The 2023 state football championships — and the 2023 season — are done. Here’s a quick look at how the championship games turned out:
Class 1A six-man: Snake River’s 30-game winning streak came to an end after Burlington stopped the Rattlers four times inside the 10-yard line — including a fourth-and-inches play — in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter to preserve its 42-39 victory. The Huskies won their third state championship and their first since 1994 and thwarted Snake River’s three-peat attempt. Joe Bassett’s receiving touchdown in the fourth quarter gave the Huskies the lead for good in a game that was tight throughout; after a quick Burlington start, the game was tied at 26 at halftime.
Class 1A nine-man: In the Class 1A nine-man title game, the first quarter belonged to Wind River. The rest of the game belonged to Big Piney. The Punchers rallied from a 14-0 deficit and scored the game’s next 39 points to win going away, 39-14. Big Piney won its ninth state title in program history and its first since 2006.
Class 2A: The 2A game — for the third straight year — came down to extra points. Torrington made all four of its, while Big Horn missed two of its four (one kick and one two-point), and the Trailblazers won 28-26. The Trailblazers never trailed and won their first state championship since 1990 after several close calls, finishing as runners-up in 1992, 1996, 2017, 2018 and 2020. Big Horn was playing in its 15th state championship game since 2000 and was denied an opportunity to repeat as state champion. Torrington will head to Class 3A next season.
Class 3A: The 3A championship was anticlimactic, as Star Valley never let Cody into the game and won going away, 27-0. The Broncs did have opportunities, making it inside Star Valley’s 20-yard line four times, but the Braves held each of the four times, including a block field goal in the first half. The Braves rode Smith McClure’s offensive production, as the quarterback ran for three touchdowns and threw another. Star Valley won its 14th state championship and its sixth title in the past nine years.
Class 4A: Speaking of anticlimactic, Sheridan absolutely had its way with Cheyenne East to win the Class 4A title, with the Broncs winning 31-3. In winning yet another championship — the program’s 30th — the Broncs finished their second three-peat of the decade. Along the way, the Broncs finished 2023 with 608 points, a new state 11-man record.
Here are the results of my picks from last week and this season:
Last week: 3-2 (60 percent). This season: 266-49 (84 percent). 19-year overall mark: 4,621-1,092 (81 percent).
And with that, the 2023 season has come to a close. Site updates will be coming over the next week or so, with individual team pages getting the 2023 season data added to them as soon as I can.
Got a thought on how the 2023 season ended? Leave a comment here, or hit me up on the Facebook page or on Twitter.
I think I’ve used this simile before on this site, but it’s so apt that I’m going to use it again. I have heard the championship game of a season is like the ending of a great mystery novel. It brings closure, resolution, a sense of certainty to all the twists and turns you’ve seen transpire before you.
This weekend, we have some opportunities to see something special in each of the five games. Two teams — Sheridan and Snake River — enter Laramie with 30 consecutive victories apiece behind them. In 3A, the two most dominant programs of the decade meet yet again in a rivalry that, despite the familiarity, never seems to get old. Class 1A nine-man will deliver a champion from two teams, neither of which have ever played in War Memorial Stadium. And 2A could deliver us the best game of the weekend, just as it has each of the past couple years.
Class 4A, 4 p.m. Saturday Cheyenne East (2, 10-1) vs. Sheridan (1, 11-0) Series record: Sheridan leads 33-15. Last meeting: Sheridan beat Cheyenne East 44-37 on Sept. 29 in Cheyenne. Last playoff meeting: Sheridan beat Cheyenne East 34-23 on Nov. 12, 2022, in the Class 4A championship game in Laramie. State championships: Cheyenne East five, most recently in 2020. … Sheridan 29, most recently in 2022. Previous title game record: Cheyenne East, 5-4. … Sheridan, 19-7. The path to the title game: Cheyenne East topped Rock Springs 42-14 in the quarterfinals and outlasted Natrona 17-10 in the semifinals. … Sheridan rolled over its first two playoff opponents, beating Kelly Walsh 59-0 in the quarterfinals and Thunder Basin 62-7 in the semifinals. The case for the Thunderbirds: In almost every statistical measure, East’s offense may be the best we’ve ever seen. In total yards, attempts per game, touchdowns — East leads it all, by wide margins. Cam Hayes is piling up huge numbers at quarterback; Drew Jackson is one of the state’s top rushers and receivers; a variety of receivers force teams to cover the whole field. The defense, ranked No. 2 in the state, has shown up, as well — and for as fast as East’s offense moves, the fact that its defense has kept up is astonishing. The case for the Broncs: A huge chunk of the recipe that works for Sheridan is that the Broncs never, ever beat themselves. They’ve had just six turnovers this season, fewest in 4A, while forcing 28, the most in 4A. That’s why teams with more efficient offenses or better defenses on paper struggle when they go up against the Broncs — because if you want to beat Sheridan, you have to be basically perfect in every aspect of the game. That’s the recipe that has led to 30 consecutive victories, eight titles in 14 years and the chance for a three-peat. The pick: The past seven Class 4A championship games have all been decided by at least nine points. This might be the year that breaks the streak. Couple Sheridan’s 44-37 victory against the Thunderbirds back in Week 5 in Cheyenne with both teams’ dominance against the rest of the 4A field, and you have a game that could be one of Wyoming’s all-time classics. Sheridan 38, Cheyenne East 35.
Class 3A, 3 p.m. Friday Cody (2W, 10-1) vs. Star Valley (1W, 10-1) Series record: Star Valley leads 27-13. Last meeting: Star Valley beat Cody 41-14 on Oct. 6 in Cody. Last playoff meeting: Star Valley beat Cody 14-7 on Nov. 11, 2022, in the Class 3A championship game in Laramie. State championships: Cody seven, most recently in 2021. … Star Valley 13, most recently in 2022. Previous title game record: Cody, 7-6. … Star Valley, 12-10. The path to the title game: Cody blasted through both of its first two playoff opponents, defeating Douglas 42-14 in the quarterfinals and Evanston 52-14 in the semifinals. … Star Valley ran roughshod over Worland 62-0 in the first round and knocked off Buffalo 30-19 in the semifinals. The case for the Broncs: Find me a more consistent team than Cody over the past four seasons. I’ll wait. Already, Cody is guaranteed its fourth consecutive double-digit victory season, its fourth consecutive title game appearance. Cody’s offense fits its strengths, and now the Broncs are No. 1 in 3A in rushing, by a lot, and have the No. 1 offense overall. Moreover, the Broncs are 41-3 over the past four seasons. The only worry? All three of those losses have been to Star Valley. The case for the Braves: It’s almost scary how efficient the Braves have bene this year. Their only loss came to Idaho powerhouse Sugar-Salem, and aside from Powell (24-21), every victory has been by double digits. Their offense is diverse and keeps opposing defenses guessing. And if defense wins championships, as the old cliche goes? Then look no further than Star Valley, which has 3A’s No. 1 defense. The pick: I mean, here we are again. Dynasty vs. dynasty. Which one is extended, and which one is delayed? Class 3A’s two most dominant programs will extend to a decade of dominance, either way, as one of these two teams will have won the 3A title in each of the past 10 years. For now, I think the way the Braves handled the Broncs in Week 6 is the decider, but, hey — you never know. Just look at last year. Star Valley 30, Cody 20.
Class 2A, noon Friday Torrington (2E, 8-3) vs. Big Horn (1E, 9-1) Series record: Big Horn leads 3-1. Last meeting: Big Horn beat Torrington 33-27 on Sept. 22 in Torrington. Last playoff meeting: First playoff meeting. State championships: Torrington four, most recently in 1990. … Big Horn eight, most recently in 2022. Previous title game record: Torrington, 2-12. … Big Horn, 8-10. The path to the title game: Torrington won a pair of close ones, beating Cokeville 21-14 in the first round and previously unbeaten Mountain View 25-19 in the semifinals. … Big Horn had little trouble with a pair of West Conference foes, beating Lovell 49-28 in the quarterfinals and Lyman 34-14 in the semifinals. The case for the Trailblazers: At the halfway point of the season, Torrington was 2-3 and, let’s face it, not a very attractive title contender. Then, just like in the movies, Torrington took off its glasses. Since then, it’s been six straight victories, including two gritty playoff victories against some of the best teams the West Conference had this season. The ‘Blazers’ defense has been stout all season — six of seven conference opponents couldn’t get past single digits — and the offense has been consistent, if not flashy. This is a group that certainly is more confident now than when it first played Big Horn, and even then it was a down-to-the-wire 32-27 loss. That team, but confident? Look out. The case for the Rams: Remember when Big Horn was 0-1 after a double-overtime loss to Lovell? Yeah, no one else does either. Because nine straight victories have boosted the Rams to Laramie. That run included a 7-0 East Conference mark and suspiciously easy victories against that aforementioned Lovell team and last week’s 20-point win in the semis against consistent contender Lyman. The Rams’ offense is 2A’s best, and the defense — which often sees the field a lot due to its offensive efficiency — does enough to keep the Rams’ W-train a-rollin’. The pick: The 2A title game the past two years has more or less come down to one play. This game has similar markings, although I’d wager that the scoring will be more robust than those two (which finished 8-6 and 8-7, by the way). Get ready for another thriller, probably pretty similar to the first, with a fourth-quarter break benefitting the team that eventually takes it all. Big Horn 34, Torrington 30.
Class 1A nine-man, 1 p.m. Saturday Big Piney (2W, 9-1) vs. Wind River (1W, 8-1) Series record: Big Piney leads 6-2. Last meeting: Wind River beat Big Piney 28-21 on Sept. 21 in Pavillion. Last playoff meeting: First playoff meeting. State championships: Big Piney eight, most recently in 2006. … Wind River one, in 1997. Previous title game record: Big Piney, 8-2. … Wind River, 1-1. The path to the title game: Big Piney ousted Pine Bluffs 28-14 in the first round and beat previously unbeaten Lingle on the road 51-27 in the semifinals. … Wind River blasted Lusk 68-6 in the first round and scraped past Southeast 32-30 in the second round. The case for the Punchers: In these kinds of games — Wind River the No. 1 offense in nine-man, Big Piney the No. 1 defense — it’s easy to get hung up on looking at that matchup. But usually, when these kinds of matchups happen, it’s the other one — Big Piney’s offense vs. Wind River’s defense — that ends up making or breaking the game. That’s where the Punchers may have an advantage, with the No. 3 offense in nine-man that has shown both diversity and consistency. Moreover, Big Piney’s only loss was to Wind River in Pavillion; put them on a neutral field, and things just might be different. The case for the Cougars: Wind River started slow, through no fault of their own. Their first two opponents (Saratoga and St. Stephens) canceled on them. Entering Week 3, they could have easily been called the least experienced team in the state. But a deep senior class overcame the challenge that might have sunk other teams, and together they’ve won eight in a row. With eventual three-time all-state pick Cooper Frederick leading the state’s No. 1 rushing offense (and No. 1 offense, total), the Cougars have been unstoppable so far. The pick: Wind River won the first matchup between these two teams this season, and in watching the highlights, I keep coming away with the feeling that the Cougars had fortune on their side. In a 28-21 victory, Wind River got a kick return touchdown and a pick-six to augment their efforts. I keep feeling like game will come down to something similar; whoever creates the unexpected play creates the championship. Big Piney 32, Wind River 27.
Class 1A six-man, 10 a.m. Saturday Snake River (1S, 9-0) vs. Burlington (1N, 9-1) Series record: Snake River leads 7-1. Last meeting/last playoff meeting: Snake River beat Burlington 55-8 in the Class 1A six-man championship on Nov. 12, 2022, in Laramie. State championships: Snake River five, most recently in 2022. … Burlington two, most recently in 1994. Previous title game record: Snake River, 5-1. … Burlington, 2-3. The path to the title game: Snake River stayed unbeaten with two playoff victories, topping Hulett 74-20 in the quarterfinals and beating Dubois 47-22 in the semifinals. … Burlington beat Farson 64-20 in the quarterfinals and needed a ton of points to outlast Encampment 80-73 in the semifinals in the highest-scoring playoff game in state history. The case for the Rattlers: It’s simple. In 30 consecutive games, the Rattlers have come out on top in every single one. Snake River has the talent, the tradition and the momentum. In that streak, only two games have ended with one-possession differences; in the past two years, only one team has stayed within 16 points; and this year, the Rattlers’ closest game has been a 25-point victory. As long as the Rattlers continue to look at Saturday as a competition and not a coronation, they should be fine. The case for the Huskies: Maybe last year, the stage was just a little too big, the lights a little too bright, and losing 55-8 in the championship game was an awakening to just how hard it can be to win a title. The Huskies won’t have such problems this year. No Wyoming team has beaten the Huskies, their lone loss coming to Custer, Montana, and only one game — last week’s 80-73 shootout against Encampment — resulted in a scoring difference of less than 21 points. The pick: Back in July, I called for a Snake River-Burlington title game. And I even gave a score prediction. Why change that now? Snake River is still at the top of the class, and Burlington, while still a formidable opponent, is still the underdog this weekend. Snake River 49, Burlington 33.
Here are the results of my picks from last week and this season:
Last week: 8-2 (80 percent). This season: 263-47 (85 percent).
Well, we’re here. Another season nearly at an end. What are your big takeaways from 2023 — at least so far? Leave a comment here, or hit me up on the Facebook page or on Twitter.
No superfluous intros this week. We’ve got too much to talk about. So let’s get into the picks, with projected winners in bold, for this week’s semifinal playoff round of Wyoming high school football:
Friday Class 4A (5) Thunder Basin at (1) Sheridan: The number 29 looms large in this game. It’s the number of consecutive victories Sheridan has had, and it’s also the margin of victory Sheridan had in its 41-12 Week 4 victory against the ‘Bolts in Gillette. Sheridan has been the most consistent program in 4A for years now — this is their 16th consecutive semifinal trip — and barring what would be one of the larger 4A playoff upsets we’ve seen in a while, I don’t think that will stop this week. Class 3A (2E) Buffalo at (1W) Star Valley: Don’t get me wrong. Buffalo has been solid this season. But I don’t know that anyone outside Johnson County has them as title contenders. Then the Bison go and beat Powell in pretty commanding fashion in the first round. I still like the Braves here, but they better be on their toes. Because now, everyone’s putting “Bison” and “title contention” in the same sentence. (4W) Evanston at (2W) Cody: As I mentioned in last week’s picks, Evanston is now 3A’s Cinderella story. After 15 seasons without a playoff victory, the Red Devils finally have one. And I think this game will be closer than the 48-13 victory Cody put on Evanston in Week 7… but not a lot closer. Class 2A (2E) Torrington at (1W) Mountain View: Even with all the parity in the 2A ranks this year, no one has been able to figure out Mountain View. But Torrington has won five straight, and its only loss since Week 1 was a nail-biter to Big Horn. The Trailblazers will be ready for that challenge, and that could make this one close late. (2W) Lyman at (1E) Big Horn: Both teams showed a pretty amazing resiliency last week. Lyman rallied from a 13-0 deficit to win; Big Horn only led by seven entering the final quarter and won by 21. They’ll both be ready for late-game challenges. I’m only picking Big Horn because of home field — in Lyman, I would have taken the Eagles. Best game of the week? Class 1A nine-man (2E) Southeast at (1W) Wind River: I really, really think if there’s a coach in 1A nine-man who can prepare his team for this kind of challenge, it’s Southeast’s Mark Bullington. The Cyclones will absolutely be prepared for what the Cougars bring. I think it’ll be close, and I think the Cougars will need to be playing their best to come out of this with their first trip to a championship game since 1997. But I think they will be up for it. As you can tell, I’ve thought about this game a lot. Best game of the week? Class 1A six-man (3S) Dubois at (1S) Snake River: What the Tremblys — coach David and son Wyatt — have helped Dubois accomplish in their final seasons in their roles leading the Rams have been memorable. Those emotions might be enough to help the Rams hang with the Rattlers, who have proven time and again to be the state’s best six-man team this year. Ultimately, though, the Rattlers have won 29 in a row for a reason. (2S) Encampment at (1N) Burlington: No. Don’t make me pick. I’ve seen this game coming for weeks now, and I’ve tried to parse out what might give one of these teams an advantage over the other. I’ve come up with nothing. Both teams have consistent offenses, solid defenses and winning traditions. They’re both coached well and play disciplined. And they both are deserving of a spot in Laramie. I think Encampment has a slight edge, but don’t be surprised to see the Huskies make it back to the War for a second consecutive year, especially at home. Best game of the week? Saturday Class 4A (3) Natrona at (2) Cheyenne East: The Mustangs have been a bit frustrating — they’ve played well against lesser competition but have struggled to play up to that next level. That included a 45-7 loss to East in Week 1. The Thunderbirds, meanwhile, are on an offensive hot streak. All they have to do is score 32 points against the Mustangs this week to break the state 11-man record for points in a season. The record is 577 (Big Horn in 2018), and East has 546 already this season. Class 1A nine-man (2W) Big Piney at (1E) Lingle: Both of these teams should enter this game with every reason in the world to feel confident. Lingle hasn’t lost yet this season, while Big Piney is 8-1 and comes in off a quarterfinal victory where they vanquished the defending state champions. While Lingle has shown a lot of resolve and hasn’t lost yet, I think Big Piney has been more consistent this year, and that might be the difference.
For a full schedule including kickoff times, click here. You can click on “Semifinals” at the top of the page to take you directly to this week’s schedule.
Here are the results of my picks from last week and this season:
Last week: 18-2 (90 percent). This season: 255-45 (85 percent).
Who do you have making it to the War? Leave a comment here, or hit me up on the Facebook page or on Twitter.
It’s long been the case that the strength of Class 3A has been in the West Conference.
The past 12 3A champs have come from the West, and seven of the past eight 3A title games have matched up two West teams.
So far, we’ve seen no indication that 2023 will be the year for such streaks to end.
The East went 3-12 against the West this year, and none of those three victories came against a playoff qualifier — two were against Green River (Lander and Rawlins), one against Jackson (Douglas).
When the playoffs get underway on Friday, the East Conference teams are likely underdogs in all four 3A playoff games. West Conference leaders Star Valley, Cody and Powell — a combined record of 23-4, with three of those four losses to each other — have proven themselves a cut above the rest of the classification. Together, they’re a combined 7-0 this season against the four playoff qualifiers from the East.
And that brings us to Evanston against Riverton, what might be the most interesting playoff game out of the 20 scheduled this week.
Evanston, despite being a No. 4 seed heading up against a No. 1, has every reason to believe it’s the favorite. Most importantly, the Red Devils have already beaten the Wolverines once this season, 34-27 in Week 2 in Evanston. Moreover, Evanston has played competitively in losses to the West’s top three. All of it has led to the Red Devils’ first playoff berth in four seasons, the longest playoff drought broken by any playoff-qualifying team this season.
Meanwhile, Riverton might be the most transformed team in the state from the first half of the season to the second half. After starting 0-4 (against the four West playoff qualifiers, by the way), the Wolverines have since won four of five, including what might have been the biggest win in recent program memory by beating Buffalo 25-14, a game that eventually clinched the top seed in the playoffs for the Wolverines by breaking a three-way first-place tie with the Bison and Douglas.
That said, it’s easy to root for whoever wins this game to be this year’s 3A Cinderella. Both teams are led by a first-year coach who isn’t really a “first-year coach”; Riverton’s Mark Lenhardt has had success as a head coach at both Torrington and Rock Springs, taking them both to state championship games, while Evanston’s Steve Moore has spent two decades on the sidelines with the Red Devils before moving into the top spot heading into this season. Both teams are 4-5 entering this game; it’s simply an odd quirk of the schedule that two of the three teams in the 3A playoffs with losing records ended up facing each other in the first round. And one of these teams will break a long streak without a visit to the semifinals: Riverton hasn’t reached the second round in eight seasons, and for Evanston, the drought has been 15 seasons.
The candle on the Cinderella cake is that Evanston has been the lone team in the West not to benefit from the conference’s dominant run. Across that eight-year stretch of mentioned earlier — the one where in seven of the past eight years, it’s been two West teams playing each other — Evanston is the only one of the West teams that has failed to make it to the championship game.
For now, I like Evanston to win this week.
Truth be told, though, I like whoever wins this game.
As much as I love the Riverton-Evanston game, by far the most interesting 2023 playoff bracket, top to bottom, belongs to Class 2A.
The only predictable game seems to be Wheatland visiting Mountain View; the Bulldogs did that trip in Week 1 and came back as victims of a 38-0 dissection. The other three games, though, look like they could be all-time classics.
With Mountain View surviving as the only undefeated team in Class 2A this season, the remainder of the classification has been an exercise in parity.
The remaining three games give us six teams who are all legitimate title threats: Tongue River (7-2) at Lyman (7-2), Cokeville (5-3) at Torrington (6-3), and Lovell (6-2) at Big Horn (7-1).
Immediately, Big Horn as the one-loss team stands out from the rest. The only problem? Big Horn faces Lovell in the first round, and the Bulldogs were the only team to hang an L on the Rams’ tally this season. Of all the teams and all the possibilities Big Horn could have gotten in the first round, they got the team that’s already shown they can beat them this year.
Meanwhile, Cokeville has sorted its way through some early struggles to emerge as one of the West’s best teams. Replace “Cokeville” with “Torrington,” and “West’s” with “East’s” in that sentence, though, and you have a perfect description of their first-round opponent.
And finally, the Eagles are 7-2, talented and eager for a bit of redemption after losing games to regional rivals. Wait: Are we talking about Tongue River or Lyman? The answer: Yes.
Combined, these matchups should make the 2A bracket an absolute crapshoot, the most intriguing set of first-round games in any of the five brackets.
Now, that said, intrigue DOES exist in other brackets, it’s just not as common:
Thunder Basin and Campbell County meeting in a cross-city rivalry renewal was not necessarily something I had on my 2023 preseason bingo card, but here it is — and I’m thrilled. I’m really interested to see how the aftermath of the Camels’ 49-17 victory in Week 5 manifests a month later, and how much closer this game might be considering that Thunder Basin hasn’t lost since, while the Camels are 1-2 since then. …
Lingle has been living a charmed life. The Doggers have won three consecutive one-point games: 29-28 against Southeast, 31-30 in overtime against Pine Bluffs and 21-20 against Saratoga. According to research I did in 2016, I have reason to believe that this year’s Lingle team is the first Wyoming team to ever win three consecutive one-point games. We’ll see if the run continues against Rocky Mountain in the first round. …
Wind River is hosting the program’s first playoff game since 2009, the longest such streak broken this season. …
Natrona is in the playoffs for the 32nd consecutive year, Cokeville the 31st, Big Horn the 25th, Douglas the 22nd. …
It’s a bit weird, but none of the first-round playoff games are new matchups. Every matchup we have already exists on each team’s series records. Maybe that’s the nature of expanded nonconference schedules and eight-team playoff brackets; eventually, everyone sees everyone.
Picks, where bold means projected winner and non-bold means projected upset-maker:
Class 4A (8) Kelly Walsh at (1) Sheridan (5) Thunder Basin at (4) Campbell County (7) Rock Springs at (2) Cheyenne East (6) Cheyenne Central at (3) Natrona Class 3A (4W) Evanston at (1E) Riverton (3E) Douglas at (2W) Cody (4E) Worland at (1W) Star Valley (3W) Powell at (2E) Buffalo Class 2A (4E) Wheatland at (1W) Mountain View (3W) Cokeville at (2E) Torrington (4W) Lovell at (1E) Big Horn (3E) Tongue River at (2W) Lyman Class 1A nine-man (4W) Rocky Mountain at (1E) Lingle (3E) Pine Bluffs at (2W) Big Piney (4E) Lusk at (1W) Wind River (3W) Riverside at (2E) Southeast Class 1A six-man (4S) Farson at (1N) Burlington (3N) Meeteetse at (2S) Encampment (4N) Hulett at (1S) Snake River (3S) Dubois at (2N) Kaycee
For a full schedule including kickoff times, click here. You can click on “Quarterfinals” at the top of the page to take you directly to this week’s schedule.
Here are the results of my picks from last week and this season:
Last week: 24-6 (80 percent). This season: 237-43 (85 percent).
What first-round upsets do you foresee? Leave a comment here, or hit me up on the Facebook page or on Twitter.
Entering the final week of the season, the four-way tie is possible.
Unlikely, but still chaos.
With Douglas, Buffalo and Riverton all at 3-1 in conference play, the most likely tie is the three-way tie. With each one of those three teams playing a team lower in the East’s caste this season — Douglas traveling to Lander, Buffalo hosting Rawlins and Riverton hosting Worland — the most likely scenario is those three teams all win, finishing tied for the conference title at 4-1.
But what if they all lose?
Pick your scenario; I mean, chaos comes in many forms. Food poisoning at the team dinner. History test that no one can pass and everyone’s ineligible. Nationwide phone glitch and everyone sleeps through their pregame nap.
Choose your scenario, or choose three of them. But, for argument’s sake, it happens.
Then Douglas, Buffalo and Riverton are all 3-2 in conference play — and so, too, all of a sudden, is Worland.
It’s the most interesting possibility for postseason chaos in a Week 8 that’s surprisingly devoid of such drama.
It feels a bit weird, but of the 31 games this week, only 15 — less than half — will have any effect on playoff qualification or seeding. As far as qualifying, all eight spots in 4A, 1A nine-man and 1A six-man, seven of eight in 3A and six of eight in 2A have been claimed. In what remains, the 3A West (three teams going for one spot) and 2A West (three teams going for two spots) have any drama in them whatsoever about who’s either in or out of the playoffs.
In the 3A West, it’s Evanston, Jackson and Green River facing a half-simple, half-convoluted scenario. First, the simple: Evanston is in with a win against Green River. But if the Wolves win, well — it gets messy. The Wolves’ only pathway into the playoffs is to win by at least 12 points, have Star Valley beat Jackson, and then win a three-way coin flip. It’s better than nothing… and it’s entirely possible. Meanwhile, the drama at the bottom of the conference hides what might be the best game of the week near the top, where Cody and Powell will face off in an intra-county rivalry game that will decide playoff hosting duties for the first round.
Meanwhile, in the 2A West, Lyman, Lovell and Thermopolis are all in the running for the final two available spots in that conference. Conveniently, Lovell hosts Thermopolis this week, making the scenarios a bit easier to follow. But in two of the four possibilities, a three-way tie could happen, including one where two of the three tied teams make it in and the third one is out.
Maybe the most interesting game of the schedule has nothing to do with the playoffs, and that is the nonconference game between Dubois and Burlington. The South is the stronger of the two six-man conferences this year, so it will be interesting to see how the North’s top seed in the Huskies stacks up against the South’s No. 3 in the Rams.
While every other game will have its drama, and its place, the stakes will be muted for most teams.
No worries, though. Plenty will be on the line starting next week, when the playoffs make every game a potential season-destroyer. Or season-maker, if you’re the optimist.
Just maybe make sure that potato salad hasn’t been sitting in the sun. Study for that history test just a little bit more. Set a backup alarm.
Fight the chaos. (Or, if you’re Worland or Green River, embrace it.)
Here are this week’s picks. Bold means that team will likely win. It’s simple, just like me.
Thursday Class 3A Evanston at Green River Class 2A Cokeville at Lyman Class 1A nine-man Wind River at Rocky Mountain Interclass Rock Springs JV at Snake River Friday Class 4A Cheyenne Central at Rock Springs Cheyenne East at Kelly Walsh Laramie at Cheyenne South Natrona at Thunder Basin Sheridan at Campbell County Class 3A Douglas at Lander Jackson at Star Valley Powell at Cody Rawlins at Buffalo Worland at Riverton Class 2A Burns at Big Horn Mountain View at Kemmerer Newcastle at Torrington Thermopolis at Lovell Tongue River at Wheatland Upton-Sundance at Glenrock Class 1A nine-man Big Piney at Riverside Lingle at Saratoga Moorcroft at Guernsey Pine Bluffs at Southeast Wright at Lusk Class 1A six-man Casper Christian at Hulett Encampment at Midwest Interstate Rich County, Utah, at Pinedale Saturday Class 1A six-man Burlington at Dubois Farson at Kaycee Hanna at Ten Sleep Open: Greybull, Meeteetse, Wyoming Indian. Shoshoni and Wyoming Indian are playing a hybrid varsity-JV game on Thursday that won’t count in the standings; Shoshoni’s varsity also played the Natrona sophomores on Tuesday this week.
For a full schedule including kickoff times, click here. You can click on “Week 8” at the top of the page to take you directly to this week’s schedule.
Here are the results of my picks from last week and this season:
Last week: 29-3 (91 percent). This season: 213-37 (85 percent).
What things are you keeping an eye on as the regular season comes to a close? Leave a comment here, or hit me up on the Facebook page or on Twitter.
By the time we make it into Week 8, the Wyoming high school football season could be absolutely sapped of any uncertainty about conference championships.
That’s because every conference could have its champion decided by the end of Friday night. In every single scenario, the team that could win the title has its destiny in its own hands this week.
The teams that can win the top seed from their conferences this week include:
Sheridan — A victory over Natrona assures the Broncs the top seed in the 4A playoffs.
Buffalo — If the Bison can beat Riverton, they will be the No. 1 seed from the 3A East.
Star Valley — A victory against Green River will hand the Braves the 3A West’s No. 1 seed.
Big Horn — A Ram victory against Tongue River will make Big Horn the top seed from the 2A East.
Mountain View — If the Buffalos beat Pinedale, they will take the top seed from the 2A West.
Lingle or Pine Bluffs — This week’s winner between the two of them will be the 1A nine-man East’s No. 1 seed.
Wind River — The Cougars can secure the No. 1 seed from the 1A nine-man West by beating Shoshoni.
In 1A six-man, the top two seeds are already assured, with Burlington already securing the No. 1 seed from the North and Snake River the No. 1 seed from the South.
From the group, one sticks out. It’s the only one of the group that has two schools listed by it: Lingle and Pine Bluffs.
Both the Hornets and Doggers, who meet Friday night in Pine Bluffs, are 6-0. But the adventure hasn’t been easy for either one.
Lingle has won six straight but its past three victories have been by eight points, nine points and one point. Pine Bluffs, meanwhile, has had to survive a pair of one-possession games, both times against teams with records of .500 or worse.
In short, both teams have been tested. And, so far, both teams have survived. Together, this week, they will stage the last game of Wyoming’s 2023 high school football season where two undefeated teams will play each other, as no other classification has more than one undefeated team. Whoever wins will be the 1A nine-man East champion, as every other league team has at least two conference losses and the winner here will hold the tiebreaker if something goes awry in Week 8. Moreover, whoever wins will also be the last remaining undefeated team in Class 1A nine-man.
The season still has some drama left, including the biggest chunk of it to be decided at the War.
Just don’t be surprised if it’s a bit subdued heading into the final week of the regular season.
Other games to watch this week: well, almost all of them. Playoff seeding will be a huge focus of the next two weeks — not that they weren’t already, but the focus of who’s in, who’s out and who might go where in the first round is much clearer now than it was, say, a month ago when conference games counted just as much as they do now.
Regardless, some dreams of Cinderella titles are over. Teams already eliminated from playoff contention include Glenrock, Pinedale, Kemmerer, Guernsey, Shoshoni, Ten Sleep, Casper Christian and Hanna; barely mathematically alive are Cheyenne South, Laramie, Lander, Green River, Newcastle, Burns, Wright and Greybull.
In addition to all the games that could decide conference champions, we have a host of games that will be hugely influential in playoff races. Among the more intriguing are Cody visiting Evanston, Thermopolis heading to Cokeville, Torrington venturing north to play Upton-Sundance, Southeast hosting Saratoga, Midwest hosting Meeteetse and Kaycee going to Hulett. …
One game that won’t have any impact on any playoff races will be Wright at Moorcroft. Both teams are 1-5, but both teams are significantly better than their records show. This might be the last time these two regional rivals play for awhile as Moorcroft is set to make the jump to 2A next season.
The streak watch: Snake River has now won 27 consecutive games, tied for sixth-best in state history. And Sheridan has won 26 in a row, cracking the top 10 and tied for eighth-longest in state history. Sheridan also still has theoretical possession of Slim MacGuffin. Also, don’t overlook Pine Bluffs, winners of 17 consecutive games.
On the other side of things is Cheyenne South. The Bison have now lost 36 consecutive games, the second-longest losing streak in state history. Two more losses in the final two weeks of the regular season, and South would tie Kemmerer for the longest losing streak in state history. South has also lost 17 straight at home, and a loss to Laramie next week would tie the state record of 18 consecutive home losses.
Speaking of Laramie: Even if the Plainsmen run the table and pull off the most improbable championship in state history, they can’t finish any better than 5-7. So, no matter what happens the rest of the way, Laramie will have its 23rd consecutive losing season. That’s a state record, breaking the tie that Laramie had with Newcastle’s 22 consecutive losing seasons from 1984 to 2005.
Once again, I have chosen some teams that I think will win, and I have put them in bold. But a couple upsets wouldn’t spoil the broth.
Thursday Interclass Cody sophs at Rocky Mountain Friday Class 4A Campbell County at Cheyenne Central Cheyenne South at Cheyenne East Kelly Walsh at Thunder Basin Natrona at Sheridan Rock Springs at Laramie Class 3A Buffalo at Riverton Cody at Evanston Douglas at Rawlins Lander at Worland Powell at Jackson Star Valley at Green River Class 2A Big Horn at Tongue River Glenrock at Newcastle Kemmerer at Lovell Pinedale at Mountain View Thermopolis at Cokeville Torrington at Upton-Sundance Wheatland at Burns Class 1A nine-man Lingle at Pine Bluffs Lusk at Guernsey Riverside at Greybull Saratoga at Southeast Wind River at Shoshoni Wright at Moorcroft Wyoming Indian at Big Piney Class 1A six-man Casper Christian at Encampment Hanna at Dubois Meeteetse at Midwest Snake River at Farson Ten Sleep at Burlington Interstate Rich County, Utah, at Lyman Saturday Class 1A six-man Kaycee at Hulett
For a full schedule including kickoff times, click here. You can click on “Week 7” at the top of the page to take you directly to this week’s schedule.
Here are the results of my picks from last week and this season:
Last week: 30-3 (91 percent). This season: 184-34 (84 percent).
If you’re headed to one of those games that could decide a conference championship — can you give me a ride? You’d have to come to California to get me, though… Leave a comment here, or hit me up on the Facebook page or on Twitter.
Come back with me to the fall of 1996, to the back row of Mrs. Epperson’s freshman English class at Midwest High School.
The reading is done, the analysis questions are answered. Now what?
Well, if you’re little freshman Patrick Schmiedt, you dip into the realm of made-up high school football. You take all your friends and put them on “teams” that don’t exist. You develop a schedule. You imagine interesting scenarios and play them out in the form of box scores, standings, weekly stats, rankings, playoffs, a champion.
Here’s the thing — when I created those teams, I took every Wyoming high school that didn’t yet have a football team and gave them one. I distributed my friends onto 10 rosters across the state. All of a sudden, places like Farson, Snake River, Encampment, Glendo, Arvada-Clearmont and others had football teams, all under the umbrella of the “Wyoming 8-Man Football Association.”
Welcome to the fantasy world of my 15-year-old mind.
In the lone season of the imaginary league, Snake River wins the state championship, defeating Glendo (and its all-state tight end, me) 31-28. I might have had just a smidgen of self-indulgence, too, as I led the state in catches and receiving yards in this season.
In 1996, that’s where such a game belonged: in fantasyland. Snake River didn’t have a team, neither did Glendo, and neither did any of those other eight schools. And I was never going to lead the state in receiving yards anywhere except for in fake box scores in games that would never be played. But all of it was fun to think about.
Eventually, the self-indulgence of me catching 10 passes a game gave way to the much bigger idea of a non-11-man option for Wyoming’s small high schools. Sparked by my English class downtime scenarios, I always wondered in the back of my mind if we would ever see a football team in a place like Baggs that could live up to the championship aspirations in real life. More broadly, I wondered if such a league could ever be developed in the first place.
Those possibilities remained just that, possibilities, for the next 12 years. Then, in 2008, the Wyoming High School Activities Association approved six-man football to start in 2009. Then Snake River came along, for real, as did Kaycee, Farson and, eventually, Rock River and Encampment. It was like these little doodles had come to life.
Since then, Snake River has won five state championships, including the two most recent, and will enter Saturday’s game against also-undefeated Encampment with a school-record 26-game winning streak in tow.
So when two 5-0 teams meet on Saturday in Baggs, whose programs were not that long ago limited to imaginary teams and rosters and box scores created during downtime in a high school English classroom?
Yeah, you could call it a dream come true.
Other games that would have spent less time on my mind as a 15-year-old but are now definitely filling it now:
Well, it’s time. Star Valley at Cody. Last week proved just how tight it could be at the top of the 3A West, as the Braves needed a literal last-second field goal to beat Powell 24-21. Now Star Valley has Cody, which has played well but whose 6-0 record comes with a caveat — just one of those victories has come against a team with a winning record, that one a 34-7 victory against 3A East frontrunner Buffalo. Star Valley has to say the same, though, as the Braves’ only victory against a winning-record team was last week’s against Powell. Still, the top of 3A only has room for one team, and whoever wins this one will absolutely claim that right, at least for the next week or so until the next challenge comes along. …
I feel like I have to absolutely give some mad props to the Campbell County Camels, who picked up a monumental crosstown victory against Thunder Basin last week in an emphatic 49-17 victory. The Camels are now 5-1. Trouble is, so is this week’s opponent, Natrona. Are the Camels “back”? A road victory against the Mustangs would prove the point even more emphatically than last week’s victory. …
Between Lovell, Lyman, Mountain View and Cokeville (and Thermopolis who’s lurking at 2-1), the 2A West is a hodgepodge of messy scenarios. So far, only Mountain View is unscathed by it all, but by far the Buffalos’ toughest remaining test is this week’s home date against Lovell. …
Douglas has won 10 in a row and 16 out of the last 17 games it’s played against Riverton. But the way both teams looked last week — Riverton controlling from start to finish in beating Lander 50-21, Douglas stumbling at home against Buffalo in a 13-3 loss — this one could be a table-turner. I’m curious to see how both teams handle a set of shifting expectations. …
The capital city bragging rights are (basically) on the line this week as Cheyenne Central and Cheyenne East meet up to renew acquaintances. The Thunderbirds are coming off a loss, something they haven’t had to face all season. Will East’s loss to Sheridan last week mean a deflating coming into this rivalry game? Or will preparing for the Indians, who have had back-to-back shutout victories, snap the T-Birds back to reality? …
One of the most intriguing games on the schedule is in Basin, where Riverside hosts Rocky Mountain. If you just look at the records, it might not look like much: Rocky is 4-1, Riverside 2-3. But the Rebels are better than their record indicates, and I think the Grizzlies will provide a great measuring stick in a game that will have huge playoff implications in the 1A nine-man West. …
Another critical nine-man game will happen in Goshen County this weekend with Southeast making the quick trip to Lingle. Even though the Doggers are 5-0 and the Cyclones are 4-1, neither one has any breathing room in the East, not with Pine Bluffs also at 5-0 and Lusk, the only team to beat Southeast this season, still hanging around, and Saratoga at 2-1 in league play, all of them viable threats in the conference standings. …
And let’s put a fork in St. Stephens’ 2023 season. All of the Eagles’ remaining opponents have scheduled replacement games or decided to take a bye. It’s safe to say their season is done.
Now for the picks! The teams in bold are the ones I think will win. When I can’t think anymore, I flip coins. It’s about as effective as using my brain.
Thursday Class 1A nine-man Big Piney at Shoshoni Greybull at Wind River Pine Bluffs at Saratoga Class 1A six-man Ten Sleep at Meeteetse Interclass Wyoming Indian at Cody JV Friday Class 4A Campbell County at Natrona Cheyenne East at Cheyenne Central Cheyenne South at Rock Springs Kelly Walsh at Sheridan Thunder Basin at Laramie Class 3A Evanston at Powell Green River at Jackson Lander at Rawlins Riverton at Douglas Star Valley at Cody Worland at Buffalo Class 2A Burns at Tongue River Kemmerer at Pinedale Lovell at Mountain View Lyman at Thermopolis Newcastle at Big Horn Torrington at Glenrock Upton-Sundance at Wheatland Class 1A nine-man Guernsey at Wright Moorcroft at Lusk Rocky Mountain at Riverside Southeast at Lingle Class 1A six-man Burlington at Kaycee Farson at Hanna Interstate Cokeville at Rich County, Utah Saturday Class 1A six-man Dubois at Casper Christian Encampment at Snake River Midwest at Hulett
For a full schedule including kickoff times, click here. You can click on “Week 6” at the top of the page to take you directly to this week’s schedule.
Here are the results of my picks from last week and this season:
Last week: 25-6 (81 percent). This season: 154-31 (83 percent).
With so many critical games this week, where is your attention drawn — in the real world, not the fake one? Leave a comment here, or hit me up on the Facebook page or on Twitter.
With apologies to eight other Class 4A teams, it’s time to state the truth: Class 4A’s best rivalry is the one that has developed between Cheyenne East and Sheridan.
This rivalry is not due to tradition or geography. Instead, this rivalry focuses on success and competitiveness — and how, inevitably, only one of these two teams gets to have the success they want, but both get the competitiveness that makes them better.
Since 2011, the Thunderbirds and the Broncs have met five times in the playoffs, including twice in the past three years. Each time, the winner of that playoff game went on to win the Class 4A championship, a total that includes two times when East and Sheridan played each other in the championship game:
2022 Sheridan over East, championship… Sheridan won state
2020 East over Sheridan, semis… East won state
2016 Sheridan over East, quarters… Sheridan won state
2013 East over Sheridan, semis… East won state
2011 Sheridan over East, championship… Sheridan won state
As for competitiveness? Well, in five meetings in the past three years, East has a 3-2 edge in victories… but the scoring margin between the programs in those five games? East leads, 133-132.
Conversely, both teams have provided the other a boost — whether intended or not.
Sheridan has won 24 consecutive games. The Broncs’ last loss was in 2021 to… Cheyenne East. In fact, both of Sheridan’s most recent losses, and three of its four most recent, have come against East.
Meanwhile, in its past 17 games, East is 15-2. The only two losses were to… Sheridan.
Class 4A’s premiere rivalry is renewed on Friday in Cheyenne. Not coincidentally, East and Sheridan are 4A’s final two undefeated teams, both coming in at 5-0.
If we know anything about this rivalry, we know it’ll be competitive. And it’ll make both teams better. And they just might see each other again with higher stakes at play. And the winner just might end up a champion.
Some other Week 5 games that are looking good on paper, and we can only hope they’re as good in person:
A Class 4A rivalry, geography style, will happen Friday in Gillette when Thunder Basin heads to Camel Stadium to face Campbell County in what I think only I call the Coal Bowl. (Does anyone else? How do we make this a “thing”?) I say driven by geography because it definitely hasn’t been driven by competitiveness. The Camels are 0-7 all-time against their crosstown rivals, with just one of those games (2019’s 4A quarterfinal game) ending anywhere close to competitive. But the Camels are on a four-game winning streak and Thunder Basin has lost two of three, with two losses that were pretty ugly (52-7 to East and 41-12 to Sheridan). Is this the year the Camels have their moment? If nothing else, it should be significantly more competitive than past Coal Bowls. …
Sometimes, all I want to do is just say “3A West” and walk away, because we all know by now just how dang tough that conference is. This week, it’s 5-0 Powell traveling to Afton to play 4-1 Star Valley that has the classification’s attention. With Cody also at 5-0 overall, the top of the West is too competitive to allow for any missteps. Of these three, Cody may be the most fortunate, getting to play both the Panthers and the Braves at home this year. First, though, this week, and what could be the most competitive game of the week, will be in Afton. …
It’s always worth noting when Riverton plays Lander, even though right now they’re a combined 1-9. That said, Riverton had a breakout game last week in beating Rawlins by four touchdowns. The 42 points Riverton got last week is 20 more than Lander has scored all year. Maybe a rivalry game will get the Tigers’ offense going. …
Only two winless teams remain in Class 2A, Glenrock and Burns. They’ll meet this week, and at least one will jump into the win column — and maybe build a bit of momentum to take into the remainder of the season. …
On the flipside, the only two teams who remain undefeated in 2A West Conference play are Mountain View and Cokeville. Conveniently, they’ll play each other this week in Cokeville. …
It’s a bit early to start projecting playoff pairings, but Burlington’s game against Farson just might be a first-round playoff preview. …
Hey. Picks in bold. This is how I do it. You might have Montell Jordan or Katy Perry go through your head with that last sentence; personally, I have The Game and 50 Cent.
Thursday Class 1A nine-man Wind River at Wyoming Indian Interclass Big Piney at Evanston JV Friday Class 4A Cheyenne Central at Cheyenne South Laramie at Kelly Walsh Natrona at Rock Springs Sheridan at Cheyenne East Thunder Basin at Campbell County Class 3A Buffalo at Douglas Cody at Green River Jackson at Evanston Powell at Star Valley Rawlins at Worland Riverton at Lander Class 2A Big Horn at Wheatland Glenrock at Burns Lyman at Kemmerer Mountain View at Cokeville Newcastle at Upton-Sundance (at Upton) Pinedale at Thermopolis Tongue River at Torrington Class 1A nine-man Greybull at Rocky Mountain Lingle at Moorcroft PineBluffs at Lusk Saratoga at Wright Shoshoni at Riverside Southeast at Guernsey Class 1A six-man Dubois at Meeteetse Kaycee at Encampment Interstate Rich County, Utah, at Lovell Saturday Class 1A six-man Burlington at Farson Hulett vs. Snake River (at Midwest) Midwest at Hanna Open: Casper Christian, Ten Sleep.
For a full schedule including kickoff times, click here. You can click on “Week 5” at the top of the page to take you directly to this week’s schedule.
Here are the results of my picks from last week and this season:
Last week: 29-4 (88 percent). This season: 129-25 (84 percent).
What game am I overlooking in Week 5? Let me know where my attention should be diverted! Leave a comment here, or hit me up on the Facebook page or on Twitter.
Class 2A’s competitive but convoluted top half continues to generate results that are, well, a bit unpredictable.
Take this loop for a drive in your logic-mobile: Lovell beats Big Horn 33-27. Cokeville beats Lovell 33-18. Upton-Sundance beats Cokeville 13-6.
So what happens when Big Horn plays Upton-Sundance? You guessed it. Big Horn beats Upton-Sundance 45-7.
Add Lyman to that loop, as the Eagles, ranked No. 1 in 2A last week, couldn’t handle the trip north and lost to Lovell 20-12.
Only one team in each conference has remained unscathed — Mountain View in the West and Tongue River in the East.
We’ll put the conversation about Tongue River aside for the moment and instead focus our attention to the Bridger Valley, where Mountain View faces… Lyman.
And if you think you know how this game might go, you don’t.
I mean, it’s easy to take a look at Mountain View’s 4-0 record, its 13 total points allowed (including a shutout last week against Thermopolis), its stable offensive production and think, hey, yep, favorites.
And it’s easy to take a look at Lyman’s inevitable bounce-back from a tough road loss (oddly enough, Lyman’s first road game after three at home), the home-field advantage they’ll get in a rivalry game, the results of the last three Bridger Valley rivalry games — all Lyman victories — and think, hey, yep, favorites.
The way Class 2A’s top teams are duking it out this year, it’s much more likely this game will end up as yet another game that defies the odds, the senses and the understandings of our physical world. It doesn’t have to make sense. Odds are it probably won’t.
Given 2A’s nature this year, we know the result of this game will be confusing. Until it’s played, though, we just can’t yet know in what ways it will surprise and disorient.
I guess that’s the fun of it all.
Other things I’m watching this week with heightened levels of interest:
Lusk’s two losses have both come against undefeated teams, 4-0 Big Piney and 3-0 Lingle. This week, the Tigers play 3-0 Southeast. Next week, the Tigers play Pine Bluffs, which is 3-0 entering its game this week against Moorcroft. For as good as Lusk has looked, even in losses, style points don’t get teams into the postseason, so don’t be surprised if Lusk feels that urgency and makes this one in Yoder interesting. …
Speaking of the 1A nine-man East, Wright is probably the most talked-about 0-3 team in the state after coming within a minute and a point of beating what was a top-ranked Pine Bluffs team in a 21-20 loss last week. I’m intrigued to see how the Panthers do against another tough conference foe on the road in Lingle this week. …
Another team that’s probably better than its record is Thermopolis, which has brought along its defense significantly from last season. Despite being 1-2, the Bobcats have proven they will be a tough out for everyone this year, and I’m interested in seeing if their offense finds its groove this week against Rich County, Utah. …
Sheridan at 4-0 and Thunder Basin at 3-1 are both in prime position for home-field advantage through the first two rounds of the playoffs — that is, if they can beat the other one this week. Class 4A has developed a clear gap this year, with five teams at 4-0 or 3-1, five teams at 1-3 or 0-4, and no one in between. This is the only game this week were two of the teams in the higher tier meet. …
This week’s coin-flip game? Rocky Mountain hosting Shoshoni. It makes sense that it’s been hard to get a read on these teams due to all of the graduation losses both teams had, so at least we get this game where they can figure it out themselves. …
Not that anyone’s counting, but Snake River has now won 24 in a row, the longest winning streak in school history and just on the cusp of top-10 in state history, which starts at 26. Casper Christian comes to Baggs this week. …
St. Stephens has canceled, again, leaving its opponent for the week to scramble, again. This time, Riverside picked up a game with Cody’s JV. Looking ahead, at least two more future opponents of the Eagles have picked up other games.
Picks. Call me a punk, but I’m feeling lucky. So I’ve selected some teams to win, and I’ve put them in bold. I’ll tally it all up after the week is done. Yes, I have a spreadsheet. You don’t? Weirdo.
Thursday Class 1A nine-man Big Piney at Wind River Interclass Riverside at Cody JV Friday Class 4A Campbell County at Kelly Walsh Laramie at Cheyenne Central Natrona at Cheyenne South Rock Springs at Cheyenne East Sheridan at Thunder Basin Class 3A Douglas at Worland Evanston at Star Valley Green River at Powell Jackson at Cody Lander at Buffalo Rawlins at Riverton Class 2A Big Horn at Torrington Burns at Upton-Sundance Cokeville at Kemmerer Lovell at Pinedale Mountain View at Lyman Tongue River at Newcastle Wheatland at Glenrock Class 1A nine-man Guernsey at Saratoga Lusk at Southeast Moorcroft at Pine Bluffs Wright at Lingle Wyoming Indian at Greybull Class 1A six-man Dubois at Farson Kaycee at Midwest Meeteetse at Burlington Interstate Thermopolis at Rich County, Utah Saturday Class 1A nine-man Shoshoni at Rocky Mountain Class 1A six-man Casper Christian at Snake River Hanna at Encampment Hulett at Ten Sleep
For a full schedule including kickoff times, click here. You can click on “Week 4” at the top of the page to take you directly to this week’s schedule.
Here are the results of my picks from last week and this season:
Last week: 29-5 (85 percent). This season: 100-21 (83 percent).
What sense-defying result do you see coming in Week 4? Remember, it only counts if you predict before the game, so… Leave a comment here, or hit me up on the Facebook page or on Twitter.
Since six-man’s return in 2009, eight new programs have entered Wyoming’s football ranks: Kaycee, Snake River and Farson in 2009, Cheyenne South in 2011, St. Stephens in 2013, Rock River in 2014, Thunder Basin in 2017 and Encampment in 2019.
Varying degrees of success have followed, in two distinct camps.
The happy campers? Kaycee, Snake River and Farson have all won multiple state championships. Thunder Basin and Encampment have yet to finish a season with a losing record.
The blistered, sprained-ankle, sunburnt and/or missing campers? Cheyenne South has one playoff berth, zero playoff victories and a winning percentage under .100. St. Stephens has won five games in 10 years. Rock River no longer fields a football team.
Enter Casper Christian, the state’s newest high school football program and the ninth since 2009 to try to establish fresh gridiron roots in Wyoming.
After a hodgepodge schedule a year ago that included games against a handful of six-man teams and several against Natrona’s sophomores and freshmen, the Mountaineers are now an official, playoff-eligible program that, so far, has shown an affinity for shedding the label of newcomer.
Now 3-0 after a 57-26 victory against Hanna last week in the program’s first conference game, Casper Christian has arguably the biggest game in program history, as short as it is, on Saturday in Casper.
Understanding why requires understanding a little bit about the Class 1A six-man South Conference.
The conference’s top three preseason teams — two-time defending champion Snake River, three-time semifinalist Encampment and two-time semifinalist Dubois — are the teams everyone else is chasing.
That leaves Casper Christian, along with Farson and Hanna, in the position of chasers.
The Mountaineers will have their shot at all of them, with a trip to Baggs to play Snake River next week, a home date with Dubois in Week 6 and a trip to Encampment to end the conference season in Week 7.
But for now, their game with Farson (kickoff at noon Saturday at Natrona) will be Casper Christian’s make-or-break, just as it will be for the Pronghorns, too. Chasing down those top three after a loss to secure any kind of hope of a playoff berth gets a lot harder.
Meanwhile, in the Mountaineer camp, a victory keeps the hope for not only the postseason alive, but the hopes for a bigger opportunity later in the year when the “biggest game in program history” is a memory, replaced by games with far more significance.
Some other games to watch in Week 3:
As cool as Casper Christian’s quick start has been, the biggest game in Casper is still Friday’s Oil Bowl between Kelly Walsh and Natrona. Both teams enter the game coming off a victory, so it will be interesting to see whose momentum is preserved moving forward. …
Arguably the 3A game of the week pits Douglas and Powell against each other. They are both undefeated, Douglas at 2-0 and Powell at 3-0, and they always seem to have good games against each other. Four of the past six meetings between the Bearcats and Panthers ended with margins of seven points or less, including Douglas’ OT victory in last year’s 3A quarterfinals. …
The “Burton Bowl” is happening this week as coach Jim Burton’s new team, Lander, faces his old team, Evanston. Those scenarios are few and far between, and they’re always interesting to watch unfold. …
If Torrington ends up moving to Class 3A next year, will this be the last Wheatland-Torrington rivalry game that we see for awhile? …
Greybull is off to its first 2-0 start since 2016. All the Buffaloes did that year was go to the 2A title game. So if Greybull can knock off West top threat Big Piney this week, watch out. …
Farson and Casper Christian aren’t the only ones engaged in an important 1A-6 South game, as two of those three aforementioned frontrunners, Encampment and Dubois, will face off Saturday in Dubois. This game is so key, I heard Master Lock is sponsoring it.
On to this week’s picks. I denote the team I think will win in bold. It’s a fun little game I play. It’s much smaller than the actual games being played.
Thursday Class 2A Upton-Sundance at Tongue River Class 1A nine-man Rocky Mountain at Wyoming Indian Interclass Cheyenne East JV at Shoshoni Friday Class 4A Cheyenne East at Laramie Cheyenne South at Campbell County Kelly Walsh at Natrona Rock Springs at Sheridan Thunder Basin at Cheyenne Central Class 3A Buffalo at Cody Douglas at Powell Lander at Evanston Riverton at Star Valley Worland at Green River Class 2A Cokeville at Pinedale Glenrock at Big Horn Lyman at Lovell Newcastle at Burns Thermopolis at Mountain View Torrington at Wheatland Class 1A nine-man Lingle at Guernsey Pine Bluffs at Wright Saratoga at Lusk Southeast at Moorcroft Wind River at Riverside Class 1A six-man Ten Sleep at Kaycee Interstate Kemmerer at Rich County, Utah Rawlins at Moffat County, Colo. South Fremont, Idaho, at Jackson Saturday Class 1A nine-man Greybull at Big Piney Class 1A six-man Burlington at Midwest Encampment at Dubois Farson at Casper Christian (at Natrona) Meeteetse at Hulett Snake River at Hanna Interclass St. Stephens at Shoshoni JV
For a full schedule including kickoff times, click here. You can click on “Week 3” at the top of the page to take you directly to this week’s schedule.
Here are the results of my picks from last week and this season:
Last week: 28-6 (82 percent). This season: 71-16 (82 percent).
A quick housekeeping note from last week: Wind River’s varsity actually had the week off. The Cougars’ JV played Natrona’s sophomores, not their varsity. That result has been removed from the site.
Who’s your surprise team to this point in the season? Leave a comment here, or hit me up on the Facebook page or on Twitter.