The fourth in a five-part season preview continues today with a look at Class 3A.

Four questions to answer
Can Powell repeat? Yes. The talent that Powell returns is second to none in 3A this fall — five all-state choices, including two seniors and three juniors, will help anchor the Panthers’ repeat chances. The better question might be: Who can stop Powell from repeating?

Is Green River still in a post-Powell hangover? We’ll see, although I doubt it. The Wolves again have the potential to be one of the best teams in 3A, but the way last season ended — by giving up a 45-yard touchdown pass with 12 seconds to go — can’t help but affect a team’s psyche. For their part, the Wolves are still the defending West Conference champs, and the title still goes through Green River. That reality alone should help bring the Wolves back from that tough loss to finish last season.

Is this Riverton’s breakthrough year? Probably. The Wolverines have been pointing to this season for at least two years now as their possible breakout season. The combo of Xavier Webb and T.J. Galey, both returning all-state choices, gives the Riverton offense a tandem option that no team in 3A can match. And with Douglas rebuilding/reloading, Lander going through a transition and Buffalo refocusing with a new coach, this might be Riverton’s best shot to win the East.

How will Buffalo do with a new coach? The answer is much more long and complicated than I have room for here. Any time a program goes through the tumult the Buffalo program did last year, there will be some unforeseen repercussions. How new coach Rob Hammond and his staff handle those unanticipated changes — good or bad — will help define the Bison’s success on the scoreboard.

Four players to watch
Vince Sleep, Powell. He made this list last year. He’ll make it again this year. As a junior, he led Powell in both solo tackles and tackles for loss. Already a two-time all-state selection, opposing coaches know Sleep will be a handful as the anchor of the Panthers’ defense.

Ty Etchemendy, Douglas. Even on a team full of seniors, it was hard to overlook the junior Etchemendy last year. He was Douglas’ leading receiver last year, but also played running back and defensive back and returned a few kicks, as well, and his efforts earned him an all-state nod. He’ll be asked to take on even more as a senior.

Xavier Webb, Riverton. If this really is Riverton’s breakthrough year, it’ll be on Webb to prove it. The Wolverines’ quarterback was an all-state choice last fall, completing 55 percent of his passes (99 of 181) for 1,241 yards and 12 touchdowns; he’ll need a similar, or maybe even slightly better, effort this year to help the Wolverines get over the top.

Aaron Fenner, Buffalo. Few players combine offense and defense as well as Fenner. He led Buffalo in rushing yards, receiving yards and defensive points as a junior last season. It’s hard to ask for an encore of that performance, but Fenner will likely need to be just as integral a part of the Bison’s effort to help his team back into the playoff hunt this season.

Four key games
Green River at Douglas, Aug. 31: This is probably the most highly anticipated nonconference game of the season in any classification. And it just so happens to pop up in Week 1. Both teams are eager to show they are the true favorites in 3A this fall; a victory here will go a long way to proving that point.

Star Valley at Powell, Sept. 28: One of the teams lost in the 3A mix is Star Valley — a team that had a tremendous 2011 season and returns enough players to be a threat in the West again this year. A victory here over the defending champs would be nice, but the Panthers remember what happened last year in Afton and are probably eager for a bit of payback.

Buffalo at Riverton, Sept. 28: The Wolverines have the good fortune of drawing the Bison at home this year. And if they want to prove they belong in title-game talk, this is the game they have to win.

Green River at Powell, Oct. 19: After not playing since 1982, these two teams played each other twice last season, building up enough familiarity with each other to make up for a lot of lost time. This one could again decide home-field advantage in the playoffs — although last year helped prove that home field isn’t everything.

Predicted order of finish
East: Douglas, Riverton, Buffalo, Lander, Torrington, Rawlins.
West: Powell, Green River, Star Valley, Worland, Cody, Jackson.

Completely outlandish, way-too-early title game score prediction
Powell 19, Green River 16

Every current Class 3A team has played every other current 3A team at least twice in the past 90 years — except for these two schools, who have never played each other. Which two current 3A schools am I talking about? Post your guesses as a comment below.

What do you think? Does 3A have more parity than the rest of the classifications in Wyoming? What game are you most looking forward to? What players are poised for breakout seasons? Post some thoughts below and let’s talk 3A football.


25 Thoughts on “Class 3A preview: Powell keeps pressure on rest of class

  1. Steve on August 8, 2012 at 8:37 am said:

    I was going to guess Green River, however, the Wolves played Buffalo last year for only the second time, and do have two matchups with Torrington. This is a tough one without spending many hours looking thru your book. So I will guess Powell versus Torrington. I like your thoughts on this year. Green River had two great players last year, and many good returning players. Maybe a better team this year? We shall see. Let the games begin.

  2. Steve on August 8, 2012 at 9:19 am said:

    Second guess—-because of travel, I would say Torrington-Jackson?

  3. I would disagree with two teams and the predicted finish. First, I would put Torrington in front of Lander in the East. Torrington’s youth will have lots of varsity experience and Lander has lost a lot.
    Secondly, Star Valley has to be a sleeper for challenging deep into the playoffs. Although, they play at Powell and Green River; two very tough road games.
    Now for trivia, I would say Jackson vs Torrington.

  4. Players to watch needs to be thought over again. Yes those four players are good players but there are better, I think a player who well deserves the title of player to watch is Green River’s linebacker Dan Probst. He did lead the entire 3A division in defensive points and tackles and finished second overall in the hole state (All divisions) without being on a team that made it to the State Championship correct? In both my personal thoughts and in the proof he is the best defender in 3A and probably the state this year. Another player who needs to be watched is T.J Galey, the kid is the most agressive running back in the league and also is a standout player on defense and if this year is Rivertons breakout year T.J will be a huge part in it if not the biggest part. Both of these players are all-state returners and absolute studs. They need to be on this list.

  5. Patrick on August 8, 2012 at 10:12 am said:

    First of all, two of you have already KOd the trivia — indeed, Torrington and Jackson are the only two 3A teams who haven’t played each other. It’s interesting to note that even though Torrington and Jackson haven’t played each other, Torrington has played Star Valley 10 times. Of course, all of those were in the playoffs…

    Stan, I agree that Torrington should be better this year and Lander will struggle a bit more. I’m admittedly a bit skeptical, because I think Lander despite losing a lot will stay competitive. That 4/5 spot in the East was one I agonized on for awhile.

    Dave, I can’t include everyone on these lists. I do what I can. Maybe you can tell me which of the players I listed aren’t deserving. Or you can bring up other players worthy of mention without insinuating that I’m somehow mentally deficient or negligent in the players I chose.


  6. riverton on August 8, 2012 at 12:24 pm said:

    Powell GR and Douglas are all going to be good teams and tough to beat. I’m glad we get to play Powell and GR the first to weeks to see how we stack up. However regarding Riverton I don’t think Xavier is going to be the key. I believe our offense can play with anyone but our defense last year was bad. If we are 12th in the league in defense again and give up career bests to every running back we will probably do about what we did last year. If we can get to the top 5 or 6 I think we will be in Laramie.

  7. Powell football on August 8, 2012 at 12:55 pm said:

    It’s going to be a very interesting football season! Powell I believe has the momentum coming into the season. I also believe GR will have a very talented group of kids.. GR has 2 of the top 3 defensive players in the conference .. Dan probst and Blaine Christensen and the last one in powells very own mr. Sleep . The 3A west will be very fun this year watching these talented kids on the field ! Let the games begin

  8. Trent on August 8, 2012 at 1:00 pm said:

    I Agree with Dave, those two players need to be watched and I love the way both those players play the game. They play very aggressively and have close to picture perfect technique but Webb, Etchemendy, Sleep, and Fenner are defeinatly players to watch too I think we could all agree on that. And about Riverton I also think they could be a very good team this year going off watching their games with Green River. Green River never really allowed a lot of points except to riverton, that being said i still believe Green River will be one of the top dogs again this year. They lost Hamel and Krysl who were key players and a successful runningback, Bloom. Other than that I dont think there is anyone on their offense or defense that were key players last year that arent coming back this year. I believe they have Blain Christiansen for a running back and he did a good job for the Wolves’ offense running the ball last year. They also have Zach Huber for a QB. Both are seniors. Defensively I think they will be better than last year. They have some young guys that got playing time last year that im sure can fill the shoes this year and they are returning the states star defensive player, Dan Probst at middle linebacker. I dont think Green River will miss a beat on the offensive side of the ball or the defensive. I believe they have another State Calliber team… maybe even say better than the one last year.

  9. Trent on August 8, 2012 at 1:02 pm said:

    Secondly i also agree with Patrick maybe take a nicer approach next time about the players to watch Dave. And What about Cody? I heard they won their camp tournament in Montana State this summer. I dont know about their returning starters and everything though. What do you guys thionk aboiut Cody being a team should be reckoned with?

  10. Patrick, I am not saying you are in the wrong for mentioning those players I just personally believe those two players got extremely over looked. Thats all, I wasnt trying to insult your choices because those are definatly players to watch as well.

  11. One player to watch for this year is Blain Christiansen of GR . I’ve watched this kid twice last year a they played Riverton. And other than Krysl an hamel he shined the most ! Tough over all player

  12. Rawlins Outlaws on August 9, 2012 at 12:50 am said:

    What about Rawlins? Will they win 1 game? Will they break the streak?

  13. Patrick on August 9, 2012 at 5:52 am said:

    Rawlins, I do think the streak ends sometime this year. I think the best chance is in one of the first two games, against either Wheatland or Jackson. I’d say Jackson is the more likely of the two.

    Winning a conference game will be tougher.

    Of course, I thought Rawlins would break the streak LAST season. On the plus side, the Outlaws made some strides last season and I think (and hope) they break the streak this year. Winning more than one or two games, though, will be a tall order.


  14. Dahl Erickson on August 9, 2012 at 11:45 am said:

    The interesting thing about 3A this year is how many teams will be bringing up JV QB’s or will have new QB’s. At least on our schedule (SV), There are a slew of guys who carried their teams last year who have graduated. The coaching staffs are going to be a big reason for success for the top teams I think. For my two cents, I’m obviously a homer. Outside of that, I was impressed by Douglas’ fundamentals from top to bottom last year. Powell is obviously bringing back some tough guys and Coach Stringer has two titles. Outside of the Braves, I think I’m most interested to see how the Bearcats, Panthers and Wolves do in replacing their signal-callers. Good luck to all, is this the most anxious time of year or what?

  15. Dahl,
    I agree with your QB question and will add this. The kid from Douglas played against us after the second quarter and is certainly no let down. Green River? Powell; replacing a kid like Cragoe is never a fun thing.
    The year is now started and we will see how things shake out.

  16. Football Frenzy on August 13, 2012 at 9:31 pm said:

    Everyone is talking about Quarterbacks here which I know is very important but what about the running game? Who does Cody have, Star Valley, Powell and Especialy Douglas have?

  17. Dahl Erickson on August 15, 2012 at 11:21 am said:

    Trent asked about Cody and they are a mystery to me. I thought they had a load of athletes last year but it just never got put together I guess. I definitely think they are being considered below the radar this year when I talk to folks.

    Running game for the Braves I think is going to be as strong as it’s been under Coach Howell (starting fifth year). Take that for what it’s worth. I think our running game has been underwhelming as elements of the spread have been implemented. We don’t have a big line, but we have a lot of strong kids who played a lot of varsity last year in the 185-210 pound range. I see two guys battling for carries as the lead back, one at 190 and the other at about 170, both are bigger than we’ve had in the recent past so there is reason to be excited I think.

    I think Christiansen from GR is poised to have a big year for the Wolves and I can definitely see their defense improving, but I still believe replacing the Hamel to Krysl connection is going to be difficult.

    I could see Powell being very difficult to score against with their returners on defense, Douglas also. The trio of Matthews, Barker and Etchemendy for the Bearcats should be tough in a lot of ways.

    I had a question for any Worland fans, can they give us an update on Bryce Overcast? Wondering if he’s back for this season?

    Anyway, just my two cents.

  18. Patrick on August 15, 2012 at 1:56 pm said:

    Dahl, Bryce is back for Worland this year. He’s slated in at RB and DB. Worland has quite a bit of speed this year, from what I can gather. That’s about all I can add…

  19. Patrick on August 15, 2012 at 2:04 pm said:

    Some other interesting thoughts from coach discussions I’ve had over the summer…

    QB spots are up for grabs in several spots, most notably in Cody and Douglas. No favorites yet (or at least there weren’t before practice started this week). …

    Sounds like sophomore Tate Pehringer may be the feature back in Cody. (Not sure, but may be related to Jim Pehringer, the 4A POY at Sheridan in 1986.)…

    Logan Barker will likely be the tailback in Douglas. Logan’s a junior and he missed most of last year with injuries. Also in the “injured last year but could put up big yards this year” is Green River RB Adam Kroupa, who will team up with Christensen in the backfield. …

    Another junior backfield guy to watch is Cory Heny from Powell. Looks like he might take over that starting role at tailback. …


  20. Riverton on August 15, 2012 at 8:20 pm said:

    When it comes to runners this year T J Galey should be one of the best. He is quicker this year after going to intense wrestling camps and has worked extremely hard this summer. Also he will be the feature back getting most of carrys behind a big experienced line. With Xavier’s passing we should have a very good offense but our defense will determine if we are a top tier team. Looking forward to playing Worland 0 week as it was a good game last year but don’t know what they have this year.

  21. Patrick – with that said where will the etchemendy kid play?

  22. Dahl Erickson on August 18, 2012 at 9:50 pm said:


    Thanks for the confirmation on Overcast. That was my impression as well. I’m interested to see if a different coach has any impact on the overall numbers for Worland.

  23. You are correct on Pehringer being the son of Jim. As you know, his dad was not a bad back himself while at Sheridan or Sioux Falls College.
    Cody has a good group of Soph’s and they will most likely contribute this year.

  24. daddy candy on September 5, 2012 at 12:27 am said:

    cody is gonna be good this year. neary will be the quarterback and have a lot of young players playing this year. definitely underestimated.

  25. Torrington vs Jackson is the match up that ha never happened

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