Oct 31, 2013 - By Randy TuckerIf you're on the highways of Wyoming this weekend you might notice a lot of yellow school buses rolling down the road.
This Friday and Saturday, Wyoming high-school football players will travel 12,534 miles on the roads of the Cowboy State in the opening round of the playoffs.
You'll see buses from tiny towns -- Hulett , Farson and Lingle. You'll see buses from bigger ones -- Riverton, Evanston and Laramie.
Former U.S. Sen. Al Simpson described Wyoming as "a small town with really long streets." The football playoffs bring that statement to life.
There are a couple of very short trips this season. Not surprisingly, they occur in the only two cities in the state with two or more high schools. Casper Kelly Walsh travels a short 4 miles up 12th Street to CY Avenue to play rival Natrona County at Dick Cheney Field, while Cheyenne Central and Cheyenne East are even closer when the T-Birds and Indians knock heads Friday night.
That's not the case for most Wyoming schools, with an average team putting in 627 total round trip miles this weekend.
The longest trip is in Class 1-A 11-man, where Upton/Sundance travels 1,016 miles round trip to Cokeville in opening-round action.The Cokeville Panthers rarely lose at home and easily defeated Southeast Goshen during the regular season, while the Upton Patriots fell hard to those same Cyclones.
Its apt to an even longer trip for the boys from Crook and Weston Counties when they leave the day before the game and arrive home the day after.
Other divisions have amazingly long road trips as well, with Hulett traveling 802 round trip miles to play Dubois this Friday afternoon in 6-man action, and Evanston traveling from the Utah border to play Gillette just a few miles south of Montana and a few more west of South Dakota, a round trip of 970 miles.
Perhaps the oddest combination is from two schools just six miles apart in Uinta County. Mountain View hosts freest Newcastle on Friday, while Lyman travels all the way to northern Sheridan County to play Big Horn. The Dogies have 966 miles on their trek to and from Mountain View, while the Eagles wish they were able to fly the 922 miles to Dayton to play the Big Horn Rams.
Class 3-A has the least collective mileage at 2,222 total miles driven for its quarterfinal round, with the 764 miles driven by the Torrington Trailblazers to Powell leading the division.
Riverton's 464-mile round trip to Afton seems almost like a home game compared to the miles driven by many teams.
As a division the 3,252 miles in Class 2-A give that division the traveling trophy for opening round action.
In addition to all the miles driven, the traveling team historically has little success. In this year's playoffs Lingle-Fort Laramie in 1-A 1-man has a chance against host Rocky Mountain, while Wheatland's regular season record makes its trip to Lovell far from a sure thing for the home team in the battle of the Bulldogs.
In Class 3-A Cody is favored over Lander after a 28-0 defeat of the Tigers in week one and only two losses to unbeaten Powell and second-seeded Star Valley.
In Class 4-A, it's anyone's guess when rivals East and Central meet, or when NC and KW take the field, but the other games will just be long, weary road trips for Evanston and Laramie.
Safe travel this weekend, teams and fans.
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