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

Farson’s second undefeated season in three years was yet another demonstration of the high standards set in six-man.

I mentioned this stat in last season’s preview, but it’s worth repeating: The combined record of the 11 six-man champs since 2009 is 126-2. Kaycee’s 2015 team is the only champ who had an in-state loss in that time.

Seemingly the question in six-man isn’t who will win — it’s who will dominate.

Among the suitors are basically every team in the West Conference and a handful in the East. Any one of about six or seven teams could be the one to rise up this year. Moreover, six-man is slimmer this year, as both Ten Sleep and NSI Academy are gone for the year — Ten Sleep dropping temporarily due to low numbers, NSI Academy gone for good due to the closure of the school.

Six-man’s sleeker, but tougher, look for 2021 has many potential endings. But if history is any indicator, the result in November will be an undefeated season for someone.

Four questions to answer

Which is the stronger conference? The West, by far. All six of the returning all-state players in six-man are in the West Conference. The West has six teams this year to the East’s five, with no weaklings in the group. And three of last year’s final four came from the West. Watch for similar dominance this year.

Of those West teams, who’s looking the most like a champ? On paper, Meeteetse. The Longhorns had a huge breakthrough season in 2020 and finished as runners-up to Farson. They did lose some key players to graduation but return some of six-man’s best playmakers, and in six-man, that’s huge.

Who else is in the discussion? Everyone in the West. Snake River didn’t graduate anyone; Dubois was young but explosive; Encampment nearly dethroned Farson in the semis and gets back several important players; Burlington is always a tough draw; Farson is the defending champ. Be ready for parity and lots of it.

So the East is really that weak? This year, yes. Kaycee, despite losing all three of its all-state picks from last year, is the best of the bunch in early goings in the East, and Hulett and Guernsey-Sunrise could be competitive, too. Those teams are the favorites on that side of the state and are the conference’s best hopes for a playoff victory. However, every team in the East is chasing to catch up to the standard set in the West.

Preseason class MVP

Dace Bennett, Meeteetse. Bennett was the only player in 1A six-man last year to both run and throw for at least 1,000 yards. The Longhorns’ field general completed 89 of 187 passes for 1,406 yards and 28 touchdowns and also ran for 1,282 yards and 23 touchdowns. He led six-man in all-purpose yards. He also had 100 tackles and four interceptions on defense.

Presesason class breakout player

Vaun Pierson, Kaycee. The only returning player in the state to earn all-conference honors as a freshman, Pierson showed early on that he could hang with six-man’s top players. With Kaycee graduating three all-state players, Pierson will have more opportunities on both sides of the ball; with another year of growth and maturity, he could set the pace for others to follow.

Other players to watch

Zander Risner, Snake River. Risner is a two-time all-state selection already, and his defensive prowess has earned him those honors. He tied for the lead in six-man with 21 tackles for loss last year and was fourth overall in the classification with 121 total tackles. His leadership will be key on a Snake River team that’s still young.

Koye Gilbert, Encampment. Gilbert was one of six-man’s top receivers last year. He had 32 catches for 524 yards and nine touchdowns last year. He was also one of the classification’s top defensive players, finishing seventh in six-man in defensive points per game while notching 86 tackles, three sacks, four fumble recoveries and three blocked kicks.

Max Claar, Dubois. Claar is a senior on a team full of younger players, so his leadership will be just as important as his play. His play is clear, though: He led Dubois in scoring last season, was third in tackles and found success both running and receiving the ball.

Kalvin Erickson, Meeteetse. Erickson led six-man in receiving yards (695) and receiving touchdowns (15) and was second in the classification in catches (33). He also led the classification in total tackles with 153 for the season. If that isn’t an all-around player, who is?

Four key games

Encampment at Snake River, Sept. 10. The Carbon County adversaries meet in Week 2 in both teams’ West Conference openers. A loss here will be difficult to overcome for either team — stakes that seem almost unfair to have so early in the season.

Dubois at Meeteetse, Sept. 18. Dubois hung tight with Meeteetse last year, and with another year of experience, the young Rams could put themselves on everyone’s radar if they can finish the job they couldn’t in 2020. Meeteetse should be ready this time around, though.

Hulett at Guernsey, Oct. 1. After Kaycee, the Red Devils and Vikings return more key players than any other squads in the East. This game could end up deciding who’s at home in the first round of the playoffs, something that may end up being key if either wants to pull off that elusive first-round upset.

Farson at Meeteetse, Oct. 16. The rematch of the 2020 title game comes in Week 7, and chances are good that by the time this game rolls around, last year will be the furthest thing from anyone’s mind. Both teams have high hopes this year, and how they perform in this game could dictate each team’s postseason direction.

Predicted order of finish

East Conference: Kaycee, Hulett, Guernsey, Hanna, Midwest.

West Conference: Meeteetse, Snake River, Encampment, Farson, Dubois, Burlington.

Preseason top five: 1. Meeteetse; 2. Snake River; 3. Encampment; 4. Kaycee; 5. Farson.

Way-too-early title game score prediction

Meeteetse 48, Snake River 40. The Longhorns have the playmakers and the experience to do big things this season. The biggest question mark will be surviving a rugged West Conference loaded with capable teams.

What do you think? Who’s ready for that unbeaten season that has become six-man’s standard? Leave a comment, or drop a line on Twitter or Facebook.

Next Thursday: Class 1A nine-man.

–patrick

After several months of preparation and research, I’m proud to announce the newest website to highlight Wyoming’s high school sports history.

Say hi to champlists.com.

The site is exactly what it says — lists of champions for Wyoming’s sanctioned high school sports. But it’s much more than that.

Each sport has its own special area: alpine skiing, cross country, golf, gymnastics, indoor track, Nordic skiing, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, volleyball and wrestling. While each sport has individual and team champions, several sports have more than that. For example, soccer and volleyball have all-state team listings and state championship history broken down by school; volleyball has listings for championship coaches; and other sports have listings unique to them.

In short, I’m bringing the wyoming-football.com and wyoming-basketball.com treatment to other high school sports in the Equality State. Although the research for other sports is not as deep or intricate as the research for football and basketball, champlists.com does help fill a gap in Wyoming’s high school sports history.

While the Wyoming High School Activities Association’s website with its sports archive has been incredibly useful, it has also been limited by a reduced range. The WHSAA website does not list champions or results prior to 1973, the year the WHSAA moved from Riverton to Casper, for any sports except football or basketball. WHSAA listings have long been incomplete for sports like cross country, golf, swimming, tennis, wrestling and track. Champlists.com tries to close that gap while at the same time make it easier for people to find specific names, records and details for each sport.

Despite all of my best efforts to this point, many sports have incomplete listings of their champions. Your help is invaluable to completing these lists. Please use this form to send me any missing information you have, as well as any documentation you have to support it, such as a newspaper clipping, yearbook listing or something similar.

In that same vein, champlists.com is a work in progress. If there is something else you’d like to see there, let me know; I’ll see if I can research it, or maybe if we can research it together. I’m going to look for ways to constantly expand the listings that are available to satiate your curiosity about Wyoming’s high school sports history. Broadly, I am planning on updating champlists.com once a year, likely in the summer.

Similarly, I will likely expand the scope of this blog to include occasional posts about other sports, as I have done the past few years with the occasional basketball or track and field post. I have several fun and interesting posts in the works already.

If you’ve made it this far, you care about this kind of stuff. So give champlists.com a look, and let me know what you’d like to see from it moving forward.

–patrick

The new head football coach at Riverside comes to the Rebels with six years of head coaching experience in Nebraska.

Jason Mitchell, who was previously a head coach at three different high schools in Nebraska and was a volunteer assistant at Burns last season, will be the Rebels’ new head coach.

Riverside Principal Matt Jensen verified Mitchell’s hire to wyoming-football.com on Friday. The Big Horn County School District No. 4 hired Mitchell as coach and as a middle school social studies teacher at Riverside at its meeting Thursday.

Mitchell said he was the head football coach at Valentine, Minatare and Lodgepole high schools in Nebraska. Valentine finished as Class C-1 runners-up in 2006 under him; he was head coach at Valentine for three years, Minatare two years and Lodgepole one year prior to its consolidation. Minatare and Lodgepole were eight-man programs while Mitchell was there. He was also the wide receivers coach for a year at Peru State College in Nebraska for a year.

In an interview with wyoming-football.com on Friday, Mitchell said he is looking forward to the teaching, coaching and mentoring opportunities he will have in Basin.

“When I saw that opening come up, I did a little bit of research, and I love the idea of coaching in a community small enough where you get to know the players beyond (the team),” he said.

Jensen also said he and Dale Query will join Riverside’s coaching staff as assistants.

Class 4A Laramie, Class 2A Glenrock and Class 1A nine-man GreybullLingle and St. Stephens have hired new head football coaches for 2021. If you know of other head coaching changes in the state, please email me at pschmiedt@yahoo.com.

–patrick

St. Stephens will have a new head coach for 2021 after the Eagles’ coach since 2017 resigned to take an athletic director position in Oregon.

Billy Brost, the Eagles’ head football coach since 2017 and also the school’s track coach, resigned Tuesday to become the athletic director at his alma mater, The Dalles High School, a Class 5A school in north-central Oregon.

Dee Harrison, who was Brost’s co-head coach in 2017 and who has been both the offensive and defensive coordinator for the Eagles since then, will be the new head coach for both the football and track teams at St. Stephens, Brost said.

“The administration feels good about moving forward with Dee, and so do I, because we built this together,” Brost said to wyoming-football.com Tuesday afternoon.

Brost and Harrison met with players Tuesday to inform them of the switch, Brost said.

Brost called his new position a “dream job” but also indicated that St. Stephens would only be a phone call away.

“I think they’re on the verge of doing something special,” Brost said. “St. Stephens will always be near and dear to my heart.”

Brost and Harrison took over coaching the Eagles’ football program together halfway through the 2017 season. Brost became head coach prior to 2018, with Harrison as the assistant.

Harrison previously coached throughout the West, including Eastern Oregon University. He was the head coach at Firth, Idaho, from 2009 to 2012, taking the Cougars from an 0-7 finish his first year to an 11-1 record and a Class 2A runner-up finish his final year. He was also a head coach at West Jefferson in Terreton, Idaho, for two years and was a junior high coach at Arapahoe, just down the road from St. Stephens.

“We’ve kind of been in this together, and we’ve kind of helped each other out for the whole four, five years we’ve been doing this,” Harrison said Tuesday. ” … It’s a just a matter of taking the reins and continuing to rebuild and hopefully building some more on it.”

The Eagles went 1-6 in both 2018 and 2019 in Class 1A six-man. St. Stephens did not play in its first year of Class 1A nine-man last year as the St. Stephens school was closed due to COVID-19.

Class 4A Laramie, Class 2A Glenrock and Class 1A nine-man Greybull and Lingle have hired new head football coaches for 2021, while Class 1A nine-man Riverside is looking for a new head coach. If you know of other head coaching changes in the state, please email me at pschmiedt@yahoo.com.

–patrick

This post was updated at 8:47 p.m. July 13 with comments and additional information from Harrison.

A uniform number is something special.

It’s the source of pride, whether it’s in face paint, T-shirts or tattoos. It’s the one way, outside of their play itself, that players can be identified. It’s how coaches usually refer to opposing players.

With 99 options to choose from, a number can follow a player forever. The choice isn’t always easy.

The list below represents the top 99 (minus a few) players in Wyoming high school football, as listed by uniform number. Altogether, the list represents all classifications, all positions, all geographic areas — a solid cross-section of the Wyoming football scene.

But forming this list is always one of the most challenging tasks of my summer. Choosing one player per number when numerous players are deserving becomes a fool’s errand. Conversely, sometimes FINDING one returning player who wore a given number at any school in the state is tough.

Even if your favorite player isn’t connected with the number on the list, trust me — I considered them all. You’re welcome to disagree, and I welcome comments on this post to let me know which number, and name, you’ve got your eye on this fall.

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

This is the third year I have done this list — you can see a couple repeaters from the 2020 and 2019 lists on this year’s list.

NumberNameSchool
1Andrew SkorczRock Springs
2Brody HasenackJackson
3Jacob SchieveGreen River
4Geoffrey JohnsonSaratoga
5Connor MicheliMountain View
6Reed ThompsonPine Bluffs
7Nathanial TalichCheyenne Central
8Sadler SmithJackson
9Cam BurkettKelly Walsh
10Taylor PierceWorland
11Brock DouzenisWorland
12Ryan BakerThunder Basin
13Cooper GarberBig Horn
14Samuel RamsbottomKaycee
15Gavin GoffCheyenne East
16Dom LopezCheyenne East
17Hadley MyersSnake River
18Sam ScottJackson
19Peyton CorniaEvanston
20Zach RatcliffPowell
21Cade ButlerBig Horn
22Ryan ClapperSoutheast
23Kaeden WilcoxNatrona
24Cadon ShakleeRock Springs
25Jayden ArchuletaDouglas
26Isaac SchoenfeldRock Springs
27Jonathan Vazquez VargasJackson
28Keltan EwingDouglas
29Rylan WehrDouglas
30Holden McConkeyNewcastle
31Lane OeschStar Valley
32McCoy SmithLyman
33Cord HerringSoutheast
34Aaron CarverWorland
35Hyannie FaustoWheatland
36Tanner CollinsMountain View
37Matisse WeaverLander
38Preston NicholsLovell
39Texas TannerSheridan
40Toran GrahamPowell
41Slayd DaleySaratoga
42Tim VerburgCampbell County
43Cayden DymondCampbell County
44Colter DawsonJackson
45Jake SchlattmannGreybull
46Samuel HulickBuffalo
47Charlie NicholsCheyenne Central
48Cooper HarrimanGuernsey
49Conor ManloveBurns
50Kris TopaumRiverton
51Dylan MolzahnLusk
52Dawson CurtisDouglas
53Thomas HowardBig Piney
54Riley BlackburnLusk
55William PewJackson
56Daniel GormanCody
57Frank ArmajoLander
58Diego PaniaguaPine Bluffs
59Chris LarsonSheridan
60Lucas ChappellStar Valley*
61Jaxson McGeeGreen River
62Sheldon ShoopmanPowell
63Wade BarkerEvanston
64Kelton BournazianRock Springs
65Mason WellsLusk
66Lane SchramekPowell
67Will BakerSoutheast
68Kirk KaySoutheast
69Eddie TokarczykHulett
70Dayne LampLusk
71Cale HawsBurns
72Taylor FossCampbell County
73Chase OsterGreybull
74Ivor McPhieLander
75Matt McMillanKemmerer
76Kyle LogarDouglas
77Dylen ClendenenRocky Mountain
78Jacob KnoblochTongue River
79Josh ThompsonBig Horn
80Jake HicksWheatland
81Vaun PiersonKaycee
82Heston FisherSaratoga
83Rodee BrowWheatland
84Jackson KirkbrideBurns
85Jake KampmanKemmerer
86Hogan TystadNewcastle
87Robert KoivupaloLander
88Chase MillerTorrington
89Lucas EngleRiverton
90No returners identified
91Tyson ChristiansenRocky Mountain
92No returners identified
93No returners identified
94No returners identified
95No returners identified
96No returners identified
97No returners identified
98No returners identified
99Jaxson StanleyShoshoni

Chappell also wore No. 88 last fall.

–patrick

A coach with head coaching experience in Colorado will be the new football coach at Glenrock this season.

Paul Downing, previously the head coach at Coal Ridge High School in New Castle, Colorado, will take over the Herders’ head coaching role this season.

Glenrock High School Principal Mark Fritz said via email on Wednesday to wyoming-football.com that Downing had been hired to coach football and teach social studies in Glenrock. An email sent to Downing on Thursday morning was not immediately returned.

Downing was the head coach at Coal Ridge from 2018 through this season. Coal Ridge went 3-3 last season during Colorado’s spring football season, the program’s best record in his three years. Coal Ridge went 1-8 in both 2019 and 2018.

He was also head coach at Highland High School in Ault, Colorado, for the 2015 and 2016 seasons, going a combined 10-9. During 2017, Downing stepped away from coaching to battle Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

He also coached middle school football at Donelson Christian Academy in Tennessee for six years and was an assistant high school coach at Au Gres-Sims School in Michigan and at Kiowa (Colorado) High School for one year each.

Downing takes over for Ryan Collier, who was a combined 6-11 in two seasons as the Herders’ head coach. Collier resigned in May. Glenrock went 4-5 last season and did not qualify for the Class 2A playoffs.

Class 4A Laramie and Class 1A nine-man Greybull and Lingle have hired new head football coaches for 2021, while Class 1A nine-man Riverside is looking for a new head coach. If you know of other head coaching changes in the state, please email me at pschmiedt@yahoo.com.

–patrick

A few updates to the site made recently:

I fixed the location of the 1987 Class 2A championship game — it was in Upton, not Lovell. Thanks to Joe White for the catch on that!

I added Saratoga’s 57-16 victory against Hanna on or around Oct. 30, 1987; I added it to the missing games list because I couldn’t find a location, and I’m not exactly sure on the date.

I added Powell’s 19-6 victory against Red Lodge, Montana, on Oct. 1, 1939.

I added Laramie’s 36-6 victory against the Colorado State freshman team on Nov. 11, 1921.

I also fixed some things for the Oct. 12, 1979, game between North Big Horn and the Lovell JV. I originally had North Big Horn winning 26-24; the Lovell JV actually won the game by that score. It’s still on the missing games list because I still haven’t been able to pin down a location.

All the updates have been made on all the relevant pages.

Two other updates I’ve made to the site:

First, I went through and changed all references from “Gillette” to “Campbell County” in reference to the Camels. Much like I’ve done with other schools who have gone by multiple names, such as Cheyenne Central, Natrona and a handful of others, I’ve made the change for consistency’s sake, so there’s no doubt as to which school I am referring.

Second, I’ve added 2021 schedules to all the individual team pages. They’re now ready to be filled in through November as game results roll in week by week. It’s always a fun update to make last year’s results part of the history and this year’s results part of the present. 🙂

–patrick

Five total Shrine Bowl records were either tied or broken in the 2021 Wyoming Shrine Bowl on June 12.

Cheyenne East’s Graedyn Buell, the game’s offensive MVP, set two Shrine Bowl records — total offense (381 yards, with 310 passing and 71 rushing yards combined) and completions (28). His 40 passing attempts was third all-time, and his 310 passing yards second all-time.

Cheyenne East teammate Jackson Hesford tied the Shrine Bowl record with 13 receptions. Cheyenne Central’s Brady Storebo had eight catches to tie for third all-time.

Thunder Basin’s Dyse Shepherd tied a Shrine Bowl record with three others with three touchdown catches.

The South also set a team record with 25 first downs.

The South won the game 34-32. See a full list of results and records here.

Thanks to Paul Garcia, South assistant coach, for his help in tallying statistics and figuring out records.

–patrick

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