The 2021 Class 2A football season got off to a difficult start.
Thermopolis had to cancel its season-opening game at Tongue River after a surge in COVID-19 cases in Hot Springs County forced the school to go to virtual learning until Sept. 13. Then it was announced later in the week that both Burns and Torrington had to forfeit their games, to Mitchell, Nebraska, and Douglas, respectively, because of illness and injuries.
On the field, though, 2A teams found success. On Thursday, defending state champ Lyman improved to 2-0 with a 36-6 victory over 3A Rawlins and Big Piney defeated the Evanston JV. Last week, Wheatland shut out Rawlins and Glenrock defeated the Natrona County sophomores.
Looking ahead, 2A teams, as well as those across the state, are hoping the focus can remain on the gridiron.
Obviously, that would be ideal for a number of reasons.
On the field, Lyman might be returning champs, but the Eagles expect to be pushed in the West Conference. Lovell, rival Mountain View, and Cokeville are the most likely challengers, although both Big Piney and Pinedale have veteran leadership.
In the East, Torrington held off Upton-Sundance and Wheatland to win the regular season conference title and advance to the state championship game. The ‘Blazers figure to be in the chase again, but are breaking in new linemen on both sides of the ball.
That could open the door for both the Patriots and the Bulldogs. Wheatland, which returns two all-staters in QB Kade Preuit and WR Jake Hicks, gets the nod as the team to beat, though.
The battle to round out the playoff field figures to be between perennial power Big Horn and an improved Tongue River squad.
Regardless of how teams in each conference finish, they’ll all (hopefully) be competing to finish the season at the University of Wyoming’s War Memorial Stadium on Nov. 13.
Follow sports editor Jack Nowlin on Twitter @wyovarsity