It was a tough weekend in the households of the Star Valley faithful after a 13-0 shutout at the hand of the Powell Panthers last weekend. The positive things are, the team wants to bounce back in the worst way, it’s senior night and the weather could be getting colder. In other words? Time to get serious. Over the previous five weeks in Wyoming’s 3A class, yours truly stands at 23-5 in predicting all non-Star Valley games so far this year. If you are new to this column you may be asking why I don’t pick the game in which my crimson and gold are playing? It’s because the goggles are too thick and I have no objectivity. Instead, I will continue to make the case both for and against the Braves.
Lander (1-4) @ Buffalo (1-4) - The Bison are certainly not used to being 1-4 on the season. A tough slate of games against Douglas, Green River, Powell and Riverton have obviously contributed to that record, one that I expect to improve dramatically over the next three weeks. Lander gave a short-handed Douglas team all they could handle last week, but I don’t think they have an answer for the Bison running game. The Pick: Bison 42-10 REALITY CHECK: BISON WIN 14-8
Douglas (4-1) @ Rawlins (1-4) - A congratulations to the Outlaws for ending their streak last Friday. Douglas, meanwhile, struggled mightily with some players out of the lineup due to the breaking of team rules. I don’t know the status of those Bearcat players, but if a repeat of last week’s performance takes place, Rawlins could be winning two in a row for the first time since 2008. My heart says Outlaws, my mind says Bearcats. The Pick: Bearcats 17-7 REALITY CHECK: BEARCATS WIN 40-14
Riverton (3-2) @ Torrington (0-4) - Lost in the celebration of Rawlins is the frustration of Torrington. The Blazers were hoping to head back to the playoffs before this season and now find themselves dead last. The Wolverines have won three straight and appear to be heading for a conference championship. I can’t imagine a set of circumstances that keeps them from winning this weekend. The Pick: Wolverines 35-7 REALITY CHECK: WOLVERINES WIN 42-3
Jackson (2-3) @ Green River (4-1) - The Wolves again have one of the class’s most potent offenses and are quietly awaiting their match up with Powell and Star Valley in the last two weeks of the season to make their point. The Broncs’ playoff aspirations took a big hit last week with a loss in Cody and they will need to make something happen over the next three games to get back into the hunt. While Jackson has some offensive firepower, I don’t think they can keep up with Green River, especially in Sweetwater County. The Pick: Wolves 35-13 REALITY CHECK: WOLVES WIN 34-6
Powell (5-0) @ Worland (2-3) - Most of the attention leading up to the Powell / Star Valley match up last week focused on the offenses. Count me as a believer in the Panther defense, they are the real deal. I expect Powell to have a field day running the ball against a Warrior defense that has given up a lot of yardage on the ground. The Pick: Panthers 52-3 REALITY CHECK: PANTHERS WIN 63-7
Cody (2-3) @ Star Valley (4-1) - Everyone is saying the right things, but it will be interesting to see how the Braves respond after getting their ears boxed in Panther country. I have to believe that there is going to be a very focused effort with no guarantee of a home game beyond this week. Conversely, Cody is trying to nail down a playoff spot and did themselves a huge favor by beating Jackson last week.
Why the Braves Win - In a word? Anger. In another? Pride. I expect a blend of angry pride on Braves field this weekend as Star Valley hosts the Cody Broncs. After a long trip, a lightning delay, a wet game and a shutout, the seniors should come out swinging. Cody is in the middle of the pack in rushing defense, allowing just under 200 yards per game. After getting stonewalled by Powell last week to the tune of just 77 yards, expect a big bounce back game from the Braves running attack and the offensive line. The Broncs allow the third-highest completion percentage to opposing quarterbacks, so I also expect the passing game to make a resurgence as well.
Why the Braves Lose - Cody has won two games in the last seven against the Braves, both of them were convincing wins in Afton in 2008 and 2010. The Cody program has seen success in Lincoln County and will expect to win. The Broncs’ running game can be very formidable, ranking just behind the Panthers who rolled up over 200 yards on the Braves last week. And, after committing four turnovers last week, Star Valley can expect a ball-hungry defense from Cody to try and keep the trend going. REALITY CHECK: BRAVES WIN 39-0