I firmly believe that even bad football is good football.

And that even after more than 100 years and after close to 26,000 Wyoming high school football games, there hasn’t been a single bad game.

With that in mind, and inspired by Secret Base/SB Nation’s YouTube series “The Worst,” I set out to find the worst Wyoming high school football game ever played and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that, honestly, even bad football is good football.

Finding the worst among the nearly 26,000 games played, though, is as much as a struggle as finding the best (as I tried to do the past two decades, the 2000s and the 2010s).

I decided to hone in on a specific kind of game — the kind where two teams that were otherwise winless during the season played each other. Once I identified those kind of games, I looked to see how those teams did in the remainder of their respective seasons. Specifically, I was looking for two teams that, outside the one game they played against each other, lost all their other games that season by at least 30 points.

Only one 11-man game in state history met that condition.

In 2004, Midwest defeated Wyoming Indian 26-12 in the season opener for both teams. With the conditions outlined above, I’m willing to call this game the worst Wyoming high school football game ever played.

Now, the “worst” is a loaded term here. It may not be the worst single game — as I’ll explain — but it very well might be the game between the two worst teams. Think of it this way: If you could rank every single season of every single team, and put them all on one line, the rankings of 2004 Midwest and 2004 Wyoming Indian might combine to be the lowest combined ranking of two teams playing each other in any one game.

So why is this game worth your attention, 18 years after it was played? Isn’t this the kind of game we’d want to forget — not highlight?

Nah. Even bad football is good football.

Just look at the team stats box score, which I cobbled together from the video of the game on YouTube. (Yes, this game is on YouTube. I’ll take the blame, or the thanks.) It honestly looks pretty normal, or at least typical of a 1A season opener.

Midwest 26, Wyoming Indian 12

Mid      0          20        0          6 – 26

WI       0          6          0          6 – 12

Team stats               Mid                     WI

First downs              13                       8

Rushes-yards           46-196                28-81

Passing C-A-I-Y        6-11-0-98           3-7-1-50

Total plays-yds         57-294                35-131

Fumbles-lost            7-1                      2-1

Penalties-yds           6-71                    3-25

When this game was played on Aug. 27, 2004, it was clear this was far from a state championship preview. The Oilers went 1-6 in 2003 and had only scored 14 points the entire season; Wyoming Indian had gone 1-7 and lost its last six, the beginning of what eventually became a 26-game losing streak.

The 2004 film showed the Chiefs only had two players available on the bench, the Oilers only three. Do the math; combined, these two teams had 27 players available for this game. But these kinds of games happen often, or at least often enough for this game not to be a huge exception to the rule in 1A football.

Not every play was beautiful:

And it seemed like the lines on both teams never learned about leverage, at least according to the way they stand straight up on plays like this one.

But the game DID have a couple nice hits…

… and good enthusiasm, like my man doing the “conversion dance.”

Now, on to my four favorite plays of the game:

(4) Watch the Chiefs’ right tackle against the Oilers’ defensive lineman on this play. My Midwest man got so turned around that he tried to tackle a tackle. The WIHS O-lineman was just like “What is HAPPENING right now?” before gently tossing the dude to the ground.

(3) Imagine being Midwest’s middle linebacker and taking on a QUADRUPLE TEAM from the Chiefs’ offensive line. Intimidation bonus +10; yardage bonus though only +1.

(2) Not a play, but Midwest’s pre-snap movement here had the Chiefs’ defense completely discombobulated. Just like they planned it?

(1) My favorite play BY FAR is this Midwest touchdown, which came on the last play of the first half and gave Midwest a 20-6 lead heading into halftime. The play is fine. But don’t watch the play so much as the celebration. It’s either some of the best sportsmanship I’ve ever seen, or it’s the most SAVAGE thing I’ve ever seen a wide receiver do to a defensive back.

(If you follow wyoming-football.com on Twitter, you got a sneak peek at this play.)

On this Friday in 2004, the game was little more than another Week 1 tally. Only after the season did its true historic nature take hold.

For the rest of the 2004 season, neither the winning Oilers or the losing Chiefs had a single close game. Midwest’s closest game in 2004 aside from the Chiefs game was a 38-point loss (46-8) to 2-7 Hanna; Wyoming Indian’s closest loss aside from Midwest was a 32-point loss (38-6) to 2-6 Riverside. As noted… this game is the only 11-man game in state history where two otherwise winless teams lost every other game in their seasons by at least 30 points.

Two such six-man games have come in recent years (Ten Sleep defeating St. Stephens in 2017 and Midwest defeating Dubois in 2018), and it’s happened once in nine-man (St. Stephens defeating Wyoming Indian in 2021), but obviously scoring comes differently in those versions of the game.

Watching the 2004 Midwest-Wyoming Indian game in retrospect, in no way, shape or form was it well played. But it was fun to watch, even 18 years later, and for the players I’m sure it was fun to play. I think it proves even bad football is good football.

–patrick

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