Monday, September 19, 2011

Dubois, Wyoming: America's Newest 6-Man Gem

12 Players, Count 'em by mdt1960
12 Players, Count 'em, a photo by mdt1960 on Flickr.
The last time I saw a football game in Dubois, the home team could barely field an eleven-man team. There might have been three to four reserves on the sideline, and anytime a team’s bench is that thin, there’s bound to be someone who is reluctant for any action—a five-foot, four-inch, 115-pound freshman in particular.

Beginning this season, for better or worse, the Dubois Rams are amongst Wyoming’s six-man ranks. Personally, I think it’s a good fit.

Unlike many “six-man towns” I’ve visited, Dubois is a big town. In the last census, they notched 971 residents. In my travels, six-man communities are typically between 200 and 300 residents. Yet, the high school enrollment (9-12) at Dubois is a mere 54, which is right in the ballpark of a six-man program. Might we draw up a theory or two from these numbers regarding Dubois and its residents? One: there are an unusual number of households without children. Two: Many of these childless households are retired folks. Whether I’m right or wrong in my novice demographic analysis here doesn’t really matter. What matters is the Rams have a great fan base to draw on, and should they continue in winning, I suspect attendance could be daunting for home games.

Despite moving down in class, Dubois has at least one outstanding item to improve upon. Most shocking to me was the absence of game programs. Just to be sure, I asked around. I’ve seen many football games over the years in some of the poorest and smallest school districts, but never have I attended a game where programs weren’t waiting for spectators at the gate. Hopefully this was just a one-time slip up at Dubois. Small town high school football has much charm in the things that are not present, but found in larger class games. I’d like to think that missing programs are not one of those charms.

PAT4 Rattlers by mdt1960
PAT4 Rattlers, a photo by mdt1960 on Flickr.
As it turned out, program or no program, I was pretty stoked to be attending this particular game in Dubois, nestled up to the Wind River mountain range. My excitement had nothing to do with Dubois hosting their first home game as a six-man team or the fact that the Rams were ranked number-two and were about to battle Little Snake River, the number-one ranked team. Nope, it was because the game was on Saturday.

It’s been a lament of mine for years when it comes to attending Wyoming small town high school football games. In the past, if a game wasn’t on Friday night because a school didn’t have lights, they would hold their games on Thursday or Friday afternoons—never Saturdays like Montana—which was always extremely prohibitive for me working on Fridays. Even attending a game as close as Burlington (only 40 miles away) has required some conniving and/or sacrifice in the past. But here in the last couple of years (and maybe it has something to do with the formation of the six-man class), there are more games played on Saturday afternoons. So, I’m tipping my hat to the all the schools embracing Saturday games as well as the Wyoming High School Activities Association—I’m sure they’ve had something to do with this new scheduling trend too.

By the way, this particular game at Dubois was not only on Saturday, but at 3:00 instead of 1:00—providing even more cushion for travel time.

On a final and unrelated note… What are we to make of Tongue River’s woes? Playing in Wyoming’s 2A eleven-man class, the Eagles have forfeit their season because not enough kids signed up to play.Those students who did sign up are playing down the road with their 2A rival, Big Horn.


Denton Fan said...

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Morgan Tyree said...

Denton Fan: Thanks for your purchase and vigilance of this blog. All is well, just the other things in life getting in the way... as we all know.