I appreciate the positive responses I get for the Stir, a lot of times the lack of a column has to do with travel so it’s nice to be home on a cold wet Friday waiting for the opposing team to come into town and a chance to revisit some of the things I’ve missed during the last couple of weeks. First off, the idea on classification.
I’ve written a story about the WHSAA’s September meetings that will send Star Valley back to the 3A Class starting next fall. I also wrote a column about it in the October 7, 2010 edition of the Independent and I’ll post that online as well.
According to our poll that asks the question what readers think about the move, I’m in the minority. a solid 60% say that 3A is where we want to be and ought to be. I’m not necessarily disagreeing but these past four years have almost been like a movie where the guy gets to see what life is like if certain events did or didn’t happen. As someone who grew up in Star Valley I’ve enjoyed a lot of athletic success stories and I happen to cherish the title banners more than most. I love the sense of accomplishment and I loved that the community always seems to hearken back to a more Norman Rockwell era of closeness with celebrating a championship.
But these last four years have been like the fogged up goggles have been taken off.
Now, I’m not going to say that every single 4A game or contest is more competitive and has more skill than any other match up, that would be wrong and likely offensive. But the overall level of competition in every single sport is more consistent and the effort of off-season training isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. Unless you don’t mind losing 20 games in a season.
I’ve seen our kids come up so short that it was agonizing and so close that you are looking around with palms held skyward and your head shaking because you know that somebody had to have seen that thing that was going to help your cause but to no avail. I’ve also seen teams that likely would have contended for a state title in other years have to be satisfied with reaching their own potential and coming to grips with it on the cold cement floor of the Casper Events Center.
And fortunately, I’ve seen karma come full circle in an extremely close culminating event where nobody knows who is going to win until the final moments and that eye-opening goose bumping feeling knowing your school has finished on top. That banner will go up with all the others too. And for me, it will mean just a little bit more. Who knows, with eight months to go, perhaps that banner will get a brother or sister. One never knows.
Anyway, onto the 3AWest and football.
Homecoming is one of my favorite times of year. It’s kind of a chance for citizens to hunker down, get riled up and unleash it on visitors for about three hours. Something is going to have to give in Star Valley’s homecoming game with undefeated Cody. At 5-0 and outscoring foes 124-14, there aren’t likely to be too many Braves fans outside the valley. However, Star Valley has won eight straight at home dating back to 2008. Ironically enough, Cody was that last loss and it was a doozy. A 46-6 drubbing that is the biggest margin of victory for the Broncs in the series.
History will favor the Braves. Since 1992, the Broncs have won just twice on the Afton field including the 2008 game. Star Valley also leads the series 14-7 overall. Momentum definitely going to the Broncs, history to the Braves. You’ll see my prediction as you scroll down.
Douglas @ Rawlins - With respect to the fact that the Outlaws have players and parents who work hard, this is the most lopsided match up of the year. The Bearcats haven’t lost in about two years and Rawlins hasn’t won a game in over two years. Can’t say this one will be close. Bearcats 55-3
Jackson @ Lander - I have to say that this game intrigues me more than I thought it would. Jackson is struggling as much as they have in quite some time. I still believe Lander has a solid offensive line and some talent on defense but just don’t have a lot of firepower. That being said, Bill Bush Field is generally not the place where teams gain their footing and turn things around. With a rash of turnovers this season, I expect the Broncs to put the ball on the turf several times with the Tigers eventually coming away with some points because of it. Tigers 21-7.
Powell @ Worland – Keithen Schwann certainly gained a measure of revenge against the Braves last week for the Panther homecoming. After getting battered in Afton last year, Schwann lit up the Star Valley secondary for big yardage and slipped away from several sacks in order to do it. Worland is a classy program, led by a coach who knows how to win. The problem is two-fold for the Warriors this season. Low numbers and injuries. When you combine the two, it is nearly impossible to make things work. Look for the Warriors to be reckoned with next season, but Powell should have too much for tonight’s game. Panthers 28-7
Riverton @ Torrington - These teams have flip-flopped from where I had them in my mind before the season. Torrington has struggled to put a lot of points on the board while Riverton’s line play has been impressive. After taking one on the chin to Buffalo last week, I look for the Wolverines to bounce back with a solid showing on the road. Wolverines 34-17
Wheatland @ Buffalo - So, just how good is Wheatland? That’s what last week’s game against Douglas forced other fans to ask. Buffalo is rock solid. Tough, patient and relentless. I think at home they stick to their game plan and win this game. However, if the Bulldogs can move the ball effectively without turning it over, they could have a chance down the stretch. If their passing game struggles, look for a big Bison win. Bison 31-14
Cody @ Star Valley - First off, I like Cody. The town is one of my favorite places in the Cowboy State outside of my own. Driving back through on the way home from Powell last week as the Park Broncs were just getting done demolishing the Teton Broncs, I’ll admit I was a bit jeolous of the atmosphere combined with the location itself. That said, do you really think I’m going to pick against my team on homecoming? I’m really not neutral. I generally have to leave the press box at UW before I break the rules. Anyway, this game will be decided by Cody’s defense. If they can stop the Braves offense, then it could be a long day for Star Valley fans who will be in wet, cold conditions at about 30 degrees for kick off. However, Logan Abrams and the receivers lead the state with 170 passing yards per game. The Braves will also need a very good effort from their defense who will need to put pressure on Cody’s run game. Someone’s winning streak ends tonight. Braves 27-24
Now to the Mountain West -
CSU @ #25 Air Force - The Falcons are like that kid that always seems to beat you but you don’t begrudge him for it. Now back into the rankings, I highly doubt that Troy Calhoun and his boys will let up with the Rams in town. TCU rolled up over 300 yards of rushing on CSU last week, look for more than that from the fly boys. Falcons 49-10
UNLV @ West Virginia - Bobby Hauck picked a pretty tough year to transition into the big boy division didn’t he? This is one of the few non ranked teams the Rebels have faced, but going into the Eastern time zone and winning in the backyard of a coal producing state like West Virginia is no small feat. Mountaineers 31-14
San Diego State @ BYU - Okay, okay, I admit it. I was smiling heartily as I got my updates from the Cougars demise in Logan last week. But part of it is the fact that I saw this coming. I questioned so many holes to fill in one short summer but I was ignored. QB, RB and TE, arguably the best at their position in school history, all gone. The schedule has been tough too, but don’t tell that to Cougar faithful who are already rumbling about Mendenhall’s abilities. My biggest question with the Y? this year was this. Can they score enough to beat quality offensive teams? So far the answer has been no. San Diego State is no Nevada, but they have enough talent at wide receiver to score 30 points in Provo. Barring some turnovers from Mendenhall’s defense, I think the slide continues. Aztecs. In Provo? Yes. 34-21
#10 Utah @ Iowa State - I hope that the AD at Utah sends a fruit basket to BYU this year. Why? Every team in the league was hating on the Utes and their move to the Pacific Coast. But with the decision to go independent and in essence take their ball and go home, the Cougars have turned all of that anger towards themselves and are getting every team’s best effort. Utah quietly continues to rack up the wins and this will be another one. Utes 35-17
#5 TCU @ Wyoming - Somebody the other day complained about BYU’s tough schedule. Really? Wyoming’s third, top-five team in six weeks will be waiting in Fort Worth where the Pokes have done little to slow them down recently. The JUCO players who were supposed to make an impact on the Wyoming spread offense have been MIA this year and yet the guys keep plugging along. I said this before. The Cowboys might have to win their final four games to get bowl eligible. With trips to TCU and Utah coming to Laramie next week, that still remains true. Frogs 42-10
New Mexico @ New Mexico State - Ah, the battle for the Silver Spade. Pat Forde of ESPN had this tagged right as the Disenchantment Bowl. I really can’t see Mike Locksley surviving the season. A loss to equally defeated NMSU just might seal the deal. Aggies 24-21