Since six-man’s return in 2009, eight new programs have entered Wyoming’s football ranks: Kaycee, Snake River and Farson in 2009, Cheyenne South in 2011, St. Stephens in 2013, Rock River in 2014, Thunder Basin in 2017 and Encampment in 2019.
Varying degrees of success have followed, in two distinct camps.
The happy campers? Kaycee, Snake River and Farson have all won multiple state championships. Thunder Basin and Encampment have yet to finish a season with a losing record.
The blistered, sprained-ankle, sunburnt and/or missing campers? Cheyenne South has one playoff berth, zero playoff victories and a winning percentage under .100. St. Stephens has won five games in 10 years. Rock River no longer fields a football team.
Enter Casper Christian, the state’s newest high school football program and the ninth since 2009 to try to establish fresh gridiron roots in Wyoming.
After a hodgepodge schedule a year ago that included games against a handful of six-man teams and several against Natrona’s sophomores and freshmen, the Mountaineers are now an official, playoff-eligible program that, so far, has shown an affinity for shedding the label of newcomer.
Now 3-0 after a 57-26 victory against Hanna last week in the program’s first conference game, Casper Christian has arguably the biggest game in program history, as short as it is, on Saturday in Casper.
Understanding why requires understanding a little bit about the Class 1A six-man South Conference.
The conference’s top three preseason teams — two-time defending champion Snake River, three-time semifinalist Encampment and two-time semifinalist Dubois — are the teams everyone else is chasing.
That leaves Casper Christian, along with Farson and Hanna, in the position of chasers.
The Mountaineers will have their shot at all of them, with a trip to Baggs to play Snake River next week, a home date with Dubois in Week 6 and a trip to Encampment to end the conference season in Week 7.
But for now, their game with Farson (kickoff at noon Saturday at Natrona) will be Casper Christian’s make-or-break, just as it will be for the Pronghorns, too. Chasing down those top three after a loss to secure any kind of hope of a playoff berth gets a lot harder.
Meanwhile, in the Mountaineer camp, a victory keeps the hope for not only the postseason alive, but the hopes for a bigger opportunity later in the year when the “biggest game in program history” is a memory, replaced by games with far more significance.
Some other games to watch in Week 3:
As cool as Casper Christian’s quick start has been, the biggest game in Casper is still Friday’s Oil Bowl between Kelly Walsh and Natrona. Both teams enter the game coming off a victory, so it will be interesting to see whose momentum is preserved moving forward. …
Arguably the 3A game of the week pits Douglas and Powell against each other. They are both undefeated, Douglas at 2-0 and Powell at 3-0, and they always seem to have good games against each other. Four of the past six meetings between the Bearcats and Panthers ended with margins of seven points or less, including Douglas’ OT victory in last year’s 3A quarterfinals. …
The “Burton Bowl” is happening this week as coach Jim Burton’s new team, Lander, faces his old team, Evanston. Those scenarios are few and far between, and they’re always interesting to watch unfold. …
If Torrington ends up moving to Class 3A next year, will this be the last Wheatland-Torrington rivalry game that we see for awhile? …
Greybull is off to its first 2-0 start since 2016. All the Buffaloes did that year was go to the 2A title game. So if Greybull can knock off West top threat Big Piney this week, watch out. …
Farson and Casper Christian aren’t the only ones engaged in an important 1A-6 South game, as two of those three aforementioned frontrunners, Encampment and Dubois, will face off Saturday in Dubois. This game is so key, I heard Master Lock is sponsoring it.
On to this week’s picks. I denote the team I think will win in bold. It’s a fun little game I play. It’s much smaller than the actual games being played.
Upton-Sundance at Tongue River
Class 1A nine-man
Rocky Mountain at Wyoming Indian
Cheyenne East JV at Shoshoni
Cheyenne East at Laramie
Cheyenne South at Campbell County
Kelly Walsh at Natrona
Rock Springs at Sheridan
Thunder Basin at Cheyenne Central
Buffalo at Cody
Douglas at Powell
Lander at Evanston
Riverton at Star Valley
Worland at Green River
Cokeville at Pinedale
Glenrock at Big Horn
Lyman at Lovell
Newcastle at Burns
Thermopolis at Mountain View
Torrington at Wheatland
Class 1A nine-man
Lingle at Guernsey
Pine Bluffs at Wright
Saratoga at Lusk
Southeast at Moorcroft
Wind River at Riverside
Class 1A six-man
Ten Sleep at Kaycee
Kemmerer at Rich County, Utah
Rawlins at Moffat County, Colo.
South Fremont, Idaho, at Jackson
Class 1A nine-man
Greybull at Big Piney
Class 1A six-man
Burlington at Midwest
Encampment at Dubois
Farson at Casper Christian (at Natrona)
Meeteetse at Hulett
Snake River at Hanna
St. Stephens at Shoshoni JV
For a full schedule including kickoff times, click here. You can click on “Week 3” at the top of the page to take you directly to this week’s schedule.
Here are the results of my picks from last week and this season:
Last week: 28-6 (82 percent). This season: 71-16 (82 percent).
A quick housekeeping note from last week: Wind River’s varsity actually had the week off. The Cougars’ JV played Natrona’s sophomores, not their varsity. That result has been removed from the site.
If you like what you see here, consider a page sponsorship.