District to take Southeast’s place, Tongue River will move to the NE District to take Wright’s place, and St. Stephens will slide into the NW to fill Tongue River’s spot.

No changes are anticipated for 4A in these sports.

CROSS COUNTRY, GOLF, SWIMMING, WRESTLING (12-16-rest): These three-class (cross country, golf, wrestling) and two-class (swimming) sports will likely see only one change. Jackson and Green River will swap spots in Class 4A, with Jackson moving up and Green River moving down.

SOCCER (14-rest): Soccer will see no classification changes prompted by enrollment.

OTHER SPORTS: Wyoming’s remaining sports have only one classification, which makes this discussion moot to them.

Laird said no other schools or programs in any sports except for football have put forth opt-up or opt-down requests to the WHSAA. However, football has prompted plenty of such requests. … And that brings us to…

FOOTBALL (10-12-14-14-rest): Purely by enrollment differences, several schools will change classifications for 2020.

  • Buffalo and Torrington will flip-flop their spots, with Buffalo moving back to 3A and Torrington to 2A.
  • Tongue River and Greybull will also trade, with Tongue River moving to 2A and Greybull to 1A.
  • Lingle and St. Stephens will be classified as nine-man programs by enrollment and move up.
  • Riverside and Saratoga, currently opting down to play six-man schedules, are scheduled to move to the nine-man division.
  • Southeast will be classified as a six-man school by enrollment (but has requested to opt up).

Then it gets messy, as teams opt up from nine-man (or six-man) classifications to remain 11-man programs.

Five schools — Big Horn, Cokeville, Upton-Sundance, Southeast and Moorcroft — have submitted opt-up or opt-down requests to the WHSAA, WHSAA Commissioner Ron Laird said via email to wyoming-football.com on Tuesday.

With nine-man’s start at the 1A level, two programs — Big Horn and Cokeville — have asked the WHSAA to opt up from nine-man to 2A, with Upton-Sundance also joining 2A per its co-op. Additionally, Southeast has requested to opt up from six-man to nine-man.

Meanwhile, Moorcroft has asked to opt down from Class 2A to Class 1A nine-man. Laird said officials from Moorcroft are scheduled to address the WHSAA board next week to ask for playoff eligibility.

If all opt-up and opt-down requests are approved — which won’t be official until passed twice by the WHSAA board of directors in meetings in both September and November — a total of 12 schools could play in different classifications in 2020, not including the schools staying in 1A and making the change from 11-man to nine-man.

No changes are slated for Class 4A football.

WHSAA Associate Commissioner Trevor Wilson provided a tentative conference alignment via email on Tuesday. However, all conference alignments must be approved by the schools and won’t be finalized until the WHSAA’s second board meeting of the school year in November.

TENTATIVE conference alignments include:

4A: No changes.

3A: Buffalo replaces Torrington in the East; no other changes.

2A East: Big Horn, Burns, Glenrock, Newcastle, Tongue River, Torrington, Upton-Sundance, Wheatland.

2A West: Big Piney, Cokeville, Kemmerer, Lovell, Lyman, Mountain View, Pinedale, Thermopolis.

1A nine-man East: Lingle, Lusk, Moorcroft, Pine Bluffs, Saratoga, Southeast, Wright.

1A nine-man West: Greybull, Riverside, Rocky Mountain, St. Stephens, Shoshoni, Wind River, Wyoming Indian.

1A six-man East: Guernsey, Kaycee, Hulett, Hanna, NSI, Midwest.

1A six-man West: Burlington, Encampment, Dubois, Farson, Meeteetse, Snake River, Ten Sleep.

–patrick

The Gillette Camels started playing football in 1921. They didn’t win their first state championship until 1998 — the team’s 78th season of football.

The Camels’ new crosstown rivals, the Thunder Basin ‘Bolts, probably won’t have to wait that long.

In fact, if the ‘Bolts keep rolling this season, they could end up being one of the fastest teams to a state championship.

Sheridan and Thunder Basin are the only remaining undefeated teams in 4A. They play this week in Gillette in what’s (in my mind) the best game anywhere in the state this week.

Beating Sheridan — a team with 26 state championships to its name, including titles in 2015, 2016 and 2017 and a runner-up finish last year — would put Thunder Basin in control of 4A. And the ‘Bolts could exact some revenge on the team that eliminated them from last year’s 4A playoffs one game short of a trip to the War.

And if Thunder Basin beats Sheridan, keeps rolling and eventually wins the 4A championship in Laramie in its third season of existence, the ‘Bolts still wouldn’t be the fastest new team to win a title.

That distinction goes to Tongue River, which won the Class B six-man title in its first season as “Tongue River,” 1956. However, both Ranchester and Dayton had extensive football histories prior to combining and winning a title.

Snake River also deserves consideration in the title of “fastest to a title.” The Rattlers won the 2010 1A six-man title in their second year back from a 50-year football hiatus; technically, though, the program was in its 10th season, counting times the Rattlers fielded teams in the 1950s.

A couple other teams have needed less than half a decade to win their first titles — but they both come with asterisks. Southeast won a title in its fourth year of existence as “Southeast” — but again, only after the football histories of Goshen Hole and Huntley stretched back for decades prior. Similarly, Upton-Sundance won its first title in its fourth year as a co-op, but both towns had their own titles and teams to celebrate prior to that.

If you go deep into the state’s history, another team whose trajectory closely mirrors Thunder Basin is Worland, which started its program in 1921 (like many other schools) and won its first state title in its fourth season, 1924.

However, the team that most closely parallels Thunder Basin is Kelly Walsh. KW started as Casper’s second high school in 1965. By 1972 — the Trojans’ eighth season — KW had its first state football title.

Similarly, the second new school in Cheyenne, Cheyenne East, opened in 1960 and polished off its first title in 1970, its 11th season.

History shows us the ‘Bolts, as the second team in a two-school city, probably aren’t far off from a championship run. And if they can make it happen this year, in their third season as a program, it will be unprecedented at the big-school ranks.

The first step, though, is to find a way past a team with 26 state championships to its credit and no losses on its tally this season.

+++

Here’s a way-too-quick look at the rest of the big, small, and medium-sized games on the schedule this week:

Gillette’s 21-game losing streak ended last week with an overtime victory against Laramie. This week, the Camels head south to play Cheyenne Central, which earned an impressive victory against Rock Springs in Week 2. I’m curious to see how both teams react to success. …

Riding the unwanted emotion provided by an injured teammate, Powell is off to a 3-0 start. If the Panthers can gain another victory on Friday at home against Douglas in the final nonconference game of the season, it could be a sign that Powell’s more than just emotional — it could be the Panthers are actually a threat. …

Rawlins is 3-0, Cody 2-0. When they play Friday in Cody, anything could happen. I’ve been slow to warm on the Outlaws, but if they can knock off the Broncs, they might just become the favorites in the 3A East. …

Lovell has had two easy victories the past two weeks. Now the Bulldogs will face a huge step up to play against… oh yeah, a Mountain View team that’s rolling along just like Lovell is. …

Was Moorcroft’s victory against a solid Burns team last week a warning shot to the rest of the 2A East? Or was it an anomaly? The Wolves have to go to Thermopolis this week in a game that could define the direction of a season. …

Saturday action has Hanna meeting Hulett in Midwest for a neutral-site game. Hanna’s 2-0 start was expected. Hulett’s 2-0 start isn’t all that surprising, either, but the ease with which the Red Devils handled Guernsey last week makes this game a potential upset special if the Miners aren’t on their game. …

+++

Picks. Bold means winners. Non-bold means spoilers. Invisible text means the game is only in your mind.

Thursday
Interclass

Encampment at Natrona frosh
Riverton JV at Shoshoni
Friday
Class 4A

Cheyenne East at Cheyenne South
Gillette at Cheyenne Central
Natrona at Laramie
Rock Springs at Kelly Walsh
Sheridan at Thunder Basin
Class 3A
Douglas at Powell
Lander at Evanston
Rawlins at Cody
Riverton at Star Valley
Torrington at Green River
Worland at Jackson
Class 2A
Big Piney at Greybull
Buffalo at Burns
Lovell at Mountain View
Moorcroft at Thermopolis
Pinedale at Kemmerer
Wheatland at Glenrock
Class 1A 11-man
Lusk at Wind River
Southeast at Pine Bluffs
Upton-Sundance at Tongue River
Wright at Big Horn
Class 1A six-man
Dubois at Farson
Guernsey-Sunrise at Kaycee
NSI at Midwest
Saratoga at Lingle
St. Stephens at Burlington
Snake River at Meeteetse
Interclass
Lyman at Cokeville
Rocky Mountain at Newcastle
Saturday
Class 1A six-man

Hanna vs. Hulett (at Midwest)
Interclass
Worland JV at Riverside
Open: Wyoming Indian.

For a full schedule including kickoff times, as well as results from past weeks, go here. Click on “Week 3” on the top of the page for this week’s schedule.

+++

Here are the results of my picks from last week and this season:

Last week: 23-12 (66 percent). This season: 58-25 (70 percent). 

+++

Honestly, I was stumped making my picks on like half the games this week. Whose ready to surprise us all in Week 3? Leave a comment here, or hit me up on the Facebook page or on Twitter.

If you like what you see here, consider a page sponsorship

–patrick

Friday’s interstate games look like doozies. The belle of the ball, though, is the game between two defending Class 3A champs.

Yes, you read that right. Star Valley and Sugar-Salem, Idaho, will play on Friday in Afton. Both won their respective 3A titles last year.

And with apologies to everyone outside of northern Lincoln County, I think this might be the most highly anticipated out-of-state game involving a Wyoming team in decades. It’s definitely the game I’m most curious about this week.

Both coaches (McKay Young at Star Valley and Tyler Richins at Sugar-Salem) pride themselves on putting together a tough nonconference schedule to prepare their teams for what they’ll face in league play and beyond.

Well, they’ve got just that on Friday.

Last year’s game wasn’t nearly as hyped. Star Valley and Sugar-Salem both came in at 1-1, each trying to find their way after losses in their season openers.

The Diggers found their way faster, as they smoked Star Valley 36-7.

Neither one lost again.

They both went on to win 3A titles in their states. The Diggers finished 10-1, the Braves 10-2.

Sugar-Salem looks loaded again this year; so far, the Diggers are 2-0, winning their two games by a combined 94-0. In their season opener, they ended the 25-game winning streak of Declo — the only team to beat Sugar-Salem last year. They’ve got five returning all-Idaho players, including senior quarterback Tanner Harris, who was the all-Idaho 3A MVP last year as a junior, and 275-pound lineman Kenneth Copley.

But Star Valley looks loaded, too. The Braves have five all-state and seven all-conference players back from last year’s team, and they’re 2-0 already with victories against Utah’s defending 3A champs, Summit Academy, and Idaho 4A program Blackfoot.

No matter what happens Friday, there’s more than a slight chance that both teams won’t lose again this season.

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Other games that are looking good on paper, with high hopes that they’ll turn into good games on grass or turf:

Class 4A’s top teams spring into the teeth of competition this week when we get the first of our “Big Four” matchups. Natrona goes to Sheridan, Thunder Basin to Cheyenne East. The Natrona-Sheridan game is a rematch of last year’s championship, but don’t overlook Thunder Basin-East, which might end up being the better game. …

The entire 3A slate is tough to pick, in part because last week’s 3A games were for the most part pretty close. There might be more parity than we think. Except for Star Valley. …

I’ve been really impressed with Tongue River so far this fall. The Eagles’ game with Lusk this week has me intrigued. …

Six-man’s results in Week 1 showed just how much fun this season might be. St. Stephens playing tough with Hanna, newcomer Encampment bopping Meeteetse, Dubois (which was winless last year) beating Midwest by 60, Kaycee handling Burlington with ease… the race for playoff seeding will be messy this year, and that makes it a lot of fun.

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On to some picks. Bolded names mean I think they’ll win. Non-bolded teams are just as worthy of your love, though.

Thursday
Interclass

Cokeville at Evanston JV
Friday
Class 4A

Cheyenne Central at Rock Springs
Kelly Walsh at Cheyenne South
Laramie at Gillette
Natrona at Sheridan
Thunder Basin at Cheyenne East
Class 3A
Cody at Worland
Green River at Rawlins
Powell at Lander
Riverton at Evanston
Class 2A
Burns at Moorcroft
Kemmerer at Lyman
Mountain View at Big Piney
Newcastle at Glenrock
Thermopolis at Buffalo
Class 1A 11-man
Pine Bluffs at Wright
Tongue River at Lusk
Wind River at Rocky Mountain (nonconference)
Class 1A six-man
Encampment at Farson
Hulett at Guernsey-Sunrise
Kaycee at Saratoga
Lingle at NSI
Riverside at Dubois
Interclass
Greybull at Big Horn
Jackson at Pinedale
Shoshoni at Lovell
Wheatland at Upton-Sundance
Interstate
Belle Fourche, S.D., at Douglas
Sugar-Salem, Idaho, at Star Valley
Torrington at Gering, Neb.
Saturday
Class 1A six-man

Burlington at Snake River
Meeteetse at St. Stephens
Midwest at Hanna
Interclass
Natrona frosh at Wyoming Indian
Southeast at Cheyenne East JV

For a full schedule including kickoff times, as well as results from past weeks, go here. Click on “Week 2” on the top of the page for this week’s schedule.

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Here are the results of my picks from last week and this season:

Last week: 24-10 (71 percent). This season: 35-13 (73 percent). 

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What caught your eye in Week 1? I’d love to know. There’s so much to talk about! Leave a comment here, or hit me up on the Facebook page or on Twitter.

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–patrick