Class 2A, noon Friday
Mountain View Buffalos (1W, 8-2) vs. Glenrock Herders (1E, 9-1)
Series record: Mountain View leads 8-5.
Last meeting/last playoff meeting: Glenrock beat Mountain View 37-0 in a 2A quarterfinal game on Oct. 30, 2015, in Glenrock.
State championships: Mountain View four, most recently in 2014. … Glenrock eight, most recently in 2008.
Previous title game record: Mountain View, 4-6. … Glenrock, 6-5.
The path to Laramie: Mountain View beat Thermopolis in the quarterfinals and Wheatland in the semifinals by identical 45-0 scores. … Glenrock blasted Lovell 61-6 in the quarterfinals and held off Big Piney 30-27 in the semifinals.
The case for the Buffalos: Let’s throw out Mountain View’s loss to Greybull in Week 8, which happened after the Buffalos had already secured the top seed from the West. Since Week 3, without the Greybull game, the Buffalos have outscored their opponents 284-6, including 90-0 in the playoffs. No team in 2A is hotter than Mountain View, and nothing in the playoffs has given anyone any reason to doubt their capability to win it all.
The case for the Herders: The Herders have won seven straight, and they’ve already had their playoff scare — last week’s 30-27 thriller against Big Piney. That loss should help focus the squad. Also, everyone knows what the Herders will do on offense: run. Tucker Bopp and Ian Arnold will get the bulk of the carries, and the Herders dare you to stop them. So far, even in the Herders’ one loss, no one has done that.
The pick
: This one will be billed as a battle between Glenrock’s top-ranked offense against Mountain View’s top-ranked defense. In cases like this, it’s almost always the other matchup that wins the game — and I like what I see from the Buffalos’ offense. Maybe there’s a game-winning drive in it. … Mountain View 26, Glenrock 22.

Class 3A, 3 p.m. Friday
Cody Broncs (3W, 6-3) vs. Torrington Trailblazers (1E, 9-1)
Series record: Cody leads 5-3
Last meeting: Cody beat Torrington 47-0 on Sept. 17, 2010, in Torrington.
Last playoff meeting: Cody beat Torrington 19-6 in a 3A quarterfinal game on Oct. 30, 2009, in Cody.
State championships: Cody four, most recently in 2014. … Torrington three, most recently in 1990.
Previous title game record: Cody, 4-5. … Torrington, 2-9.
The path to Laramie: Cody won two road games, beating Buffalo 27-0 in the quarters and West top seed and two-time defending champ Star Valley 31-21 in the semifinals. … Torrington beat up on Worland 46-21 in the first round and squeaked past Green River 17-13 in the semifinals.
The case for the Broncs: Cody’s here for one reason: defense. No one has scored more than 22 points against the Broncs all season — and that was Jackson who scored 22 in a big blowout loss. So if Cody heads back to Park County with the first-place trophy, it will have to hold Torrington’s versatile offense in check. Ian Crawford and Matthew Skinner, Cody’s sack leaders, will be key in that effort.
The case for the Trailblazers: Torrington’s offensive flexibility is about as good as it gets at the 3A level, with the team’s running and passing yards pretty close to even. Bryan Lemmon’s legs and Breyden Biven’s arm give the ‘Blazers options most teams don’t have. Oh, and Torrington is getting about double the yards and more than triple the points of their opponents. Not a bad ratio.
The pick
: When a team pulls a big upset like Cody pulled last week against top-ranked Star Valley, one of two things usually happens: The winning team carries that momentum into the following week and keeps on winning, or that team can’t keep up the emotion from that victory and gets absolutely thumped the following week. I’m really tempted to pick Cody to keep the momentum, and I think it’ll be a close one. Still… … Torrington 30, Cody 24.

Class 1A six-man, 10 a.m. Saturday
Farson Pronghorns (1W, 9-1) vs. Kaycee Buckaroos (1E, 9-0)
Series record: Kaycee leads 4-0
Last meeting/last playoff meeting: Kaycee beat Farson 41-30 in the 1A six-man title game on Nov. 11, 2016, in Laramie.
State championships: Farson none. … Kaycee two, most recently in 2016.
Previous title game record: Farson, 0-1. … Kaycee, 2-1.
The path to Laramie: Farson thumped Guernsey 73-24 in the first round and exacted revenge on Snake River 50-32 in the semifinals. … Kaycee destroyed Meeteetse 77-0 in the quarterfinals and survived a challenge from Burlington 47-38 in the semifinals.
The case for the Pronghorns: As noted by one of this site’s readers last week, the Pronghorns were under the weather for their only loss of the season in Week 8 to Snake River. The turnaround Farson showed last week proved that they’re ready for the challenge Kaycee will throw their way. Juniors Lain Mitchelson and Clancy Gines are a nice 1-2 punch, but a host of supporting players have turned the Pronghorns into a true team.
The case for the Buckaroos: One pair of stats shows just how dominant Kaycee has been this season: The Buckaroos average 11.2 yards per play on offense and allow just 2.6 yards per play on defense. Read that stat again, and think about it. Both are tops in six-man. With a senior class that has more players (nine) than some entire six-man teams, and the momentum of 29 consecutive victories and two consecutive state championships behind them, Kaycee is setting a standard for all six-man teams for years to come… if they win on Saturday.
The pick
: Farson has a great team this year. Kaycee has one of the greatest six-man teams the state has ever seen. … Kaycee 60, Farson 44.

Class 1A 11-man, 1 p.m. Saturday
Big Horn Rams (2E, 9-1) vs. Pine Bluffs Hornets (1E, 10-0)
Series record: Tied 1-1
Last meeting: Pine Bluffs beat Big Horn 22-21 in overtime on Sept. 15 in Big Horn.
Last playoff meeting: Big Horn beat Pine Bluffs 41-14 in a 2A semifinal on Oct. 31, 2003, in Big Horn.
State championships: Big Horn five, most recently in 2016. … Pine Bluffs one, in 2016.
Previous title game record: Big Horn, 5-9. … Pine Bluffs, 1-3.
The path to Laramie: Big Horn topped Wind River 51-0 in the first round and edged past Cokeville 12-7 in the semifinals. … Pine Bluffs shut out Saratoga 58-0 in the quarterfinals and topped Upton-Sundance 14-7 in the semifinals.
The case for the Rams: We don’t need to look any further than last week. Cokeville had one of its best teams in school history, and even that Panther team couldn’t get past the Rams. With running back Kade Eisele, quarterback Quinn McCafferty and one of 1A’s best lines, Big Horn has by far 1A’s best offense. And the defense has been solid, with a lot of opposing teams scoring their points in garbage time.
The case for the Hornets: Let’s lay out the facts: Pine Bluffs is undefeated. It is a defending state champion. And it already beat Big Horn once this year, in Big Horn, in overtime. The mix of skills the Hornets have is all but unparalleled at 1A, with talent in the backfield (Isaiah Montanes, Haize Fornstrom), on the edges (Andrew Fornstrom, Ishmael Depaulitte) and up front (Hunter Jeffres, Wyatt Fornstrom, James and John Merryfield, Brad Shmidl). What more can you ask for?
The pick
: The question here isn’t who won the last game. It’s who’s improved more since that last game. I think the Rams flip the result from the last meeting, but dang if the Hornets don’t make it difficult — and maybe make the Rams go for two late in the game to secure the win. … Big Horn 14, Pine Bluffs 13.

Class 4A, 4 p.m. Saturday
Natrona Mustangs (2, 10-1) vs. Sheridan Broncs (1, 11-0)
Series record: Natrona leads 56-46-6
Last meeting: Sheridan beat Natrona 37-34 in overtime on Sept. 8 in Sheridan.
Last playoff meeting: Sheridan beat Natrona 56-28 in the 4A championship on Nov. 12, 2016, in Laramie.
State championships: Natrona 17, most recently in 2014. … Sheridan 25, most recently in 2016.
Previous title game record: Natrona, 10-6. … Sheridan, 15-6.
The path to Laramie: Natrona beat Laramie 44-7 in the quarterfinals and shut out Cheyenne East 44-0 in the semis. … Sheridan posted a 54-7 victory against Cheyenne Central in the quarterfinals and beat Kelly Walsh 28-7 in the semifinals.
The case for the Mustangs: How many schools — ever — can claim to have both the top rusher and the top passer in a classification? But that’s what Natrona has in running back Brett Brenton and quarterback Jesse Harshman. The defense is rock-solid and ranked second in Class 4A in yards per game. And moreover, most of this year’s contributors were also key on last year’s title-game run. Deep, experienced, versatile and unintimidated: The Mustangs are primed for a championship.
The case for the Broncs: How can you go against a team that is undefeated and going for its third consecutive 4A championship? Sheridan is on a run that hasn’t been seen since… well, since Sheridan made its run of four straight titles in 1990-93. The offense, like Natrona, is versatile, and the defense is opportunistic. The Aaron (or is it Airin’?) duo of quarterback Aaron Woodward and receiver Aaron Sessions gives the Broncs quick-strike capabilities, and lineman Blayne Baker, a UW commit, may be the state’s best player. 
The pick
: These two programs have met in seven previous title games (1933, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1996, 2010, 2016) and three de-facto state title games in years without playoffs (1939, 1952 and 1957). And they met last year. This isn’t new. Much like the 1A 11-man title game, this game pits an undefeated team against a one-loss team with a regular-season game that went into overtime. They’re familiar with each other as two programs can possibly be. It simply boils down to who can execute their plans better. Two of the state’s best coaching staffs — not just the head coaches, but everyone from the top down — will have their guys ready to go. This could be one for the ages. … Sheridan 36, Natrona 32.

Here’s how my picks went last week… which just goes to show that my picks aren’t always perfect and should be taken with a grain of pepper (because salt is for chumps).

Last week: 7-3 (70 percent). This season: 256-44 (85 percent).

We are here! The last week of the 2017 season. Who are your picks for the five title game winners? Leave a comment with your picks, and I can almost guarantee that no matter who wins and who loses, we’re going to have a great time seeing how these games play out on Friday and Saturday. Can’t wait!

–patrick

At War Memorial Stadium, Laramie
Friday, Nov. 10
Class 2A championship, (1W) Mountain View vs. (1E) Glenrock, noon
Class 3A championship, (3W) Cody vs. (1E) Torrington, 3 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 11
Class 1A six-man championship, (1W) Farson vs. (1E) Kaycee, 10 a.m.
Class 1A 11-man championship, (2E) Big Horn vs. (1E) Pine Bluffs, 1 p.m.
Class 4A championship, (2) Natrona vs. (1) Sheridan, 4 p.m.

–patrick

Thirty-five years have gone by since Kelly Walsh made its last trip to a football championship game.

Since then, Sheridan has played in 14 state title games.

History is on the side of the Broncs when the two teams meet Friday in Sheridan in the Class 4A semifinals. However, if history is going to be turned on its axis in 4A, it’s going to be in the semifinals — a round known for its fair share of surprising outcomes.

Make no mistake: A KW victory against Sheridan would be a surprise. The Trojans are having their best season in nearly a decade, entering the semifinals at 7-3. Sheridan, though, is undefeated, 10-0, and trying to win its third consecutive Class 4A title.

If Kelly Walsh can beat Sheridan — and that’s a big if — the Trojans will continue a trend we’ve seen in recent years in Class 4A.

Since 2011 in the 4A brackets, of the 12 semifinal games, five of the victors (42 percent) have been lower seeds: Natrona beat Gillette in last year’s semis in Gillette; in 2014, it was Gillette beating Cheyenne East in Cheyenne; in 2013, East beat Sheridan in Sheridan while Natrona beat Gillette in Gillette; in 2011, East beat Natrona in Casper.

The rate of 4A upsets is higher than 3A, 1A 11-man (both four of 12) and 1A six-man (no lower-seed victories in the semis since 2010). And it’s equal to 2A’s semifinal lower-seed success rate.

Even so, the 4A championships since 2011 have tended to follow the scripts set for them, with Sheridan’s victory against Gillette in 2015 the only time (17 percent) a lower seed beat a higher seed for the championship.

So if we’re going to see an upset in the big-school ranks, it will likely be this Friday.

That should please the Trojans — and scare the Broncs.

+++

Aside from Kelly Walsh’s 35-year championship game gap, the next-longest title-game drought for any team in the semifinals belongs to Torrington, where it’s been 20 years since a championship-game appearance.

For Big Piney, it’s been 10 years. For the 17 other teams in the semifinals, though, every single one has been to at least one title game in the past decade.

Speaking of the Punchers, they broke a long semifinal-less streak with their victory against Newcastle last week. Big Piney is in the semis for the first time in 10 years.

And aside from Kelly Walsh, which is in the semis for the first time since 2009, and Burlington, which is making its first semis appearance since 2012, every other team every other class has been to the semis at least once since 2014.

Sheridan, in fact, is in the semis for the 10th consecutive year. With Gillette failing to reach the semis and ending its run of quarterfinal victories at 12, Sheridan’s semis streak is now the longest active such streak in the state.

+++

On to the picks, where I’m trying to forecast into the future even though it’s quite impossible to do so:

Class 4A
(4) Kelly Walsh at (1) Sheridan: Aside from the 37-34 nail-biter Sheridan had against Natrona, Kelly Walsh actually gave Sheridan its second-biggest scare of the season. Even so, that was still 30-7 in Week 4. The Trojans won’t go down without a fight, but the Broncs haven’t gone down all season. (First playoff meeting since 2012 4A quarterfinals.)
(3) Cheyenne East at (2) Natrona: These two squads hung close back in Week 4, with Natrona winning 14-7 in Casper. The rematch is in Casper, too, and the Mustangs — thanks to that game more than a month ago — may have the mental edge. (First playoff meeting since 2013 4A championship.)
Class 3A
(2W) Green River at (1E) Torrington: A year ago, Green River went to Torrington in the quarterfinals and knocked off the Trailblazers on their home field. I’m positive the ‘Blazers remember — and want some revenge. (Rematch of a 2016 3A quarterfinal, obviously.)
(3W) Cody at (1W) Star Valley: The only team to stay within 10 points of Star Valley all season was Cody. Granted, that game was in Cody, and the rematch is in Afton, so the Braves still have the advantage. But the Broncs should feel confident. (First playoff meeting since 2014 3A semifinals.)
Class 2A
(2W) Big Piney at (1E) Glenrock: This is the sixth time Glenrock and Big Piney are playing against each other. The previous five games have all been playoff semifinals. Weird. The home team has had the advantage in the previous matchups, winning four of those five. So, Herders. (First playoff meeting since 2006 3A semifinals.)
(2E) Wheatland at (1W) Mountain View: Wheatland’s 5-4 record is deceiving — three of those losses came to 3A teams. They’ll push the Buffalos hard and may even pull off a road upset. Still, Mountain View, at home, is the favorite. (First postseason meeting.)
Class 1A 11-man
(2E) Big Horn at (1W) Cokeville: Back in August, I picked this matchup to be for the state championship. As it worked out, it will be a hard-fought, well-contested game in the semifinals. Either team could win, but I’ll pick the undefeated, senior-laden team at home, knowing full well this may be the best game of the week — or of the season. (First playoff meeting since 1988 1A championship.)
(3E) Upton-Sundance at (1E) Pine Bluffs: Two weeks ago, on the same field and with relatively the same kickoff time, the Hornets doubled up the Patriots 28-14. U-S will make the defending champs earn their spot back in Laramie; a couple mistakes either way could tilt this one. (Rematch of a 2016 1A 11-man semifinal.)
Class 1A six-man
(2W) Burlington at (1E) Kaycee: Burlington has been on quite a roll lately, winning seven straight coming into this game. Whether the Huskies can actually stay with Kaycee (winners of 28 straight, on their way to being listed as one of Wyoming’s best six-man teams ever) remains to be seen. (Rematch of a 2016 1A six-man quarterfinal.)
(3W) Snake River at (1W) Farson: Two weeks ago, the Pronghorns went to backs and came back smarting from a 53-18 loss. This time around, Farson gets to host. And I guarantee it’ll be closer than 53-18. Even so, the Rattlers should be confident after manhandling the Pronghorns just 14 days prior. (First playoff meeting since 2010 1A six-man quarterfinals.)

For a full schedule including kickoff times, check out the 2017 schedule and results page.

Last week was the first time I’ve ever gone perfect in the quarterfinals in 13 years of picking quarterfinals, so I guess 13 was my lucky year or something. Here’s how I’m doing:

Last week: 20-0 (100 percent). This season: 249-41 (86 percent).

We’re a week away from the championships. Arguably, the week of the semifinals has historically been more exciting than the week of the championships. So who’s ready to pull an upset and reach Laramie? Post your thoughts, because I’d love to hear them.

–patrick

Pine Bluffs had one of Wyoming’s finest six-man football teams in 1948.

Through a five-game regular season, the Hornets went 5-0, defeating their opponents by a combined 229-13. Through that, they earned the Southeast District championship and the right to host the Southwest District champ, Jackson, in a playoff semifinal.

Pine Bluffs won that game 43-24 before hosting — and losing to — Byron in the six-man title game seven days later.

No one knew after the Byron game that Pine Bluffs would have to wait 69 more years before hosting another playoff game.

Finally, on Friday, the Hornets break that streak when they host Saratoga in a Class 1A 11-man quarterfinal game.

Since losing to Byron for the 1948 six-man title, Pine Bluffs has played in 19 playoff games; of those, 18 were on the road and one (last year’s 1A 11-man title game) was at a neutral site. Three of those 19 were championship games.

Pine Bluffs won its first state championship last year, winning the 1A 11-man championship after winning two road playoff games. This year, the Hornets enter the postseason undefeated, riding a 12-game winning streak into a historic first-round game against Saratoga, the fourth seed from the West Conference.

If the Hornets have their way, the wait between Friday’s home game and the next home playoff game won’t be another 69 years; it’ll be seven days.

Home is where the helmet is: While Pine Bluffs’ 69-year streak is by far the longest home playoff-less streak to end, a couple other programs are also hosting playoff games for the first time in a while.

Despite a ton of recent success, including a 3A runner-up finish in 2015, Green River is hosting a playoff game for the first time since 2011. Big Piney, meanwhile, is hosting a playoff game for the first time since 2007, while Hanna is hosting its first postseason matchup since 2010 and Burlington is hosting its first since 2012.

Playoff qualification streaks: Wind River and Worland are both in the playoffs for the first time since 2009, breaking long streaks of missing the postseason in the process.

Meanwhile, Gillette is missing the playoffs for the first time in 27 years. Natrona now has the state’s longest active streak of playoff qualifications, with this year being the Mustangs’ 26th consecutive postseason appearance.

Repeat matchups: Of the 20 first-round matchups, seven pit teams that have already played each other once this season. Obviously, that’s the case with all four Class 4A games, but the other three are all rematches of Week 1 games: Cody vs. Buffalo in 3A, and Midwest vs. Burlington and Guernsey-Sunrise vs. Farson in 1A six-man.

+++

On to the picks, with projected winners in bold, as usual, because tradition is important:

Class 4A
(8) Cheyenne Central at (1) Sheridan: The Broncs are undefeated and rolling right now. The Indians couldn’t stay within 30 points of Sheridan back in Week 1, and with the Broncs on fire AND at home, they should cruise easily into the semifinals for the 10th consecutive year. (First playoff meeting since 2014 4A quarterfinals.)
(5) Thunder Basin at (4) Kelly Walsh: KW beat Thunder Basin just two weeks ago, 21-7, in Gillette. This one might be closer, but the Trojans still have the advantage over the ‘Bolts. (First playoff meeting. Duh. This is Thunder Basin’s first season.)
(6) Rock Springs at (3) Cheyenne East: Just like KW-Thunder Basin, this game was played two weeks ago, and East had little trouble in a 31-6 victory. This one, too, might be closer than the regular-season game, but this one, too, should go to the team that won this matchup 14 days ago. (First playoff meeting since 2015 4A quarterfinals.)
(7) Laramie at (2) Natrona: It’s hard to discern too much from the regular-season matchup, which was back in Week 3. Natrona won that game 42-10 — the first of six consecutive victories for Natrona. Laramie meanwhile, has gone 2-3 down the stretch and was outscored 89-21 in its final two games. (First playoff meeting since 2011 4A quarterfinals.)

Class 3A
(4W) Worland at (1E) Torrington: Torrington has won six in a row and has shown no mercy in that stretch, the closest game being a 34-6 victory against Buffalo. Worland will be game, but the Trailblazers have too much talent to overcome in this one. (First playoff meeting since 1989 3A semifinals.)
(3E) Douglas at (2W) Green River: This will be a weird one. Both teams come into this game after shutout losses in Week 8 — Douglas 17-0 to Buffalo, Green River 21-0 to Star Valley. Success in this one may belong to the team that can overcome their Week 8 loss faster mentally. (First playoff meeting since 2012 3A quarterfinals.)
(3W) Cody at (2E) Buffalo: When these two teams met in Week 1, Buffalo eked out a 10-7 victory. Now, eight weeks later, this game becomes a test to see which team has improved more. And both teams can claim that. This one may be the best game of the week. Overtime? (First playoff meeting since 2010 3A semifinals.)
(4E) Rawlins at (1W) Star Valley: Rawlins’ turnaround continues to be one of 2017’s most interesting takeaways. In terms of the 3A playoffs, though, it’s a footnote to the Braves’ push for a third consecutive championship. (First playoff meeting.)

Class 2A
(4W) Lovell at (1E) Glenrock: Lovell went through a stretch in Weeks 3-5 when it went 0-3 and lost those games by a combined 77-7. The Bulldogs’ turnaround — winning three straight to qualify for the playoffs — means they come in hot. But Glenrock’s been hot all season. (First playoff meeting since 2015 2A semifinals.)
(3E) Newcastle at (2W) Big Piney: I love, love, love this matchup. Senior-heavy Big Piney has been solid all season long; baby-faced Newcastle has grown a lot since losing three straight in Weeks 2-4. Don’t forget: Newcastle went on the road in the 2A quarters last year and pulled off a huge upset. (First playoff meeting since 2006 3A quarterfinals.)
(3W) Greybull at (2E) Wheatland: Of all the 2 vs. 3 matchups, this one could give us more excitement than any other. Honestly, it’s a toss-up; I like Wheatland’s consistency just as much as I like Greybull’s explosiveness. When in doubt in the playoffs, go with the home team…. (Rematch of a 2016 2A quarterfinal game.)
(4E) Thermopolis at (1W) Mountain View: Don’t read too much into Mountain View’s loss last week to Greybull. The Buffalos already had the No. 1 seed from the West wrapped up. Against the Bobcats, they’ll show why they’re still among 2A’s best. (First playoff meeting since 2014 2A quarterfinals.)

Class 1A 11-man
(4E) Southeast at (1W) Cokeville: The only possible way Southeast pulls the upset here is if the conditioning the Cyclones got by playing in a much tougher East Conference gives them the mental toughness to stick with the Panthers. Cokeville, though, is absolutely crushing teams right now. (First playoff meeting since 2013 1A 11-man semifinals.)
(3W) Wind River at (2E) Big Horn: The Cougars are in the playoffs for the first time since 2009. The Rams are in the playoffs for the 19th consecutive year. History and tradition side with the home team. (First playoff meeting since 2002 2A semifinals.)
(3E) Upton-Sundance at (2W) Rocky Mountain: In 2013, 2014 and 2016, Rocky Mountain has hosted first-round playoff games. The Grizzlies are 0-3. The Patriots are likely to extend that mark to 0-4. (First playoff meeting since 2015 1A 11-man quarterfinals.)
(4W) Saratoga at (1E) Pine Bluffs: The defending 1A 11-man champs are unbeaten and at home. The Hornets should have little trouble dispatching the Panthers, who come into the playoffs on a three-game losing streak. (First playoff meeting.)

Class 1A six-man
(4W) Meeteetse at (1E) Kaycee: Kaycee has outscored its opponents this season 528-32. Moving on… (Rematch of a 2016 1A six-man semifinal.)
(3E) Midwest at (2W) Burlington: Midwest is absolutely capable of winning this game, and I won’t be surprised if the Oilers go on the road and get this one. The Huskies beat the Oilers back in Week 1 by a 44-40 score, and I think that will narrow Burlington’s focus this week. (First playoff meeting since 1991 1A nine-man semifinals.)
(3W) Snake River at (2E) Hanna: The Rattlers might be the best team in the West, but they caught the short end of the coin in the 1-2-3 flip. Hanna is solid, but Snake River is dangerous. (First playoff meeting since 2014 1A six-man quarterfinals.)
(4E) Guernsey-Sunrise at (1W) Farson: The Pronghorns will be smarting after losing last week, but I think they’ll have enough in the tank to beat the Vikings — a team they thumped 60-13 back in Week 1 in Farson. (Rematch of a 2016 1A six-man semifinal.)

For a full schedule including kickoff times, check out the 2017 schedule and results page.

I keep track of the games I pick, because it’s good for self-loathing:

Last week: 26-6 (81 percent). This season: 229-41 (85 percent).

So here we are. The playoffs. Who’s ready for a Pine Bluffs in 2016 kind of run, where road games are no sweat? And who’s ready to carry their top seed and their home-field advantage all the way to a title? Leave a comment to help me get my mind right.

–patrick

These are the projected Wyoming high school football playoff pairings for the 2017 season. Some seeds in Class 1A six-man will be broken with games on Saturday.

Official pairings and game times will be posted by the WHSAA in the next few days.

Class 4A
(8) Cheyenne Central at (1) Sheridan
(5) Thunder Basin at (4) Kelly Walsh
(6) Rock Springs at (3) Cheyenne East
(7) Laramie at (2) Natrona

Class 3A
(4W) Worland at (1E) Torrington
(3E) Douglas at (2W) Green River
(3W) Cody at (2E) Buffalo
(4E) Rawlins at (1W) Star Valley

Class 2A
(4W) Lovell at (1E) Glenrock
(3E) Newcastle at (2W) Big Piney
(3W) Greybull at (2E) Wheatland
(4E) Thermopolis at (1W) Mountain View

Class 1A 11-man
(4E) Southeast at (1W) Cokeville
(3W) Wind River at (2E) Big Horn
(3E) Upton-Sundance at (2W) Rocky Mountain
(4W) Saratoga at (1E) Pine Bluffs

Class 1A six-man
(4W) Meeteetse at (1E) Kaycee
(3E) Midwest at (2W) Burlington
(3W) Snake River at (2E) Hanna
(4E) Guernsey-Sunrise at (1W) Farson

–patrick

Updated 3:30 p.m. Oct. 21 to reflect the results of the 3A East coin flip with Buffalo, Douglas and Rawlins. Updated 3:36 p.m. Oct. 21 to reflect the results of the 1A six-man West coin flip. Updated 3:52 p.m. Oct. 21 to reflect the results of the 1A six-man East coin flip.

St. Stephens will finish the 2017 season with two head coaches who stepped in to fill the void left by the retirement of the program’s previous head coach.

Billy Brost and Dee Harrison have coached the Eagles in their past three games and will lead them into the season finale Friday against Meeteetse.

Brost said in an email to wyoming-football.com that former coach Lyle Valdez resigned shortly before St. Stephens’ game with Riverside on Sept. 29.

Harrison and Brost had previously been coaches for St. Stephens’ middle school team. Prior to this season, Harrison had several coaching stints in the West, including time at Eastern Oregon University, while Brost had been an assistant football coach at several schools in the West. Brost had previously been St. Stephens’ head track coach before resigning last spring.

Brost said he is excited for the future of the program. He said building the program will include work in the weight room, time at team camps, conditioning programs and a continued focus on the fundamentals.

“Once our kids have taken hundreds of reps with Dee’s offensive system, and our kids pick up the fundamental skills, I can foresee a quick turnaround for St. Stephen’s Eagles football as early as next season,” he wrote.

Valdez retired in part to watch his grandchildren play sports at Wyoming Indian, Brost said. The program retained its other two assistant coaches.

St. Stephens is 0-7 so far this year at the Class 1A six-man level.

–patrick

Of all the 41 potential playoff scenarios that exist heading into Week 8, none is weirder than Lovell’s.

Of the eight possible scenarios coming out of the 2A West, Lovell makes the playoffs in five of them and misses the playoffs in three of them.

Here’s the kicker, though: Lovell could lose and qualify for the playoffs. They could also win and miss the playoffs.

Obviously, the odds are better if Lovell wins. Of the four scenarios in which Lovell wins its game on Friday against Kemmerer, the Bulldogs qualify for the playoffs in three of them; of the four scenarios in which Lovell loses, the Bulldogs still make the playoffs in only two of the four scenarios.

The odd duck scenario where Lovell wins but still doesn’t qualify happens if the Bulldogs beat Kemmerer, Lyman beats Big Piney and Greybull beats Mountain View. In that scenario, Lyman and Lovell end up tied for the No. 4 seed, and thanks to Lovell’s loss to Lyman, the Bulldogs would be out and the Eagles in.

So is it possible Lovell could take the field on Friday night and actually TRY to lose to help qualify for the playoffs? Or just forfeit the game completely?

The short answer: No.

The reason? Kickoff times.

The first game played in the 2A West on Friday will be the one between Big Piney and Lyman, which kicks off at 2 p.m. If Big Piney wins, Lovell’s in the playoffs, no matter what.

However, if Lyman pulls the upset, Lovell HAS to win (and then hope Mountain View beats Greybull) to qualify for the playoffs.

So even though the scenarios outline a situation where it would be better for Lovell to lose, the kickoff times assure us we won’t see anyone intentionally tanking in Week 8 to qualify for the playoffs.

Thank goodness. Because as weird as Lovell’s situation is this week, it’d be even weirder to see a team intentionally trying to lose to qualify for the playoffs.

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We know some things — but not everything — entering the final week of the Wyoming high school football regular season.

Twelve teams (Kelly Walsh, Worland, Cody, Torrington, Glenrock, Big Piney, Wheatland, Mountain View, Cokeville, Rocky Mountain, Meeteetse and Kaycee) already know their playoff seedings.

Two first-round playoff games are already set: Worland at Torrington in 3A and Meeteetse at Kaycee in 1A six-man.

And 10 teams (Cheyenne Central, Cheyenne South, Greybull, Lyman, Lovell, Lusk, Southeast, Guernsey-Sunrise, Hanna and Hulett) are playing for their playoff lives this week. Two games — Cheyenne Central hosting Cheyenne South and Southeast hosting Lusk — are direct winner in/loser out scenarios.

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Obviously, Week 8 is full of important games. Here’s some highlights of a few of them.

If you asked me which game I want to see most this week, it’s Upton-Sundance vs. Pine Bluffs. I want to know if Upton-Sundance’s 40-point loss to Big Horn two weeks ago was an aberration or a harbinger. We’ll find out Friday when the Patriots face an undefeated defending state champion on that champ’s home field. …

Star Valley faces Green River for the top seed in the 3A West. Star Valley will be the favorite, even on the road, but Green River could really upset expectations if they can somehow beat the two-time defending champs. …

Farson facing Snake River in Baggs could be the best game of the six-man regular season. Yes, Snake River lost to Burlington last week, but the Rattlers can still win the West’s No. 1 seed with a victory. Farson, meanwhile, is still undefeated and angling for a second consecutive trip to Laramie. …

Cheyenne East and Sheridan are playing what could objectively be called the game of the week. After all, Sheridan is 8-0 and undefeated in 4A, while Cheyenne East is 7-1 and proving it knows how to win games in all styles, but especially close ones. The Broncs should be the favorites, but the Thunderbirds are likely to give Sheridan a necessary challenge heading into the playoffs. …

The Thunder Basin-Laramie game could be a hidden gem in the Gem City. It’s an important game in the 4A seeding race, and Laramie has the potential to pull the surprise at home if the ‘Bolts overlook them. …

The Mountain View-Greybull game isn’t quite what we thought it might be at the beginning of the season, but nevertheless it’s a big one in the 2A West. And Mountain View has to make the trip to Greybull, making things a little more difficult on the no-e Buffalos. …

The Thunder Bowl is back in Sheridan County after a three-year hiatus as Big Horn faces Tongue River. Honestly, there’s no reason why this game should ever be off the schedule, and I’m glad to see the regional rivals facing off again. …

The Rocky Mountain-Wright game is a late addition to the schedule after Wyoming Indian forfeited to Rocky Mountain a couple weeks ago. Wright had an open week scheduled, so it makes sense for the two of them to meet halfway in Sheridan — Rocky as a playoff tune-up, Wright as one more chance to take the field as a team. …

On to my choices for each game. You know how I do this by now: predicted winners in bold, and then we all watch the games, which is way more fun than predicting them:

Friday
Class 4A
Cheyenne East at Sheridan
Cheyenne South at Cheyenne Central
Gillette at Kelly Walsh
Rock Springs at Natrona
Thunder Basin at Laramie
Class 3A
Douglas at Buffalo
Jackson at Evanston
Powell at Cody
Rawlins at Lander
Riverton at Torrington
Star Valley at Green River
Class 2A
Big Piney at Lyman
Burns at Glenrock
Lovell at Kemmerer
Mountain View at Greybull
Thermopolis at Newcastle
Wheatland at Moorcroft
Class 1A 11-man
Cokeville at Shoshoni
Lusk at Southeast
Rocky Mountain vs. Wright (at Big Horn)
Saratoga at Wind River
Tongue River at Big Horn
Upton-Sundance at Pine Bluffs
Class 1A six-man
Burlington at Riverside
Hulett at Guernsey-Sunrise
Meeteetse at St. Stephens
NSI at Kaycee
Interclass
Worland at Pinedale
Interstate
Lingle vs. South Platte, Neb. (at Dalton, Neb.)
Saturday
Class 1A six-man
Dubois at Ten Sleep
Farson at Snake River
Midwest at Hanna

For a full schedule including kickoff times, check out the 2017 schedule and results page.

Results of my picks from last week and this season:

Last week: 24-6 (80 percent). This season: 203-35 (85 percent).

So here we are: the last week of the regular season. Who’s your surprise team for a championship run? And what does week 8 hold for them? Leave a comment and let’s enter into a dialog.

–patrick

Here’s a quick look at the playoff scenarios for Wyoming high school football teams entering Week 8 of the 2017 season:

Class 4A
Sheridan: In. No. 1 seed with victory. No. 2 seed with loss and Rock Springs victory. Tie for 1-2-3 seeds (coin flip to break) with loss and Natrona victory.
Cheyenne East: In. No. 1 seed with victory and Rock Springs victory. Tie for 1-2-3 seeds (coin flip to break) with victory and Natrona victory. No. 3 seed with loss.
Natrona: In. Tie for 1-2-3 seeds (coin flip to break) with victory and Cheyenne East victory. No. 2 seed with Sheridan victory. No. 3 seed with loss Cheyenne East victory.
Kelly Walsh: In. No. 4 seed.
Rock Springs: In. No. 5 seed with victory and Laramie victory. Tie for 5-6-7 seeds (coin flip to break) with loss, Natrona victory and Laramie victory. No. 6 seed with victory and Thunder Basin victory.
Thunder Basin: In. No. 5 seed with victory. Tie for 5-6-7 seeds (coin flip to break) with loss and Natrona victory. No. 7 seed with loss and Rock Springs victory.
Laramie: In. Tie for 5-6-7 seeds (coin flip to break) with victory and Natrona victory. No. 6 seed with victory and Rock Springs victory. No. 7 seed with loss.
Cheyenne Central, Cheyenne South: Neither in nor out. No. 8 seed with victory. Out with loss.
Gillette: Out.

Class 3A East
Torrington: In. No. 1 seed.
Douglas: In. No. 2 seed with victory. No. 3 seed with loss and Riverton victory. No. 3 seed with loss, Lander victory and Torrington victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (coin flip to break) with loss, Rawlins victory and Torrington victory.
Buffalo: In. No. 2 seed with victory and Riverton victory. No. 2 seed with victory, Lander victory and Torrington victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (coin flip to break) with victory, Rawlins victory and Torrington victory. No. 4 seed with loss.
Rawlins: In. No. 3 seed with Douglas victory. No. 4 seed with Buffalo victory and Riverton victory. No. 4 seed with loss, Lander victory and Torrington victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (coin flip to break) with victory, Buffalo victory and Torrington victory.
Lander, Riverton: Out.

Class 3A West
Green River, Star Valley: In. No. 1 seed with victory. No. 2 seed with loss.
Cody: In. No. 3 seed.
Worland: In. No. 4 seed.
Evanston, Jackson, Powell: Out.

Class 2A East
Glenrock: In. No. 1 seed.
Wheatland: In. No. 2 seed.
Newcastle, Thermopolis: In. No. 3 seed with victory. No. 4 seed with loss.
Burns, Moorcroft: Out.

Class 2A West
Mountain View: In. No. 1 seed.
Big Piney: In. No. 2 seed.
Greybull: Neither in nor out. No. 3 seed with victory. No. 3 seed with loss and Kemmerer victory. No. 4 seed with loss, Lovell victory and Big Piney victory. Out with loss, Lovell victory and Lyman victory.
Lyman: Neither in nor out. No. 3 seed with victory, Lovell victory and Mountain View victory. No. 4 seed with victory and Greybull victory. No. 4 seed with victory, Kemmerer victory and Mountain View victory. Out with loss.
Lovell: Neither in nor out. No. 3 seed with victory, Mountain View victory and Big Piney victory. No. 4 seed with victory, Mountain View victory and Lovell victory. No. 4 seed with victory, Greybull victory and Big Piney victory. No. 4 seed with loss and Big Piney victory. Out with loss, Lyman victory and a victory by either Mountain View or Greybull. Out with victory, Lyman victory and Greybull victory.
Pinedale, Kemmerer: Out.

Class 1A 11-man East
Pine Bluffs: In. No. 1 seed with victory. Tie for 1-2-3 seeds (coin flip to break) with loss and Big Horn victory. No. 2 seed with loss and Tongue River victory.
Big Horn: In. Tie for 1-2-3 seeds (coin flip to break) with victory and Upton-Sundance victory. No. 2 seed with Pine Bluffs victory. No. 3 seed with loss and Upton-Sundance victory.
Upton-Sundance: In. No. 1 seed with victory and Tongue River victory. Tie for 1-2-3 seeds (coin flip to break) with victory and Big Horn victory. No. 3 seed with loss.
Lusk, Southeast: Neither in nor out. No. 4 seed with victory. Out with loss.
Tongue River, Wright: Out.

Class 1A 11-man West
Cokeville: In. No. 1 seed.
Rocky Mountain: In. No. 2 seed.
Saratoga, Wind River: In. No. 3 seed with victory. No. 4 seed with loss.
Shoshoni, Wyoming Indian: Out.

Class 1A six-man East
Kaycee: In. No. 1 seed.
Midwest: In. No. 2 seed with victory. No. 3 seed with loss and Hanna Hulett victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (coin flip to break) with loss and Guernsey-Sunrise victory.
Guernsey-Sunrise: Neither in nor out. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (coin flip to break) with victory and Hanna victory. No. 3 seed with victory and Midwest victory. Tie for 3-4-out of playoffs positions (coin flip to break) with loss and Midwest victory. Out with loss and Hanna victory.
Hanna: Neither in nor out. No. 2 seed with victory and Hulett victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (coin flip to break) with victory and Guernsey-Sunrise victory. No. 4 seed with loss and Guernsey-Sunrise victory. Tie for 3-4-out of playoffs positions (coin flip to break) with loss and Hulett victory.
Hulett: Neither in nor out. No. 4 seed with victory and Hanna victory. Tie for 3-4-out of playoffs positions (coin flip to break) with victory and Midwest victory. Out with loss.
Lingle, NSI: Out.

Class 1A six-man West
Farson: In. No. 1 seed with victory. Tie for 1-2-3 seeds (coin flip to break) with loss and Burlington victory. No. 2 seed with loss and Riverside victory.
Snake River: In. No. 1 seed with victory and Riverside victory. Tie for 1-2-3 seeds (coin flip to break) with victory and Burlington victory. No. 3 seed with loss.
Burlington: In. Tie for 1-2-3 seeds (coin flip to break) with victory and Snake River victory. No. 2 seed with Farson victory. No. 3 seed with loss and Snake River victory.
Meeteetse: In. No. 4 seed.
Dubois, St. Stephens, Ten Sleep: Out.
Riverside: Ineligible for playoffs.

–patrick

Updated 9:41 a.m. 10/20/17 to fix Midwest’s seeding possibilities.

Technically, only one conference champion is guaranteed to be crowned this week.

Either Kaycee or Midwest will win the 1A six-man East Conference championship when the two programs face each other Friday night in beautiful downtown Midwest.

Oh, sure, four other programs can win their respective championships this week, too: Torrington in the 3A East, Glenrock in the 2A East, Mountain View in the 2A West, Cokeville in the 1A 11-man West. Also, Sheridan could win 4A’s top seed with a victory and a Cheyenne East loss to Rock Springs, while Star Valley would win the 3A West with a victory and a Green River loss to Jackson.

But it’s possible that every single one of those teams could lose on Friday. That’s why Kaycee-Midwest is so intriguing — unless it ends in a tie or is postponed or we see the destruction of the Earth between now and about 9:30 p.m. Friday, the top seed from the 1A six-man East Conference will be sewn up at the conclusion of this game.

Midwest has been a nice surprise this season. The Oilers have won four in a row since losing to Burlington 44-40 to open their season. Every game has been a little bit closer than the last one, though — from a 62-point victory against NSI to a 45-point victory against Guernsey-Sunrise to a 36-point victory against Lingle to a 13-point victory against Hulett.

Meanwhile, 32 miles to the north, top-ranked Kaycee has been perhaps the most dominant six-man team the state has ever seen.

The Buckaroos have won their past 25 games, but by far the 2017 season has been the most dominant. With first-year head coach Tony Rouse leading a deep senior class, Kaycee has outscored its opponents 370-26 this season, including its last three by 224-0.

Week 7 is always a little strange, because so many potential playoff scenarios exist. By my math, only three of the state’s 65 teams (Jackson, Wright, Wyoming Indian) have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs (see below for more on Wyoming Indian). And no matter what happens, two conferences (1A 11-man East and 1A six-man West) are guaranteed NOT to have a conference champion by the time Week 7 is done.

That’s why Friday’s game in Midwest is so interesting. It’s nice to have a little certainty in uncertain times.

+++

Other stuff on my sonar for Week 7:

The Kelly Walsh-Thunder Basin game is the most intriguing game on the 4A schedule. Thunder Basin is stronger than it’s been all season thanks to the return of running back Austin Clemetson, who came back last week. A ‘Bolts victory gives them all the tiebreakers necessary for a home playoff game, and that’s super helpful. …

Greybull’s surprising loss to Lovell last week turned the 2A West into a big quagmire. Right there in the middle of the mess with Greybull are Lyman, Pinedale and Lovell. They’ll play on Friday (Greybull at Lyman, Pinedale at Lovell), and I honestly have no idea what to expect in either game. …

The only interclass game of the week is really interesting. It’s the two “Bigs” (Big Horn and Big Piney) meeting halfway in Riverton. And they’re both 5-1 coming into the game. Could be a hidden gem of a game on that neutral field on Friday. …

Evanston against Worland in the 3A West could be a really close game. Both teams need this victory to stay in the playoff race, and that may bring out the best in both squads. …

Wheatland has been resurgent of late and could steal a home playoff game if they can top Newcastle. …

I’m interested to see how much of a challenge one-loss Burlington can give undefeated Snake River in Burlington. …

+++

On to this week’s picks. As usual, the predicted winners are in bold, because to change that tradition now would just be silly:

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
Evanston at Worland
Green River at Jackson
Lander at Douglas
Powell at Star Valley
Riverton at Buffalo
Torrington at Rawlins
Class 2A
Glenrock at Moorcroft
Greybull at Lyman
Kemmerer at Mountain View
Newcastle at Wheatland
Pinedale at Lovell
Thermopolis at Burns
Class 1A 11-man
Lusk at Wright
Rocky Mountain at Saratoga
Southeast at Pine Bluffs
Upton-Sundance at Tongue River
Wind River at Cokeville
Class 1A six-man
Hanna at NSI
Kaycee at Midwest
Riverside at Farson
Snake River at Burlington
Ten Sleep at Meeteetse
Interclass
Big Horn vs. Big Piney (at Riverton)
Saturday
Class 1A six-man
Lingle at Hulett
St. Stephens at Dubois
Open: Cody, Guernsey-Sunrise. Shoshoni has picked up a forfeit victory this week against Wyoming Indian.

For a full schedule including kickoff times, check out the 2017 schedule and results page.

My picks were made last week. By me. I made the picks. Most of them were right. Here’s how many:

Last week: 27-4 (87 percent). This season: 179-29 (86 percent).

+++

Chiefs forfeit final two games: Wyoming Indian will forfeit its final two games of the year, as reported by Brady Oltmans of the Casper Star-Tribune on Twitter on Tuesday. The Chiefs were scheduled to play Shoshoni this week and Rocky Mountain in Week 8; they were 1-5 prior to ending the season early.

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With the playoffs a scant couple weeks away, what teams do you see as the ones ready to make a late-season run? Post a comment so we can dig deep into week 7!

–patrick

Post updated 9:01 a.m. Oct. 12, 2017, to reflect Lingle’s playoff possibility.

The 2017 edition of the Wyoming Shrine Bowl raised $20,000 for the Shriners Hospital for Children in Salt Lake City, Shrine Bowl executive director John Cundall announced Wednesday in a release.

All profits from the annual all-star football game, played in June in Casper, went to the hospital. This year’s game was the 44th Wyoming Shrine Bowl.

Shrine Hospitals focus on providing care for children at no cost to the family.

The North team won the 2017 game 49-7. The 2018 game will be June 9, 2018, in Casper.

–patrick