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1A Football Championship

Big Horn's Carson Bates scores a touchdown against Cokeville in the Wyoming State High School Class 1A/11-man Championship game last season at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie.

East Conference

Big Horn Rams

LAST YEAR: 11-0; defeated Wind River 67-8 in quarterfinals; defeated Pine Bluffs 68-13 in semifinals, defeated Cokeville 56-3 in championship.

HEAD COACH: Kirk McLaughlin (2nd year, 11-0)

STATE TITLES/LAST: 6/2018

KEY RETURNERS: RB/WR Will Pelissier (sr); QB/DB Quinn McCafferty (sr); OL/LB Cutler Bradshaw (sr); TE/LB Kyler Ostler (sr); OL/DL Nolan Rader (sr); RB/DB Carson Bates (jr).

OUTLOOK: Even though they lost some key contributors to graduation, the Rams return six all-state selections and have another trip to Laramie in their sights.

Lusk Tigers

LAST YEAR: 4-4; did not qualify for playoffs.

HEAD COACH: Ryan Nelson (5th year, 11-20)

STATE TITLES/LAST: 5/2002

KEY RETURNERS: MLB/FB Damien Molzahn (5-9, 180, sr); TB/S Drake Lamp (5-8, 160, jr); DE/RB James Stone (5-9, 185, sr); G/DT Jasper Caldera (5-9, 205, jr); LB/G Dylan Molzahn (6-1, 200, soph); QB/S Wyatt Stauffer (6-1, 155, sr); WR/GB Tanner Carpenter (6-1, 150, sr); CB/WR Aric Eaton (6-0, 145, jr); T Mason Wells (6-2, 225, soph); C Dmitri Richards (5-11, 195, sr).

OUTLOOK: With nine returning starters on both sides of the ball, the Tigers expect to be in the mix for a playoff berth for the first time in five years.

Pine Bluffs Hornets

LAST YEAR: 6-4; defeated Shoshoni 54-0 in quarterfinals, lost to Big Horn 68-13 in semifinals.

HEAD COACH: Will Gray (9th year, 37-33)

STATE TITLES/LAST: 2/2017

KEY RETURNERS: OL/LB Brian Steger (6-2, 215, sr); OL/LB Kyle Thurin (6-0, 180, sr); WR/RB/DB Justus Golding (5-10, 170, sr); OL/DL Thayne Vialpando (6-2, 220, sr); QB/DE Donte Jacobsen (6-2, 180, sr).

OUTLOOK: The Hornets have built a winning culture the past few years; now it’s up to a talented group of seniors to keep it going.

Southeast Cyclones

LAST YEAR: 0-8; did not qualify for playoffs.

HEAD COACH: Mark Bullington (21st year, 138-59)

STATE TITLES/LAST: 9/2012

KEY RETURNERS: None provided.

OUTLOOK: After struggling through its first winless season in 23 years, the Cyclones will be counting on a sold group of juniors to make a playoff push.

Tongue River Eagles

LAST YEAR: 3-5; did not qualify for playoffs.

HEAD COACH: Steve Hanson (3rd, 5-10)

STATE TITLES/LAST: 5/1974

KEY RETURNERS: OL/DL Marcus Sharp (6-2, 240, sr); RB/LB Kyle Breen (5-9, 165, sr); QB/LB Daie’n Bear Don’t Walk (5-10, 215, sr); QB/WR/DB Braden McCafferty (5-8, 150, sr); WR/DB Cade Reish (6-1, 170, sr); FB/LB Tony Perfetti (6-0, 190, jr); RB/LB James McKenzie (5-10, 155, jr).

OUTLOOK: The Eagles were a coin flip away from the playoffs last season. They could find themselves facing the same scenario this year in a stacked East Conference.

Upton-Sundance Patriots

LAST YEAR: 8-2; defeated Rocky Mountain 56-0 in quarterfinals, lost to Cokeville 25-6 in semifinals.

HEAD COACH: Andy Garland (8th year, 50-20)

STATE TITLES/LAST: 1/2015

KEY RETURNERS: Kye Taylor (sr); Jayden Caylor (sr).

OUTLOOK: The Patriots have to replace some talented players, but U-S still expects to be in the mix for conference supremacy.

Wright Panthers

LAST YEAR: 3-6; lost to Cokeville 61-8 in quarterfinals.

HEAD COACH: Larry Yeradi (25th year, 83-123)

STATE TITLES/LAST: None.

KEY RETURNERS: QB/LB/DB Dax Yeradi (6-1, 180, sr); OL/DL Zeb Goodrich (6-1, 205, sr); TE/DB Chase Lewis (6-1, 180, sr); RB/LB Braxton Quiroz (5-9, 160, sr).

OUTLOOK: The Panthers advanced to the postseason last year for the first time since 2009. This year’s team has its work cut out to continue the playoff streak as Wright has to replace seven starters on both sides of the ball.

West Conference

Cokeville Panthers

LAST YEAR: 10-1; defeated Wright 61-8 in quarterfinals, defeated Upton-Sundance 25-6 in semifinals, lost to Big Horn 56-3 in championship.

HEAD COACH: Todd Dayton (40th year, 324-62)

STATE TITLES/LAST: 22/2014

KEY RETURNERS: None provided.

OUTLOOK: The Panthers remain the class of the West, but hope to be challenged early to get them prepared for another deep playoff run.

Rocky Mountain Grizzlies

LAST YEAR: 3-6; lost to Upton-Sundance 56-0 in quarterfinals.

HEAD COACH: Richard Despain (4th year, 13-13-1)

STATE TITLES/LAST: 4/1998

KEY RETURNERS: FB/OLB Trace Moss (jr); QB/FS Zane Horrocks (jr); RB/OLB Tyler Banks (jr); RB Caden Welling (sr).

OUTLOOK: With just one senior on the roster, the Grizzlies hope to stay healthy and get some postseason experience for their underclassmen.

Saratoga Panthers

LAST YEAR: 4-2; ineligible for playoffs.

HEAD COACH: Logan Wright (2nd year, 4-2)

STATE TITLES/LAST: None.

KEY RETURNERS: DE/TE Memphis Smith (6-3, 180, sr); LB/RB Noah Rimmer (6-2, 190, jr); WR/LB Logan Seahorn (5-11, 155, sr); QB/RB/LB Teegan Love (6-1, 160, jr).

OUTLOOK: The Panthers are ineligible for the postseason and, because of low numbers, will play a 6-man schedule for the second year in a row.

Shoshoni Wranglers

LAST YEAR: 2-7; lost to Pine Bluffs 54-0 in quarterfinals.

HEAD COACH: Tony Truempler (7th year, 25-29)

STATE TITLES/LAST: 2/1985

KEY RETURNERS: None provided.

OUTLOOK: The youthful Wranglers expect to battle Rocky Mountain and Wind River for playoff positioning behind Cokeville.

Wind River Cougars

LAST YEAR: 4-5; lost to Big Horn 67-8 in quarterfinals.

HEAD COACH: Mykah Trujillo (5th year, 10-24)

STATE TITLES/LAST: 1/1997

KEY RETURNERS: None provided.

OUTLOOK: The Cougars’ playoff hopes will likely come down to the final three weeks when they play at Shoshoni, host Rocky Mountain and play at Cokeville.

Wyoming Indian Chiefs

LAST YEAR: 1-5; did not qualify for playoffs.

HEAD COACH: Nate Reinhardt (1st year)

STATE TITLES/LAST: None

KEY RETURNERS: None provided.

OUTLOOK: The Chiefs will play primarily a JV schedule because of numbers, but do close the season against Shoshoni and Rocky Mountain.

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