It’s a tradition ’round these parts to live in a fantasy world — one with reliable transportation, unlimited money and lots of free time.
How I would spend that time and money, come August/September/October/November, is on attending high school football games.
With a 2020 schedule in hand (and with an optimistic view that the season will still happen on schedule), here’s where I’d go to catch as many games, and as many good games, as I possibly could:
Week 0 (Friday, Aug. 28): East-West Jamboree, Casper, 11 a.m. Friday; Cheyenne East at Thunder Basin, 6 p.m. Friday; Big Horn-Buffalo scrimmage, 1 p.m. Saturday. The showdown in Gillette between the Thunderbirds and the ‘Bolts is the marquee matchup of the opening weekend. However, the East-West Jamboree, featuring nine of the teams in
six-man nine-man facing off in Casper, will be a great opportunity to see how the classification might come together. Another scrimmage on Saturday between two teams that played in Laramie last year is a nice bonus.
Week 1 (Friday, Sept. 4): Rawlins at Lyman, 5 p.m. Thursday; Guernsey-Sunrise at Farson, 1 p.m. Friday; Mountain View at Evanston, 7 p.m. Friday; Snake River at Hanna, noon Saturday. The first two games are nice appetizers before the meal. The Mountain View-Evanston game is one of the most intriguing interclass games on the schedule in 2020, and then Saturday’s Carbon County duel between Snake River and Hanna is a reprise of last year’s six-man title game.
Week 2 (Friday, Sept. 11): Farson at Burlington, 2 p.m. Friday; Lander at Powell, 7 p.m. Friday; Ten Sleep at Meeteetse, 2 p.m. Saturday. The Northwest corner has some intriguing games in Week 2, including the Lander-Powell matchup that could be 3A’s most interesting early-season matchup. Both squads impressed last year, and I’d be curious to see how they stack up. Throw in a couple six-man games, and it’s a full weekend.
Week 3 (Friday, Sept. 18): Shoshoni at St. Stephens, 5 p.m. Thursday; Encampment at Farson, 2 p.m. Friday; Sheridan at Rock Springs, 6 p.m. Friday; Burlington at Snake River, 2 p.m. Saturday. Lots of options existed in Week 3, including the Oil Bowl, but I decided that seeing a pair of what should be awesome 1A six-man West games was too good to pass up. In between is a showdown between Sheridan and Rock Springs that should be better than people anticipate, and a Thursday nine-man Fremont County game is a nice bonus (but not the only one we’ll get this year).
Week 4 (Friday, Sept. 25): Shoshoni at Wind River, 7 p.m. Thursday; Hulett at Kaycee, 2 p.m. Friday; Rock Springs at Natrona, 6 p.m. Friday; NSI at Midwest, 2 p.m. Saturday. More six-man and nine-man fun at non-Friday night times is always cool, and the Rock Springs-Natrona game last year was a doozy. Several games with great potential dot the schedule for Week 4, so really, you can’t go wrong.
Week 5 (Friday, Oct. 2): Sheridan JV at NSI, 1 p.m. Thursday; Farson at Kaycee, 2 p.m. Friday; Torrington at Big Horn, 6 p.m. Friday; Guernsey at Hulett, 1 p.m. Saturday. We’re staying Northeast for this weekend of football, mostly because I want to see this Torrington-Big Horn matchup. Who knows? By Week 5, it may have lost some luster, but right now it looks like a really fun game. A bunch of six-man around it fills out the weekend.
Week 6 (Friday, Oct. 9): St. Stephens at Wind River, 7 p.m. Thursday; Cody at Star Valley, 4 p.m. Friday; Cokeville at Kemmerer, 6 p.m. Friday; Thermopolis at Lyman, 11 a.m. Saturday. Yes, I know, I can’t get to BOTH the Star Valley and Kemmerer fields in time to watch both games… but I can’t resist that Cody-Star Valley game, which always seems to be a good one. Everything else is gravy, even if it’s just the second half (or fourth quarter?) in Kemmerer.
Week 7 (Friday, Oct. 16): St. Stephens at Wyoming Indian, 7 p.m. Thursday; Lusk at Southeast, 2 p.m. Friday; Wheatland at Torrington, 7 p.m. Friday; Hulett vs. Hanna (at Midwest), noon Saturday. On paper, the Lusk-Southeast, Wheatland-Torrington and Hulett-Hanna games could all be huge in deciding conference championships and playoff seeding. Meanwhile, Thursday’s game is the renewal of a reservation rivalry that may not have the title stakes but might be the most meaningful game of the week.
Week 8 (Friday, Oct. 23): Glenrock at Tongue River, noon Friday; Thunder Basin at Sheridan, 6 p.m. Friday; Dubois at Ten Sleep, 2 p.m. Saturday. You’d be out of your mind to think I’d miss the ‘Bolts and the Broncs in the regular-season closer. The other two games are nice and close, and they’d bring a solid end to the regular season.
With this plan, I’d get to see 41 of Wyoming’s 65 programs play football. Thanks to the non-Friday-night scheduling, I’d see Farson four times and Hulett and St. Stephens three times each; I’d also see Thunder Basin, Sheridan, Rock Springs, Big Horn, Lyman, Torrington, Shoshoni, Wind River, Guernsey, Snake River, Hanna, Burlington, Ten Sleep, Kaycee and NSI twice each. I’d see every team in six-man thanks to its less consistent scheduling. And I’d put an extra 2,618 miles on my car, eat lots of sodium-filled gas station snacks and temporarily alienate my wife in the process. Worth it.
Updated 9:15 a.m. May 28 to fix an error in the Week 0 listing.