In today’s ridiculous government dysfunction that just might be nuts enough to be believable, Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon said on Feb. 1 he’d welcome Weld County, Colorado, to join Wyoming if the county wanted to secede from its Centennial State neighbors.

Weld County, in case you aren’t aware, is the county most Wyomingites dip to the west to avoid when going to Denver — only to re-enter just north of the city. Think Greeley.

The reasons this will likely never happen are easy to find and difficult to refute.

But let’s dream — the 325,000 residents or so of Weld County say yes; the Colorado and Wyoming legislatures say yes; and the U.S. Congress says yes.

All of a sudden, Wyoming just got quite a bit bigger, in population and in acreage.

Bigger, as well, would be Wyoming’s high school sports.

By my count, Weld County has 20 high schools that either have or recently have fielded athletic programs. By enrollment, they are:

Windsor: 1,588
Greeley West: 1,567
Greeley Central: 1,545
Erie: 1,341
Northridge (Greeley): 1,137
Mead (east Longmont): 1,124
Frederick: 1,076
Roosevelt (Johnstown): 1,055
Fort Lupton: 662
Weld Central (Keenesburg): 641
University (Greeley): 605
Valley (Gilcrest): 573
Eaton: 557
Platte Valley (Kersey): 351
Highland (Ault): 285
Union Colony Prep (Greeley): 209
Dayspring Christian (Greeley): 88
Briggsdale: 60
Prairie (Raymer): 53
Pawnee (Grover): 15


If we put those 20 schools into the ADMs for Wyoming schools, we see the Weld County influence immediately — three of Wyoming’s six largest schools would be in Weld County.

1. Kelly Walsh, 1,996.72
2. Natrona, 1,943.63
3. Rock Springs, 1,642.46
4. Windsor, 1,588
5. Greeley West, 1,567
6. Greeley Central, 1,545
7. Cheyenne East, 1,513.53
8. Cheyenne South, 1,492.05
9. Cheyenne Central, 1,410.04
10. Erie, 1,341
11. Campbell County, 1,289.55
12. Thunder Basin, 1,238.04
13. Laramie, 1,159.28
14. Northridge (Greeley), 1,137
15. Mead (east Longmont), 1,124

16. Sheridan, 1,093.16
17. Frederick, 1,076
18. Roosevelt (Johnstown), 1,055
19. Jackson, 869.91
20. Evanston, 846.25
21. Star Valley, 816.05
22. Green River, 764.81
23. Riverton, 748.15
24. Fort Lupton, 662
25. Weld Central (Keenesburg), 641
26. Cody, 619.23
27. University (Greeley), 605
28. Powell, 586.88
29. Valley (Gilcrest), 573
30. Lander, 559.10
31. Eaton, 557
32. Douglas, 543.84
33. Rawlins, 473.09
34. Worland, 442.94
35. Buffalo, 356.91
36. Torrington, 352.13
37. Platte Valley (Kersey), 351
38. Pinedale, 341.15
39. Highland (Ault), 285
40. Wheatland, 282.30
41. Mountain View, 275.54
42. Newcastle, 262.35
43. Lyman, 237.37
44. Burns, 229.00
45. Lovell, 226.03
46. Thermopolis, 213.29
47. Union Colony Prep (Greeley), 209*
48. Kemmerer, 188.70
49. Moorcroft, 188.08
50. Glenrock, 182.35
51. Tongue River, 174.00
52. Big Piney, 160.72
53. Greybull, 147.59
54. Wyoming Indian, 146.95
55. Rocky Mountain, 129.86
56. Big Horn, 127.86
57. Wind River, 127.01
58. Wright, 126.78
59. Sundance, 123.11
60. Shoshoni, 122.63
61. Pine Bluffs, 112.46
62. Lusk, 90.67
63. Dayspring Christian (Greeley), 88
64. Riverside, 87.27
65. St. Stephens, 82.74
66. Saratoga, 82.62
67. Lingle, 78.54
68. Cokeville, 77.41
69. Southeast, 76.77
70. Burlington, 76.41
71. Guernsey-Sunrise, 69.39
72. Upton, 66.68
73. Normative Services, 65.00 (closing in March)
74. Hanna, 62.87
75. Midwest, 61.00
76. Briggsdale, 60
77. Farson, 57.90
78. Hulett, 56.57
79. Prairie (Raymer), 53
80. Kaycee, 52.82
81. Snake River, 51.40
82. Fort Washakie, 49.93**
83. Encampment, 43.44
84. Dubois, 42.79
85. Arapaho Charter, 40.01**
86. Meeteetse, 34.50
87. Arvada-Clearmont, 31.06*
88. Ten Sleep, 31.04
89. Rock River, 27.67*
90. Glendo, 16.42**
91. Pawnee (Grover), 15**
92. Chugwater, 7.65**
*-no football; **-no football or basketball


If we wanted to do some quick rearranging of Wyoming’s five football classifications, with breaks roughly occurring where they do now in terms of enrollment, we’d end up with some pretty interesting looking potential conference alignments:

Class 4A (18)
4A North (5)
: Campbell County, Thunder Basin, Sheridan, Kelly Walsh, Natrona.
4A Central (5): Rock Springs, Laramie, Cheyenne Central, Cheyenne East, Cheyenne South.
4A South (4): Windsor, Greeley West, Greeley Central, Northridge.
4A Metro (4): Erie, Mead, Frederick, Roosevelt.

(Of note: Roosevelt was Colorado’s Class 3A football runner-up last year.)

Class 3A (16)
Class 3A West (8): Jackson, Evanston, Star Valley, Green River, Cody, Powell, Lander, Worland.
Class 3A East (8): Riverton, Fort Lupton, Weld Central, University, Valley, Eaton, Douglas, Rawlins.

(Speaking of success: Eaton was Colorado’s Class 2A champion in 2020.)

Class 2A (19)
2A West (6)
: Pinedale, Mountain View, Lyman, Kemmerer, Big Piney, Cokeville.
2A North (7): Buffalo, Newcastle, Lovell, Thermopolis, Tongue River, Big Horn, Upton-Sundance.
2A South (6): Torrington, Platte Valley, Highland, Wheatland, Glenrock, Burns.

(Like four conferences? Geographic feasibility is a problem. See a “southwest” of Mountain View, Lyman, Kemmerer and Cokeville, a “northwest” of Pinedale, Big Piney, Glenrock, Lovell and Thermopolis, a “northeast” of Buffalo, Newcastle, Tongue River, Big Horn and Upton-Sundance and a “southeast” of Torrington, Platte Valley, Highland, Wheatland and Burns. That “northwest” conference looks awful.)

Class 1A nine-man (14)
1A nine-man West:
Greybull, Wyoming Indian, Rocky Mountain, Wind River, Shoshoni, Riverside, St. Stephens.
1A nine-man East: Wright, Pine Bluffs, Lusk, Dayspring Christian, Saratoga, Lingle, Southeast.

(In Colorado, Dayspring Christian plays eight-man, but I think a move to nine-man would work.)

Class 1A six-man (14)
1A six-man West: Burlington, Farson, Snake River, Encampment, Dubois, Meeteetse, Ten Sleep.
1A six-man East: Guernsey-Sunrise, Hanna, Midwest, Briggsdale, Hulett, Prairie, Kaycee.


For basketball and other four-class sports, we’ll shoot for classifications of reasonable size with natural enrollment breaks driving splits as much as possible:

Class 4A (23)
Northeast (5)
: Kelly Walsh, Natrona, Campbell County, Thunder Basin, Sheridan.
Southwest (6): Rock Springs, Jackson, Evanston, Star Valley, Green River, Riverton.
South Central (6): Cheyenne East, Cheyenne South, Cheyenne Central, Laramie, Windsor, Roosevelt.
Southeast (6): Greeley West, Greeley Central, Erie, Northridge, Mead, Frederick.

Class 3A (24)
North (7)
: Cody, Powell, Worland, Buffalo, Newcastle, Lovell, Thermopolis.
Southwest (5): Lander, Rawlins, Pinedale, Mountain View, Lyman.
South Central (6): Eaton, Douglas, Torrington, Highland, Wheatland, Burns.
Southeast (6): Fort Lupton, Weld Central, University, Valley, Platte Valley, Union Colony.

Class 2A (19)
Northeast (5)
: Moorcroft, Tongue River, Big Horn, Wright, Sundance.
Northwest (5): Greybull, Rocky Mountain, Shoshoni, Riverside, St. Stephens.
Southeast (5): Glenrock, Pine Bluffs, Lusk, Dayspring Christian, Saratoga.
Southwest (4): Kemmerer, Big Piney, Wyoming Indian, Wind River.

Class 1A (20)
Northeast (5): Upton, Midwest, Hulett, Kaycee, Arvada-Clearmont.
Northwest (4): Burlington, Dubois, Meeteetse, Ten Sleep.
Southeast (6): Lingle, Southeast, Guernsey-Sunrise, Briggsdale, Prairie, Rock River.
Southwest (5): Cokeville, Hanna, Farson, Snake River, Encampment.


Just like Absaroka, or solar roadways, or good-old-fashioned migration, demographic change and reclassification go hand-in-hand.

A Weld County, Wyoming, would bring rampant change to Wyoming high school sports — likely the smallest of a world of changes such an unlikely, but fascinating, move would bring.


Rosters for the 2021 Wyoming Shrine Bowl were released Wednesday night.

Shrine Bowl Executive Director Frank Selby announced the following rosters via email Wednesday:

Big Horn: Winfield Loomis.
Buffalo: Hyrum Hatch.
Campbell County: Kaden Race.
Cody: Cody Phillips, Caleb Pryor, Keaton Stone, Nic Talich.
Jackson: Sam Lopeman.
Kelly Walsh: Dom Jahr, Reno Watson.
Lander: Eli Mazurie, Jack Sweeney.
Lovell: C.J. Lindsay.
Meeteetse: Hadley Abarr.
: Braxton Bundy, Brady Dutcher, Jace George.
Powell: Kadden Abraham, Riley Bennett, Jesse Trotter.
Riverton: Damon DeVries.
Rocky Mountain: Tyler Banks.
Sheridan: Quinton Mangus, Kyle Meinecke, Justin Vela.
Shoshoni: Tryston Truempler.
Thermopolis: Logan Cole, Remington Ferree.
Thunder Basin: River Brisko, Michael Coleman, Scott O’Dell, Jaxon Pikula, Dyse Shepherd.
Upton-Sundance: Wyatt Gillespie, Brad Krueger.
Worland: Rudy Sanford.
Student trainer: Sarah Manor, Sheridan.
Student manager: Oakly Bowman, Thermopolis.
Athletic trainer: Jessica Garden, Sheridan.

Big Piney
: Kaden Raza.
Cheyenne Central: Andrew Johnson, Jimmy Koenig, Joey Kostelecky, Carter Lobatos.
Cheyenne East: Graedyn Buell, Dakota Heckman, Jackson Hesford, Jake Rayl, Julian Vigil.
Cokeville: Nate Barnes.
Douglas: Gabe Borman, Kody Micke.
Evanston: Jagger Mitchell.
Farson: Parker Clawson.
Green River: Seth White.
Laramie: Matthew Maiava, Micah Maiava, Michael Maiava.
Lusk: Drake Lamp.
Lyman: Hansen Bradshaw, Preston Brewer, Joseph Turner.
Mountain View: Hunter Meeks, Ashton Schofield.
Pinedale: Colby White.
Rock Springs: A.J. Kelly, Collin Madsen.
Saratoga: Noah Rimmer.
Southeast: Harrison Hall.
Star Valley: Brant Nelson, Gabe Nield, JaAren Smith.
Torrington: Dylan Dreiling, Cody Pierce.
Wheatland: Adam Suko.
Student trainer: Kristy Givens, Cheyenne East.
Student manager: Brooklyn Lowe, Cheyenne East.
Athletic trainer: Miranda Zamora, Laramie.

Officials for the game will be from Douglas and include James Bratton, Dan Edwards, Kurt Engle, Ron Erickson, Sean Geer, Monty Gilbreath, Evan Helenbolt and Nate Hellbaum.

Coaching staffs for the Shrine Bowl were announced in January.

The game will be June 12 at Cheney Alumni Field in Casper. The North leads the all-time series 25-18-3.


“A Century of Fridays,” the definitive book on Wyoming high school football covering from 1894 to 2020, is now available for purchase from the publisher’s website.

Between 1894 and 2020, 103 Wyoming high school football programs have played more than 25,000 football games. The results of those games are all recorded in “A Century of Fridays,” together.

Follow along as we track the evolution of high school football, decade by decade, as it evolved from a confusing novelty to a staple of autumn Fridays in communities statewide.

This book also includes:

  • All-state teams dating back to 1920
  • Single-game and single-season individual records
  • Shrine Bowl history
  • Series records
  • Annual standings
  • Stadiums
  • Postseason records
  • Coaches for every school and season
  • Coaching records
  • And more!

It’s 589 pages, so you’re definitely getting your money’s worth. If you like what you see at and want to support what I do, purchasing “A Century of Fridays: Wyoming High School Football, 1894-2020” is a great way to do just that. All profit goes back into the site to make it better, deeper and more thorough.

–patrick, sister site to, now has every all-state basketball team dating back to 1932.

Both boys and girls all-state or all-tournament teams are listed in full. More than 5,500 entries are included. The listings also include players who were two-time, three-time or four-time all-state.

“Stat Rat” Jim Craig helped research several all-state teams, including all teams prior to 1953. Jeremiah Johnke of the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle also helped find teams. Thanks!


NSI Academy in Sheridan will close in March, a report from the Sheridan Press said Wednesday.

NSI has had varsity sports since the 1998-99 school year and has had a Class 1A football team since 2000. The Wolves currently play in the Class 1A six-man East Conference.


It’s never too early to look ahead — and in that spirit, here are the top five teams entering 2021 for every classification of Wyoming high school football. Obviously, these lists were put together way too early, but that’s part of the fun, right?

Class 4A
1. Sheridan
: The Broncs return three all-conference players, tied for the most in 4A, and will have both speed and strength returning.
2. Cheyenne East: Last year’s champs lose a lot to graduation but do return all-state receiver/defensive back Gavin Goff.
3. Rock Springs: The Tigers have two all-staters back in Isaac Schoenfeld and Cadon Shaklee and could break through with them leading the way.
4. Thunder Basin: The ‘Bolts will need to reload after all but one all-conference player; that one, though, is QB Ryan Baker.
5. Cheyenne Central: If the Indians can recover from last year’s rough ending, they’ll be tough again.
Wild card: Natrona. The Mustangs lose a lot to graduation but also consistently develop talent quickly in a big program.

Class 3A
1. Jackson
: The Broncs are loaded for a title run: All six of Jackson’s all-state selections this year were juniors.
2. Cody: With four returning all-staters, the defending champs will be tough to beat.
3. Douglas: The Bearcats return some talented playmakers, particularly RB Keltan Ewing and WR Rylan Wehr.
4. Powell: Three returning all-staters will keep the Panthers capable of playing with anyone in 3A.
5. Star Valley: Count out the Braves at your peril; they’ve got enough returners to stay competitive.
Wild card: Lander. The Tigers have gotten consistently tough the past couple years but are still looking for a postseason breakthrough.

Class 2A
1. Torrington
: Three returning all-staters, more than anyone else in 2A, put the Trailblazers in the catbird seat.
2. Lyman: Rho Mecham and McCoy Smith give the defending champs a good base from which to build.
3. Wheatland: Kade Preuit is a tough QB to stop, and he’ll have help around him to keep the Bulldogs growing.
4. Upton-Sundance: In a tough East Conference, the Patriots’ three returning all-conference players will be key.
5. Cokeville: Three returning all-conference players, tied with Lyman for most in the West, will boost the Panthers.
Wild card: Mountain View. The Buffalos’ young players will have to grow quickly for them to remain a West threat.

Class 1A nine-man
1. Lusk
: The Tigers return five all-state players, most in nine-man, giving last year’s runners-up a good base.
2. Pine Bluffs: All four of the Hornets’ all-state selections are returning in 2021, so watch out.
3. Southeast: The defending champs graduate a lot but do get back all-staters Cord Herring and Ryan Clapper.
4. Shoshoni: The Wranglers return four all-conference selections, most in the West Conference.
5. Moorcroft: All-state QB Zane Linder leads a growing group of Wolves who could surprise.
Wild card: Riverside. The Rebels could be a fun team to watch grow next year.

Class 1A six-man
1. Meeteetse
: With only six all-staters coming back in the entire class, Meeteetse has the upper hand by returning two.
2. Encampment: Koye Gilbert is a playmaker, and the Tigers proved in 2020 they’re never to be counted out.
3. Kaycee: The Buckaroos return three all-conference selections, most in six-man this year.
4. Snake River: The young Rattlers return their key playmakers and are on the rise.
5. Farson: Cree Jones is the only returning all-state or all-conference player for the defending champs.
Wild card: Dubois. The West will be tight again, but the young Rams showed flashes of competitiveness last year.

What do you think? Who’s ready for a title run in 2021? Leave your thoughts in a comment, and let’s think way too hard about something that’s still months and months away.


Eleven Wyoming high school football players have been named as finalists for the National Football Foundation’s Wyoming Chapter scholar-athlete awards.

Each finalist will earn a $1,200 scholarship; one winner will be awarded an additional $1,200 scholarship and a chance to win regional and national honors.

Each classification has two finalists, except for Class 4A, which has three this year. Finalists are:

Class 4A: Graedyn Buell, Cheyenne East, and Andrew Johnson, Cheyenne Central, backs; Quinton Mangus, Sheridan, lineman.

Class 3A: Nic Talich, Cody, back; Rylan Koehn, Riverton, lineman.

Class 2A: C.J. Lindsay, Lovell, back; Hunter Meeks, Mountain View, lineman.

Class 1A nine-man: Colter Collver, Wind River; Bodie Herring, Southeast.

Class 1A six-man: Hadley Abarr, Meeteetse; Dalton Peterson, Encampment.

The 11 finalists were taken from 96 nominees. The Wyoming Chapter banquet is normally in March, but plans for this year’s ceremony are delayed due to COVID-19.


A couple quick updates:

I added Glenrock’s coach for its first season, 1923 — it was C.H. Spearman.

I also added the first name for Glendo’s head coach in 1952, David Hamilton.

I also made some updates to the 1969 and 1970 Class A all-state teams; I had quite a few misspellings in those lists, and I did what I could to catch and fix all that I could. As always, if you see any misspellings anywhere on the site, please let me know!


"The Eagles of Heart Mountain" book cover.

As I read “The Eagles of Heart Mountain,” one word kept circling through my brain — resilience.

Bradford Pearson’s book about the football teams from the Heart Mountain internment camp in northwestern Wyoming helps show the resilience of people who had everything stripped away from them except one another.

In Wyoming, we often get half the story about Japanese American internment at Heart Mountain. We hear the “during” of the story — how Japanese Americans from the West Coast came to Wyoming by force, how they persevered throughout their imprisonment, how they found their way in a shameful period of American choices.

“The Eagles of Heart Mountain,” though, shows a more complete picture of the breakdown of societal norms that allowed for more than 100,000 American citizens to be imprisoned by their own government due to their “blood.” It shows the development and richness of Japanese American culture in California prior to World War II; it shows the sacrifices they made to uphold both their American citizenship and their dignity and the lengths they had to go to show their loyalty to a country that deemed their very presence a threat to national security; and it shows the perseverance of those who had every reason to do the opposite. For Wyoming readers, the book will fill in “before” and “after” for many who may have only heard the “during.”

The resilience shows up at a variety of places in the book: a racetrack in suburban Los Angeles, a courtroom in Cheyenne, railroad tracks in eastern Washington, a prison in Kansas. Each could make an amazing book on their own.

However, the driver of the narrative of the book is the resilience shown by a group of Heart Mountain teenagers on a dusty football field in Park County. Football was just one vehicle for the resilience demonstrated time and again by Japanese Americans — and the Eagles had plenty of it.

The book introduces many people throughout its 301 pages. Wyoming residents will appreciate the references to Johnny Winterholler, Carl Dir, Charles Roberts, LeRoy Pearce, Joe Schwartz and others who dotted Wyoming’s athletics pantheon before and during World War II.

But that group is incomplete without the stories of Tamotsu “Babe” Nomura, George “Horse” Yoshinaga, and the rest of the Eagles from Heart Mountain. Their story — their “before” and “after,” not just their “during” — is worth your attention. And the dramatic retelling of the Eagles’ biggest, and final, game against Natrona will remind readers of “Friday Night Lights.” The difference, though, is that in “The Eagles of Heart Mountain,” the stakes go well beyond those of a state championship.

Pearson’s research shines at every step, giving readers both a complete picture of the big-picture hypocrisy that led to the imprisonment of American citizens and the personal choices made by politicians, civic leaders, business owners, coaches, lawyers and, most importantly, the Japanese Americans who had their lives changed forever.

Order “The Eagles of Heart Mountain” here. List price $28.

Note: This review is unsolicited.


In late October, 1999, my senior year of high school, I was sitting in Mr. Balfour’s class when one of my friends came into class and told me: “Patrick, you made all-conference.”

Surprised wasn’t the right word. Confused was more like it. The only thing I could think was to wonder why my friend would play this joke on me.

It wasn’t a joke. In 1999, the four head coaches in the Class 1A-Division II Powder River Conference awarded me a spot on the all-conference football team.

I didn’t deserve that spot.

And I knew it.

Even on the worst team in one of the worst conferences in the classification made up of the the smallest schools in the smallest state in the country, I shouldn’t have been all-conference. I was (and am) 5-foot-7, maybe 150 pounds (bigger now). I made up for being slow by being weak, too.

My stats reflected that reality. I started at tight end/wide receiver and safety; I had maybe six catches all season (no touchdowns) and roughly 50 defensive points (no interceptions).

But I showed up to practice every day. I played hard. I was coachable. I didn’t cause any problems off the field. And I appreciate that my coaches deemed me worthy to nominate and other coaches agreed.

That was enough to make me a quota filler.

My all-conference selection is emblematic of all-conference football in Wyoming as a whole. Certainly, it’s not a new problem, but 2020’s selections revealed just how easy all-conference honors are to earn.

Consider the number of players who were recognized as first-team all-conference selections this year: 359. Yes, 359 different Wyoming players were named first-team all-conference selections after the 2020 season.

Of those, 76 came in Class 4A, 79 in Class 3A, 93 in Class 2A, 71 in Class 1A nine-man and 40 in Class 1A six-man.

But the number 359 barely scratches the surface.

Class 4A’s numbers game

The most absurd recognitions come in the classification with the biggest schools. In Class 4A, some level of all-conference recognition is barely above that of a participation award.

The problem in 4A is that there are three levels of all-conference recognition: first team, second team and honorable mention. The 76 players I mentioned before were first team, on which there are 92 available spots across the two all-conference teams (4A gives all-conference and all-state honors by position). There were another combined 66 second-team spots, and this year there were 93 combined honorable mention selections.

That’s 251 possible all-conference choices. In one classification. For 10 teams. Quick math: That averages out to 25 selections per team reaching some level of all-conference recognition.

Basically, all you have to do to get an all-conference selection in Class 4A, all things being equal, is start. With 11 positions on offense, 11 positions on defense, kicker, punter, returner, and there’s 25 positions to nominate for the roughly 25 positions per school available for all-conference.

This year, 174 individuals filled those 251 spots in 4A. And as you dig in, you begin to see some of the absurdities.

Thunder Basin had 40 all-conference choices — almost double the number of available starting spots on Thunder Basin’s team. In all, 25 different ‘Bolts players were named all-conference to those 40 spots. Of those Thunder Basin choices, 16 were on offense and 19 were on defense, with the remainder falling into special teams or “at-large” selections.

Now, pay attention, because this is where the absurdity starts to show: at the position breakdown. Thunder Basin had eight defensive linemen, seven defensive backs and five wide receivers make all-conference.

At least for Thunder Basin, it was easier to get all-conference recognition than it was to earn a starting position in 2020.

For as fine of a team as Thunder Basin had this year, even that is pushing it. This isn’t just a Thunder Basin problem, though.

Natrona and Sheridan had 22 individuals named all-conference — Sheridan’s players to 31 spots and Natrona’s to 28. That’s not all that far behind Thunder Basin.

Also, it’s not just an issue of the top teams soaking up all the spots: Nine of the 10 Class 4A teams had at least 11 all-conference selections on offense. Thunder Basin, as noted, had 16; Campbell County had 14; Natrona and Sheridan had 13; Central and Laramie had 12; East, Rock Springs and Kelly Walsh had 11 apiece.

Then again, when you have that quota of 251 spaces to fill, you’ve gotta get a little creative.

That’s how guys become quota fillers.

All-state is problematic, too

All-state awards are much more selective. More spots are available on all-state, though, than ever before, as well — this year, 186 players were named first-team all-state across Wyoming’s five classifications.

A look at the all-state teams of the past shows how much the teams have been expanded, with numbers creeping up bit by bit, year by year.

The 186 players named all-staters in 2020 is the highest number in Wyoming history. This year’s total breaks a record set in 2019, 2018 and 2016 of 182.

Here’s a chart that shows the incremental creep of all-state awards. (Note that the dip in 1994 is due to incomplete data; the 1A nine-man all-state team from that year still has yet to be found.)

Historically, the biggest jumps are when Wyoming adds a classification of football — from 89 selections to 110 between 1982 and 1983 with the move from three to four classes, and the jump from 109 to 140 selections between 1989 and 1990 with the move from four to five.

Even so, the 140 players on Wyoming’s first five-class all-state teams in 1990 collectively total 46 fewer players than the 186 players recognized in 2020.

(If you really want to dig deep on this, click here to see a breakdown of the number of all-state players by classification and year.)

The solution?

What coaches and administrators across the state need to decide is if all-conference awards are exclusive.

Right now, they’re not.

In another 20 years, how many of the 359 first-team players across the state who were given all-conference recognition will say the same? How many of those 174 individuals across the gamut of 251 first-team, second-team and honorable mention selections in 4A? How many of those eight Thunder Basin defensive linemen?

Heck, how many will say it now?

I think one answer is to change all-conference (and all-state) teams to true team selections. By position, choose 11 players for offense, 11 for defense, three for special teams for an even 25 players per conference; adjust accordingly for nine-man (9-9-3 for 21) and six-man (6-6-2 for 14). Across Wyoming’s five classifications and 10 conferences, that’s 220 players: 50 in 4A, 3A and 2A, 42 in nine-man and 28 in 1A.

For all-state, that would be 25 for 4A, 3A and 2A, 21 for nine-man and 14 for six-man; in all, that’s 110 all-state picks.

If coaches want to recognize their players, they can continue to do so with team-specific awards. That would truly be more meaningful than a recognition so watered down that it might be mistaken for a joke.

The legacy of a quota filler

I never framed my all-conference award, and I never hung it on my wall. I’m not even sure where it is, to be honest. It’s probably buried among perfect attendance honors and report cards, but I’ve never felt compelled to go look for it.

This is totally antithetical to who I am, though. I’m a nostalgic dude. I love keeping the past alive. I think often about my experiences in high school sports. I’ve been known to watch the occasional game tape on YouTube. And I run this website. My wife has called me Uncle Rico, and sometimes I wonder if she’s not joking.

But the all-conference honor I got as a senior?

I didn’t deserve it, and I know it.

It means so little to me because it meant so little to the ones who bestowed it on me.



A few weeks ago, I broached this topic on Twitter, asking if the number of players selected for all-conference honors was too many, too few or just right. Here’s what you all said:

What do you think? Be sure to leave a comment.