By Ernie Over

WyoToday

It doesn’t seem possible that school is about to start up again for another year. City crews have been out refreshing the crosswalks and the turning arrows on the streets. The flashing crosswalk crossing lights are being checked. People are dashing around shopping for school supplies and clothes. Merchants, so far, have held off on Christmas decorations, but that’s also coming up soon.

At this time of year, I relish the start of college and high school football. Wyoming is on the road at Illinois to get their season kicked off with a brand-new backfield. I’m always optimistic at the start of each season, and this year is no different. Go Pokes!

The high school season is about to get underway as well as this past weekend was the first official day of practice across the state. Local football could have another great year. Shoshoni is the defending Class 1A-Nine Man State Champion, and they are loaded, once again. Wind River has a new head coach following one of their best seasons in a while. The Cougars are in the talk with Rocky Mountain of Cowley and Pine Bluffs as the teams to beat this year. Including Shoshoni, of course.

Lander’s Tigers look to be strong again this year with some outstanding returners and a solid game plan prepared by Coach John Scott and his assistants. Recalling last year’s game at Buffalo, the Tigers needed to score 22 points to earn a state playoff berth. In one of the most exciting games of the year, LVHS did just that. Now they need to find a way to beat Powell, the team that has beaten them in the playoffs two years in a row.

Riverton is in a rebuilding year, but the Wolverines should not be ignored. With a little luck, the Cardinal Red could spring some surprises.

Dubois, up in Ram Country, looks to have another good team in the Six Man ranks.

The verdict is still out whether St. Stephens will field a team, or even have school this year following the big purge this past spring that put the Bureau of Indian Education in charge of the school. Across the Reservation, Wyoming Indian’s athletes love cross country, track, and basketball, not so much about football. The Chiefs have only had two winning seasons since 1972 and they went .500 in 1996. But they’ll show up for each game.

Back to the Cowboys. I’ve been on the UW Statistics Crew now for quite some time at War Memorial Stadium. This fall will be my 27th year charting the home games. I do the rushing stats and punt yardages and help place the ball on the correct yard line (for the official yardage). I’ve made some good friends up in the press box during that time. One of the regulars there, Bob Beck from Wyoming Public Media, announced he is retiring this October. I’m wishing Bob well. Over the years I’ve had the privilege of knowing some of the state’s best broadcasters and writers from Larry Birleffi and Gene Benson to George Kay, Ron Gulberg, Robert Gagliardi, Bob Hammond, plus Kevin McKinney and, of course, Dave Walsh. It was Kevin who gave me the opportunity to be on the stat crew in the fall of 1995 when he was the Sports Information Director there.

Another chap I’ve come to know is Patrick Schmiedt, formerly of the UW Branding Iron, and the Casper Star-Tribune who now teaches journalism at Citrus College in Glendora, Calif. A native of Midwest, Wyo., Patrick has published the bible of Wyoming high school football, “A Century of Fridays.”  It’s 589 pages chock full of records, teams, coaches, and anything else you need to know. Patrick is also the man behind the website “Wyoming_Football.com.”

My gracious hosts in the press box are Tim Harkins, Nick Seeman and Diane Dotson from the Sports Information Office.  I’m looking forward to September 3 when the Pokes entertain the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes in Laramie and on August 26th when the Lander Valley Tigers open their season entertaining the Pinedale Wranglers in a zero week game at Bill Bush Stadium. 

Ernie Over is an employee owner and the news director of the five-station WyoTodayMedia Radio Network in Fremont and Hot Springs counties, the editor of the award winning Wyotoday.com local news site, and a staff member of The Ranger, Lander Journal and Wind River News