L-FL hoping for meaningful home games

LINGLE – The Lingle-Fort Laramie Doggers football team ends its 2018 schedule with two home games for the first time since 2007.

“That’s going to be a nice change of pace from this year,” coach Matt Cornelius said, comparing to this past season when the Doggers’ last game was on a neutral field and the previous game was on the road.

Unlike the end of the regular season, L-FL takes to the road in Week 1 action, crossing into Nebraska to take on Sioux County in Harrison. It is the first installment of an expected home-and-home for the two teams.

A season ago, the Warriors went 3-5. Two of their losses came by forfeit, while one of their wins was by forfeit. In full regulation games, Sioux County went 2-3 against all Nebraska schools. Next season will be the first time the Doggers and Warriors will play each other.

After their lone non-conference game of the year, the Doggers return home to take on Normative Services Institute. Last season the Wolves went 0-7 by a combined score of 546-63. The last time they have reached the postseason was in 2015 and before that it was 2008. NSI has not had a winning record since 2007 when they went 6-4.

L-FL and NSI have played each other seven times, but only twice at the six-man level. The Doggers came out on top in both six-man games, winning 79-37 in 2016 and 75-7 in 2017.

The Doggers hit the road Week 3 to take on Rock River, who was unable to field a team this past year. In their three seasons as a team, which dates back to 2014, the Longhorns are a combined 2-20, not including their forfeit losses in 2017. In 2016, which was L-FL’s only matchup against Rock River, the Doggers went on the road and won 92-13.

“The schedule next year is advantageous because our younger kids can get used to playing high school football,” Cornelius said of playing the 1A six-man East’s bottom two opponents from last year to open up the conference schedule.

The Doggers’ first game against an opponent with a winning record this past season comes in Week 4 at home against Hanna-Elk Mountain. The Miners posted a 5-4 record last year on their way to the second seed out of the east for the playoffs. They have reached the postseason in three of the past four years, but failed to make it past the quarterfinals in all three campaigns. Over the past four years, HEM is a combined 15-20.

The Miners and Doggers have played several games in 11-man football, with the last coming in 2008, but they only have only had two matchups in six-man action. In 2016, L-FL beat HEM 66-43, but the Miners got their revenge in 2017, winning 43-30.

Following the home game against HEM, the Doggers have two tough road games in back-to-back weeks. In Week 5, the Doggers square off against Midwest, who went 4-4 last year and was the third seed from the east in the playoffs. Since 2009, the Oilers have reached the postseason eight times, but they haven’t made it out of the first round since 2013 when they were the state runners-up.

The two teams have played each other four times, including the past two seasons. Like the Miners, the Oilers fell to L-FL in 2016, 64-39, but picked up a win in 2017, 47-11.

Week 6 could be the toughest test of the year for the Doggers when they head for Kaycee, who ended 2017 on a 30-game winning streak. The Buckaroos are the three-time defending champions in 1A six-man and have reached the playoffs every year since they became a team in 2009. The Buckaroos have not lost since Sept. 11, 2015 against Guernsey-Sunrise, 6-0.

Like all of the other Buckaroo opponents in 2016 and 2017, the Doggers found themselves on the losing end, falling in Kaycee 59-6 in 2016 and slipping at home in 2017, 74-0.

“Some years it’s good to play teams at their home (because they might be having an off year), but sometimes it’s not,” Cornelius said. “It’s just the way it is and you have to deal with it.”

L-FL returns to Kirk Field for their two-game home stand to close out the regular season, starting with a matchup against Guernsey-Sunrise in Week 7. The rivalry between the two schools was recently renewed with the Doggers’ drop to six-man. Since the rekindling of the series, the Vikings have two wins over the Doggers, beating them in each of the past two seasons.

The Vikings have become one of the powerhouses in the six-man East, reaching the playoffs in eight of the past nine years, including winning the championship in 2009 and 2014. In 2017, Guernsey-Sunrise went 4-4 and failed to make it out of the quarterfinals of the playoffs, but in 2016, they were 7-3 and reached the semi-finals.

The Doggers’ final game of the regular season comes at home against Hulett. The two teams have played each other eight times in 11-man action, but only two times at the six-man level. In the past two seasons, the Doggers and Red Devils split their games, with L-FL winning 74-18 in 2016 but Hulett winning in 2017, 58-30.

Hulett has only reached the postseason twice in the past five seasons, including a run to the semi-finals in 2015, which was the last time they had a winning record (7-3). In the past two seasons, the Red Devils went a combined 4-13, missing the playoffs in both years.

“Our seventh player in the stands is always very important. When they get loud, our kids get up,” Cornelius said of closing the regular season with two home games. “It’ll be nice to play what I expect to be meaningful games in front of them.”

If the Doggers want to make the six-man playoffs for the first time, the schedule is set up to get some experience and build momentum to carry into the tough games later in the year.

Exact dates and times for the games have yet to be determined.

*The game histories used were compiled by Wyoming-Football.com.

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