It’s way too early for this. That’s never stopped us before. Let’s take a look at 2019’s top five teams in each class, way too early before it’s practical to do so:

Class 4A
1. Thunder Basin: The state’s most dynamic offensive duo will likely be on Gillette’s south side in 2019, with quarterback Mason Hamilton (4A’s top passer last year) and wideout Blaine Allen (4A’s top receiver last year) ready to lead the ‘Bolts to unprecedented heights in 2019. The lines lost several key players, though.
2. Natrona: Running back Dante Wallace highlights a senior class that’s done a lot of winning, including last year’s state title. The Mustangs will be tough to stop with a balanced group of players coming back.
3. Cheyenne East: Class 4A’s most diverse offense in 2019 may belong to the Thunderbirds. Between seniors Christian Anderton and Chance Aumiller and junior Graedyn Buell, East will present troubles for any opposing defense.
4. Sheridan: The Broncs only return one all-state player, senior Garrett Coon, but few programs rebuild as efficiently as Sheridan does. Count on Sheridan being in the championship chase again.
5. Cheyenne Central: New coach Mike Apodaca took some lumps in his first year at Central, but the Indians showed great potential at times. With three returning all-conference players, the Indians return a solid chunk of contributors that could make Central a threat.
Dark horse: Laramie. The Plainsmen were a solid five seed in 4A last year but need to replace a good group of seniors. If that happens as efficiently as coach Clint Reed hopes, Laramie could be a challenger again.

Class 3A
1. Star Valley: By accident or by design, the Braves’ juniors got a ton of experience last year. Five all-state players will be back this fall, including Super 25 pick Chase Merrell and three starting linemen. That will put Star Valley in perfect position to repeat.
2. Cody: The Broncs get back four all-state selections, second only to Star Valley, as well as six total all-conference picks. RB Charlie Beaudrie will be tough to stop, and lineman Keith Conner was a Super 25 pick.
3. Jackson: Jeydon Cox — who broke the 2,000-yard barrier last season — will probably be the most exciting running back in the state next year. But he can’t do it alone. The Broncs lose a big chunk of contributors but should have enough back to prove last year was no fluke.
4. Douglas: I like what the Bearcats have coming back next fall, and it starts with an experienced all-state quarterback in A.J. Yeaman. There are some other holes to fill, but the Bearcats should be competitive.
5. Torrington: The Trailblazers lost a huge senior class, so staying in the title hunt will be challenging. However, they do return a pair of all-conference linemen in seniors Corbin Harris and Tyler Schaub, and that’s a good place to start.
Dark horse: Lander. In a sentence: Don’t discount coach John Scott’s ability to quickly build a competitive program.

Class 2A
1. Mountain View: Almost all of the Buffalos’ key contributors are back in 2019. This includes four two-time all-state choices (Briggin Bluemel, Hunter Gross, Kimball Madsen and Braeden Walk). No team in 2A can match that.
2. Buffalo: The defending 2A champs aren’t going anywhere. The Bison have five returning all-state choices, tied with Mountain View for the most in the class — and those returners aren’t concentrated in any one specific area.
3. Thermopolis: After a couple years of building, the Bobcats may be ready for a breakthrough in 2019. Junior Logan Cole has proven to be a dependable running back, and he’s got a good number of key contributors surrounding him.
4. Greybull: At a glance, the 2A West seems like it doesn’t have the depth it did in 2018. However, the Buffaloes should remain competitive, with all-conference picks Ben Kraft and Felipe Gaytan leading the way.
5. Burns: The Broncs have been leading up to a breakthrough in 2019. Boe Clayson is a dynamic running back, and an experienced group of seniors will help Burns into the playoff chase.
Dark horse: Glenrock. Yeah, it seems weird to see the Herders outside the top five. But with a new head coach and a new set of leaders needing to emerge on both offense and defense, Glenrock is on the outside for now. If the program can preserve its momentum under a new coach, Glenrock should continue to be a winner.

Class 1A 11-man
1. Big Horn: Yes, the Rams lose one of the best senior classes to ever play at this level. At the same time, they return six all-state choices, more than any other program in 1A, and they’ve got momentum and confidence. A repeat will be tough, but this group has that ability.
2. Cokeville: The Panthers do lose eight all-state choices, but they also return five all-conference picks. They absolutely obliterated every other team in the West last year. And no one — no one — reloads like Cokeville reloads.
3. Upton-Sundance: All-stater Jayden Caylor and all-conference pick Kye Taylor have to lead the task of carrying on the Patriots’ tradition. There’s work to do, but U-S has depth and has shown throughout the history of its co-op that it can get players to step up when needed.
4. Pine Bluffs: Brian Steger, an all-state pick, and Donte Jacobsen, an all-conference selection, will be the leaders on a less-experienced but still dangerous Hornet team. They’ll need to build some depth, but if that can happen quickly, they’ll be in the hunt come November.
5. Lusk: The Tigers return four all-conference choices, second to Big Horn in the East, and junior Drake Lamp and senior Damien Molzahn will create a backfield duo most 1A teams would envy.
Dark horse: Rocky Mountain. The Grizzlies had seven all-conference choices in 2018: one senior, five sophomores and a freshman. If Rocky’s youth can prove itself against tougher competition, it could be the team to challenge Cokeville in the West.

Class 1A six-man
1. Hanna: Twins Connor and Shane McGraw are just the starting point for the Miners, who return five all-conference choices and are poised to build on last year’s unbeaten regular season with some postseason victories this time.
2. Snake River: The Rattlers were really competitive last season despite having a senior class small enough to fit on a motorcycle. Riggen Myers provides dynamism, and a host of others from what will be a deep senior class will make Snake River a title threat.
3. Meeteetse: This year’s deep senior class will be gone, but the Longhorns still return enough depth to stay competitive. That charge will be led by a pair of all-conference picks, Asa Eldredge and Kaden Redding.
4. Farson: Ready to play a game of “Who’s that”? The Pronghorns’ senior class will be pretty thin in 2019, but its upcoming junior class is deep and ready to fill the spots vacated by this year’s graduating class.
5. Burlington: Senior Jarom Davidson will be the lone all-conference holdover from last year’s runner-up squad, so the Huskies have some clear rebuilding to do. But the 2018 season should give the program momentum.
Dark horse: Guernsey. The Vikings return three all-conference choices (seniors Alex Delgado, Jeremy Hartt and Justin Malcolm), and all three were key contributors on defense. If the defense can hold up early, the offense could come around late and help the Vikings win in the postseason.

What do you think? Who’s ready for a breakout season in 2019? Which teams are too low? Leave a comment and let’s discuss what might be on the way by the time the 2019 season starts.


Here’s a quick look at broad playoff scenarios entering Week 7 of the 2018 Wyoming high school football season:

Class 4A
In: Cheyenne East, Natrona, Thunder Basin, Sheridan, Laramie.
Neither in nor out: Rock Springs, Cheyenne Central, Kelly Walsh, Cheyenne South, Gillette.
Out: No one.
Can the top seed be decided this week? HAHAHAHAHAHA no. There’s WAY too many scenarios possibly happening to make this a reality in Week 7.

The key game for seeding in the lower half keeps looking like the South-Central matchup in Week 8. The top half, meanwhile, looks like it’s going to end with a coin flip deciding the top three seeds. There’s parity, but it’s split in two.

Class 3A East
In: Torrington.
Neither in nor out: Douglas, Lander, Worland, Riverton.
Out: Rawlins.
Can the top seed be decided this week? Yep. Torrington can earn the top seed by beating Worland in Week 7.

Even if Rawlins wins its final two games, the Outlaws would tie with teams they’ve already lost to, so they’re out. Riverton still has a wide outside chance to make it, but the Wolverines would need to pull an upset over Douglas in Week 8 and get some help (not to mention beating Rawlins next week.

Class 3A West
In: Star Valley.
Neither in nor out: Evanston, Cody, Jackson, Powell, Green River.
Out: No one.
Can the top seed be decided this week? Yep. Star Valley can wrap up the No. 1 seed if it beats Cody and if Jackson beats Evanston.

Powell and Green River are both on the outside looking in, and each needs to win next week (against each other) to stay in consideration. The top is messy, though, as an “upset” in any of the remaining games between the top four teams (Star Valley faces Evanston and Cody and Evanston faces Jackson in the final two weeks) could make this a mess.

Class 2A East
In: Buffalo.
Neither in nor out: Glenrock, Wheatland, Thermopolis, Burns, Moorcroft, Newcastle.
Out: No one.
Can the top seed be decided this week? Actually, this one’s already been decided. Buffalo is the No. 1 seed.

Newcastle is the longest of the long shots, needing a lot to go right to keep hope alive. Glenrock has the best chance at the No. 2 seed and can wrap that up by beating Thermopolis this week. And Wheatland can secure the No. 3 seed by beating Moorcroft this week (and maybe move up to No. 2 if some wild things go down).

Class 2A West
In: Mountain View.
Neither in nor out: Greybull, Big Piney, Kemmerer, Pinedale, Lyman, Lovell.
Out: No one.
Can the top seed be decided this week? Yep. Mountain View wins the conference with a victory against Kemmerer combined with a Greybull loss to Lyman.

In between Mountain View at 4-0 and Lovell at 0-4, this whole conference is just a dang mess. I don’t even want to think about it until Week 8 is done, and then I’ll break out my tiebreaking guidelines.

Class 1A 11-man East
In: Big Horn, Upton-Sundance.
Neither in nor out: Pine Bluffs, Lusk, Wright, Tongue River, Southeast.
Out: No one.
Can the top seed be decided this week? Yep. Big Horn will be the top seed with a victory against Lusk this week.

This one could get either really messy or really simple really fast. Really. Big Horn and Upton-Sundance are in, and the game between Upton-Sundance and Pine Bluffs this week will help sort out the second and third seeds. After that, it’s a chase for No. 4, with Lusk, Wright and Tongue River (and barely Southeast) all going after that final playoff slot.

Class 1A 11-man West
In: Cokeville, Wind River, Shoshoni.
Neither in nor out: Rocky Mountain, Wyoming Indian.
Out: No one (except Saratoga, who’s ineligible).
Can the top seed be decided this week? Nope. That’s a Week 8 discussion.

Pretty simple here: The Cokeville-Wind River game in Week 8 will likely decide 1 and 2. Shoshoni’s probably 3. The winner of Rocky Mountain-Wyoming Indian in Week 8 is likely 4. The only way that isn’t the case is if Rocky upsets Wind River this week.

Class 1A six-man East
In: Hanna, Kaycee.
Neither in nor out: Guernsey, NSI, Lingle, Hulett.
Out: Midwest.
Can the top seed be decided this week? Yep, in a couple ways. Kaycee can win the conference outright with a victory against Hanna. Hanna can win the conference with a victory AND a Guernsey loss to Lingle.

There’s a weird scenario where Guernsey, NSI and either Lingle or Hulett could tie for the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. Meanwhile, Hanna hosts Kaycee this week, with Guernsey lurking to potentially force a three-way tie in Week 8 (or potentially win the conference outright) if Hanna wins in Week 7.

Class 1A six-man West
In: Farson, Meeteetse, Snake River.
Neither in nor out: Burlington, St. Stephens.
Out: Riverside (ineligible), Dubois.
Can the top seed be decided this week? Yep. Farson wins the No. 1 seed with a victory against Burlington in Week 7.

St. Stephens is the team on the outside looking in right now, needing two victories and two Burlington losses to sneak into the fourth spot. Farson is the likely top seed, with Meeteetse needing only to beat winless Dubois this week to secure the No. 2 seed. Snake River’s in as the third seed if it beats Dubois in Week 8.

Wanna see the standings for yourself? Click here.

Updated at 4:44 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, to reflect updated Class 1A six-man West possibilities after Saturday’s game between Meeteetse and Riverside finished.


The Coaches and Media Poll for the preseason was released today. Here was my ballot (and my preseason top fives) for each classification:

Class 4A: 1. Sheridan; 2. Kelly Walsh; 3. Natrona; 4. Cheyenne East; 5. Thunder Basin.
Class 3A: 1. Torrington; 2. Cody; 3. Star Valley; 4. Green River; 5. Douglas.
Class 2A: 1. Buffalo; 2. Mountain View; 3. Glenrock; 4. Wheatland; 5. Greybull.
Class 1A 11-man: 1. Big Horn; 2. Upton-Sundance; 3. Pine Bluffs; 4. Cokeville; 5. Wind River.
Class 1A six-man: 1. Farson; 2. Burlington; 3. Kaycee; 4. Meeteetse; 5. Snake River.


Here we go: a look at the 2018 Wyoming high school football season, nine months before it’s set to begin.

1. Sheridan: The Broncs don’t return a ton of players from last year’s undefeated team, and they don’t return coach Don Julian, but they do return all-staters Parker Christensen and Garrett Coon. No other 4A team returns more than one all-state pick. And there’s a lot to be said for the momentum of three consecutive state titles.
2. Natrona: The Mustangs were one drive away from potentially upsetting Sheridan in the 4A title game a year ago. And with a trio of returning all-conference picks, the Mustangs should be in better shape than most teams to rebuild quickly.
3. Kelly Walsh: The Trojans return four all-conference selections, more than any other team in 4A this year. Two of those — seniors Kameron Mellon and Connor Shopp — are linemen, giving the Trojans a nice base from which to build.
4. Cheyenne East: Yes, the Thunderbirds lost a bunch of talent from last year’s squad. However, last year showed East has the ability to grow quickly, and the T-Birds have reached at least the state semifinals in 10 of coach Chad Goff’s 12 seasons at the helm.
5. Thunder Basin: The ‘Bolts’ first year was a learning experience for everyone involved. Those growing pains will pay off this year, and with a pair of senior linemen in Marcus Glick and Terren Swartz to lead them, Thunder Basin could be a title contender.

1. Torrington: No 3A team returns as many all-state players (three) or all-conference players (six) as the Trailblazers do. Last year’s 3A runners-up will be led by running back Bryan Lemmon, who showed last year he can be the centerpiece of an offense; every other 3A team is just a little freaked out about that.
2. Cody: With three returning all-staters, the Broncs will be in good position to defend their championship. Seniors Jared Grenz and Jackson Morris and junior Charlie Beaudrie give Cody a solid, experienced base, but how less experienced players fill in around them will determine the Broncs’ success.
3. Douglas: The Bearcats get back four all-conference players this year, second only to Torrington in the 3A ranks. And three of those (juniors Cody Pinkerton and Dawson Stinson and senior Dylan Hime) are linemen. That gives the Bearcats a chance to dominate games up front.
4. Star Valley: The Braves will be a complete mystery this season. They lost all eight of their all-state picks and all nine all-conference selections. But the past few years have show that if anyone can overcome losses like that, it’s Star Valley.
5. Rawlins: Coming off their best season in more than a decade, the Outlaws will be in a critical year for building their program. With some key players coming back, 2018 will be Rawlins’ chance to show last year’s success was more than just a flare-up.

1. Mountain View: The defending 2A champs won the title last year with a lot of seniors and a lot of sophomores. Of Mountain View’s five returning all-state players this year, four of them (Hunter Gross, Briggin Bluemel, Kimball Madsen and Braeden Walk) will be juniors in 2018. No team in 2A can match that experience.
2. Buffalo: The Bison are moving from 3A to 2A right about the time they’re ready for a title run. The squad returns three all-state picks in seniors Luke Glassock, Cody Milmine and Aaron Thiele, putting them in prime position for a deep playoff run immediately.
3. Glenrock: No squad in 2A has the backfield experience the Herders do with returning all-state picks Tucker Bopp and Ian Arnold, who combined for 3,495 rushing yards (yes, 3,495). The young line will need to develop, but the backfield pair should help the early growing pains.
4. Wheatland: The Bulldogs return a pair of all-state selections in seniors Colton Caves and Clayton Iacovetto and six total all-conference picks, more than anyone in 2A. And they’re buoyed by the confidence of a semifinal appearance a year ago. A coaching change always comes with difficulty, but the Bulldogs should adjust quickly.
5. Pinedale: The Wranglers this year feel like Big Piney last year — coming off a forgettable season but loaded with returners. All five of Pinedale’s all-conference choices are back, giving the Wranglers a wealth of talent from which to build.

1A 11-man
1. Big Horn: One of the state’s best young teams last year, the Rams return all six of their all-state selections from 2017. No team in 1A can match that, and it’s not often a returning runner-up can say that. With that kind of experience, Big Horn will be the prohibitive favorites from day one.
2. Pine Bluffs: The two-time defending 1A 11-man champions return four all-state selections and a ton of program momentum. With Andrew Fornstrom, Hunter Jeffres, James Merryfield and Brad Shmidl anchoring the returners, the Hornets will be big-time threats to win their third consecutive title.
3. Upton-Sundance: The Patriots get back four all-state picks from a team that was a possession away from reaching the state title game. All-staters Tanner Hofland and Jayden Caylor were US’s top two tacklers a year ago, giving an already strong defense the opportunity to be even better.
4. Cokeville: The Panthers lose a huge senior class full of talent, but it’s never a good idea to count out a Todd Dayton-coached team. The Panthers return all-state senior Bentley Johnson and all-conference pick Brayden Johnson to anchor this year’s squad.
5. Wind River: No team in the West can match what Wind River has back in terms of numbers of key players returning. With six returning all-conference selections, including five seniors, the Cougars may be in line for a breakout season.

1A six-man
1. Farson: Farson’s advantage comes in pure talent. The Pronghorns return two of six-man’s most dynamic players in Lain Mitchelson and Clancy Gines, and the pair of seniors have enough talent returning around them to be favorites for 2018.
2. Burlington: The Huskies showed last year that they’re not afraid of anyone. With all-state selection Jacob Cook leading them, the Huskies should stack up well against any team in six-man.
3. Snake River: The Rattlers return Riggen Myers, an all-state pick, and Trenton Jeanerett, an all-conference selection, to anchor the team this year. They have some talent to replace, too, but the returning core should keep the Rattlers competitive.
4. Kaycee: The three-time defending champs lost half of their 18 players to graduation, so rebuilding will be the priority. The Buckaroos still have all-stater Hunter Rouse to lead the team, but filling the holes around him will be challenging.
5. Hanna: The Miners were young last year — three sophomores made the all-conference team — and it showed early. But they came on late and showed huge potential. That experience should help Hanna challenge for the East crown.

Which teams do you think are ready for breakthroughs in 2018? Who do you think will be hauling trophies back from Laramie at the end of the season? Leave a comment and let’s talk about the 2018 football season way before it’s probably logical to do so.


The state championship games are 10 months away. Seems like the perfect time to predict who might win those games, right?

Here’s a peek at the 2017 top fives for each classification of Wyoming high school football, way sooner than is advisable to do so:

1. Sheridan: The two-time defending 4A champions return three all-state players (seniors Blayne Baker, Kyle Custis and Sam Smart) and tons of program momentum. The Broncs will need to find a new quarterback and rebuild big chunks of their line, but the precedent is there for Sheridan to do just that.
2. Natrona: No doubt, the most improved team in 4A last year was Natrona. The Mustangs relied a lot on juniors last year, and it showed early but paid off late — and will pay off big this year, as the Mustangs’ four returning all-state players (Mason Gallegos, Dan Slack, Brett Brenton and Riley Shepperson) is best among all 4A schools.
3. Gillette: With four first-team all-conference returning players, the Camels should be in good shape to challenge again. The big question hanging over the team in the offseason is how much talent will defect to Thunder Basin, putting into question something as simple as who’s back and who’s not.
4. Laramie: The Plainsmen are easy to overlook after losing a strong senior class, but they bring back three first-team all-conference players (seniors Nate Burman and Garrett Worden and junior Jason Upton) and are in great shape to notch their first winning season in almost two decades.
5. Rock Springs: This year is the test for the Tigers: Do they have a system that works, or did the players in that system the last couple years take it beyond expectations? With just a pair of first-team all-conference players back (senior linemen Bryan Mattinson and Will Petrovich), it’s time to see if the program can sustain itself.
Dark horse: Kelly Walsh. The Trojans had a nice breakthrough season in 2016; it’s easy to forget that KW hosted a playoff game last year. That should help build some momentum for a team that brings back only a pair of first-team all-conference picks.

1. Star Valley: The Braves have some holes to fill but bring back three all-state performers (seniors Josh Dawson, Cosmo Morgan and Noah Hutchinson), tied for the most in 3A. And then there’s the momentum of back-to-back championships.
2. Torrington: Six of the Trailblazers’ seven all-conference picks from a year ago are back. Yes, really. No team is in a better position to make an immediate run at a state title than Torrington; the key will be if it can continue to grow as the season (and this summer) goes along.
3. Powell: The Panthers were young but talented last year; they’ll have back three all-state picks from a team that finished as state runners-up. Seniors Brooks Asher and Max Gallagher will help make the Panthers a tough team to stop.
4. Green River: The Wolves will return four all-conference players, led by senior Cole White, Green River’s lone returning all-state selection. Quarterback Chance Hofer and running back Candon Croft could form one of 3A’s best 1-2 backfield punches in 2017; watch out.
5. Douglas: Riverton and Buffalo are lurking, but the Bearcats develop young talent as well as any team in the state, regardless of class. With just one of the 11 all-conference picks from last year returning this year, they’ll need to do so quickly.
Dark horse: Riverton. How many 3-6 teams actually outscore their opponents during the season? Riverton did just that in 2016. And the Wolverines get back a pair of offensive threats and defensive cornerstones in seniors Brodie Roden and Jaren Draper.

1. Glenrock: Believe it or not, no team in 2A brings back more than one all-state player this year. But the Herders also have back five all-conference players — highest in 2A — from a team that was undefeated until the semis.
2. Greybull: The Buffs lost a ton of seniors from last year’s state runner-up squad but return a pair of key all-conference players in senior Riley Hill and junior Zack Keisel.
3. Mountain View: The Buffalos’ depth will be a question, as seven all-conference players are gone, but Mountain View does return all-conference picks Jason Stoddard and Colby Rees and should be a contender again.
4. Lyman: The three all-conference players the Eagles return is second only to Big Piney in the West Conference. Beaudee Bluemel may be one of 2A’s most versatile players, while linemen Wesley Eyre and Dryden Menck will provide stability.
5. Wheatland: The Bulldogs get back a pair of all-conference players, and QB Trevor Vaughn and wideout Zac Gunter will form an explosive pairing. If the line can develop, the Bulldogs might be a surprise.
Dark horse: Big Piney. The Punchers were 1-7 last year but return all four of their all-conference players (most in the West Conference) after losing only a handful of talent to graduation.

1A 11-man
1. Big Horn: Last year’s 2A champ is the early favorite after moving down to 1A 11-man thanks to three returning all-state players. And Kade Eisele, Seth Mullinax and Kade VanDyken are all juniors — setting up the Rams for a title run not only this year but next year, too.
2. Cokeville: The Panthers are loaded. They return four of their five all-state players (Hunter Cheney, Rick Nate, Antheny Petersen and Cordell Viehweig will all be seniors) and six of seven all-conference choices. Cokeville’s stiffest challenge to a West Conference title will be injuries.
3. Pine Bluffs: Repeating as champs will be tough in a loaded 1A 11-man this year, but the Hornets are up to the challenge. They return three all-state choices with seniors Haize and Wyatt Fornstrom and junior Hunter Jeffres, and they’ll be buoyed by the confidence that comes from winning the school’s first state championship.
4. Upton-Sundance: Don’t write off the Patriots, who only return one all-state choice in Dawson Butts but have lost just twice in the past two years. There’s some rebuilding to do, but the Patriots’ pedigree for success runs deep.
5. Pick ’em: Any number of teams could fill this spot: Rocky Mountain, Saratoga, Shoshoni, Tongue River, Southeast… but all of them will rely on unproven talent to make a dent past the regular season.
Dark horse: Again, pick ’em. This will be a year of change in 1A 11-man. The four favorites are clear. Everything else looks muddy, muddy, muddy.

1A six-man
1. Kaycee: The defending champs ride a 20-game winning streak into 2017, and with class-best tallies in returning all-state players (four) and all-conference players (five), the Buckaroos are favorites to win it all again.
2. Farson: The Pronghorns were breakthrough challengers in the West and with three returning all-state players, they figure to challenge again. Juniors Lain Mitchelson and Clancy Gines and senior Cruz Lucero will put the Pronghorns in prime position to win the West for the second year in a row.
3. Meeteetse: The Longhorns return a trio of all-conference selections in seniors Braenn Smith and Josh Graybill and junior Kirwin Johnson. Meeteetse won’t be overlooked, but it will have work to do to catch up to Farson.
4. Snake River: The Rattlers get back one of six-man’s top players in J.D. Corson and two other returning all-conference selections in Kameron Evans and Thomas Duncan. But they’ll have to adjust to a new coach, which always takes time.
5. Guernsey-Sunrise: The most likely challenger to Kaycee in the East, the Vikings return three all-conference selections. Seniors Garrett Oneyear and Gage Koetmann and junior Dylan Rose will keep the Vikings in contention.
Dark horse: Burlington. The Huskies proved they could hang with six-man’s best last year. However, they only get back one all-conference player, and have some work to do to prove they can remain one of the West’s tougher teams to beat.

What do you think? Who’s poised for a breakthrough in 2017? Who’s falling off the radar too soon? Post a comment and let’s work through what the 2017 season may bring us!


Football season never stops at That’s why even though it’s snowy and cold, we can’t look forward to a time when, um, it’ll be snowy and cold again…. Anyway, here are my way-too-early predictions for the 2016 season, which certainly could change by August, and again by November, thanks to any number of factors. For now, though:

Class 4A
1. Gillette: The Camels are the only team in 4A returning more than one all-state selection. Lineman Lane Tucker and receiver Madden Pikula were so honored last year, and their returns give Gillette one of the stronger returning senior classes in 4A this fall. The trick will be finding ways to replace the nine all-conference selections the Camels lost to graduation.
2. Cheyenne East: The Thunderbirds return half of their 10 all-conference selections and will be a tough team to beat because of that experience. Lineman Jacob Ross is East’s only returning all-state selection, but he’ll have more help surrounding him than is immediately apparent.
3. Rock Springs: Matt Fowler might be the best returning running back in the state next fall, and he has two things going for him: He’s part of an offense that focuses on the run, and he’s surrounded by stronger and more talented players than the Tigers have had in probably a decade.
4. Sheridan: The defending champs lost a ton to graduation. It’ll be tough for the Broncs to repeat, but they’ve got the system and the coaching to stay competitive. Lineman Jacob Hallam is Sheridan’s only returning all-state — or all-conference — selection, and the Broncs will need to build around him.
5. Natrona: Inertia alone has the Mustangs here. Even though it loses all 10 of its all-conference picks to graduation, NC typically fields one of the state’s best teams. Nearly the same thing happened last year, and Natrona remained near the top of 4A. The names will be new, but the results won’t.
Dark horse: Laramie. The Plainsmen return a trio of all-conference players, and they’re all on the outside — QB Taylor Dodd, WR/DB Connor Beeston and LB Carless Looney. If the Plainsmen get some linemen to step up, they could be really dangerous.

Class 3A
1. Star Valley: The Braves showed how talented they were in their run to a 3A title last year. And with three all-staters back this year (Kellen Hansen, Collin McGinley and McCabe Smith), more than all but one school in the class, the Braves will be the early 3A favorites, even with a new head coach.
2. Douglas: The Bearcats had a down year last year, finishing with a losing record for the first time under Jay Rhoades. That happened in part because they had a bunch of juniors on the field who were busy gaining experience. Douglas returns six of its seven all-conference players and has all three all-state selections (Zach Hoopman, Eric Jamerman and Gage Pitt) back this fall, numbers — and maybe talent — no other 3A school can match.
3. Jackson: The Broncs will be interesting to watch. Their centerpiece, running back Theo Dawson, will be gone. But that might make Jackson more diverse, opening up opportunities for a young but talented group of returning players.
4. Green River: Last year’s breakthrough season will be difficult to repeat, but the Wolves showed they have the ability to compete with, and beat, anyone in 3A. Much like Jackson, though, Green River has to show it can overcome the loss of its offense’s centerpiece player — Tyler Vendetti — to graduation.
5. Riverton: The Wolverines have three returning all-conference players, and all-stater Teron Doebele will lead a team that will be easy to overlook this offseason but will probably start turning heads sooner rather than later.
Dark horse: Torrington. The Trailblazers lost eight all-conference selections from last year’s East Conference championship team. Will they be able to recover from that? Maybe, but young players will need to show they’re ready for the varsity level.

Class 2A
1. Glenrock: Last year’s state runners-up have the early edge in what will be a wild, wide-open title race in 2A. Glenrock has five all-conference and a classification-high three all-state players (Logan Downs, Cooper Fargen and Garrett Schwindt) back for 2016, and that talent has now tasted success. They’ll be raring for more.
2. Big Horn: The Rams will be one of the classification’s more talented teams, with all-staters Nolan McCafferty and Colton Williams anchoring a crew that will see five all-conference players return. Lest we forget, Big Horn was the only program last year to find a way to beat Wheatland in 2015.
3. Greybull: The Buffs won’t sneak up on anyone this fall. After all, they’ve got six all-conference players coming back, more than any other team in 2A, and returning all-staters Dawson Forcella and Gabe Keisel should provide stability to a team ready for a big breakthrough.
4. Lovell: The defending West Conference champions return more than half of their all-conference selections and should be primed for another deep playoff run. Losing three-year starter Beau Green under center won’t help, but if someone can fill his shoes, watch out.
5. Wheatland: The senior class the Bulldogs lost will be difficult if not impossible to replace. Even so, Wheatland should stay competitive thanks in part to a pair of returning all-staters (Josh Madsen and Jacob Ward) and a crew of underclassmen that knows what it takes to win it all.
Dark horse: Mountain View. The Buffalos have five returning all-conference players and should be able to hang with anyone in the state. Told you 2A was gonna be wild.

Class 1A 11-man
1. Upton-Sundance: This really isn’t fair. The Patriots had six all-state selections from their 2015 title team, and four of them — seniors Hunter Woodard, John Sullivan and Thomas Davis and junior Dawson Butts — will return for 2016. U-S will start the season at No. 1, and until someone proves otherwise, this is their spot (and title) to lose.
2. Shoshoni: The Wranglers’ disappointing end to 2015 is tempered a bit in the knowledge that they return six of their eight all-conference selections from a team that ran through the regular season undefeated. J.J. Pingetzer and Jason Thoren were all-state picks last year and front a hungry team.
3. Tongue River: Now that the Eagles know how to win, they’ll be tough to stop. They return three all-conference and a pair of all-state selections (Cody Buller and Brennan Kutterer), and now that they’ve had the experience of playing at The War, they should carry that momentum into the offseason.
4. Rocky Mountain: Of all the sleeper teams in 1A 11-man (a long list that includes Pine Bluffs, Wright, Southeast and others), the Grizzlies are at the top. That’s because they return four-fifths of their all-conference selections, meaning they have enough raw talent to play with any team in the classification.
5. Cokeville: The Panthers were young in 2015 and will be young again in 2016, but the 2016 squad will be up to the challenge. Senior Trenton King and juniors Rick Nate and Cordell Viehweig will give stability and leadership to a team that’s always tough to top.
Dark horse: Southeast. Honestly, the Cyclones could be a top-tier team by the end of the season. They’ll need some time to grow, but they proved last year they won’t be intimidated and that they can play with any team in 1A 11-man.

Class 1A six-man
1. Meeteetse: In a weird twist, the Longhorns had seven players selected to the West Conference’s all-conference team. That’s just how deep they were last year. Of those, four will be back, including all-stater and multipurpose threat Dalton Abarr. That will give the Longhorns the early edge.
2. Kaycee: The defending champs will lose some talented players to graduation, but the return of a pair of all-state selections in junior Mark Largent and senior Reed Stafford will make the Buckaroos the favorites in the East and one of the top teams statewide.
3. Lingle: Even though the Doggers aren’t going to be eligible for the playoffs, they should field one of the better six-man teams in the state. They have the talent — both Garrett Cooper and Dallen Fleenor return as 11-man all-state selections from 2015 — so the speed at which the Doggers adapt to six-man may determine how well their season goes.
4. Snake River: The Rattlers return three all-conference selections and an all-state pick in junior J.D. Corson. With only six returning all-state selections in the entire classification, simply having one back will give Snake River a centerpiece around which to build, something most teams in six-man next year won’t have the luxury of possessing.
5. Farson: The Pronghorns — along with Snake River and six-man newcomers Riverside and Burlington — will be busy chasing down Meeteetse as the early West Conference favorites. But the Pronghorns do return three all-conference selections, and their experience will give them an edge.
Dark horse: Riverside. Just like Lingle, the Rebels’ successful adaptation to six-man will depend on the speed at which the players and coaches can learn the game. The quicker that process goes, the more dangerous the Rebels will be — well, at least for the regular season.

How about you? Who do you have winning state titles in 2016? How would you break down the top five teams in your favorite classification? Who’s going to surprise us? Post a comment and let’s talk football at a time that’s way too early to be talking football.


The 2015 season will be my 11th making public predictions in advance of a Wyoming high school football season.

Some predictions have worked out. Even more have not.


I started making predictions in 2005, my first year with the Casper Star-Tribune. Since leaving the CST in 2009, I have continued making preseason picks on this blog.

The methods have varied from year to year, and it wasn’t until 2011 that I started picking every place for every conference. In those four years of preseason picks, I’ve nailed down a team’s end-of-season spot in its respective conference standings 110 times. I’ve missed it 141 times.

Big misses motivate me to do better. My worst single pick came in 2011, when I picked Rocky Mountain to finish second in the Class 1A 11-man East; the Grizzlies finished seventh. I also missed big on Natrona in 2011 (picked fifth, finished first), Shoshoni in 2011 (picked eighth, finished fourth), Big Horn in 2012 (picked fifth, finished first) and Saratoga in 2012 (picked second, finished sixth).

As I looked deeper at my picks, I tried to decipher where I go wrong and how I can improve my preseason predictions. I looked at classifications (am I better at some classes than others?) as well as individual teams (do I perennially overrate or underrate certain programs?).

Here’s what I found:

Patrick’s most overrated teams, since 2011: Evanston (-6), Rock Springs (-5), Burns (-5), Buffalo (-4), Powell (-4), Southeast (-4).

Patrick’s most underrated teams, since 2011: Shoshoni (+7), Kelly Walsh (+4), Jackson (+4).

(The number represents the total number of places in the conference standings that these teams have finished compared to my predictions. It’s an aggregate number since 2011.)


I also tried to look at the teams with the most variance — not necessarily whether the team finished better or worse than my prediction but if they finished differently than what I had picked. The numbers in parentheses here represent those the absolute values of the placings of the programs as compared to my picks.

Patrick’s easiest teams to pick, since 2011: Cokeville (0), Cheyenne East, Cheyenne South, Douglas, Riverton, Pine Bluffs, Wyoming Indian, Kaycee, Midwest, Hulett, NSI, Dubois, Snake River (1).

Patrick’s toughest teams to pick, since 2011: Natrona (8), Rocky Mountain (8), Rock Springs (7), Burns (7), Shoshoni (7), Saratoga (7).


When I broke my predictions down by class, I found that when I looked at the total potential points available and my variance from that, I found that I was best at picking Class 1A six-man (15.1 percent variance) and worst at picking Class 2A (25.3 percent). In between were Class 4A (18.2 percent), Class 1A 11-man (24 percent) and Class 3A (25 percent).

In my defense, I’d argue that six-man is simply more predictable than 2A….


My state title predictions, meanwhile, date back the full 11 years to 2005 (with the exception of 2011, when I only did conference predictions but no full state predictions and no published preseason top five). In those 10 years, I’ve successfully picked the state champion in the preseason less than half the time (23 out of 50).

However, only a handful of preseason No. 1 choices didn’t reach the title game, and even fewer preseason No. 1s (Powell in 2014, Natrona in 2007, Tongue River in 2007 and Big Horn in 2006) didn’t reach the semifinals. Every preseason No. 1 made the playoffs, though…

And almost every eventual state champion was ranked in my preseason top two. Only five times did the eventual state champ come from outside my preseason top five (Snake River and Thermopolis in 2010, Cheyenne East and Jackson in 2007 and Kemmerer in 2005).


The tl;dr version? I’ve picked the state champion right in the preseason less than half the time. Natrona and Rocky Mountain are hard to pick; Cokeville’s easy. I overrate Evanston and underrate Shoshoni. I’m good at picking six-man and not so good at 2A.

Most of all, preseason predictions are for fun. On the scoreboard, they mean absolutely nothing. These preseason rankings have no effect on the result of any single game. You’ll notice my site doesn’t track preseason polls; it tracks game results.

Part of the beauty of a season is the season itself. Teams rise past expectations — or fall short — all the time. Injuries, slumps, streaks, upsets and distractions affect seasons way more than what we talk about in the preseason.

No matter what the preseason ranking, every team starts 0-0. There’s a certain amount of beauty in that.


We have a lot of time between now and Nov. 13-14. And a lot can happen in 10 months — injuries, transfers, coaching changes, offseason training, growth spurts and more will all influence who wins the championship trophy in Laramie this November.

That doesn’t mean we can’t look ahead to see who might win the title next season, though.

With the state championship games still 10 months away, here are my pre-preseason top 5 teams for each classification:

Class 4A
1. Gillette: The Camels always reload well, as the program has great numbers and great tradition. But Gillette also returns talent, with Super 25er Zach Taylor and OL Lane Tucker to anchor each side of the ball.
2. Sheridan: Returning three all-conference players on offense in QB Blake Godwin, RB Evan Coon and OL Davis Alden will help the Broncs transition into 2015 easily.
3. Natrona: One of the best senior classes in state history will be gone. But that doesn’t mean the Mustangs have an empty cupboard. They never do.
4. Cheyenne East
: The T-Birds lose a lot, but also have a couple rocks to anchor the defense in lineman Quin Happold and linebacker Jack Danni. They’ll need to find some offensive playmakers, though.
5. Cheyenne South: The Bison should be better than they’ve ever been with three all-conference players back in Nik Seui, Marquez Jefferson and Isaac McHenry. Only Sheridan has more all-conference players back this year than South.
Dark horse: Cheyenne Central. The Indians improved a ton from Week 0 to Week 8 in 2014, but they’ll need to replace some key players.

Class 3A
1. Jackson: Super 25 RB Theo Dawson is the centerpiece, but three other returning all-conference players (Dillon Hartranft, Keegan Bommer and Ryan Johnston) give the Broncs enough depth to improve on last year’s early playoff exit.
2. Cody: Granted, the Broncs lost a ton of star players. But Cameron Myers and Blake Hinze and a host of other underclassmen played key parts on 2014’s title team. And they’re confident now.
3. Torrington: The Trailblazers, with Super 25 RB Skyler Miller, are poised for another breakout season — if they can replace an underrated senior class.
4. Douglas: Every single one of the Bearcats’ nine all-conference selections last year was a senior. However, if anyone can reload in a hurry, it’s Douglas.
5. Rawlins: The Outlaws’ improvement will continue in coach Corey Wheeler’s second year — the second year is always better — as he returns key players in QB Jace Allard and lineman J.D. Smith.
Dark horse: Riverton. Every single all-conference player graduated. Can the Wolverines replace them and stay in the top half of what’s now a competitive East Conference?

Class 2A
1. Wheatland: The Bulldogs return all four of their all-state selections (Justis Borton, Josh Calvert, Daniel Chesser and Nathan Willis), by far the most in 2A. A trip to last year’s semifinals should give Wheatland the experience, and the hunger, to reach Laramie.
2. Mountain View: The defending champs lose a lot to graduation but also retain three all-staters in Dalton Hereford, Dusty Iorg and Kale Iorg. The defense will be stout; the offense remains the question mark.
3. Big Horn: You can’t count out the Rams. Big Horn will rely a lot on their three all-conference returners, seniors Brice Beisher and Collin Powers and junior Nolan McCafferty, to make up for the loss of a deep, and speedy, senior class.
4. Thermopolis: The Bobcats have one of the classification’s most talented running backs in Tyler Cornwell, and he’s surrounded by experienced players who can get the job done.
5. Glenrock: The Herders return all five of their all-conference players and could be a legit contender, but they’ll have to survive a stacked East Conference.
Dark horse: Greybull. Yes, all-everything player Calder Forcella graduated. But the Buffs return a trio of all-conference role players (Lane Nielsen, Dawson McEwan and Elias Ewen) who can keep the program steady.

Class 1A 11-man
1. Cokeville: The Panthers are No. 1 by default, because that’s what consistency earns you. The Panthers’ deep senior class is gone, but Jackson Linford, Ellis Toomer and Trent King were all-conference selections last year (Linford and Toomer were all-state, too), and they will lead the transition year.
2. Lingle: Last year’s East Conference runners-up are stacked for a run at the title game this year, as seniors Dillon Forkner, Colten Wunder and Brice Hill and junior Dallen Fleenor will give the Doggers both depth and experience.
3. Shoshoni: After an 0-3 start, the Wranglers went on a tear last year, and they’ll be tough to stop this year as they return both of their all-state selections (seniors Patrick Forster and Conner Wilkinson) and juniors J.J. Pingetzer and Jason Thoren.
4. Lusk: I feel really scared ranking the Tigers this low, but seven of Lusk’s eight all-conference players are gone. That leaves returning all-stater Logan Lamar to lead a thinner, possibly rebuilding, team.
5. Upton-Sundance: The Patriots have to replace RB Jett Materi, but a pair of senior all-conference returners, Rourke McPeters and Cole Ingrahm, give U-S a good place from which to build.
Dark horses: Rocky Mountain and Tongue River. Both lost some key seniors, but both return a bevy of role players from competitive teams.

Class 1A six-man
1. Meeteetse: In terms of straight-up talent, the Longhorns return more than any other team in six-man. Carter Johnson and Dalton Abarr were both all-state picks and Scott Sessions and Shawn Shepperson also have proven abilities.
2. Kaycee: All-stater Taylor Rouse has been as consistent as a player can be. If his senior classmates surround him and give him some help, the Buckaroos could be in Laramie.
3. Guernsey-Sunrise: An athletic senior class departs, but all-state selections Forest Foos and Seth Frederick played important parts in last year’s title run and will lead the Vikings next season.
4. Farson: The Pronghorns’ only all-state selection, Lynndon Lehmann, graduated, but the team returns every other all-conference player. Seniors Kelton Broadhead, Neale Jones and Isaac Orozco give Farson consistency and athleticism.
5. Dubois: Last year’s state runners-up graduated the bulk of their key players, but the Rams could surprise out west thanks to returning all-stater Zac Rose.
Dark horse: Snake River. Who knows how the Rattlers will handle losing a talented senior class? Returning all-conference selection Braden Duncan gives Snake River a good start.

Who do you think will haul home the first-place trophy from Laramie next November? Post a comment and let’s talk about this, way way way way before it’s logical to do so.


Four questions to answer

Will Gillette and Natrona play again in Laramie in mid-November? Although anything can happen in 4A, right now the Mustangs and Camels are the favorites to meet for the 4A title at The War. Of the 11 returning all-state players, six belong to either the Camels or Mustangs (three apiece). Given that talent disparity, the odds are on the Camels and Mustangs to play again for the 4A title.

Can anyone crack the vice grip the top four schools have on 4A? In short, probably not this season. Cheyenne East, Sheridan, Gillette and Natrona have made up the Class 4A semifinal field each of the past three seasons. And of the 11 aforementioned returning all-staters, 10 belong to these four schools — Kelly Walsh lineman Alex Pietrzak is the only returning all-stater not from one of these four schools.

Humor us… Which team has the best chance at breaking that vice grip? Probably Kelly Walsh. The Trojans have shown steady improvement in Jon Vance’s two years — from 2-7 in 2011 to 4-6 in 2012 — and if that improvement continues, KW could be a darkhorse contender for a semifinal appearance, or more.

Is this the year South breaks its streak? Hopefully. Winless in their first 18 varsity contests, the Bison were much more competitive in 2012 than they were in 2011 and nearly upset Evanston in the sixth game of the season last year. Although the Bison still face a talent and tradition disparity from the rest of the schools in 4A, they have several advantages in 2013 — another year together, a kinder schedule and, maybe most importantly, a desire to put the losing streak behind them.

Four players to watch

Taven Bryan, Natrona. The first Wyoming recruit in recent memory to secure an offer from an SEC school (Florida), Bryan, a lineman, could play either side of the ball in college. That versatility makes him a tremendous weapon for the Mustangs in his senior year. The only question is if the expectations are distractors or motivators for this multitalented athlete.

Austin Fort, Gillette. A University of Wyoming commit, Fort moved to Gillette last year and almost automatically became one of the best quarterbacks in the state. His big arm, his size and his mobility made him the perfect fit for the Camels’ diverse offensive attack. He led 4A in completions (160) and passing yards (2,137) last year, and if he can rein in his interception total from a year ago (he threw 14 picks), he could lead Gillette back to Laramie for the second year in a row.

Tevis Bartlett, Cheyenne East. The junior will be THE key to East’s offense in 2013. He was the only 11-man player in the state last year to run for more than 1,000 yards (1,093) and throw for more than 1,000 yards (1,393). Even though his yardage totals may not hold up as teams key on him more, he will likely have to shoulder a bigger burden in terms of leadership than he did a year ago.

Billy Williams, Gillette. Williams makes this list for one simple reason: He’s a tackling machine. The linebacker is Class 4A’s top returning tackler; he led 4A in solo tackles (45) a year ago and also added four turnovers (two fumble recoveries, two interceptions) and four tackles for loss. He was one of only five players in 4A last year to rack up more than 16 defensive points per game, and the other four have graduated. …

Four key games

Gillette at Natrona, Sept. 20. Last year’s regular-season showdown featured two undefeated teams; the two teams met three weeks later to play for the state title. This year’s meeting is much earlier in the calendar (Week 3 instead of Week 8), but the game will likely have just as big an affect on the seeding for the playoffs.

All of Week 5. Rivalry Week is back, as the Oil Bowl (Kelly Walsh-Natrona), Energy Bowl (Sheridan-Gillette) and Capital Bowl (East-Central) are all slated for the week of Oct. 4. Just as key, though, are the other two 4A games that week (Laramie at South and Evanston at Rock Springs), both of which are games that could decide playoff qualification.

Kelly Walsh at Sheridan, Sept. 6. Is Kelly Walsh’s program truly growing into one of 4A’s best? We’ll find out in a hurry in 2013, as the Trojans face Gillette and Sheridan the first two weeks of the season. Arguably the bigger game is the road opener against the Broncs, the team that has knocked KW out of the playoffs three of the past four years.

Gillette at Cheyenne East, Oct. 25. Both the Camels and the Thunderbirds have reached the 4A semifinals each of the past three seasons. To secure hosting duties and high seeds in the playoffs, a victory in this Week 8 game could be crucial. After all, the road to Laramie is a lot easier if the only bus trip is the one TO Laramie.

Predicted order of finish

Natrona; Gillette; Cheyenne East; Sheridan; Kelly Walsh; Cheyenne Central; Rock Springs; Evanston; Cheyenne South; Laramie.

Way-too-early title-game score prediction

This is Natrona’s year. Again. But Gillette stands in the way. Again. Natrona 28, Gillette 14.


Only two schools in Wyoming have had a player in the Shrine Bowl in each of its 40 years. They’re both current Class 4A schools. Which schools are they?

Classification’s 2013 theme song

Is the 4A title really Natrona’s to lose? Will 2013 be the fourth year in a row we see the “Big Four” in the semis? Who has the best chance of throwing a kink in that tradition? Comment below and let me know what big schools you’re watching this year.


Four questions to answer

Powell, right? Yep. Powell is quite clearly the 3A favorite this year. With six of their nine all-state players coming back, and riding the momentum of back-to-back state championships and a 15-game winning streak, the Panthers are the team to catch.

So who can catch Powell? Given the right circumstances, a number of teams have the potential to topple the Panthers off their championship perch. Cody returns all four of its all-state selections; Star Valley returns a pair of all-staters and nearly knocked off Powell in last year’s title game; Green River, Douglas and Buffalo are perennial contenders and should compete again this fall. The path from Powell to Laramie is well-worn, but it’s not free of sinkholes just yet….

What affect will coaching turnover have in 3A? Quite a bit, actually. New coaches in Cody (Matt McFadden) and Riverton (Pat Patterson) will affect their conferences dramatically — McFadden and Cody in how it handles higher expectations and a load of talent, Patterson and Riverton in how it handles the target that comes with winning a conference title and the fallout of a shocking first-round playoff loss.

Will the East Conference actually win a playoff game this year? Maybe not. The power in 3A this year is quite clearly in the West. Of the 13 returning all-state selections, 12 are in the West Conference. Unless the East develops young talent quickly this season, a second consecutive first-round sweep for West Conference teams is a distinct possibility.

Four players to watch

Tony Lujan, Garrett Lynch and Brendan Phister, Powell. Really, I could make all four “players to watch” come from Powell, but out of fairness to the other schools, I’ll group these three together. And what a group it is — Lujan, Lynch and Phister are all already two-time first-team all-state choices, and it’s their leadership that could help lead Powell to a third consecutive state title.

Logan Barker, Douglas. The senior was the East Conference’s defensive player of the year last year, and he’s the only returning East Conference player who was an all-state selection last year. He was also Douglas’ leading rusher last season with 1,008 yards.

Carter Myers, Cody. Myers is the Broncs’ Mr. Everything. As a sophomore, he led Cody in assisted tackles but showed his diversity by notching a fumble recovery, an interception AND a blocked kick on defense, as well. Oh, and he was the team’s No. 2 rusher, No. 3 receiver, No. 2 scorer and top kicker.

Trace Haderlie, Star Valley. Haderlie is 3A’s top returning quarterback; the all-state choice threw for a 3A-best 1,605 yards last season and tossed 16 touchdowns. As the Braves continue to emphasize the passing game, Haderlie’s abilities will help key Star Valley’s success in 2013.

Four key games

Douglas at Buffalo, Sept. 27. Although Riverton is the defending East Conference champion, the Bearcats and Bison have long been the East’s top programs. And a victory in the conference opener is essential to getting a leg up in the race for the conference championship.

Powell at Star Valley, Oct. 4. The angle here is simple: Powell has won the 3A state championship two years in a row, beat Star Valley in last year’s title game and comes into the season with the state’s longest active winning streak. The catch? Powell hasn’t won in Afton since 1999. This game may be Powell’s biggest hurdle to a third consecutive trip to Laramie.

Cody at Powell, Oct. 18. Ten — count ’em, 10 — returning all-state players are slated to play in this game, four for Cody and six for Powell. That alone should make this game worth the price of admission, but the heated nature of one of the state’s oldest rivalries helps make the game a must-see.

Riverton at Lander, Oct. 24. In 2011, Lander was the East’s “it” team in the regular season, but after a 7-1 regular season, the Tigers lost in the quarterfinals. In 2012, Riverton was dubbed “it” after winning the conference championship, but the Wolverines, too, didn’t win a game in the playoffs. Success for the Fremont County schools the postseason in 2013 may depend on ending the regular season the right way here.

Predicted order of finish

East: Douglas, Buffalo, Riverton, Lander, Torrington, Rawlins. West: Powell, Star Valley, Cody, Green River, Jackson, Worland.

Way-too-early title-game score prediction

If you believe the hype, the only question is who Powell will beat in the title game. I’ll believe it. Powell 24, Star Valley 14.


Now that Rawlins’ losing streak is over, which Wyoming team has the longest active losing streak, entering 2013?

Classification’s 2013 theme song

Powell, Powell, Powell… right? Who do you think has the best chance of knocking the Panthers off their title perch? Can anyone end the winning streak? Comment below and let me know!

Next Thursday: Class 4A.


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