As Sheridan enters the 2024 season on a 31-game winning streak, the talk of a state record is inescapable.
Sheridan is just three games away from tying, and four games from breaking, the winning streak of 34 games set by Laramie from 1959-63. The Broncs are also six games from breaking Worland’s unbeaten streak of 36 games (34-0-2), set from 1953-56.
Already, Sheridan’s winning streak is the longest of the past 60 years of Wyoming high school football.
But four games from the winning streak record and six games from the unbeaten streak record, another football winning streak from a Wyoming high school looms like a ghost over them all.
Now-defunct Byron High School, a community in northwestern Wyoming that now provides a big chunk of the students for Rocky Mountain High School, has a streak that could top them all.
The Eagles, in a streak from 1945 to 1950, won 43 consecutive games. Or 42. Or 35. Or 33. Or 28. Or maybe it was a conference winning streak. Not sure.
That uncertainty of the actual length of the streak keeps it from being listed at the claimed length of 43 on this site’s state record streaks.
We do know when the streak ended. Here’s a portion of a report in the Billings Gazette from Oct. 14, 1950:
“The Cowley Jaguars, relying heavily on a good passing attack, defeated the Byron six-man football team, 35 to 6, at Byron Friday to halt a 43-game winning streak by the Eagles who established a national record. The Big Horn Basin conference defeat was the first for Coach W.A. Mower’s team since 1944.”
Yep. A Wyoming team held the national six-man record for consecutive victories.
Of the 43 games claimed as a part of this streak, only 28 can be verified — one to end the season in 1945, four in 1946, five in 1947, seven in 1948, eight in 1949 and three to start the season in 1950.
Trying to count Byron’s 43 victories feels like chasing ghosts, a pursuit of phantom games that exist only in a tally but not independently, separate from it.
The problems in the count are immediately evident from the report above. We know Byron lost at least one game in 1945, that a 34-12 loss to Bridger, Mont., on Oct. 26. Already, we have a direct contradiction to the idea in the article that the streak started in 1944. That said, the loss to Bridger was a nonconference game, and Byron’s last conference loss did come in 1944, that a 54-6 loss to Basin.
So maybe the streak was just conference games? If the Bridger loss in 1945 isn’t counted, the streak grows to 33. Byron’s final game of the 1944 season was a 46-0 loss to the Heart Mountain JV team. If you don’t count that nonconference game, then the streak grows to 35, with that 48-point loss to Basin interrupting the win streak — except, one thing. We don’t know what date the Basin game was played on.
With all that in mind, we have a much harder time figuring out when the streak started in the midst of all of that rigmarole.
Finding the starting point isn’t the only problem. Games also might be missing from the middle of the streak.
A Nov. 6, 1946, Billings Gazette report says Byron had “six conference wins” during the 1946 season by a total margin of 241-66 for the Eagles’ “second undefeated season.” (Again, are we not counting that Bridger loss in 1945?) But only four games in that season are accounted for. Chasing ghosts.
A year later, a Nov. 15, 1947, Billings Gazette report says the 1947 Eagles finished 6-0 in conference play with a scoring margin of 271-66. But only five games are listed in the article — not coincidentally, the five games listed on this site. The game had to come before Oct. 17, though… as an Oct. 20, 1947, report in the Gazette noted Byron’s victory against Cowley was the team’s fourth consecutive victory that season. On this site, it’s Byron’s third game. Another phantom.
Finally, as the Eagles polished off another championship in 1949 by beating Reliance in the title game, another Billings Gazette report said the title-game victory was Byron’s 40th in a row over a five-year period; another Gazette report earlier in the month said Byron hadn’t lost since losing to Bridger in 1944. Two problems: Byron and Bridger didn’t play in 1944; they played in 1945. And a five-year period only goes back to 1945.
To get to 43 victories between the Bridger loss on Oct. 26, 1945, and the Cowley loss on Oct. 13, 1950, the Eagles would have played more than eight games per season. It’s possible… but knowing the Eagles only played six games in 1947, right in the middle of the streak, puts a big question mark on the veracity of that mark of 43. Right now, no full season in Byron’s streak has more than eight verified games.
In short, right now, the only way Byron’s streak gets to 43 consecutive victories is if you don’t count losses. And, well, that’s antithetical to the idea of a winning streak. Even then, we’re still eight games short.
Let’s make this a little more confusing. A note in the May 3, 1951, Casper Star-Tribune said the “Six-man Football” magazine listed Byron’s national record at 42 games, not 43. The Billings Gazette echoed the 42-game mark in an article in December of that same year. The reason for all this attention to Byron’s record at the end of 1951? Well, the record, whatever it was, did not last a year. Claremont, South Dakota, overtook Byron for the national six-man record and had won 44 straight by the end of the 1951 season on its way to a 61-game winning streak.
I have always been hesitant to list Byron’s alleged 43-game winning streak as Wyoming’s best. The math just never added up. The ghosts are just too elusive.
Yet, as Sheridan engages in a chase for state records this fall, I felt it was important to at least acknowledge the possibility that the Eagles did, indeed, win 43 straight. It’s possible the Eagles have had the record all along. It’s possible that Sheridan could go 12-0 again in 2024 and still only have enough victories to tie Byron for the record.
But I don’t believe in ghosts. I believe in what I can see. For now, I see 28 games. And for me, that’s what Byron’s win streak has to be.