Unintentionally, the schedule-makers for Wyoming high school football made Week 3 an episode of “Survivor.”
Wyoming has 19 high school football teams that are still undefeated.
That number will take a huge dip this week, as six games pair off 12 of those undefeated teams.
The last two undefeated teams in 4A (Rock Springs and Sheridan), four of the five remaining teams in 3A (Douglas/Powell and Buffalo/Cody), four of the five remaining teams in 2A (Upton-Sundance/Wheatland and Lyman/Lovell) and the last two undefeated teams in the 1A nine-man East (Pine Bluffs and Saratoga) all play one another this week.
And each game has its own special place in a week full of opportunity.
The “real” game of the week, or at least the one that will draw the most attention, is in 4A, where Rock Springs travels to Sheridan for the last battle of unbeatens we’ll see in the big-school ranks this season. The Tigers and Broncs have truly been mirrors of each other, and that’s most obvious in their point totals each team has accumulated in their respective 3-0 starts. Rock Springs has a scoring differential of 141-25; Sheridan, 144-20.
But the other games are just as critical, and deserve just as much love.
In 3A, both Douglas-Powell and Buffalo-Cody match up 3A teams that are undefeated. These games won’t affect playoff seeding, but by the time the brackets settle, they could definitely end up influencing playoff strategy.
Upton-Sundance (2-0) hasn’t lost. Neither has Wheatland (3-0). Something’s got to give. Meanwhile, uh… stop me if you’ve heard this before. Lyman (3-0) hasn’t lost. Neither has Lovell (2-0). Something’s got to give. And both games could end up deciding top seeds before the season finishes.
Finally, Pine Bluffs and Saratoga are the only ones to emerge unscathed so far in the 1A nine-man East. Oddly enough, Saratoga’s first game (62-8 over Wyoming Indian) equals Pine Bluffs through two games (30-0 over Riverside plus 32-8 over Lusk equals 62-8).
The only undefeated teams to avoid the “Survivor” tribal council are Evanston, Tongue River, Shoshoni, Wind River and the four zero-loss six-man teams (Hulett, Snake River, Dubois, Farson). They will all have to survive their own games this week to stay in the Goose Egg Club, though, including road games for all four six-man teams.
Unbeaten matchups are fun, but a handful of other games also have an outsized amount of my attention this week:
The Oil Bowl between Kelly Walsh and Natrona is the first 4A rivalry game to hit the calendar this year, and after both Casper teams started 2-1, I’m optimistic this one will be close. And that’s all you can ask for in a rivalry game. …
Evanston is 3-0, which I didn’t see coming, and that makes every game the Red Devils play intriguing to me. This week, the Red Devils have Lander, a tough challenge but a setup for a heck of a game nonetheless. …
Thermopolis was put into quite a bind the last two weeks, unable to practice or to play — or even attend in-person classes — due to COVID-19. The Bobcats play their first game of the season at home against Kemmerer, already two games behind but with no lost opportunities to finish the season strong. Kemmerer, meanwhile, is coming off its first victory in 18 games, so the Rangers have to feel good about what’s possible in a weird set of circumstances this week. …
Glenrock-Burns is the most intriguing 2A game this week. Fight me. …
Wind River won by 50 last week. Are the Cougars for real? Well, how about a date agains the defending state champs, Southeast, in Goshen County? That’ll do. …
Now, the picks, where I put the teams I think will win in bold and leave the rest to your imagination:
Cheyenne Central at Thunder Basin
Cheyenne East at Laramie
Cheyenne South at Campbell County
Kelly Walsh at Natrona
Rock Springs at Sheridan
Buffalo at Cody
Douglas at Powell
Lander at Evanston
Riverton at Jackson
Star Valley at Rawlins
Worland at Green River
Glenrock at Burns
Kemmerer at Thermopolis
Lyman at Lovell
Mountain View at Cokeville
Newcastle at Big Horn
Pinedale at Big Piney
Tongue River at Torrington
Upton-Sundance at Wheatland
Class 1A nine-man
Lingle at Wright
Moorcroft at Lusk
Pine Bluffs at Saratoga
Rocky Mountain at Riverside
St. Stephens at Shoshoni
Wind River at Southeast
Wyoming Indian at Greybull
Class 1A six-man
Snake River at Burlington
Hulett at Sheridan JV
Sioux County, Neb., at Guernsey-Sunrise
Class 1A six-man
Dubois at Meeteetse
Farson at Encampment
Natrona sophs at Midwest
Open: Kaycee. Also, Hanna canceled its game this week with the Natrona sophs.
For a full schedule including kickoff times, as well as results from past weeks, go here. Click on “Week 3” on the top of the page for this week’s schedule.
Here are the results of my picks from last week and this season:
Last week: 28-4 (88 percent). This season: 63-16 (80 percent).
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Updated at 9:21 p.m. Sept. 16 to fix reference to Wheatland in blog post.