A high school football team can only have, at most, 99 players.

That’s because at most, a team can only have 99 different uniform numbers.

Of course, this is only a problem for a few select programs statewide. But if we were to put together all the teams in the state and choose players based on their uniform number, only choosing one player per number, what would that roster look like?

Well, probably something like what I’ve shared below — a compilation of Wyoming’s top returning players by their uniform number.

This is something I’ve done for four years (see the 20212020 and 2019 versions of this list to compare). It’s always fun to compare players in ways that are unusual; for example, is the better player a 3A backup fullback or a six-man starting wide receiver?

I did my best to look through last year’s stats as well as comments from coaches that I’ve talked to for the annual Wyoming high school football preview magazine to come up with this list. Even so, there’s probably a place where you think I screwed up. That’s cool — leave a comment and let’s chat about it!

My annual disclaimer: I can’t guarantee that the numbers players wore last year will be worn again by them this year. I can’t even guarantee that they’ll go out, or that they haven’t moved since the end of last year (although at least a couple players who would have made the list have moved out of state and have been removed). I used last year’s stat listings and rosters posted online to determine what jersey number players wore; if your team didn’t compile stats or didn’t post a roster, I didn’t (moreover, couldn’t) include those players. Also, at least two of these players wore more than one number last year; they’re noted with asterisks.

NumberNameSchool
1Keagan BartlettCheyenne Central
2Lucas TalichCody
3Tucker CarricatoSaratoga
4Grayson BeaudrieCody
5Colson CoonSheridan
6Ryan FornstromPine Bluffs
7Kade WeberWorland
8Alex MillsShoshoni
9Garet SchlabsCheyenne East
10Ashton HouskeeperLyman
11Wyatt PowellNatrona
12Stu LerwickPine Bluffs
13Breckin McClintockNatrona
14Ethan BrinkmanCheyenne East
15Dalton SchaeferPine Bluffs
16Seth MaxsonSnake River
17Hadley MyersSnake River
18Zane MathesonSnake River
19Russell CrosbyRocky Mountain
20Logan JonesGlenrock
21Wyatt TremblyDubois
22Nolan SpearsLingle
23Karson EwingDouglas
24Carson EardleyMountain View
25Aric SukoWheatland
26Jackson SchroederCody
27Remy BroussardCody
28Dom JarvisShoshoni
29Luukas RyhtiMeeteetse
30Holden McConkeyNewcastle
31Ty StrohscheinRiverside
32McKoy SmithLyman
33Quade JordanEncampment
34Charlie WonkaBuffalo
35Dillon GlickThunder Basin
36Ben NicholsLovell
37Matisse WeaverLander
38Preston NicholsLovell
39Korbyn ElaissenThunder Basin
40Pehton TruemplerShoshoni
41Slayd DaleySaratoga
42Carter ArchuletaDouglas
43Jeremiah SalmoGreen River
44Dylan AlexanderRiverside
45Jake SchlattmannGreybull
46Liam BaldwinPinedale*
47Logan ClassCody
48Lannon BrazletonPowell
49Ian SimmonsNewcastle
50Wyatt CampbellSoutheast
51Carter McBurnettRock Springs
52Braden VincentRiverton
53Max GregoryLyman
54Trevor EldridgeCheyenne East
55Korbin DewittShoshoni
56Drew SmialekWheatland
57Clay MerrittStar Valley
58Diego PaniaguaPine Bluffs
59Kolbe DierksCheyenne East
60Haydan HuyserGlenrock
61Dane BransonMountain View
62Zane CollinsLovell*
63Colton PrindleCheyenne Central
64Kiefer DunhamBig Horn
65Jacob PrellNewcastle
66Jeral NehlUpton-Sundance
67Lyric GordonRiverton
68Tyler MairMountain View
69Cordelle LanePinedale
70Dayne LampLusk
71Tiegen ThompsonSoutheast
72Chris BenboeCheyenne Central
73Cody CrawfordNatrona
74Gage FinleyGreen River
75Blake MillerLusk
76Sam BirdsallTorrington
77Dylen ClendenenRocky Mountain
78Tucker JensenWind River
79Tegen SeedsDouglas
80Mickey MaroniBurlington
81Vaun PiersonKaycee
82Tanner NielsenNewcastle
83Jackson LynnSheridan
84Tanner HatchCokeville
85Jake KampmanKemmerer
86Hogan TystadNewcastle
87Chase StewartStar Valley
88Collin HaslemRocky Mountain
89Kayden PharrNatrona
90Ezra ArchuletaRawlins
91Travis KelleyNatrona
92No returners identified
93No returners identified
94No returners identified
95No returners identified
96No returners identified
97No returners identified
98Beckham StoweKelly Walsh
99Jaxson StanleyShoshoni

*-Baldwin also wore No. 65; Collins also wore No. 86.

Special note: For the first time, this list has an honorable mention selection: Dom Kaszas, an all-state wide receiver who transferred from Sheridan to Cheyenne East over the summer. He wore No. 7 with Sheridan, but I have no idea what he’ll wear with East. …

–patrick

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

+++

[Researching as a go-fer for Patrick Schmiedt is a pastime this retired teacher/coach truly enjoys. It’s fun to occasionally turn up useful nuggets for inclusion in several of his ongoing projects, be it the exhaustive wyoming-football.com, a developing wyoming-basketball.com, or his newest addition to Wyoming prep sports canon, champlists.com. Take a moment sometime online to eyeball all that he has amassed and gathered, a truly amazing compendium of Wyoming prep sports data and information.]

When it came time to accumulate state tourney results for volleyball, we knew it’d be problematic to find accurate accounts from the early years. Volleyball received short shrift via the media in its initial decade — the 1970s — as volleyball’s seasonal counterpart, prep football, dominated the sports writing of that time. An account of the first state volleyball tourney in the Casper Star-Tribune merited just five sentences in all, and that was the state champions’ home newspaper. That’s too bad, because that initial culminating event had all the elements of a classic, one that has yet to be duplicated to this day.

First and foremost, the 1971 gathering was open to all comers, almost. Only the Big Horn Basin teams had qualifying events, but from the other three corners of the state ANY team could enter. Eventually 34 teams were bracketed into a single-elimination contest. Lacking a venue like the Ford Wyoming Center, four gymnasiums were used: Natrona County and Kelly Walsh high schools and Dean Morgan and East junior highs. Secondly, it was a one-day — Saturday, Nov. 13, 1971 — event: win to advance, lose to end the day. Finally, there were NO classifications: Little, big and medium-sized schools were all included in the SAME bracket.

Of the 31 — out of 34 — teams we’ve been able to identify, two were Class 1A, 14 were Class 2A, six were Class 3A, and nine were Class 4A (although back then they were classed C, B, A and AA).  First-round upsets of 4A schools thinned the competition quickly. Little Burlington bounced Natrona from further action and Sundance did likewise to Cheyenne Central. Pre-tourney favorite Cheyenne East was eliminated by Wheatland while Buffalo ejected Riverton, Albin sent Rawlins packing, and one of our three unidentified teams ousted Powell. By the round of 16, only three 4A schools remained: Laramie, Cody and Kelly Walsh.

The round of 16 produced a “battle of “Ingtons” — sadly, Arlington, Wyoming, has no high school — and 1A Burlington and 3A Torrington squared off for bragging rights, certainly a rarity as the two schools are neither close in geography nor in school demographics. The small-school Huskies defeated the Trailblazerettes — it took awhile for the “ettes” diminutive suffix to thankfully exit the sports vernacular — to enter the quarterfinals. Of the seven quarterfinalists we know, 4A, 3A, and 2A each had two representatives along with 1A Burlington.

The semifinals found 2A Mountain View versus 4A Kelly Walsh while 2A Upton faced 3A Douglas. Mountain View had a heck of a run to the semis, defeating 3A Lusk, 4A Cody and 4A Laramie, but Kelly Walsh took the semifinal W by scores of 15-11 and 15-4. Douglas had similar luck with Upton, winning 15-12, 15-2. At the end of a long day, Kelly Walsh needed three sets to defeat Douglas by scores of 13-15, 15-10 and 15-11 to win the first state volleyball championship, claiming a bit of glory for all of the state’s largest schools.

Officials were pleased with the tourney but disappointed in the turnout, probably explained partially by its four competition sites. Tickets were $1 for adults, 50 cents for students. Nowadays, 32 teams still gather in Casper for a bacchanalia of bumps, sets and spikes. Four champions are crowned, one for each classification. Still, one exits today’s tourney wondering how the teams — in particular the champions — would fare against one another. That initial 1971 tourney provided answers to such questions.

Today, June 23, marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of Title IX. Events like the ’71 state championship show that in some areas, Wyoming was ahead of the curve, at least by a few months for volleyball in this case. However, by late 1971 the WHSAA had held championships for girls’ teams in alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, golf, swimming, tennis and track for several years. Cross country and basketball would follow in the 1975-76 school year, within the compliance time allowed by Title IX. Wyomingites by nature are loath to accept most any edict from the federal government, but Title IX is definitely an exception. The playing field was leveled for an excluded half of the population. Those that participated in the first volleyball state tourney — women now in their 60s — are true pioneers.

About a decade ago, I looked at Wyoming’s record against out-of-state opponents.

In the past 10 seasons, the Equality State’s success record against out-of-state foes remained remarkably stable.

Wyoming’s all-time record for varsity vs. varsity games involving an out-of-state opponent is 1,581-1,526-105, a winning percentage of .509.

That winning percentage is exactly what it was 10 years ago.

Wyoming’s opportunities for out-of-state games have mostly come against teams from the six bordering states. Here is how Wyoming has fared in those series:

Wyoming vs. Nebraska (836 games): Wyoming trails 383-435-18 (.469)
Wyoming vs. South Dakota (826 games): Wyoming leads 434-363-29 (.543)
Wyoming vs. Montana (493 games): Wyoming leads 243-232-18 (.511)
Wyoming vs. Colorado (487 games): Wyoming trails 217-241-29 (.475)
Wyoming vs. Idaho (330 games): Wyoming leads 166-155-9 (.517)
Wyoming vs. Utah (226 games): Wyoming leads 129-95-2 (.575)

Other series include:
Wyoming vs. North Dakota: Series tied 2-2
Wyoming vs. Saskatchewan: Wyoming leads 2-1
Wyoming vs. Alberta: Wyoming leads 2-0
Wyoming vs. Texas: Series tied 1-1
Wyoming vs. Minnesota: Wyoming leads 1-0
Wyoming vs. Nevada: Wyoming leads 1-0
Wyoming vs. Kansas: Wyoming trails 0-1

The most common out-of-state series is (still) Sheridan vs. Billings Senior, Montana; the two squads have played each other 59 times, although the last meeting came in 1969.

Other series with at least 40 games are Torrington vs. Gering, Neb. (55); Newcastle vs. Custer, S.D. (52); Newcastle vs. Lead, S.D. (44); Cheyenne Central vs. Fort Collins, Colo. (41); Jackson vs. Teton, Idaho (41); and Sheridan vs. Miles City, Mont. (40).

Meanwhile, 10 active programs — Cheyenne South, Farson, Lander, Riverside, St. Stephens, Shoshoni, Thunder Basin, Wind River, Wright and Wyoming Indian — have never played a varsity out-of-state opponent.

–patrick

Richie Mitchell.

Rob Russell.

Casey Lass.

These three Wyoming high school football players are bound by one similarity — their shoes were the last thing to touch a football in a state championship game.

All three had game-winning kicks on the final play of a championship game, the only three such players to have that honor since state football title games started officially in Wyoming in 1931.

Perhaps not coincidentally, all three had their kicks in overtime.

Russell came first in the capper to one of the most exciting championships in state history. Russell’s extra-point kick on the final snap of the third overtime helped Cody defeat Laramie 41-40 in the Class AA championship in 1976.

Mitchell kicked an extra point on the final snap of overtime to give Thermopolis a 21-20 victory against Lovell in the Class 2A title game in 1990.

Lass’ 18-yard field goal (shorter than an extra point) came on the final play of overtime in Worland’s 17-14 victory against Star Valley in the 2002 3A title game.

Across 260 all-time championship games, they are the only three to end with a kick through the uprights to make title dreams come true.

Honorable mentions

The closest Wyoming has ever come to a regular-season final-play deciding kick came in 1997. Brooks Paskett kicked a field goal with 9 seconds left in the Class 3A title game in 1997 to boost Riverton to a 23-20 victory against Star Valley.

Also, Moorcroft’s Kyle Workman (1996), Meeteetse’s Jason Yockey (1993), Jackson’s Bill Wiley (1986) and Pinedale’s Tanner Boone (1975) hit field goals in the final two minutes of their games to help their respective teams win state championships. Workman and Yockey broke ties; Wiley and Boone boosted teams that trailed at the moment of their kicks.

On the “what could have been” end of things, Cokeville missed a short field goal in the final minute of the 2006 Class 1A title game that would have likely won the game; instead, Guernsey-Sunrise claimed the crown.

Is there a title-game, playoff or regular-season kick that sticks out in your memory? Leave a comment about it!

–patrick

Nine games in 2022 will put together teams who have never faced each other.

Of those games, four will involve two in-state teams. The remaining five are games against out-of-state programs, including three new opponents for Rich County, Utah.

Here are the varsity vs. varsity matchups we will see for the first time in 2022:

Week 1: Lingle vs. St. Stephens; Wyoming Indian vs. Guernsey; Evanston vs. Jordan, Utah; Ten Sleep vs. Encampment*

Week 2: Jackson vs. Wood River, Idaho

Week 4: Rich County, Utah, vs. Thermopolis

Week 5: Encampment vs. Kaycee; Lovell vs. Rich County, Utah

Week 8: Pinedale vs. Rich County, Utah

*-signifies game that was scheduled in a previous season but was forfeited

For a full look at the 2022 schedule, go here. Bookmark it, too, because it’s the page where scores will be available all season long.

–patrick

Weekly rankings from 1955-83 and from 1952 have been added to the annual listings on wyoming-football.com.

This all but completes a big chunk of research on weekly polls, the first part of which — from 1984 to 2021 — was posted and shared on wyoming-football.com in January.

Polls from 1955 to 1983 included two polls per week — one from the Associated Press and, usually, one from United Press International. Prior to 1960, though, the UPI poll was not yet being conducted, and a poll from the Wyoming Association of Sportswriters and Sportscasters fills those years.

The top five teams in each classification have been ranked since 1972. From 1965-70, the top 10 teams in both Class AA/A and Class B were ranked in the UPI polls, while the top 10 in all classes were ranked in the single AP poll. (The exception is in 1971, when the AP ran top fives for Class AA, Class A and Class B, while UPI ran top 10s in Class AA/A and Class B.) Prior to 1965, both the AP and UPI/WASS poll had one set of all-class rankings, which ranked the top 10 teams regardless of classification.

Here’s more on how rankings have changed over time.

Once again, a huge thank you goes out to “Stat Rat” Jim Craig for his help in filling in the numerous missing pieces I had in this research. This wouldn’t have been possible without his help!

You can access the weekly polls on the results by year page.

+++

Here are some updated records on who’s had the most consecutive weeks ranked and most consecutive weeks at No. 1:

Consecutive weeks ranked (minimum 40 weeks)

Top 10 streaks
Cokeville: 194 weeks (1993-2015)
Sheridan: 114 weeks (2009-20)
Cokeville: 94 weeks (1982-92)
Campbell County: 87 weeks (1996-2007)
Cheyenne Central: 82 weeks (1963-70)
Buffalo: 77 weeks (2003-11)
Laramie: 76 weeks (1959-66)
Big Horn: 73 weeks (2012-20)
Lusk: 73 weeks (1994-2003)
Byron: 71 weeks (1965-72)
Next 10
Lovell: 70 weeks (1987-95)
Campbell County: 68 weeks (2010-16)
Lusk: 66 weeks (2008-15)
Meeteetse: 63 weeks (1987-94)
Natrona: 63 weeks (1959-65)
Star Valley: 63 weeks (2015-21) *active
Guernsey-Sunrise: 62 weeks (2002-08)
Douglas: 61 weeks (2008-15)
Farson: 61 weeks (2015-21)
Natrona: 61 weeks (2010-16)
Others longer than 40 weeks:
Big Horn: 59 weeks (1983-89)
Sheridan: 59 weeks (1981-87)
Big Piney: 58 weeks (1998-2005)
Cheyenne Central: 58 weeks (1976-82)
Upton-Sundance: 56 weeks (2014-20)
Kelly Walsh: 54 weeks (1979-84)
Natrona: 52 weeks (2001-07)
Sheridan: 52 weeks (1956-61)
Cheyenne East: 51 weeks (2011-16)
Cheyenne East: 50 weeks (2017-21) *active
Mountain View: 49 weeks (2016-21)
Rock Springs: 49 weeks (1986-91)
Laramie: 46 weeks (1967-71)
Kemmerer: 45 weeks (2005-10)
Rocky Mountain: 45 weeks (1994-2000)
Star Valley: 45 weeks (1990-95)
Natrona: 44 weeks (1955-59)
Cody: 43 weeks (2017-21) *active
Thunder Basin: 43 weeks (2017-21) *active
Southeast: 43 weeks (2005-10)
Laramie: 42 weeks (1994-99)
Laramie: 41 weeks (1955-59)
Midwest: 41 weeks (1983-87)
Natrona: 41 weeks (2016-20)
Star Valley: 41 weeks (1980-85)
Mountain View: 40 weeks (1993-98)
Torrington: 40 weeks (1987-92)

+++

Consecutive weeks at No. 1 (minimum 10 weeks)

Top 10 streaks (OK, 12…)
Sheridan: 23 weeks (1991-93)
Rocky Mountain: 22 weeks (1997-99)
Cokeville: 21 weeks (2001-03)
Powell: 21 weeks (2012-14)
Meeteetse: 20 weeks (1989-91)
Natrona: 20 weeks (2011-13)
Tongue River: 20 weeks (1966-68)
Douglas: 19 weeks (2009-11)
Snake River: 19 weeks (2010-12)
Big Horn: 18 weeks (2018-19)
Glenrock: 18 weeks (2016-17)
Cheyenne Central: 18 weeks (1989-90)
Remainder of top 20…
Big Horn: 17 weeks (1985-87)
Kemmerer: 16 weeks (2007-08)
Rock Springs: 16 weeks (2001-03)
Laramie: 15 weeks (1969-70)
Riverton: 15 weeks (1998-99)
Big Horn: 14 weeks (2007-08)
Laramie: 14 weeks (1964-65)
Laramie: 14 weeks (1968-69)
Rocky Mountain: 14 weeks (1995-96)
Others with at least 10 consecutive weeks at No. 1…
Campbell County: 13 weeks (1997-99)
Lovell: 13 weeks (2011-12)
Sheridan: 13 weeks (2017-18)
Torrington: 13 weeks (1974-75)
Cheyenne Central: 12 weeks (1979-80)
Cokeville: 12 weeks (1996-97)
Cokeville: 12 weeks (2009-11)
Lovell: 12 weeks (1987-88)
Star Valley: 12 weeks (2016-17)
Star Valley: 12 weeks (2018-20)
Big Horn: 11 weeks (2003-04)
Dubois: 11 weeks (2012-13)
Laramie: 11 weeks (1960-61)
Laramie: 11 weeks (1962-63)
Midwest: 11 weeks (1979-80)
Powell: 11 weeks (2000-01)
Sheridan: 11 weeks (1986-87)
Thermopolis: 11 weeks (1992-93)
Tongue River: 11 weeks (1974-75)
Buffalo: 10 weeks (2004-05)
Cokeville: 10 weeks (1991-92)
Cokeville: 10 weeks (2014-15)
Meeteetse: 10 weeks (1987-88)
Meeteetse: 10 weeks (2015-16)
Natrona: 10 weeks (1963-64)
Natrona: 10 weeks (2010)
Rocky Mountain: 10 weeks (1992-93)
Southeast: 10 weeks (2007-08)
Southeast: 10 weeks (2020-21)

Got any questions about the polls? Leave a comment and let’s chat about it.

–patrick

The simplest measure of the success of an overall athletics program is the number of state championships it has won.

By that simple measure alone, Campbell County stands alone at the top of Wyoming’s athletics echelon.

The Camels have won 212 state championships, dating back to the school’s first title, a boys basketball championship in 1958. Since then, the Camel boys have won 103 state championships in each of the 10 sports the school offers, while the Camel girls have won 109 titles in 10 sports, nine of which the school currently has.

Campbell County is one of just six schools in Wyoming to have at least 100 state championships to its name, through championships won in the winter season of 2021-22. The others are Jackson (192), Cheyenne Central (191), Natrona (181), Laramie (141) and Lander (101).

The only school now open that doesn’t have a state championship is Cheyenne South, which opened about a decade ago. Arvada-Clearmont, Hulett and Rock River have just one championship apiece in their histories.

The first state championship was awarded at the 1918 boys basketball state tournament. In all, 2,935 championships have been earned, with 1,792 going to boys teams and 1,143 to girls teams.

Obviously, it’s easier for bigger schools to win more championships, as they offer more sports. The Class 1A school with the most championships, unsurprisingly, is Cokeville, with 87. The Panthers far outdistance second-place Snake River and its 35 championships. The Class 2A school that ranks highest is Pine Bluffs, with 46 championships, followed closely by Wyoming Indian with 40.

The single best year for championships belongs to Campbell County, as well. The Camels won 10 championships in both the 2000-01 and 2008-09 school years. Jackson and Campbell County have also won nine titles in a single school year before, while Star Valley, Jackson and Campbell County have won eight in a year.

The most championships for boys in a single year is six, most recently by Laramie in 2017-18 but also by Campbell County three times, in 2008-09, 2007-08 and 1998-99. The girls record is seven titles, set by Campbell County in 2000-01.

Championships have been awarded across 13 boys sports in 31 different classifications, while girls titles have been awarded in 13 sports in 28 classifications. Dig deeper into each sport on Champlists.

Championship winners are not fully available for all sports. Sports with holes in their championship records include boys and girls alpine and Nordic skiing, as well as potential missing titles in girls golf.

Total championship tallies are below. Click the headers to sort by that column.

–patrick

SchoolsTotalBoysGirls
Albin13112
Arvada-Clearmont101
Basin431
Big Horn351421
Big Piney16142
Buffalo432815
Burlington362214
Burns25619
Byron22202
Campbell County212103109
Carpenter110
Cheyenne Central19113061
Cheyenne East693930
Cheyenne South000
Chugwater220
Cody663135
Cokeville874146
Cowley990
Dayton220
Deaver-Frannie660
Douglas723438
Dubois963
Encampment1679
Evanston26188
Farson880
Fort Laramie110
Glendo211
Glenrock22193
Goshen Hole440
Green River504010
Greybull20155
Guernsey-Sunrise12102
Hanna651
Hulett101
Huntley220
Jackson1929498
Kaycee1165
Kelly Walsh794336
Kemmerer18126
LaGrange18180
Lander1016140
Laramie1419348
Lingle241113
Lovell362313
Lusk351916
Lyman22139
Manderson606
Medicine Bow220
Meeteetse844
Midwest440
Moorcroft17116
Mountain View271413
Natrona18111071
Newcastle18135
Pine Bluffs461333
Pinedale21147
Powell574116
Rawlins19109
Riverside532
Riverton221111
Rock River110
Rock Springs644816
Rocky Mountain15105
Saratoga23158
Sheridan896029
Shoshoni16133
Snake River352312
Southeast23176
St. Mary’s/Seton422
St. Stephens1091
Star Valley936429
Sundance211011
Ten Sleep19109
Thermopolis37316
Thunder Basin514
Tongue River301020
Torrington443410
University Prep550
Upton23185
Veteran550
Wheatland281117
Wind River990
Worland654322
Wright291316
Wyoming Indian40346
Yoder220

With a game-high nine tackles, including eight solo tackles, Natrona County graduate Logan Wilson may have had the best game ever by a former Wyoming high school football player in a Super Bowl.

In Sunday’s game, Wilson, a second-year linebacker for the Cincinnati Bengals, finished Super Bowl LVI with nine total tackles, the best on either team; he also led both teams with three tackles for loss. Despite Wilson’s sheet-filling stat line, the Bengals lost the game 23-20 to the Los Angeles Rams.

Here’s how Wilson’s performance in the Super Bowl stands up to the performances of the four other former Wyoming high school football players to reach that stage:

Brett Keisel, DE, Greybull: Played for the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowls XL, XLIII and XLV. Had three tackles, including a tackle for loss, in Super Bowl XL; had five tackles in Super Bowl XLIII; had three tackles in Super Bowl XLV.

Boyd Dowler, WR, Cheyenne: Played for the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowls I and II. Did not make the box score in Super Bowl I (injured on sixth play); had two catches for 71 yards and a touchdown in Super Bowl II.

Jerry Hill, RB, Lingle: Played for the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowls III and V. Ran nine times for 29 yards and a touchdown (the Colts’ only one) in Super Bowl III; on the roster but did not make the box score in Super Bowl V, the last game of his career.

John Burrough, DE/DT, Pinedale: Played for the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII. Did not make the box score.

Honorable mention goes to LB Brady Poppinga of Evanston, who was on injured reserve for the Packers during Super Bowl XLV.

–patrick

I firmly believe that even bad football is good football.

And that even after more than 100 years and after close to 26,000 Wyoming high school football games, there hasn’t been a single bad game.

With that in mind, and inspired by Secret Base/SB Nation’s YouTube series “The Worst,” I set out to find the worst Wyoming high school football game ever played and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that, honestly, even bad football is good football.

Finding the worst among the nearly 26,000 games played, though, is as much as a struggle as finding the best (as I tried to do the past two decades, the 2000s and the 2010s).

I decided to hone in on a specific kind of game — the kind where two teams that were otherwise winless during the season played each other. Once I identified those kind of games, I looked to see how those teams did in the remainder of their respective seasons. Specifically, I was looking for two teams that, outside the one game they played against each other, lost all their other games that season by at least 30 points.

Only one 11-man game in state history met that condition.

In 2004, Midwest defeated Wyoming Indian 26-12 in the season opener for both teams. With the conditions outlined above, I’m willing to call this game the worst Wyoming high school football game ever played.

Now, the “worst” is a loaded term here. It may not be the worst single game — as I’ll explain — but it very well might be the game between the two worst teams. Think of it this way: If you could rank every single season of every single team, and put them all on one line, the rankings of 2004 Midwest and 2004 Wyoming Indian might combine to be the lowest combined ranking of two teams playing each other in any one game.

So why is this game worth your attention, 18 years after it was played? Isn’t this the kind of game we’d want to forget — not highlight?

Nah. Even bad football is good football.

Just look at the team stats box score, which I cobbled together from the video of the game on YouTube. (Yes, this game is on YouTube. I’ll take the blame, or the thanks.) It honestly looks pretty normal, or at least typical of a 1A season opener.

Midwest 26, Wyoming Indian 12

Mid      0          20        0          6 – 26

WI       0          6          0          6 – 12

Team stats               Mid                     WI

First downs              13                       8

Rushes-yards           46-196                28-81

Passing C-A-I-Y        6-11-0-98           3-7-1-50

Total plays-yds         57-294                35-131

Fumbles-lost            7-1                      2-1

Penalties-yds           6-71                    3-25

When this game was played on Aug. 27, 2004, it was clear this was far from a state championship preview. The Oilers went 1-6 in 2003 and had only scored 14 points the entire season; Wyoming Indian had gone 1-7 and lost its last six, the beginning of what eventually became a 26-game losing streak.

The 2004 film showed the Chiefs only had two players available on the bench, the Oilers only three. Do the math; combined, these two teams had 27 players available for this game. But these kinds of games happen often, or at least often enough for this game not to be a huge exception to the rule in 1A football.

Not every play was beautiful:

And it seemed like the lines on both teams never learned about leverage, at least according to the way they stand straight up on plays like this one.

But the game DID have a couple nice hits…

… and good enthusiasm, like my man doing the “conversion dance.”

Now, on to my four favorite plays of the game:

(4) Watch the Chiefs’ right tackle against the Oilers’ defensive lineman on this play. My Midwest man got so turned around that he tried to tackle a tackle. The WIHS O-lineman was just like “What is HAPPENING right now?” before gently tossing the dude to the ground.

(3) Imagine being Midwest’s middle linebacker and taking on a QUADRUPLE TEAM from the Chiefs’ offensive line. Intimidation bonus +10; yardage bonus though only +1.

(2) Not a play, but Midwest’s pre-snap movement here had the Chiefs’ defense completely discombobulated. Just like they planned it?

(1) My favorite play BY FAR is this Midwest touchdown, which came on the last play of the first half and gave Midwest a 20-6 lead heading into halftime. The play is fine. But don’t watch the play so much as the celebration. It’s either some of the best sportsmanship I’ve ever seen, or it’s the most SAVAGE thing I’ve ever seen a wide receiver do to a defensive back.

(If you follow wyoming-football.com on Twitter, you got a sneak peek at this play.)

On this Friday in 2004, the game was little more than another Week 1 tally. Only after the season did its true historic nature take hold.

For the rest of the 2004 season, neither the winning Oilers or the losing Chiefs had a single close game. Midwest’s closest game in 2004 aside from the Chiefs game was a 38-point loss (46-8) to 2-7 Hanna; Wyoming Indian’s closest loss aside from Midwest was a 32-point loss (38-6) to 2-6 Riverside. As noted… this game is the only 11-man game in state history where two otherwise winless teams lost every other game in their seasons by at least 30 points.

Two such six-man games have come in recent years (Ten Sleep defeating St. Stephens in 2017 and Midwest defeating Dubois in 2018), and it’s happened once in nine-man (St. Stephens defeating Wyoming Indian in 2021), but obviously scoring comes differently in those versions of the game.

Watching the 2004 Midwest-Wyoming Indian game in retrospect, in no way, shape or form was it well played. But it was fun to watch, even 18 years later, and for the players I’m sure it was fun to play. I think it proves even bad football is good football.

–patrick

A Utah high school football program with deep tradition will play seven games against Wyoming schools this fall in an effort to keep its program going.

Rich County, Utah, will play what amounts to a Class 2A West Conference schedule in addition to four games against Utah teams in the 2022 season.

Cooper Cornia, Rich County’s athletic director, said via email Tuesday with wyoming-football.com that the move by the Rebels — a program that has won six Utah championships since 1994 — will help them overcome some of the problems they’ve faced in the Beehive State.

“We have gone independent in hopes of saving our football program here at Rich,” Cornia said. ” … The timing was just perfect with Big Piney dropping down to allow us to jump into the southwest Wyoming schedule and fill our independent schedule with close, quality games.”

As one of 11 schools in Utah’s Class 1A, Rich County was isolated from many of its conference opponents. In both 2020 and 2021, Rich averaged more than 200 miles, one way, per road game. Its closest conference opponent, North Summit, was 73 miles away; its furthest, Monticello, was 382.

“Utah has basically gotten rid of the traditional 1A league here,” Cornia said. “There are only two true 1A schools playing in the 1A league. The rest are 2A schools.”

In 2022, Rich County will play four schools within 73 miles, traveling to Kemmerer and Cokeville in 2022 and to Mountain View and Lyman in 2023.

Rich will also have a road game at Thermopolis (268 miles) in 2022 and road games at Lovell (370 miles) and at Pinedale (147 miles) in 2023. In the next two years, Rich’s schedule against mostly Wyoming teams will reduce its travel almost 30% as compared to the trips the Rebels have had to play Utah teams the previous two years.

Rich’s 2022 schedule also has two road games against Utah opponents Monticello and Water Canyon (408 miles) and two home games against Utah teams.

Rich has a proud football tradition. The Rebels won six Utah championships between 1994 and 2014, including three in a row from 1994-96. Rich also won titles in 2002, 2009 and 2014 and was a runner-up in 1991, 1992, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2012 and 2013.

However, since 2017, the Rebels are a combined 6-43, never winning more than two games in any one season. Rich had to forfeit a pair of games in the 2021 season. The Rebels will enter 2022 with a new coach, Tyson Larsen.

Going independent will mean that Rich is ineligible for the Utah playoffs. As for potentially joining the Wyoming ranks, Cornia said, “I don’t think Wyoming will ever allow us to be post-season eligible. … Hopefully, we can build our program back and return to Utah post-season play soon.”

For the full 2022 Wyoming high school football schedule, click here.

–patrick

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