Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Away Game Logistics
It was just another ordinary regular-season game between foes that see each other nearly every year on the gridiron, but there is nothing ordinary about the travel arrangements for the visiting team when it comes athletic contests between Rocky Mountain and Cokeville High Schools. In this case, Cokeville made the journey to Cowley for its fourth game of the season against Rocky—a rival in the same conference. When you think of teams within the same conference, you probably think of relative close proximity. Even in Wyoming, that distance can be easily over 100 miles. A two-three hour drive to any game is not unusual. But for Cokeville, almost every road game is an adventure.
It’s 230 miles as the raven flies from Cokeville to Cowley, but with major mountains serving as obstacles between the two small communities, it’s 378 miles—typically a six-hour drive (with no sight-seeing along the way). Go ahead, Google it or go to your distance calculator web site and see for yourself (on the map) how far it is.
The game at Cowley started at 6:00 on this particular Friday night, and by time the game was over and the bus was back on the road, it was nearly 10:00 p.m., and if you do the math, you know what time that puts the Panther football team back in Cokeville.
Yet, there is more than just determining that is was sometime after 4:00 in the morning when the Cokeville busses breached the home town limits.
Speaking with Lenn Johnson, one of the two bus drivers for the Cokeville cause, he recounted how the two busses departed Cokeville at 8:30 that Friday morning and arrived just after 4:00 in Cowley with short stops in Farson and Thermopolis along the way. However, the day before, two other bus drivers drove a car to the area as they were designated to work the return trip—trading their car for the bus with the Johnson and the other Friday-morning driver. Such extensive logistics and coordination are required now as school budgets continue to be cut year after year. There was a time when the team would overnight in a motel somewhere on the way home after playing a road game this far away.
The handful of Cokeville fans that attended told me of their travel follies as well. Although they didn’t leave from Cokeville as early as the team, all of them had overnight stay locations after the game. One party was staying in Cody, while another party was going to stay in Riverton.