The 2021 season — as much as it can be — is now incorporated into each individual page on wyoming-football.com. Let me know if something looks weird or incorrect, or if I missed something, by leaving a comment here or emailing me: pschmiedt@yahoo.com.

With that, here were some team record scoring and streaks that made their way to their respective top 10s this year:

The 148 combined points scored by Dubois (68) and Meeteetse (80) in their game on Sept. 18 tied for the ninth-most combined points in a single game.

The 102 points scored combined by Buffalo (27) and Jackson (75) in their 3A quarterfinal game was the fourth-most ever by two teams in an 11-man playoff game. Jackson’s 75 points was the second-most points ever scored by one team in an 11-man playoff game.

Cheyenne South’s 490 points allowed is sixth-most all-time for a single 11-man season. The 54.44 points allowed per game by the Bison was 10th all-time most allowed in an 11-man season.

Cokeville extended existing records with its 34th consecutive winning season and its 36th consecutive non-losing season. Sheridan reached the top 10 with its 15th consecutive non-losing season and also moved up to tied for third all-time with its 15th consecutive winning season.

Laramie stayed in second place all-time with its 21st consecutive losing season and remained in third with its 21st consecutive non-winning season. Moorcroft moved into a tie for fifth with its 13th consecutive losing season. Together, Worland and Wyoming Indian moved into a tie for seventh with their 12th consecutive losing seasons. And Wright moved into a tie for seventh with its 15th consecutive non-winning season.

Updates for individual records, all-state and other postseason honors will happen when they are available. Enjoy…

–patrick

Here’s a quick look at the playoff scenarios for Wyoming high school football teams entering Week 8 of the 2021 season:

Class 4A
Week 8 games affecting playoff seeding: Campbell County at Kelly Walsh; Cheyenne South at Natrona; Laramie at Cheyenne Central; Rock Springs at Cheyenne East; Sheridan at Thunder Basin.
Cheyenne East: In. No. 1 seed with victory. No. 3 seed with loss.
Rock Springs: In. No. 1 seed with victory and Thunder Basin victory. No. 2 seed with victory and Sheridan victory. No. 3 seed with loss and Sheridan victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (score differential to break) with loss and Thunder Basin victory.
Sheridan: In. No. 1 seed with victory and Rock Springs victory. No. 2 seed with victory and East victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (score differential to break) with loss and East victory. No. 4 seed with loss and Rock Springs victory.
Thunder Basin: In. No. 2 seed with victory and Rock Springs victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (score differential to break) with victory and East victory. No. 4 seed with loss and South victory. No. 5 seed with loss and Natrona victory.
Natrona: In. No. 4 seed with victory and Sheridan victory. No. 5 seed with victory and Thunder Basin victory. No. 5 seed with loss.
Campbell County, Kelly Walsh: In. No. 6 seed with victory. No. 7 seed with loss.
Cheyenne Central, Laramie: Neither in nor out. No. 8 seed with victory. Out with loss.
Cheyenne South: Out.

Here’s a breakdown of how the seeding would go for the top five seeds with the three games in play:

If Natrona beats South
TeamsEastRock SpringsSheridanThunder BasinNatrona
Rock Springs, Sheridan win32154
Rock Springs, Thunder Basin win31425
East, Sheridan win13254
East, Thunder Basin win14325
If South beats Natrona
TeamsEastRock SpringsSheridanThunder BasinNatrona
Rock Springs, Sheridan win32145
Rock Springs, Thunder Basin win31425
East, Sheridan win13245
East, Thunder Basin win14325

Score differential tiebreaker (updated 10-21): If Thunder Basin, Sheridan and Rock Springs tied for the 2-3-4 seeds… Thunder Basin would have the victory against the highest-ranking non-tied team (East), so would be the No. 2 seed. Sheridan then is the No. 3 seed due to head-to-head victory over Rock Springs, which would be seeded fourth. Thanks to Nash in the comments for correcting the error I had previously listed in this scenario.

Class 3A East
Week 8 games affecting playoff seeding: Douglas at Worland; Lander at Buffalo.
Douglas: In. No. 1 seed with victory. No. 2 seed with loss and Lander victory. Tie for 1-2-3 seeds (score differential/coin flip to break) with loss and Buffalo victory.
Buffalo: In. Tie for 1-2-3 seeds (score differential/coin flip to break) with victory and Worland victory. No. 2 seed with victory and Douglas victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (score differential/coin flip to break) with loss and Douglas victory. No. 4 seed with loss and Worland victory.
Worland: In. No. 1 seed with victory and Lander victory. Tie for 1-2-3 seeds (score differential/coin flip to break) with victory and Buffalo victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (score differential/coin flip to break) with loss and Lander victory. No. 3 seed with loss and Buffalo victory.
Lander: In. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (score differential/coin flip to break) with victory and Douglas victory. No. 3 seed with victory and Worland victory. No. 4 seed with loss.
Rawlins, Riverton: Out.
Score differential tiebreakers:
Scenario 1: If Buffalo, Worland and Lander tied for the 2-3-4 seeds… Lander would have to defeat Buffalo by 10 or more points to win the No. 2 seed (Lander +3, Buffalo +2, Worland -5). Buffalo would be the No. 3 seed by virtue of its head-to-head victory over Worland, which would be the fourth seed. … If Lander won by nine or fewer points, Buffalo would be the No. 2 seed. Worland would be the No. 3 seed with a head-to-head victory over Lander, which would be the No. 4 seed.
Scenario 2: If Douglas, Buffalo and Worland tied for the 1-2-3 seeds… Worland would have to beat Douglas by at least 12 points to force a coin flip for the 1-2-3 seeds. A Worland victory by 11 or fewer points would give Douglas the point differential tiebreaker and the No. 1 seed. Buffalo would then be the No. 2 seed due to its victory against Worland.

Class 3A West
Week 8 games affecting playoff seeding: Evanston at Powell; Jackson at Cody.
Cody, Jackson: In. No. 1 seed with victory. No. 2 seed with loss.
Star Valley: In. No. 3 seed.
Evanston, Powell: Neither in nor out. No. 4 seed with victory. Out with loss.
Green River: Out.

Class 2A East
Week 8 games potentially affecting playoff seeding: Burns at Torrington; Tongue River at Glenrock; Upton-Sundance at Big Horn; Wheatland at Newcastle.
Torrington: In. No. 1 seed.
Wheatland: Neither in nor out. No. 2 seed with victory. No. 4 seed with loss and Upton-Sundance victory. Get in a messy tie with loss and Big Horn victory (see below).
Upton-Sundance: Neither in nor out. No. 2 seed with victory and Newcastle victory. No. 3 seed with victory and Wheatland victory. No. 4 seed with loss and Wheatland victory. Get in a messy tie with loss and Newcastle victory (see below).
Big Horn: Neither in nor out. No. 3 seed with victory and Wheatland victory. Get in a messy tie with victory and Newcastle victory (see below). Get in a messy tie with loss and Wheatland victory (see below). Either out or in a messy tie (see below) with loss and Wheatland victory.
Newcastle: Neither in nor out. No. 3 seed with victory and Upton-Sundance victory. Get in a messy tie with victory and Big Horn victory (see below). Get in a messy tie or out with loss and Upton-Sundance victory (see below). Out with loss and Big Horn victory.
Burns: Neither in nor out. Need a victory, a Tongue River victory, an Upton-Sundance victory and a Wheatland victory to get in a messy tie (see below). Out in all other scenarios.
Tongue River: Neither in nor out. Need a victory, a Burns victory, an Upton-Sundance victory and a Wheatland victory to get in a messy tie (see below). Out in all other scenarios.
Glenrock: Out.
Here are the 2A East scenarios for Week 8. They involve the potential for two four-way tiebreakers, which would be broken with a method TBD, as well as a three-way tiebreaker to be broken by either point differential or coin flip:

If Tongue River beats Glenrock…WheatlandUpton-SundanceBig HornNewcastleBurnsTongue River
Burns, U-S, Wheatland win23tie 4-out-out-outtie 4-out-out-outout (even in tie)tie 4-out-out-outScenario 1
Burns, U-S, Newcastle win42out3outout
Burns, Big Horn, Wheatland win243outoutout
Burns, Big Horn, Newcastle win243outoutoutScenario 2
Torrington, U-S, Wheatland win234outoutoutScenario 3
Torrington, U-S, Newcastle win42out3outout
Torrington, Big Horn, Wheatland win243outoutout
Torrington, Big Horn, Newcastle win243outoutoutScenario 2
If Glenrock beats Tongue River…WheatlandUpton-SundanceBig HornNewcastleBurnsTongue River
Burns, U-S, Wheatland win234outoutoutScenario 4
Burns, U-S, Newcastle win42out3outout
Burns, Big Horn, Wheatland win243outoutout
Burns, Big Horn, Newcastle win243outoutoutScenario 2
Torrington, U-S, Wheatland win234outoutout
Torrington, U-S, Newcastle win42out3outout
Torrington, Big Horn, Wheatland win243outoutout
Torrington, Big Horn, Newcastle win243outoutoutScenario 2

Tiebreaker scenarios:
Scenario 1: Where Big Horn, Burns, Newcastle and Tongue River tie for the fourth and final spot, Burns would be 0-3 against the other three teams and would be eliminated from the tiebreaker. The remaining three teams would have their tie broken by a coin flip, with the odd team out and the head-to-head winner of the remaining teams taking the spot in the playoffs. (Four-way ties do not revert to three-way ties in cases like this.) Thanks to WHSAA Associate Commissioner Trevor Wilson for clarification on this tiebreaker.

Scenario 2 (updated 10-21): Where Wheatland, Upton-Sundance, Big Horn and Newcastle tie for the 2-3-4 spots and one team finishing out, the four-way tiebreaking instructions would be used. In a case where two teams are 2-1 and the other two are 1-2 against each other, the two 2-1 teams would take the top two seeds, with the head-to-head result determining the higher seed. In this situation, Wheatland and Big Horn would be seeded 2 and 3, as both are 2-1 and Wheatland will have defeated Big Horn. Then Upton-Sundance and Newcastle, the two 1-2 teams, would have Upton-Sundance seeded fourth and Newcastle out due to the head-to-head victory. Thanks to WHSAA Associate Commissioner Trevor Wilson for further clarification on this tiebreaker.
Scenario 3: Where Big Horn, Newcastle and Tongue River tie for the fourth and final spot, Big Horn would win a score differential tiebreaker (Big Horn +11, Tongue River -2, Newcastle -9).
Scenario 4: Where Big Horn, Newcastle and Burns tie for the fourth and final spot, Big Horn gains the No. 4 seed with head-to-head victories over both.

Class 2A West
Week 8 games affecting playoff seeding: Big Piney at Kemmerer; Lovell at Cokeville.
Lyman: In. No. 1 seed.
Lovell: In. No. 2 seed with victory. No. 3 seed with loss and Kemmerer victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (score differential to break) with loss and Big Piney victory.
Cokeville: In. No. 2 seed with victory and Kemmerer victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (score differential to break) with victory and Big Piney victory. No. 4 seed with loss.
Big Piney: In. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (score differential to break) with victory and Cokeville victory. No. 3 seed with Lovell victory, regardless of win or loss. No. 4 seed with loss and Cokeville victory.
Thermopolis, Kemmerer, Mountain View, Pinedale: Out.
Score differential tiebreaker: If Lovell, Cokeville and Big Piney all tie for the 2-3-4 seeds… Cokeville would have to defeat Lovell by 10 or more points to secure the No. 2 seed. If that happens, Cokeville will be 2, and Lovell will be No. 3 by virtue of the head-to-head victory against Big Piney, which will be fourth. … If Cokeville wins by nine or fewer, Lovell will win the score differential tiebreaker, with Big Piney getting the No. 3 seed with the head-to-head victory over Cokeville, which would be the fourth seed. A coin flip wouldn’t be used, since it’s mathematically impossible to finish with a tied score differential given the two existing final scores.

Class 1A nine-man East
Week 8 games affecting playoff seeding: Wright at Southeast.
Pine Bluffs: In. No. 1 seed.
Lusk: In. No. 2 seed.
Southeast, Wright: In. No. 3 seed with victory. No. 4 seed with loss.
Lingle, Saratoga: Out.
Moorcroft: Ineligible.

Class 1A nine-man West
Week 8 games affecting playoff seeding: Shoshoni at Riverside; Wind River at Wyoming Indian (both Thursday).
Shoshoni: In. No. 1 seed.
Rocky Mountain: In. No. 2 seed.
Wind River: In. No. 3 seed with victory. No. 3 seed with loss and Shoshoni victory. No. 4 seed with loss and Riverside victory.
Riverside: In. No. 3 seed with victory and Wyoming Indian victory. No. 4 seed with victory and Wind River victory. No. 4 seed with loss.
Greybull, St. Stephens, Wyoming Indian: Out.

Class 1A six-man East
Week 8 games affecting playoff seeding: Midwest at Guernsey; Kaycee at Hanna (Saturday).
Hulett: In. No. 1 seed.
Guernsey: In. No. 2 seed with victory. No. 3 seed with loss and Hanna victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (score differential/coin flip to break) with loss and Kaycee victory.
Midwest: Neither in nor out. No. 2 seed with victory and Hanna victory. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (score differential/coin flip to break) with victory and Kaycee victory. No. 3 seed with loss and Hanna victory. No. 4 seed with loss and Kaycee victory.
Kaycee: Neither in nor out. Tie for 2-3-4 seeds (score differential/coin flip to break) with victory and Midwest victory. No. 3 seed with victory and Guernsey victory. Out with loss.
Hanna: Neither in nor out. No. 4 seed with victory. Out with loss.
Score differential tiebreakers:
Scenario 1: If Midwest, Kaycee and Guernsey tied for the 2-3-4 seeds… Midwest would have to defeat Guernsey by six or more points to win the No. 2 seed (Midwest 1, Guernsey 1, Kaycee -2, with Midwest winning the head-to-head tie for the second seed; Midwest wins the differential outright by winning by seven or more). Guernsey would be the No. 3 seed by virtue of its head-to-head victory over Kaycee, which would be fourth. … If Midwest won by five or fewer points, Guernsey would win the score differential and be the No. 2 seed. Kaycee would be No. 3 with its head-to-head victory over Midwest, and Midwest would be seeded No. 4.
Scenario 2: If Midwest, Hanna and Kaycee tied for the final two seeds… Midwest would win the score differential tiebreaker in all scenarios. Hanna can’t catch Midwest (current score differential Midwest +7, Kaycee +5, Hanna -12). Midwest would win the score differential tiebreaker, and Hanna would be the No. 4 seed by virtue of the head-to-head victory over Kaycee, no matter the margin.

Class 1A six-man West
Week 8 games affecting playoff seeding: none.
Snake River: In. No. 1 seed.
Encampment: In. No. 2 seed.
Meeteetse: In. No. 3 seed.
Dubois: In. No. 4 seed.
Burlington, Farson: Out.
Even with two conference games this weekend, seeds are set. Snake River, even with a loss, wins all tiebreakers with Encampment; Encampment, even with a loss, wins all tiebreakers with Meeteetse; Farson, even with a victory, loses all tiebreakers with Dubois. There are no potential three-way ties that could happen in the conference standings.

–patrick

Note: Post updated 3:27 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, to update 1A six-man East scenarios. Post updated 4:32 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, to update 1A six-man West scenarios. Post updated 9:44 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, to update 2A East scenarios. Post updated 3:06 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19, with updated 2A East four-way tiebreaker scenarios. Post updated 4:51 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19, with updated 2A West tiebreakers after result of Thermopolis/Big Piney game. Post updated 2:15 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21, to reflect correction to error in 4A tiebreaker and additional guidance from the WHSAA office regarding the 2A East four-way tiebreaker possibilities.

Last season, the NFL had three players from Wyoming high schools on their active rosters — Jacob Bobenmoyer (Cheyenne East) with Denver, Taven Bryan (Natrona) with Jacksonville and Logan Wilson (Natrona) with Cincinnati.

In Week 4 last season, Bryan’s Jaguars played Wilson’s Bengals. Unfortunately, Wilson missed the game due to injury. If he had played, it would have given Wyoming football fans a rare opportunity to see two Wyoming high school graduates play against each other in an NFL game.

This season, the Bengals, Jaguars and Broncos all play each other once. Jacksonville hosts Denver this Sunday, in Week 2 (Sept. 19), Cincinnati hosts Jacksonville in Week 4 (Sept. 30, Thursday night game) and Denver hosts Cincinnati in Week 15 (Dec. 19).

If Bobenmoyer, Bryan and Wilson can all remain on rosters, active and injury-free, three games where two Wyoming high school players lined up on opposite sidelines would give us more games of that kind than any time since the 2005 season and Wyoming’s first since 2012.

Using my Wyoming-to-NFL listings, which includes every player who took at least one NFL regular-season snap, as a starting point, I combed pro-football-reference.com to see when we’ve had such games. I found 27 such games. Here is what I could find:

Sept. 29, 1963: Boyd Dowler’s (Cheyenne Central) Packers beat Jerry Hill’s (Lingle) Colts 31-20. Coincidentally, Hill and Dowler scored the first two touchdowns of the game. Dowler had five catches for 74 yards and two touchdowns; Hill finished with four carries for 8 yards.

Oct. 27, 1963: Dowler’s Packers beat Hill’s Colts 34-20. Dowler had two catches for 23 yards; Hill had three carries for 6 yards.

Sept. 20, 1964: Hill’s Colts beat Dowler’s Packers 21-20. Hill carried 15 times for 49 yards and caught two passes for 28 yards; Dowler had seven catches for 66 yards.

Oct. 18, 1964: Hill’s Colts beat Dowler’s Packers 24-21. Dowler had two catches for 55 yards; Hill didn’t make the box score. (Hill may have missed this game due to injury, but reports from the time are unclear.)

Sept. 26, 1965: Dowler’s Packers beat Hill’s Colts 20-17. Dowler had four catches for 53 yards; Hill had 12 carries for 42 yards and a touchdown.

Dec. 12, 1965: Dowler’s Packers beat Hill’s Colts 42-27. Dowler and Hill each scored a touchdown. Dowler had four catches for 40 yards; Hill had nine carries for 24 yards.

Dec. 26, 1965: Dowler’s Packers beat Hill’s Colts 13-10 in the divisional playoffs. Dowler had five catches for 50 yards; Hill had 16 carries for 57 yards.

Sept. 10, 1966: Dowler’s Packers beat Hill’s Colts 24-3. Dowler had six catches for 73 yards; Hill ran 13 times for 51 yards and had two catches for 10 yards.

Dec. 10, 1966: Dowler’s Packers beat Hill’s Colts 14-10. Hill carried 25 times for 88 yards; Dowler didn’t make the box score.

Nov. 5, 1967: Hill’s Colts beat Dowler’s Packers 13-10. Dowler had four catches for 60 yards; Hill carried 11 times for 48 yards and had two catches for a net zero yards.

Nov. 9, 1969: Hill’s Colts beat Dowler’s Packers 14-6. Dowler had three catches for 37 yards; Hill carried 10 times for 45 yards and had one catch for minus-3 yards.

Oct. 9, 1977: Don Westbrook’s (Cheyenne Central) Patriots beat Nick Bebout’s (Shoshoni) Seahawks 31-0. Neither one was in the box score; Bebout started for the Seahawks on the offensive line.

Oct. 5, 1980: Westbrook’s Patriots beat Jesse Johnson’s (Cheyenne East) Jets 21-11. Neither one was in the box score.

Nov. 2, 1980: Westbrook’s Patriots beat Johnson’s Jets 34-21. Neither one was in the box score.

Oct. 11, 1981: Johnson’s Jets beat Westbrook’s Patriots 28-24. Neither one was in the box score.

Nov. 15, 1981: Johnson’s Jets beat Westbrook’s Patriots 17-6. Neither one was in the box score.

Sept. 22, 1985: Jim Eliopulos’ (Cheyenne Central) Jets beat Mike McLeod’s (Cheyenne East) Packers 24-3. Neither one was in the box score.

Oct. 31, 2005: Brett Keisel’s (Greybull) Steelers beat Aaron Elling’s (Lander) Ravens 20-19. Keisel had one tackle; Elling handled kickoffs and had one tackle.

Nov. 6, 2005: Keisel’s Steelers beat Brady Poppinga’s (Evanston) Packers 20-10. Each player had two tackles.

Nov. 20, 2005: Elling’s Ravens beat Keisel’s Steelers 16-13. Keisel had one tackle; Elling handled the Ravens’ kickoffs.

Dec. 20, 2009: Keisel’s Steelers beat Poppinga’s Packers 37-36. Poppinga had one tackle, a sack; Keisel had one tackle.

Oct. 3, 2010: Poppinga’s Packers beat John Wendling’s (Rock Springs) Lions 28-26. Wendling had two tackles; Poppinga had one tackle.

Oct. 16, 2011: Keisel’s Steelers beat John Chick (Campbell County) and Chris Prosinski’s (Buffalo) Jaguars 17-13. Keisel had six tackles, including a sack, and a pass deflection; Chick had a sack and a forced fumble; Prosinski had two tackles.

Dec. 24, 2011: Keisel’s Steelers beat Poppinga’s Rams 27-0. Poppinga had four tackles; Keisel had three tackles and a pass deflection.

Nov. 4, 2012: Wendling’s Lions beat Chick and Prosinski’s Jaguars 31-14. Prosinski had four tackles; Wendling and Chick played but did not make the box score.

Dec. 16, 2012: Poppinga’s Cowboys beat Keisel’s Steelers 27-24. Keisel had a fumble recovery; Poppinga had one tackle.

+++

I also found these times when two Wyoming high school products played on the same NFL team:

1935: Win Croft (Lovell) and Walt McDonald (Worland) played together on the Brooklyn Dodgers.

1973, 1974 and 1975: Nick Bebout (Shoshoni) and Dennis Havig (Powell) played together on the Atlanta Falcons.

1983: Jim Eliopulos (Cheyenne Central) and Jesse Johnson (Cheyenne East) played together for part of the season with the Jets.

2011 and 2012: Chris Prosinski (Buffalo) and John Chick (Campbell County) played together with the Jaguars.

Note: Some years, like 2020, gave us opportunities for these kind of games but didn’t happen. For example, in 1961, Dowler’s Packers twice played Hill’s Colts, and even though Hill was on the roster, he wasn’t activated for those particular games. Or, in Super Bowl XLV on Feb. 6, 2011, Keisel’s Steelers played Poppinga’s Packers, but Poppinga was on injured reserve and did not play. Or, in 2014, Keisel’s Steelers played Prosinski’s Jaguars, but the game came the week after Proskinski had been cut. Games that matched up teams where Wyoming players were on injured reserve or inactive have been removed.

Those games have been removed from these listings.

Similarly, Don Bracken (Thermopolis) and Mike McLeod (Cheyenne East) both played for the Packers in 1985. However, their times with the team did not overlap.

Additionally, in 2021, if either Bryan or Wilson, both defensive players, lines up on the other side of Bobenmoyer, a long snapper, it would represent one of just a handful of times that Wyoming high school players lined up across from each other in a regular-season NFL game. The only times such matchups could have happened in the games listed above were in the games between Westbrook (WR) and Johnson (DB) in 1980 and 1981 and the games between Keisel (DE) and Elling (K) in 2005.

–patrick

Want to know how hard an officiating crew can work during the season? Look no further than where that crew sleeps.

Saratoga football coach Logan Wright watched with both surprise and admiration last fall when the Saratoga gym turned into a makeshift hotel for an officiating crew.

The group had officiated a game Friday afternoon in Farson and then a Friday night game in Saratoga. That crew slept in the Saratoga gym that night before officiating a Saturday game in Baggs.

Wright said he appreciates Wyoming’s football officials, especially those willing to sacrifice and do that. But the scenario puts in clear view one of the biggest problems with Wyoming officials — their small number. With a small number of new, young officials joining the ranks, officials are often put in tough situations like the one in Saratoga last year.

In interviews with Wyoming high school football coaches this summer, they all echoed respect and appreciation for what officials do. But the coaches also said the shortage of football officials in Wyoming has affected game times, budgets, the make-up of the crews themselves, and more.

Game times

By far, the biggest challenge schools faced was the variety of start times based on officials’ availability.

“Ideally we’d have every game Friday at 6,” Wright said. ” … It’s not our AD’s fault. You can only play once the refs can get there.”

Six-man programs usually take the brunt of the trickle-down problems, as officiating crews cover Class 4A and Class 3A games first.

“The official shortage has had a bigger impact on the smaller schools,” Burlington coach Travis Aagard said. “It requires tough start times, which makes it hard for the fans to make it to games. Officials are double booked for the day, and the second game is usually a bigger school so they do not want to be late to that game. If the game is lopsided it works out, but if it is a close game with hard calls down the stretch when they are already pressed for time it can be uncomfortable.”

Even with the shortage, Guernsey coach Curtis Cook said some officiating crews will turn down working the Vikings’ six-man games because of the amount of running. Cook said officials have said they can do half as much running in an 11-man game and get paid the same amount. Cook said when officiating crews have a choice between six-man and 11-man, crews choose 11-man — a choice afforded by those low numbers.

“It’s a real thing, and it’s affecting our schedule,” Cook said. “Those Friday night games have almost become a treat. Other (bigger) schools, they get it every week.”

Added Meeteetse coach Zeb Hagen, “We’re one of the few smaller schools that has lights, and we can never turn them on because everyone’s doing the big games on Friday night. … I hate it. I’d rather play on Friday night every week.”

It’s not just six-man; Big Piney coach Ryan Visser said the Big Piney-Lovell game, a Class 2A game, will be played at 2 p.m. in Lovell this season. Because of that, though, Big Piney will have to be on a bus heading north by 5:30 a.m.

With crews often doing back-to-back games, quality can suffer, coaches said.

“You can’t do those back-to-back games and be on the top of your game, so I do think there are some lasting effects in it,” Shoshoni coach Tony Truempler said.

When crews aren’t running from a six-man or nine-man game to a 3A or 4A game, they’re often working two games on the same field in the same day — and that, too, can take a toll.

“We often play a freshman game on Friday before the varsity and the same crew usually has to work each game,” Cody coach Matt McFadden said. “That is a long day for the crew, especially when you throw in travel.”

ADs and coaches all know about the scheduling chase.

Moorcroft coach Travis Santistevan said when schools received schedules, they couldn’t begin scheduling officials until 4 p.m. At exactly 4, the Moorcroft AD, Dusty Petz, starting making calls.

“We literally went through almost everybody and we still had a tough time filling our (officiating) schedules… and that was at like 4:15,” Santistevan said.

Budgets

Many coaches said they look out-of-state to fill gaps in their officiating schedule, pulling in crews from every neighboring state.

However, those crews typically cost more than a Wyoming crew.

For at least one recent game, Wind River had to bring in officials all the way from Fort Collins, Colorado, at a cost of “an arm and a leg,” Cougars’ coach Mykah Trujillo said. Trujillo said he was frustrated that the extra cost had to go to officials from another state more than 300 miles from Pavillion and couldn’t stay with the program somehow.

“It definitely affects our program, especially monetarily,” he said. “Instead of using that money for something else, we’re using it to pay officials to come in from Fort Collins.”

Several coaches in southwestern Wyoming noted pulling crews from Idaho or Utah to make up for the lack of Wyoming crews.

“We only have two sets of officials on this side of the state,” Cokeville coach Todd Dayton said. ” … Then we have to go into Idaho and get officials, so it’s a big problem. I really don’t see anything changing. I wish it would.”

Crew make-up

Coaches identified a couple issues with how crews are put together due to the shortage.

The biggest of those problems is using an understaffed crew to officiate, for example, using four officials instead of five.

Greybull coach Jeremy Pouska said that as an assistant at Riverside last year, “There were a few games where we were understaff for officials. … As much as we want the kids to play fair and honest, a lot can go unseen if we’re understaffed.”

Lander coach John Scott said the problem is severe enough that there’s a possibility that five-man crews in the future could include three officials and then an assistant coach from each team.

Lyman coach Dale Anderson said one problem he sees is that the same crews officiate the same teams over and over. He said having some variety would be nice not just for teams and coaches but for officials, too.

Added Douglas coach Jay Rhoades, “When we go and play around the state, you see a lot of the same guys.”

Several coaches noted this arrangement becomes even more problematic if a coaching staff doesn’t have a good rapport with one of those oft-seen crews.

At the same time, though, the familiarity between coaches and officials does have benefits.

“I’ve been in Kansas and officials don’t even talk to you there,” Dubois coach David Trembly said. “Here, you know them by name and you can talk to them and ask them questions, and I love that about our officials.”

Cheyenne Central coach Mike Apodaca pointed out that one of the problems is that younger officials are being forced to officiate at the varsity level sooner than they would have previously. That lack of depth means newer officials are facing more high-pressure situations, and sometimes officials with less experience struggle with those situations more — and are more likely to leave officiating because of it.

Burns coach Brad Morrison echoed several coaches when he said brought up another problem — older officials stay longer than they used to out of obligation to help with the shortage. However, several coaches said some of the older officials have trouble keeping up physically, which lessens the quality of the game.

Other concerns

WHSAA Associate Commissioner Trevor Wilson said via email last week that the biggest problem is recruiting young officials. He echoed the coaches in their concerns, with poor sportsmanship from coaches and spectators, pay, work obligations, inability to get good games quickly and a lack of training all concerns.

While other sports are struggling to recruit officials, the problem is more acute in football.

Wilson provided data from the Wyoming Sports Officials Association with the total number of officials in each sport. The number of certified football officials in Wyoming peaked in 2012 at 124. Last year, there were 85. However, the total number was more stable — 295 in 2012 to 261 last year.

Lander’s Scott officiates during the basketball season, and he said part of the problem is that basketball officials can work multiple games throughout the week and come close to making it a part-time job. That’s not the case in football, where there are fewer games and therefore fewer opportunities to make money.

Officials’ pay was a consistent theme among coaches. Several coaches noted that increased pay would bring out more officials.

“I’ve been a basketball ref before and it is not an easy gig,” Burlington’s Aagard said. “You start thinking, ‘They don’t pay me enough to put up with this,’ when everyone is critical of your calls.”

Rock Springs coach Mark Lenhardt, the football representative for the Wyoming Coaches Association, said finding former players to become officials is complicated by a variety of things unique to the fall — namely hunting season, fans of UW football wanting to attend games, and the opportunity to do other outdoor activities before winter encouraging would-be officials to do something else besides officiating with their weekends.

Appreciation for the officials

Despite any problems, coaches over and over said they appreciate officials and the work they do.

“Officiating is a sport within a sport,” Burns’ Morrison said. “There is skill involved. Anyone who has never put on stripes should shut up, and let the officials work. It’s a hard enough job without a bunch of 40-something, ex-JV football players screaming insults for an entire game.”

Rawlins coach Clayton McSpadden said coaches in particular need to show patience with new officials. They’re still learning to be officials, and coaches have to give them the opportunity to learn as well, he said. He said those involved can’t expect officials to get entire game right.

“If that’s the expectation, maybe we should stop coaching and go be officials,” he said.

People interested in becoming an official can fill out a short application with the National Federation of High Schools, of which the WHSAA is a part.

–patrick

Part of why I continue to run wyoming-football.com — for which I started the research in 2004 and have since expanded to basketball and, well, everything else with Champlists — is that I keep learning new things.

The past year in particular, I hit the researching hard, thanks to a subscription to newspapers.com (a bonus made possible by those who provided a sponsorship!). I found some interesting things about coaches, players and others — some cool, some sad, some disturbing.

Of the myriad tidbits I’ve encountered, here are some of the more interesting ones — stories I wouldn’t have know about if I hadn’t been putting together research for my sites.

The cool:

The sad:

  • Sheridan coach O.E. “Oc” Erickson was a highly successful football coach, but he left the head coaching spotlight his early 30s. He moved to his hometown of Cheyenne and was an assistant for the Cheyenne High team for a few years. He should have been around much longer; he died at 41 after he fell in a hotel lobby the night after a UW football game and fractured his skull.
  • Then there’s the story of the high school basketball coach who coached his daughter in the state tournament; the team lost two and went home. The next day, his daughter died in a car crash; a moment of silence was held before the championship games that Saturday night.

The disturbing (with names removed):

  • The girls basketball coach who was convicted of having sex with players on his team — and who in his court testimony struggled to show remorse.
  • The basketball coach who traveled separately from his team to the state tournament — and then got pulled over and tagged with a DUI and speeding while on the way. By all accounts, he coached at state, but he didn’t keep his job much longer.
  • The coach who left education to get into law enforcement, became police chief of a major Wyoming city — and was convicted of soliciting bribes while police chief.
  • The driver of the “other” car in the crash that killed Byron and Lovell coach Wilford Mower, the guy for whom the big award handed out to high school athletes in Wyoming’s northwest corner — he died several years later in another car crash that also took the life of one of his own children.

These are just a few of the hundreds of tidbits I’ve found while researching Wyoming’s high school sports. I think it’s important to remember all of it — good, sad, disturbing and more — to understand the totality of how sports, community and culture intermingle. I’m hoping to bring some of the more interesting stories to this site in the future thanks to the details I’ve picked up in researching for Champlists.

–patrick

Fall is football time — and what better way to enjoy the season by attending as many games as possible?

That’s what this blog post intends to do: map out the most efficient possible way to see as many, and some of the best, Wyoming high school football games in the 2021 season.

When I’ve done this the past couple years (see 2020 and 2019‘s dream trips), I’ve always struggled to decide which Friday night game should get top billing. Sometimes I choose a game that I know I wouldn’t want to miss. Sometimes I choose a game because it’s near an afternoon game and I can catch two games instead of one. Sometimes I throw a dart at a map and see what fate wants for me.

With significant help from the 2021 schedule, here’s my dream trip, existing only in a world where I had every Friday and Saturday off and plenty of money for gas, grub and hotels:

Week 0
Friday, Aug. 27
: Natrona sophs at Glenrock, noon; Thunder Basin at Cheyenne East, 6 p.m.

A host of scrimmages and other Zero Week shenanigans dot the schedule, so I decided a short trip down I-25 would work best. The chance to see the rematch of last year’s 4A title game is too much to pass up.

Week 1
Thursday, Sept. 2
: Pine Bluffs at Riverside, 2 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 3: Hulett at Burlington, 2 p.m.; Worland at Powell, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 4: Hanna at Snake River, 2 p.m.

The Northwest corner has some really intriguing games, and I could catch three of them by hitting Basin, Burlington and Powell. It’s a long morning drive to Baggs to catch the Carbon County rivals go at it, but worth it.

Week 2
Friday, Sept. 10
: Cokeville at Lyman, 11 a.m.; Lovell at Mountain View, 4 p.m.; Kelly Walsh at Rock Springs, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 11: Burlington at Farson, 1 p.m.

The schedule allows for a rare triple-header attempt in the Southwest, with two 2A West games in the Bridger Valley the essential viewing on this trip (and maybe the second half of Trojans-Tigers?). A six-man game on Saturday is a great capper to a week that will set the pace in a competitive 2A West for the rest of the season.

Week 3
Friday, Sept. 17
: Lander at Evanston, 3 p.m.; Worland at Green River, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 18: Dubois at Meeteetse, noon.

Week 3’s schedule has great games all over it, but the Evanston-Green River 3A double-dip offered the most bang for the buck. From there, it’s a long but doable drive to catch the Rams and Longhorns in an intriguing six-man matchup.

Week 4
Thursday, Sept. 23
: Riverside at Wyoming Indian, 5 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 24: Burns at Big Horn, 2 p.m.; Rawlins at Buffalo, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 25: Kaycee at Hulett, 1 p.m.

I was destined to head northeast this week, as Burns-Big Horn is the only non-six-man afternoon game. But, hey — three games, plus a bonus trip to Ethete, is all good.

Week 5
Friday, Oct. 1
: Shoshoni at Pine Bluffs, 2 p.m.; Wheatland at Burns, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 2: Pinedale at Mountain View, 1 p.m.

Laramie County gets some love this week as the best two-for-one option is down in the southeast corner. A little bonus 2A ball on Saturday (and a long drive) makes for a good weekend.

Week 6
Thursday, Oct. 7
: Wind River at St. Stephens, 4 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 8: Guernsey at Kaycee, 2 p.m.; Campbell County at Natrona, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 9: Encampment at Hanna, 2 p.m.

It’s a hodgepodge of games for Week 6, mostly based on convenient times and geography. But all four games are intriguing in their own ways, and that’ll make it fun.

Week 7
Friday, Oct. 15
: Southeast at Lusk, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 16: Burlington at Guernsey, 1 p.m.

After last year, you’d have to be out of your mind to think I’d miss a game between Southeast and Lusk. I could have watched more games with a different schedule, but this was worth it — plus some six-man bonus ball on Saturday.

Week 8
Thursday, Oct. 21
: St. Stephens at Rocky Mountain, 5:30 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 22: Pinedale at Thermopolis, 3 p.m.; Jackson at Cody, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Oct. 23: Dubois vs. Hulett, at Ten Sleep, TBD.

Again: If you think I’d miss Jackson-Cody, you’ve got another think coming… I might have to leave Thermopolis a bit early to catch it all, though. Add in a couple six-man games and a nine-man, and it makes for a full week.

+++

I’d catch 44 of Wyoming’s 63 teams on this trip — six of the 10 4A teams, nine of 12 in 3A, 10 of 16 in 2A, nine of 14 in 1A nine-man and 10 of 11 in 1A six-man. I’d see Worland, Burns, Mountain View, Pine Bluffs, Riverside, St. Stephens, Dubois, Guernsey, Hanna and Kaycee twice; I’d see Burlington and Hulett three times. And I’d be broke, tired and totally happy.

–patrick

The past 10 years have provided us with 3,095 Wyoming high school football games.

Some were great. Some weren’t. This post is about the former — specifically, the best 20 games of the past 10 years.

Of course, “best” is subjective. These are the games I remember best over the past 10 years, for whatever reason. I definitely gave preference to high-stakes games, which is why you’ll see a lot of playoff games on this list. I also prefer close games, which is why you’ll see no game decided by more than one possession on this list. I also prefer games where exciting things happen late, which is why you’ll see a lot of games decided by fourth-quarter or OT scores here, too.

You’re welcome to disagree; the comments area on this post is ready for your thoughts, too!

From my list of 20, I chose one to be the “game of the decade.” See the end of the post for that choice. Meanwhile, here are my top 20 Wyoming high school football games for 2011-20, presented chronologically:

Cheyenne East 28, Evanston 27, OT, 2011 4A quarterfinals — Jeremy Woods has three TDs, including the game winner on fourth-and-1, as East rallies from down 14 at half.

Powell 23, Green River 21, 2011 3A semifinals — The Panthers score 20 points in the fourth quarter, including the game-winning 45-yard TD with 12 seconds left.

Powell 15, Douglas 14, 2011 3A championship — Powell’s Olie Olson intercepts Douglas’ 2-point conversion attempt with 15 seconds remaining to end Bearcats’ bid at a four-peat.

Green River 32, Douglas 25, 2012 3A quarterfinals — Blaine Christensen’s TD catch with 1:09 to go puts a cap on a thrilling playoff game.

Southeast 16, Cokeville 8, 2012 1A 11-man semifinals — The Cyclones’ hopes for a title are saved by a big tackle on final play.

Lyman 22, Lovell 20, 2012 2A championshipRevenge for Eagles is sweet as they beat the Bulldogs in a title-game rematch from the previous year.

Midwest 64, Dubois 62, 2013 1A-6 semifinal — The Oilers score 20 points in the final 2:08, and two TDs in the final 39 seconds, to rally past the defending state champions.

Powell 19, Douglas 13, OT, 2013 3A championship — In this 3A title game, it came down to the QBs near the goal line; one sneak didn’t work, the other did.

Cokeville 13, Lusk 12, 2013 1A-11 championship — Cokeville’s defense comes up big twice late in the fourth quarter, ending two separate Tiger drives on fourth down.

Cheyenne East 14, Natrona 13, 2013 4A championship — Natrona’s fourth one-point loss of 2013 is determined by the uprights; a missed field goal for NC would’ve been good on high school posts.

Sheridan 38, Gillette 31, 2015 4A championship — A high-scoring 4A shootout ends Gillette’s bid for an undefeated season.

Newcastle 31, Mountain View 28, 2OT, 2016 2A quarterfinal — Despite a big rally from the Buffalos, the Dogies pull off a huge first-round upset.

Pine Bluffs 19, Upton-Sundance 13, 2016 1A-11 semifinal — The Hornets upset the Patriots, a team that beat them 39-0 in the regular season, on the road, ending U-S’s perfect season while en route to their first state title.

Mountain View 35, Glenrock 28, 2017 2A championship — In a huge rally, Mountain View comes back from down 28-14 and scores the winning TD with 7 seconds left.

Pine Bluffs 20, Big Horn 16, 2017 1A-11 championship — In two words: the flip. Pine’s late TD clinches the Hornets’ second consecutive title.

Cody 29, Douglas 26, 2018 3A quarterfinals — Cody scores 21 unanswered in the fourth quarter to win a road playoff game in the opening round.

Torrington 22, Jackson 21, 2018 3A semifinals — Don’t let the controversial final minute distract you from the first 47 minutes, a thriller all the way.

Thunder Basin 19, Natrona 14, 2020 4A quarterfinal — The Bolts’ rally from down 14-0 at halftime was pretty epic; Natrona fans might still be upset about one missed call.

Mountain View 34, Wheatland 30, 2020 2A quarterfinal — Ashton Schofield’s 60-yard fourth-quarter TD helps Buffs survive a back-and-forth affair.

Farson 42, Encampment 41, 2020 1A-6 semifinal — The Pronghorns’ undefeated season almost came to an abrupt stop against the Tigers; Farson didn’t lead until the fourth quarter.

Honorable mentions: Lovell 23, Newcastle 20, 2011 2A semifinals; Meeteetse 50, Guernsey-Sunrise 48, 2012 1A-6 quarterfinals; Lovell 29, Big Horn 28, 2012 2A semifinals; Thermopolis 20, Burns 12, 2013 2A quarterfinals; Cheyenne East 28, Sheridan 27, 2013 4A semifinal; Riverton 41, Rawlins 37, 2014 regular season; Gillette 34, Cheyenne East 31, 2OT, 2014 4A semifinal; Star Valley 16, Green River 15, 2015 regular season; Greybull 27, Big Horn 25, 2015 2A quarterfinal; Tongue River 28, Cokeville 21, 2015 1A-11 quarterfinal; Glenrock 13, Lovell 10, OT, 2015 2A semifinal; Big Horn 20, Pinedale 14, OT, 2016 2A quarterfinal; Natrona 30, Gillette 28, 2016 4A semifinal; Pine Bluffs 10, Tongue River 7, 2016 1A-11 championship; Glenrock 30, Big Piney 27, 2017 2A semifinal; Kaycee 47, Burlington 38, 2017 1A-6 semifinal; Star Valley 20, Cody 16, 2018 regular season; Natrona 21, Cheyenne East 14, 2018 4A semifinals; Cheyenne South 36, Laramie 35, 2019 regular season; Thunder Basin 24, Gillette 20, 2019 4A quarterfinals; Cokeville 20, Wright 16, 2019 1A-11 QF; Powell 20, Cody 13, 2019 3A semifinal; Cheyenne Central 20, Sheridan 17, 2020 regular season; Natrona 38, Sheridan 31, 4OT, 2020 regular season; Douglas 16, Star Valley 14, 2020 3A quarterfinal; Rocky Mountain 44, Saratoga 40, 2020 1A-9 quarterfinal.

+++

After looking over this list, I made a personal, subjective call for game of the decade. It’s the game that had me the most excited, most engaged, most curious, most frustrated I couldn’t be there in person to watch it all.

If you follow my work closely, you might already know what’s coming. I chose Midwest’s 64-62 come-from-WAY-behind victory against Dubois in 2013 as my Wyoming high school football game of the decade.

Yes, I’m an alumnus of Midwest. Yes, that probably influenced my choice. But objectively, this game had it all. A playoff game, a big comeback, an improbable set of circumstances, a long championship-game drought broken — they all coalesced into one of the most thrilling comebacks of this, or any, decade of Wyoming high school football.

I remember listening to the live audio stream of the game. I was stunned. I was exhilarated. I was surprised. And when Midwest took the lead for the final time, and then held on to win, I was proud, proud of my hometown team for reaching the championship game, something it hadn’t done in more than two decades (and hasn’t done since).

+++

If you’re feeling nostalgic, I did the same thing on this blog 10 years ago for the years 2001-2010. Here’s the same list, but for the 2000s.

+++

So what’s your game of the decade? Leave a comment. I’d love to know what game from the last 10 years stands out in your memory bank as the one to top them all.

–patrick

Ten Sleep's Bob Wood in 1967
Ten Sleep’s Bob Wood in 1967, from his senior yearbook.

Bob Wood’s initial passion was basketball.

He only went out for track because his coach at Ten Sleep, Joe Daniel, asked him.

He only ran the mile because Daniel made freshmen run the mile; no one else on the team would.

However, by the end of Wood’s high school career in 1967, he was a four-time state champion in the mile; he is believed to be Wyoming’s first four-time event champion in track and field.

Wood’s success at Ten Sleep was just the start of the intertwining of his fate and his future, leading to his career as one of the most influential people in American distance running.

Auspicious start

Before Wood left Wyoming, made international running connections and established himself in high places, he dodged cow patties on a makeshift practice track in Ten Sleep.

In Wood’s first timed mile – a practice run on a marked-off cow pasture near the school – Wood ran the distance in 5 minutes, 15 seconds, “not knowing what I was doing,” he said.

Ten Sleep’s mile record at the time was 5:26.

Later that week, in his first high school meet on an actual track in Morton, Wood ran a 5:06, bettering the school record by 20 seconds.

By the state meet, Wood had continued to improve and was one of the favorites to win the mile in Class C, the 1960s equivalent of Class 1A. But he wasn’t THE favorite, so Wood and Daniel figured a fifth-place finish would be good.

At the midpoint of the race, Wood was in fifth, ready to meet expectations. Then the first-place runner dropped out of the race, puking.

All of a sudden, Wood was in fourth, and the favorite was out.

Expectations flipped, and Wood flipped the field. He started picking off runners one by one and took the lead for good on the last half of the final lap.

Down the final stretch, “I could hear my coach over everyone, saying, ‘You better win it now,'” Wood said. ” … I was just overwhelmed that I had won the thing.”

He wasn’t done winning.

As a sophomore, Wood fought off both a kidney infection and a bad midseason cold and, despite only running the mile once during the regular season, repeated as state champion.

Wood won both the Class B cross country championship and the Class C mile title as a junior, but by then, he started looking for more competition – and found it in Lander’s Nelson Moss. Even though the two ran in different classifications, they were Wyoming’s best distance runners, competing against each other.

Wood’s senior year, 1967, brought both a crowning achievement and a short-lived record.

With no Class C competition to push him, Wood set his own pace in the mile, hoping for a time that would hold up against Moss’s time. Wood finished in 4:29.9, a time that did more than just push his rival. It set an all-class state meet record.

The record lasted about 20 minutes, until the end of the Class AA race, when Moss notched a 4:26.6 to reset the all-class record Wood had just broken.

The newspaper reports the following day were filled with reports of the Wood-Moss mile record trade. No report mentioned that, most likely, Wood had just become Wyoming’s first four-time event champion, a feat that hadn’t been accomplished since the state meets started in 1922, and repeated since by only five other male high school athletes in Wyoming.

After Ten Sleep

Wood’s college career at the University of Utah never blossomed the way he hoped it would. He raced behind an all-American as a freshman, limiting his opportunities to be a frontrunner as he had in high school, and then took a two-year Mormon mission to Scotland.

After he returned, he fought injuries, and his motivation waned.

“I came back, but I never really had the fire,” Wood said.

Nevertheless, once his collegiate career was over, he found ways to stay involved in track and field. He was an assistant coach at Utah and also coached at the high school level in Utah. But when he was passed over to be Utah’s head track coach, Wood left coaching.

His next career move, though, kept him in track and field circles for years to come.

It all started with a conversation with distance runner Paul Cummings. Cummings was the NCAA champion in the mile while at BYU and was entering the world of professional running.

He needed an agent.

He told Wood: “You’re the only guy I trust.”

Wood hesitated but finally relented. He became Cummings’ agent. From there, Wood’s reputation, and his influence, in distance running grew. And grew. And grew.

Over his career, Wood represented hundreds of runners, including 54 Olympians from 22 different countries, although he eventually specialized in working with American runners. He used that influence to become an active part of USA Track and Field, serving as the head of long distance running and on the national executive committee from 1992 to 1997.

Wood remains proud that he ran his agency as a solo operation for four decades – no assistants, no partners – and represented some of the world’s best runners.

“They hire me because they want me, and that’s why I did what I did the way I did it,” Wood said.

Today, Wood is mostly retired but still represents a handful of runners with whom he has built close relationships.

More than his career, though, he’s proud of his family. He and his wife Kay have been married for more than 40 years, building their lives in the Salt Lake City area. He has three sons. Samuel, Seth and Isaac have molded their own careers, Samuel and Isaac around track and field, Seth with linguistics.

Wood had eased into a steady retirement rhythm until March 17, less than a month ago.

That’s when Wood had the first colonoscopy of his life.

The procedure led doctors to find a growth the size of a tangerine.

On March 30, Wood underwent surgery. Wood says the doctors “got it all,” and now he’s back home, with no further complications or necessary treatments in the foreseeable future.

When recalling his life, from his family to his track accomplishments to his career to his health, he often uses the same word: “Blessed.”

“I can’t complain, for a kid from Ten Sleep,” he said.

+++

Coming Friday: Bob Wood’s place in Wyoming track and field history is set, but others’ accomplishments have been lost to time. You can help fix that.

–patrick

In today’s ridiculous government dysfunction that just might be nuts enough to be believable, Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon said on Feb. 1 he’d welcome Weld County, Colorado, to join Wyoming if the county wanted to secede from its Centennial State neighbors.

Weld County, in case you aren’t aware, is the county most Wyomingites dip to the west to avoid when going to Denver — only to re-enter just north of the city. Think Greeley.

The reasons this will likely never happen are easy to find and difficult to refute.

But let’s dream — the 325,000 residents or so of Weld County say yes; the Colorado and Wyoming legislatures say yes; and the U.S. Congress says yes.

All of a sudden, Wyoming just got quite a bit bigger, in population and in acreage.

Bigger, as well, would be Wyoming’s high school sports.

By my count, Weld County has 20 high schools that either have or recently have fielded athletic programs. By enrollment, they are:

Windsor: 1,588
Greeley West: 1,567
Greeley Central: 1,545
Erie: 1,341
Northridge (Greeley): 1,137
Mead (east Longmont): 1,124
Frederick: 1,076
Roosevelt (Johnstown): 1,055
Fort Lupton: 662
Weld Central (Keenesburg): 641
University (Greeley): 605
Valley (Gilcrest): 573
Eaton: 557
Platte Valley (Kersey): 351
Highland (Ault): 285
Union Colony Prep (Greeley): 209
Dayspring Christian (Greeley): 88
Briggsdale: 60
Prairie (Raymer): 53
Pawnee (Grover): 15

++++

If we put those 20 schools into the ADMs for Wyoming schools, we see the Weld County influence immediately — three of Wyoming’s six largest schools would be in Weld County.

1. Kelly Walsh, 1,996.72
2. Natrona, 1,943.63
3. Rock Springs, 1,642.46
4. Windsor, 1,588
5. Greeley West, 1,567
6. Greeley Central, 1,545
7. Cheyenne East, 1,513.53
8. Cheyenne South, 1,492.05
9. Cheyenne Central, 1,410.04
10. Erie, 1,341
11. Campbell County, 1,289.55
12. Thunder Basin, 1,238.04
13. Laramie, 1,159.28
14. Northridge (Greeley), 1,137
15. Mead (east Longmont), 1,124

16. Sheridan, 1,093.16
17. Frederick, 1,076
18. Roosevelt (Johnstown), 1,055
19. Jackson, 869.91
20. Evanston, 846.25
21. Star Valley, 816.05
22. Green River, 764.81
23. Riverton, 748.15
24. Fort Lupton, 662
25. Weld Central (Keenesburg), 641
26. Cody, 619.23
27. University (Greeley), 605
28. Powell, 586.88
29. Valley (Gilcrest), 573
30. Lander, 559.10
31. Eaton, 557
32. Douglas, 543.84
33. Rawlins, 473.09
34. Worland, 442.94
35. Buffalo, 356.91
36. Torrington, 352.13
37. Platte Valley (Kersey), 351
38. Pinedale, 341.15
39. Highland (Ault), 285
40. Wheatland, 282.30
41. Mountain View, 275.54
42. Newcastle, 262.35
43. Lyman, 237.37
44. Burns, 229.00
45. Lovell, 226.03
46. Thermopolis, 213.29
47. Union Colony Prep (Greeley), 209*
48. Kemmerer, 188.70
49. Moorcroft, 188.08
50. Glenrock, 182.35
51. Tongue River, 174.00
52. Big Piney, 160.72
53. Greybull, 147.59
54. Wyoming Indian, 146.95
55. Rocky Mountain, 129.86
56. Big Horn, 127.86
57. Wind River, 127.01
58. Wright, 126.78
59. Sundance, 123.11
60. Shoshoni, 122.63
61. Pine Bluffs, 112.46
62. Lusk, 90.67
63. Dayspring Christian (Greeley), 88
64. Riverside, 87.27
65. St. Stephens, 82.74
66. Saratoga, 82.62
67. Lingle, 78.54
68. Cokeville, 77.41
69. Southeast, 76.77
70. Burlington, 76.41
71. Guernsey-Sunrise, 69.39
72. Upton, 66.68
73. Normative Services, 65.00 (closing in March)
74. Hanna, 62.87
75. Midwest, 61.00
76. Briggsdale, 60
77. Farson, 57.90
78. Hulett, 56.57
79. Prairie (Raymer), 53
80. Kaycee, 52.82
81. Snake River, 51.40
82. Fort Washakie, 49.93**
83. Encampment, 43.44
84. Dubois, 42.79
85. Arapaho Charter, 40.01**
86. Meeteetse, 34.50
87. Arvada-Clearmont, 31.06*
88. Ten Sleep, 31.04
89. Rock River, 27.67*
90. Glendo, 16.42**
91. Pawnee (Grover), 15**
92. Chugwater, 7.65**
*-no football; **-no football or basketball

+++

If we wanted to do some quick rearranging of Wyoming’s five football classifications, with breaks roughly occurring where they do now in terms of enrollment, we’d end up with some pretty interesting looking potential conference alignments:

Class 4A (18)
4A North (5)
: Campbell County, Thunder Basin, Sheridan, Kelly Walsh, Natrona.
4A Central (5): Rock Springs, Laramie, Cheyenne Central, Cheyenne East, Cheyenne South.
4A South (4): Windsor, Greeley West, Greeley Central, Northridge.
4A Metro (4): Erie, Mead, Frederick, Roosevelt.

(Of note: Roosevelt was Colorado’s Class 3A football runner-up last year.)

Class 3A (16)
Class 3A West (8): Jackson, Evanston, Star Valley, Green River, Cody, Powell, Lander, Worland.
Class 3A East (8): Riverton, Fort Lupton, Weld Central, University, Valley, Eaton, Douglas, Rawlins.

(Speaking of success: Eaton was Colorado’s Class 2A champion in 2020.)

Class 2A (19)
2A West (6)
: Pinedale, Mountain View, Lyman, Kemmerer, Big Piney, Cokeville.
2A North (7): Buffalo, Newcastle, Lovell, Thermopolis, Tongue River, Big Horn, Upton-Sundance.
2A South (6): Torrington, Platte Valley, Highland, Wheatland, Glenrock, Burns.

(Like four conferences? Geographic feasibility is a problem. See a “southwest” of Mountain View, Lyman, Kemmerer and Cokeville, a “northwest” of Pinedale, Big Piney, Glenrock, Lovell and Thermopolis, a “northeast” of Buffalo, Newcastle, Tongue River, Big Horn and Upton-Sundance and a “southeast” of Torrington, Platte Valley, Highland, Wheatland and Burns. That “northwest” conference looks awful.)

Class 1A nine-man (14)
1A nine-man West:
Greybull, Wyoming Indian, Rocky Mountain, Wind River, Shoshoni, Riverside, St. Stephens.
1A nine-man East: Wright, Pine Bluffs, Lusk, Dayspring Christian, Saratoga, Lingle, Southeast.

(In Colorado, Dayspring Christian plays eight-man, but I think a move to nine-man would work.)

Class 1A six-man (14)
1A six-man West: Burlington, Farson, Snake River, Encampment, Dubois, Meeteetse, Ten Sleep.
1A six-man East: Guernsey-Sunrise, Hanna, Midwest, Briggsdale, Hulett, Prairie, Kaycee.

+++

For basketball and other four-class sports, we’ll shoot for classifications of reasonable size with natural enrollment breaks driving splits as much as possible:

Class 4A (23)
Northeast (5)
: Kelly Walsh, Natrona, Campbell County, Thunder Basin, Sheridan.
Southwest (6): Rock Springs, Jackson, Evanston, Star Valley, Green River, Riverton.
South Central (6): Cheyenne East, Cheyenne South, Cheyenne Central, Laramie, Windsor, Roosevelt.
Southeast (6): Greeley West, Greeley Central, Erie, Northridge, Mead, Frederick.

Class 3A (24)
North (7)
: Cody, Powell, Worland, Buffalo, Newcastle, Lovell, Thermopolis.
Southwest (5): Lander, Rawlins, Pinedale, Mountain View, Lyman.
South Central (6): Eaton, Douglas, Torrington, Highland, Wheatland, Burns.
Southeast (6): Fort Lupton, Weld Central, University, Valley, Platte Valley, Union Colony.

Class 2A (19)
Northeast (5)
: Moorcroft, Tongue River, Big Horn, Wright, Sundance.
Northwest (5): Greybull, Rocky Mountain, Shoshoni, Riverside, St. Stephens.
Southeast (5): Glenrock, Pine Bluffs, Lusk, Dayspring Christian, Saratoga.
Southwest (4): Kemmerer, Big Piney, Wyoming Indian, Wind River.

Class 1A (20)
Northeast (5): Upton, Midwest, Hulett, Kaycee, Arvada-Clearmont.
Northwest (4): Burlington, Dubois, Meeteetse, Ten Sleep.
Southeast (6): Lingle, Southeast, Guernsey-Sunrise, Briggsdale, Prairie, Rock River.
Southwest (5): Cokeville, Hanna, Farson, Snake River, Encampment.

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Just like Absaroka, or solar roadways, or good-old-fashioned migration, demographic change and reclassification go hand-in-hand.

A Weld County, Wyoming, would bring rampant change to Wyoming high school sports — likely the smallest of a world of changes such an unlikely, but fascinating, move would bring.

–patrick

In late October, 1999, my senior year of high school, I was sitting in Mr. Balfour’s class when one of my friends came into class and told me: “Patrick, you made all-conference.”

Surprised wasn’t the right word. Confused was more like it. The only thing I could think was to wonder why my friend would play this joke on me.

It wasn’t a joke. In 1999, the four head coaches in the Class 1A-Division II Powder River Conference awarded me a spot on the all-conference football team.

I didn’t deserve that spot.

And I knew it.

Even on the worst team in one of the worst conferences in the classification made up of the the smallest schools in the smallest state in the country, I shouldn’t have been all-conference. I was (and am) 5-foot-7, maybe 150 pounds (bigger now). I made up for being slow by being weak, too.

My stats reflected that reality. I started at tight end/wide receiver and safety; I had maybe six catches all season (no touchdowns) and roughly 50 defensive points (no interceptions).

But I showed up to practice every day. I played hard. I was coachable. I didn’t cause any problems off the field. And I appreciate that my coaches deemed me worthy to nominate and other coaches agreed.

That was enough to make me a quota filler.

My all-conference selection is emblematic of all-conference football in Wyoming as a whole. Certainly, it’s not a new problem, but 2020’s selections revealed just how easy all-conference honors are to earn.

Consider the number of players who were recognized as first-team all-conference selections this year: 359. Yes, 359 different Wyoming players were named first-team all-conference selections after the 2020 season.

Of those, 76 came in Class 4A, 79 in Class 3A, 93 in Class 2A, 71 in Class 1A nine-man and 40 in Class 1A six-man.

But the number 359 barely scratches the surface.

Class 4A’s numbers game

The most absurd recognitions come in the classification with the biggest schools. In Class 4A, some level of all-conference recognition is barely above that of a participation award.

The problem in 4A is that there are three levels of all-conference recognition: first team, second team and honorable mention. The 76 players I mentioned before were first team, on which there are 92 available spots across the two all-conference teams (4A gives all-conference and all-state honors by position). There were another combined 66 second-team spots, and this year there were 93 combined honorable mention selections.

That’s 251 possible all-conference choices. In one classification. For 10 teams. Quick math: That averages out to 25 selections per team reaching some level of all-conference recognition.

Basically, all you have to do to get an all-conference selection in Class 4A, all things being equal, is start. With 11 positions on offense, 11 positions on defense, kicker, punter, returner, and there’s 25 positions to nominate for the roughly 25 positions per school available for all-conference.

This year, 174 individuals filled those 251 spots in 4A. And as you dig in, you begin to see some of the absurdities.

Thunder Basin had 40 all-conference choices — almost double the number of available starting spots on Thunder Basin’s team. In all, 25 different ‘Bolts players were named all-conference to those 40 spots. Of those Thunder Basin choices, 16 were on offense and 19 were on defense, with the remainder falling into special teams or “at-large” selections.

Now, pay attention, because this is where the absurdity starts to show: at the position breakdown. Thunder Basin had eight defensive linemen, seven defensive backs and five wide receivers make all-conference.

At least for Thunder Basin, it was easier to get all-conference recognition than it was to earn a starting position in 2020.

For as fine of a team as Thunder Basin had this year, even that is pushing it. This isn’t just a Thunder Basin problem, though.

Natrona and Sheridan had 22 individuals named all-conference — Sheridan’s players to 31 spots and Natrona’s to 28. That’s not all that far behind Thunder Basin.

Also, it’s not just an issue of the top teams soaking up all the spots: Nine of the 10 Class 4A teams had at least 11 all-conference selections on offense. Thunder Basin, as noted, had 16; Campbell County had 14; Natrona and Sheridan had 13; Central and Laramie had 12; East, Rock Springs and Kelly Walsh had 11 apiece.

Then again, when you have that quota of 251 spaces to fill, you’ve gotta get a little creative.

That’s how guys become quota fillers.

All-state is problematic, too

All-state awards are much more selective. More spots are available on all-state, though, than ever before, as well — this year, 186 players were named first-team all-state across Wyoming’s five classifications.

A look at the all-state teams of the past shows how much the teams have been expanded, with numbers creeping up bit by bit, year by year.

The 186 players named all-staters in 2020 is the highest number in Wyoming history. This year’s total breaks a record set in 2019, 2018 and 2016 of 182.

Here’s a chart that shows the incremental creep of all-state awards. (Note that the dip in 1994 is due to incomplete data; the 1A nine-man all-state team from that year still has yet to be found.)

Historically, the biggest jumps are when Wyoming adds a classification of football — from 89 selections to 110 between 1982 and 1983 with the move from three to four classes, and the jump from 109 to 140 selections between 1989 and 1990 with the move from four to five.

Even so, the 140 players on Wyoming’s first five-class all-state teams in 1990 collectively total 46 fewer players than the 186 players recognized in 2020.

(If you really want to dig deep on this, click here to see a breakdown of the number of all-state players by classification and year.)

The solution?

What coaches and administrators across the state need to decide is if all-conference awards are exclusive.

Right now, they’re not.

In another 20 years, how many of the 359 first-team players across the state who were given all-conference recognition will say the same? How many of those 174 individuals across the gamut of 251 first-team, second-team and honorable mention selections in 4A? How many of those eight Thunder Basin defensive linemen?

Heck, how many will say it now?

I think one answer is to change all-conference (and all-state) teams to true team selections. By position, choose 11 players for offense, 11 for defense, three for special teams for an even 25 players per conference; adjust accordingly for nine-man (9-9-3 for 21) and six-man (6-6-2 for 14). Across Wyoming’s five classifications and 10 conferences, that’s 220 players: 50 in 4A, 3A and 2A, 42 in nine-man and 28 in 1A.

For all-state, that would be 25 for 4A, 3A and 2A, 21 for nine-man and 14 for six-man; in all, that’s 110 all-state picks.

If coaches want to recognize their players, they can continue to do so with team-specific awards. That would truly be more meaningful than a recognition so watered down that it might be mistaken for a joke.

The legacy of a quota filler

I never framed my all-conference award, and I never hung it on my wall. I’m not even sure where it is, to be honest. It’s probably buried among perfect attendance honors and report cards, but I’ve never felt compelled to go look for it.

This is totally antithetical to who I am, though. I’m a nostalgic dude. I love keeping the past alive. I think often about my experiences in high school sports. I’ve been known to watch the occasional game tape on YouTube. And I run this website. My wife has called me Uncle Rico, and sometimes I wonder if she’s not joking.

But the all-conference honor I got as a senior?

I didn’t deserve it, and I know it.

It means so little to me because it meant so little to the ones who bestowed it on me.

–patrick

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A few weeks ago, I broached this topic on Twitter, asking if the number of players selected for all-conference honors was too many, too few or just right. Here’s what you all said:

What do you think? Be sure to leave a comment.

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