YODER – The Southeast High School football team will lose two linemen in their starting lineup starting in the 2020 season.
The Cyclones will join Lingle-Fort Laramie in the newly reformed 9-man football division which opens play in the fall of 2020.
“We made the decision that it was still best for us to play 9-man,” Southeast athletic director Tim Williams said. “We didn’t feel like we have the numbers to compete in 11-man with all the 2A schools.”
Due to declining enrollment, Southeast actually had fallen below the 6-man football cutline, but the Cyclones have opted up to play 9-man.
“We have 81 high schoolers this year. We will be between 76 and 77 kids is our average for the next two years,” Williams said. “Saratoga, Lingle and Cokeville are all bigger than us for the ‘20-’21 and ‘21-’22 school years. We haven’t been this small, well, in maybe ever.”
However, the administration and coaching staff felt that 9-man was the way to go.
“It made sense for us to go into the 9-man where we could compete and had the kids to support that competition,” Williams said.
With Lingle joining the 9-man ranks next season, it will bring back the original SEWAC Conference, minus Burns (now 3A) and Guernsey (6-man).
Outside of taking away the two linemen, not much else will change, including the schedule.
“A lot of it will be the same,” Williams said.
The Cyclones will lose Big Horn and Upton-Sundance, who have opted up to 2A and will pick up Lingle, Moorcroft, Shoshoni and Wind River next season.
Williams is excited to see the cross-county rivalry renewed on the gridiron next season.
“We play each other in everything else,” he said. “It’s always a good game and well attended. It’s always fun to play them. Mark and his staff, there are always really good about, one game at a time, this is who are focused on this week.”
From coach Mark Bullington’s perspective, the change will fit the team’s personnel well.
“We are short on linemen, and you take two linemen out,” Bullington said. “We’re looking forward to a good season. A lot of these kids have started for four years. I don’t know what the other teams will be like. Lusk will be fair. They lose quite a few kids. Wright loses quite a few of theirs. I think we should be at least a favorite on this side.”
Southeast will join Lingle, Lusk, Moorcroft, Pine Bluffs, Saratoga and Wright in the 9-Man East Conference in 2020.
“I think it’s going to be a very competitive league,” Williams said. “The teams that are in there will play some good football. Speed is going to be of the upmost importance. It’ll be fun to watch.”