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.