Zero-week football means different things for the five divisions of Wyoming prep football. The opening week games count in Class 4-A since every team in the division plays each other during the regular season and needs the extra contest to fit the schedule.
In Class 3-A there are two options, either playing a full game as Riverton did at Powell on Friday or playing a controlled scrimmage as Lander does each opening weekend with Pinedale.
A few Class 2-A teams also play full zero-week games, but most follow the controlled scrimmage format. Out-of-state contests are featured with Wyoming squads near the Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Montana, and Nebraska borders taking on teams they rarely if ever get to play.
In Class 1-A and 6-man football, the name of the game is the jamboree. In a jamboree, teams converge on a central location and play each other in controlled scrimmages with coaches on the field and a set number of plays for each team to run offensively against each other.
Three of Fremont County’s Class 1-A, 9-man teams played in jamborees on Friday and Saturday and the Dubois Rams competed in a 6-man jamboree on Saturday as well.
Wind River and Shoshoni opened the zero-week action early Friday afternoon at Natrona County High School in Casper with the Wranglers and Cougars tangling with the Wright Panthers and Lusk Tigers.
Shoshoni is currently ranked #1 in 9-man after winning the state championship last season with a stellar 10-1 overall record. Wind River is also a good team this season and currently ranked fourth.
Both squads had little trouble with Lusk. The Tigers are a storied program from days gone by but have fallen on hard times with reduced enrollment and had a very young offensive and defensive line. If you can’t stop the run you won’t stop the Cougars this season, and the Wranglers can run, throw and play defense with abandon, making them difficult to match up with.
Both Wind River and Shoshoni were able to play a lot of younger players against Lusk after a couple of series with their varsity units.
Wright is an improved team, but couldn’t match the offensive firepower of either Fremont County team and had trouble moving the ball against two very physical defensive units.
In a Saturday jamboree in Shoshoni Rocky Mountain, Greybull, and Riverside came down from the Big Horn Basin to play controlled scrimmages with Wyoming Indian, Saratoga, and Moorcroft.
Saratoga moves up from 6-man to 9-man this season and Moorcroft has elected to play 9-man rather than compete in Class 2-A 11-man as their enrollment would dictate. Moorcroft faces a dilemma each season with a large religious community that doesn’t allow their children to compete in athletics taking up a large part of their enrollment. Moorcroft is officially listed as having around 200 grade 9-12 students but actually has only about 115 to draw from. They moved up to Class 3-A in basketball, volleyball, and track as a result.
Wyoming Indian looked good on Saturday with an effective passing game and were able to run the ball off tackle and on sweeps well against Moorcroft. They faced an uphill battle with talented Rocky Mountain but played well defensively against the pass happy Grizzlies. If you’re a football fan and get a chance to watch the Grizzlies play this season you’ll see one of the best small school passing attacks in recent history.
Dubois opened with a jamboree in Encampment. The Rams will be a power in 6-man this season, look for great things from the boys in the High Country.
Zero week is a great coaching tool when done correctly. You can discover strengths and weaknesses you can’t find when you’re lining up against the same guys night after night at practice.
The regular season opens on Thursday this week with Shoshoni entertaining East 9-man power Pine Bluffs in the best game of the opening weekend in any division. Wind River opens on the road on Thursday as well in Saratoga.
The Wranglers kickoff with the Hornets at 4 p.m. at Harold Bailey Field in Shoshoni while the Cougars open play later that afternoon at 5:30 p.m. in Carbon County.
With the drastic shortage of football officials growing with each passing season, most of the 9-man games will take place on Thursday and most of the 6-man contests on Saturday, freeing up Wyoming’s scant officiating crews to work afternoon and evening games on Friday in Class 2-A, 3-A, and 4-A.