The Wyoming High School Activities Association this week officially juggled classifications for four football programs for the 2017 football season to accommodate a new high school set to open in Gillette next year.

Thunder Basin High School in Gillette will waste no time, starting its varsity football program in Class 4A in 2017. Their entry will force one school to shift its classification for the 2017 season: Evanston will go from 4A to 3A, Buffalo will go from 3A to 2A and Big Horn will go from 2A to 1A 11-man. Also, Lingle, currently in 1A six-man but ineligible for the playoffs, will formally move from 1A 11-man to 1A six-man and become eligible for the six-man playoffs in 2017.

Buffalo will remain in 3A after opting up despite the program’s reclassification. reported the changes in a series of tweets.

Buffalo officials have previously said the Bison would opt up to Class 3A for 2017. Buffalo is the only one of the four schools affected by the changing classifications to note its desire to opt up. Coaches and administrators from Evanston, Big Horn and Lingle indicated to Tuesday they would accept the classification level set by the WHSAA.

The proposal had been addressed first at the WHSAA’s board of directors meeting in February and was formally approved at the board’s meeting Tuesday in Casper.

With Buffalo’s successful appeal to Class 3A, three classifications — 3A, 2A and 1A 11-man — will have 13 programs apiece.

Normally, by structure, the 10 largest schools in the state are classified as 4A schools; the next 12 are classified in 3A; the next 14 are in 2A; the next 14 are in 1A 11-man; and the remaining schools are in 1A six-man.

Conferences will be set prior to the release of the 2017 schedule in early November. Schools in each classification for the 2017 season will be:

Class 4A: Cheyenne Central, Cheyenne East, Cheyenne South, Gillette, Kelly Walsh, Laramie, Natrona, Rock Springs, Sheridan, Thunder Basin.
Class 3A: Cody, Douglas, Evanston, Green River, Jackson, Lander, Powell, Rawlins, Riverton, Torrington, Star Valley, Worland, Buffalo.
Class 2A: Big Piney, Burns, Glenrock, Greybull, Kemmerer, Lovell, Lyman, Moorcroft, Mountain View, Newcastle, Pinedale, Thermopolis, Wheatland.
Class 1A 11-man: Big Horn, Cokeville, Lusk, Pine Bluffs, Rocky Mountain, Saratoga, Shoshoni, Southeast, Tongue River, Upton-Sundance, Wind River, Wright, Wyoming Indian.
Class 1A six-man: Burlington, Dubois, Farson, Guernsey-Sunrise, Hanna, Hulett, Kaycee, Lingle, Meeteetse, Midwest, Normative Services, Riverside, Rock River, St. Stephens, Snake River, Ten Sleep.


9 Thoughts on “WHSAA shifts conference, classification alignments for 2017 football season

  1. Steve Core on September 28, 2016 at 8:09 am said:

    19 people (size of the WHSAA board) can not make a good decision. so here is my 3a football—Green River, Evanston(good to have the Red Devils back) Jackson, Star Valley, Rawlins, Lander, Riverton in one conference, the other six, Cody, Worland, Powell, Douglas, Buffalo and Torrington in the other—-somehow the board of 19 will find fault in this—-We would not have 13 if the board would not allow schools to opt up or down—the numbers are the numbers, deal with it—just my two cents worth—Go Wolves—–

  2. Steve there is no easy answer, but your plan seems like easy travel for one conference. Cody / Powell to Torrington is a nightmare trip..I agree on the opting up or down – school shouldn’t get that option. If i’m in Buffalo with 325 kids looking at this – I’M GONE!

  3. Agree with Steve that having Evanston back in the fold is great for the SW teams.

    Talking to those in the know, it sounds like the state is also putting in some kind of “radius” to eliminate the overnight trips and replace them with more regional match ups

  4. Patrick, I know this is still far away, but I have some thoughts on some Thunder Basin caused reclassification. I know the state wants to limit travel and this doesn’t address that much, but I think it would do wonders for competitiveness. I think a 10-10-10-16ish-rest format would be great. I will explain the 16ish.
    4A- top 10 in enrollment- 965+ (assuming that TBHS falls within the top ten at reclass time)
    3A 11-20 enrollment range is 492-857
    2A 21-30 enrollment range is 204-412
    1A 31-47 enrollment range is 106-193 Cokeville would probably opt up to play 11 man and U-S keeps their partnership.
    6man is everyone else.

    We’d still have 5 classifications, but the enrollment gap would be less in 3A where the current issues are with Buffalo playing schools nearly 3 times their size. Only Lovell would have to play against a school twice their size. I am sure there are major flaws with my idea, but I like it better than the current system

  5. One of the problems with a 10-10-10-16 format becomes travel. Would 3A and 2A have round-robin schedules like 4A? If so, that’s a lot of expanded travel for those teams in 3A and 2A. It would, however, probably reduce travel for those teams in 1A. (And, yes, I know, you said this doesn’t help travel….)

    But, at a glance, that does look pretty good for competitiveness. The only problems I see come in the potential 2A, where there’s a pretty big gap between the few teams at the top and the few teams at the bottom. There’s really very little middle ground in that proposed class.

    I still think the key for reducing travel is smaller conferences. With 3-4 teams per conference, you’ve got more freedom to schedule teams in your area from different classes.

    Also, I’ll go on the record as being a supporter of school choice with opting up/down. Without it, football is likely dead (or close to it) in at least two schools this fall and significantly altered at a third. Also, allowing for the opting will help schools on the 11/6 border maintain stability in their programs from year to year by choosing one style and going with it (like Cokeville, Riverside and Lingle have done this year).


  6. First thing I would ask is to get rid of state scheduling. I’ve talked to ADs and Coaches from other states, they do just fine scheduling their own games. Why do we need WHSAA to do it for us? Also, you will see that I like at large playoff births.
    With the 2A class that I proposed Worland, Torrington and Buffalo would have a pretty big enrollment advantage, but a difference of 211 students (Worland to Lovell) is a lot better than a difference of 525/496 (Buffalo/Torrington to Evanston). The average enrollment for that class would be 276.8. All schools except Worland would be within 100 students of the average.
    I don’t think you would want a round robin schedule with that set up. Run a 3 conference set up with a 3/3/4 split with a 2/2/3 playoff birth split. Final playoff birth goes to team with best overall record in classification games. Don’t make the schools play all of their non-conference games against same class, but games against other classes don’t count for the last spot in the playoffs.
    SW: Lyman, MV, Pinedale (2 births)
    NW: Lovell, Thermop, Worland, Buffalo (3 births)
    East: Wheatland, Torrington, Newcastle (2 births)

    Eastern conference would have a long trip, but SW and NW would be split nicely. You could make it a 12 team class by adding BP and Moorcroft, then you would get 3 divisions with 4 teams. 2/2/2 playoff births with 2 at large births. Teams would play 3 division games

    3A travel could be a real pain. Not sure that a 2 division set up would be possible. Maybe this:
    North: Cody, Powell, Riverton, Lander, Douglas
    South Evanston, SV, Jackson, GR, Rawlins
    Division travel might not be too bad. Longest trips would be Powell/Douglas and Jackson/Rawlins both about 284 miles each way. That is better than Powell/Cody going to any of the SW schools. Total travel could actually be less than what we currently see.
    4 Division games and you get to schedule 4 non conference games yourself.
    Since I like at large births, give each division 3 births and have 2 at large with the same criteria as 2A.

    Just my thoughts.

  7. I don’t really understand why everyone wants to do the everybody plays everybody round robin like 4A does. There are some good interclass rivalries that have been eliminated by Round Robin and state scheduling.
    I’d like to see some of these games played again:
    Green River vs Rock Springs
    Tongue River vs Big Horn
    Lovell vs Rocky Mountain
    Burns vs Pine Bluffs
    I’m sure more games like that are out there

  8. Patrick on October 5, 2016 at 6:09 pm said:

    JH, I think you’ve got some intriguing ideas here. I don’t know that the WHSAA would ever go for it, but I’ve argued a couple times here for three-conference classifications and I think they’d work given the right circumstances.

    The one thing I keep hearing is that the WHSAA has offered several times to turn over football scheduling back to the schools. Remember, the state took it over to provide full schedules in the era of power rankings; when the WHSAA did away with power rankings, it tried to give the scheduling back to the schools. Collectively, the ADs said no. Pros and cons either way… but it’s definitely not a case of a power grab by the WHSAA.

    I still like my idea of a 12-12-24-rest split for classifications for all sports, and then split 2A into two divisions for football… šŸ™‚


  9. Pingback: WHSAA Fall #1 2016 Board Of Directors Meeting Results

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