SHERIDAN — No county in the state of Wyoming has seen more recent success on the gridiron than Sheridan County.
Sheridan High School lays claim to the last three state championships at the 4A level and Big Horn High School has sprinkled in a couple more in 2A over the last half decade.
That makes Sheridan County the football capital of the Equality State. But how did the high school football landscape look a decade ago? Which, if any team, dominated back then? What schools thrive in other fall sports across all classes?
The sport of cross-country has encompassed quite a few dynasties, none more noteworthy than the boys team in Ethete. Wyoming Indian has raised nine championship banners in 2A cross-country over the last 10 years, and Leo “Chico” Her Many Horses is responsible for building the foundation for that success.
“Chico was just a really, really good recruiter,” Sheridan cross-country head coach Art Baures said. “He could get kids to buy-in and they did.”
Sticking in the 2A ranks, Burns-Pine Bluffs have combined to make a pretty potent girls team that has won eight state titles in a row. In that same region of the state, Laramie has had a similar stranglehold on the boys 4A trophy, winning the last seven.
“I think in Laramie [head coach Greg Schabron] is the key link there,” Baures said. “But they also have a culture in Laramie, with the university, where there’s a lot of running going in that community, and I think he has capitalized on it.”
Laramie also sits at over 7,200 feet, giving the Plainsmen a decided advantage when they descend into Sheridan to compete at the state meet.
“That elevation they train at every day has been a very big help to them,” Baures said. “And the fact that they come [to Sheridan] to race every state meet the last six years hasn’t hurt them at all.”
Star Valley’s boys cross-country team has also won six straight state titles in 3A.
Shifting over to the pool, the Campbell County girls team boasts eight state championships in the last 10 years. Sheridan swimming and diving head coach Brent Moore finally solved the Lady Camels’ riddle at the state meet last year; however, so did Laramie as the Lady Plainsmen claimed the crown in 2017.
“[Gillette] is a young community with lots of kids, and they are willing to put money into those recreational things,” Moore said. “They’ve had a very strong club team with great coaching over the years, and they’ve got a great learn-to-swim program in their schools. [Their success] has been a combination of a whole bunch of little things that have built up into that.”
The Camels have won six of the last 10 state titles in boys tennis while Cheyenne Central claims three crowns on the girls side.
Sheridan owns the most football state championships in Wyoming with 26, but Cokeville isn’t far behind with 22. The Panthers have four state titles in the last decade and in a sport that has gone through some recent transformation, the recipe for Cokeville remains the same.
“We live in the era where everybody is trying to find the latest and greatest, and the new-offs and something revolutionary — [Cokeville] doesn’t do that,” Tongue River football head coach Steve Hanson said. “I can tell you right now how they will lineup every single play. I can tell you exactly where those linebackers are going drop to. I can tell what play they’ll run. Now, that doesn’t mean I can stop it. I can tell you what to do and where to be. They do it every single year.”
Cokeville has also created a winning culture of which everyone wants a slice. The Panthers, in relation to their enrollment numbers, classify as a six-man football team most years and elect to play 1A. A lion’s share of the boys that attend Cokeville High School choose to play football, leaving them with a junior varsity squad — something not all 1A teams have.
Golf’s upper hand within Wyoming has shifted quite a bit for both boys and girls. Cody and Riverton have won four championships apiece in the last 10 years in 3A, while the Broncs have the most in 4A with three.
Volleyball has experienced similar parity with Kelly Walsh and Wright having four state titles in 4A and 2A, respectively.
The state of Wyoming has plenty of recent dynasties, some that are still going like the Broncs football run. All of them have their own method and path to success from the course to the pool to the gridiron.