A part of something special

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Are you tired of hearing about the historic high school football season in Sheridan County yet? I sure hope not, because it’s a pretty big deal.

To catch you up, this is the first time in the county’s history that it’s sent more than two teams to play for state championships and only the second time in Wyoming history a county has accomplished such a feat.

While the accomplishment is extraordinary, I’m not sure it should come as a surprise. This has been building for a while.

Shoot, I even predicted it in a column a month ago, and if you read my columns on a regular basis, you understand that I’m no Miss Cleo.

But I also spend a lot of time around these programs and these kids. They work hard, and more importantly, they believe.

Sitting with Sheridan head coach Don Julian a week or so ago, we began discussing the University of Wyoming football team. Its turnaround has surprised a lot of people, but Julian alluded to the team’s belief in itself as the contributing factor to its success. The group is collectively bought in to the system.

If you look around Sheridan County, that belief is mimicked amongst three area high schools.

The community needs to embrace that.

There’s no telling when something like this will happen again or if it even will at all. Big Horn will join Tongue River in 1A next year, automatically making this feat much more difficult to accomplish.

While Big Horn and Tongue River rival in all other sports and renew a football rivalry next year, Saturday is the rare occurrence where the two can play on the same side. And while Sheridan has had plenty of success under Julian over the last 10 years, it’s a program that has intertwined with both Big Horn and Tongue River.

Big Horn head coach Michael McGuire was a part of Sheridan’s 2011 state championship run, and Tongue River’s John Scott said this week that Sheridan’s youth program has been an integral part in building a program in Dayton.

So let’s take full advantage of the connectivity. Sheridan prides itself on being a close-knit community, and this is setting up to be the perfect week to showcase that.

I recently caught the back half of the movie “Hoosiers” on TV, and it couldn’t have come on at a better time. Actually, the timing of it is kind of eerie. 

When the Hickory Huskers make a run through the Indiana state basketball tournament, car loads of fans trekked behind the team’s bus. People painted their barns and storefront windows maroon and gold — coincidentally the same colors as the Big Horn Rams.

On game night, the streets were empty, and fans either huddled around the radio or packed into Hinkle Fieldhouse to catch the game live.

I’m not sure if that’s just small-town movie stuff, but I’d love to see it come to life here in small-town Sheridan.

Paint those storefront windows. Caravan with your neighbors down to Laramie. Sheridan County School Districts 1 and 2, schedule a handful of buses to bring fans to the games.

There are plenty of individual storylines, too.

McGuire is facing Greybull, the town he grew up in and the team that knocked the Rams out of the playoffs last year. It’s the first back-to-back state championship appearance for Tongue River since 1956-57, and Sheridan could bring home an unprecedented 25th state title and its fifth in the Julian era.

No matter how many teams win Saturday or even if none do — I wouldn’t bet on it — football is as strong as it’s ever been in a community that has a rich history of the sport.

We lucked out that all three team’s play on the same day. It could make for a long day at War Memorial Stadium, but the forecast calls for 60 degrees and a little bit of high school football history.

You don’t want to miss this.

By |November 9th, 2016|

About the Author:

Mike moved to Sheridan from Indianapolis, Indiana. Family and his passion for sports brought Mike to the Cowboy State, where he began working as the sports editor for the Sheridan Press in June of 2014.