The tensions get a bit higher this week as teams try to stay in first place or stay out of last place. There are also those teams who are trying to get back into the driver’s seat for the post-season and those who know they don’t have a lot of room for error. So far I’m 17-5 on the season. Not too shabby, but high school kids have a tendency to make pundits look silly.
Buffalo (1-3) @ Riverton (2-2) - The Bison have either been hit or miss, and unfortunately for Bison fans, the hits have outnumbered the wins. I expect Buffalo to win their last three games of the season, but I think this is the week that Riverton shows that they are a lot of people’s pick to win the East. Including mine. Wolverines 35-17 REALITY CHECK: WOLVERINES WIN 34-14
Douglas (3-1) @ Lander (1-3) - The Bearcats are just too strong across the board for the Tigers in this one. Expect a pretty one-sided score if Lander has any turnovers. Bearcats 35-7 REALITY CHECK: BEARCATS WIN 9-7
Green River (3-1) @ Worland (2-2) - A lot of this game’s outcome may depend on the availability of Colby Wartman who had to leave the game against Star Valley last week. Hopefully everything is fine and he can continue having a terrific season. The Wolves and the Warriors have shown their ability to light up the scoreboard. At this point, I would have to go with the Sweetwater squad when it comes to doing it more consistently. Wolves 35-21 REALITY CHECK: WOLVES WIN 48-13
Jackson (2-2) @ Cody (1-3) - Ahhh the battle of the Broncs. I don’t know if there is any animosity between these two programs, but I would think they would like to win this game not only for the conference win, but also to be called the better Broncs. Cody is like a snake in the grass right now. Better than their record and waiting for the chance to improve their it. I think this is the week their running game controls the battle of the trenches. Jackson may have the bigger big-play ability but I like the Park County Broncs at home. Cody 28-21 REALITY CHECK: CODY WINS 21-12
Torrington (0-3) @ Rawlins (0-4) - It’s fairly well-known by now that Rawlins has the chance to set the new Wyoming record for consecutive losses which currently stands at 35. On paper this is a great chance to stop that from happening. In fact, I couldn’t in good conscience pick them to lose in a game with that hanging over their heads. Outlaws 24-22 REALITY CHECK: OUTLAWS WIN 27-17
Star Valley (4-0) @ Powell (4-0) - Just a huge regular-season game. As I’ve pointed out in print and over the radio waves, this is the first time these two programs have met as #1 (Powell) and #2 (SV) since 2006. The Braves controlled that one, winning 24-7 in Powell and setting up what was considered a certain future rematch. The Wheatland Bulldogs had other plans and the Braves never got the opportunity that year as the Panthers hung the banner. A good reminder that while this looks to be the same situation, there is still a lot of football left after this week.
Why the Braves Win - The one aspect of these two very closely matched teams seems to be perhaps the opportunity of Star Valley’s run game to have some measure of success against the Panthers. Of course the two teams will determine that this evening. The Braves are averaging 8.5 yards per carry on the ground so far this year, so shutting them down will take a big effort. In the overall series, Star Valley has a 24-8 advantage and has seemed to have the mental edge over the Panthers in the last decade or so. The Braves also have a +13 on turnover margin on the season and while Powell has a + 4, they do have 8 turnovers on the season. Powell has a mystique with a lot of teams this year, but the Braves remember they beat the state champs last year.
Why the Braves Lose - Powell’s loss last year in Afton took over 100 yards in penalties on both teams and a defensive touchdown from Star Valley. The Panthers did not allow an offensive score and it was instead, four field goals from Cody Call who was the difference. A homecoming crowd on their new field should result in a fantastic crowd this evening. One of my biggest questions coming into this season for Powell was who was going to replace Josh Cragoe? It seems another member of the Cragoe family is even more adept at passing the ball. The majority of his completions have gone to Dewey Schwahn, another family name of a player, Keith, who nearly single-handedly knocked off Star Valley in Powell in 2010. The long-time success of these family names will not be intimidated by any type of Star Valley mystique. Cragoe’s passing prowess may severely test the Braves secondary who to this point has only given up one big play. REALITY CHECK: PANTHERS WIN 13-0