Wyoming Football, One Step From The Top


How appropriate that the 100th year of Wyoming football will end up one of the most memorable.  Saturday night will be the battle of the Cowboys and Indians for the Division IV state title!  Wyoming (14-0) will take on the Girard Indians (13-1) at Tom Benson Hall Of Fame Stadium in Canton at 8:00.  It is the 3rd time in Wyoming history that they have played in the state championship football game and the first since 1977.  In that year, Wyoming defeated Elyria Catholic 26-14 for the AA state title.  In 1975, the Cowboys lost to Cleveland Holy Name 19-14 in the AA state title game.  Ohio started having a state championship in football in 1972.  Wyoming has made the state playoffs 24 times, including the last 6 years. Five times they have been in the final four. Girard has been to the state playoffs 9 times.  The Indians made the final four for the first time in school history this year.  They have a 12-8 overall record in playoff games, 4 of those this season.  Wyoming now has a winning record in playoff games with 23-22 overall record.  Eight of those wins have been the last three years.  Wyoming defeated St Marys Memorial in the semifinal game 35-14 (see story).  Girard scored the winning touchdown with a minute to go to defeat Licking Valley 53-48.  The Cowboys finished the regular season ranked #1 in the Division IV state rankings.  Girard finished 12th.  In the regional semifinal game against Indian Hill, Wyoming recorded their 700th win in school history.  Only a handful of schools in Ohio have that many wins.  They will be going for win #703 Saturday. Wyoming has had a legendary football program.  Where they will be playing their state championship is also legendary.

Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium was built in the late 1930's.  It was called Fawcett Stadium for many years.  In 2016, the stadium had an 11 million dollar renovation that was financed by New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson. It was renamed after him when reopened in 2017.  The stadium is located next to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and is the site of the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Game in August. Besides the high school state championship games, the stadium is the home for Canton McKinley High School.  At a seating capacity of 22.400, it is the largest high school football stadium in America (FYI... the next 8 in size are all in Texas).  The stadium is also the home field for Malone University and Walsh College, both located in Canton. 

All seven division state championship games will be played at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. One game will be played on Thursday night.  Three games will be played on Friday and three on Saturday.  Five schools that ended the season #1 in their divisions will be playing.  That includes Wyoming and #1 ranked D1 team Colerain.  Massillon Washington has the fewest miles to travel to the state championship (11).  Colerain has the most (238).  Wyoming has 2nd longest trip (231).  Girard has 68 miles to travel to Canton.  The town and school are located in the Youngstown area in eastern Ohio.

Here are some stats for the Wyoming football program:
In the 100 years of football, the school has had 89 winning seasons. There have been only 3 losing seasons.  Their winning percentage is 2nd highest in Ohio history.  Since 1956, there have been only four head coaches at Wyoming:
Bob Lewis (1956-1978)  198-21-7   Wyoming's football stadium is named after him.
Gary Jump (1979-1990) 75-40-5
Bernie Barre (1991-2011) 182-54
Aaron Hancock (2012-present) 71-13
In the last four seasons, Wyoming has had a 46-5 record, with 3 league titles during that time. The 14 wins this season is a school record. The Cowboys have the longest current regular season win streak in Ohio (31).  Wyoming has scored 590 points in the 14 games this season for a 42.0 average per game.  Seven of their 14 games have had a running clock in the 2nd half.  The Cowboy defense has given up 102 points, an average of 7 a game.  They have recorded 4 shut-outs and have only allowed 14 touchdowns and 2 field goals all season.  The closest game for Wyoming this season was in week 2 when they defeated Taft 14-12. In the regional semifinal game with Indian Hill, they won in overtime 20-17.  Junior quarterback Evan Prater has shown why he was picked the D4 Offensive Play of the Year in Ohio.  He has 2032 yards in passing with 26 TD passes and only 4 interceptions.  He also has rushed for 1546 yards and has made a staggering 29 touchdown runs.  Prater has been a part of 54 touchdowns for Wyoming this season.  Kicker AJ Washienko has made 73 of 77 PAT kicks.  Many kickers do not get that many chances in a career.  Interesting enough, Washienkeo has not attempted a field goal this season.  On defense, Eli Cupp has 10.5 sacks, 4 of them in the game with St Marys Memorial.  Hasan Black has 8.5 sacks & Harrison Shepherd 7.5.
The Cowboy defense has shut down several high powered offenses this season.

So it comes down to one big game for the Cowboys. Good luck to Wyoming. 
Spectrum TV will be covering the game and you can get live streaming on the OHSAA website.

Thanks to Coach Aaron Hancock for some of the information for this story.