LUSK – You can count the number of schools in Wyoming that have won 500 football games on one hand, and Lusk/Niobrara County High School is now one of them.
The Tigers achieved this milestone to join Casper Natrona (614), Sheridan (587) and Cheyenne Central (569). Longtime nemesis Torrington (501) got there a couple weeks ago, while Star Valley (489) and Cody (481) are just out of the top five.
Win No. 1 came on Oct 12, 1923, taking place at Edgemont with a 32-0 win as head coach Ford B. Kuns led the Tigers for the first three seasons. The years between century wins ebb and flow with the success of the program. It took 26 years between the first one in 1923 and number 100 in 1949, but 17 years for the next 100 wins.
Win No. 100 came on Sept 23, 1949 against Crawford, Neb. The Tiger victory was the very first on the field at Northside Park. Norman Penfield and George Sturman were the stars in the 26-13 final. Head coach Floyd Hart’s team finished 7-1-1 that season.
Win No. 200 coincided with Lusk’s first win of 1966.
The game against St. Mary’s took place on a Monday after a storm postponed it and resulted in a muddy Gibson Field on Oct 17, 1966. NCHS won 6-0 as Brett West was credited with 18 tackles and eight assists while Terry Foley had 15 unassisted tackles. This was Lusk’s only losing season of the 1960’s after a five-year run among the best in school history. The 2-5-1 season was Tom McAtee’s final one and ushered in Lusk’s finest passing era.
Getting from 200 to 300 was Lusk’s most difficult stretch as the 1970’s saw enrollment, participation and success decline. The 1980’s produced seven winning seasons, yet the Tigers stumbled into the 1990’s during a 3-13 stretch. It took 25 years to climb the next rung, despite a pair of state championships.
Win No. 300 also came at Gibson Field on Sept 6, 1991. The 24-0 win over Guernsey-Sunrise was the first of 17 straight over 2-plus seasons. Head coach Jerry Fullmer’s dominating success of the 1990’s moved Lusk past 400 just 12 years later.
The defending state champions picked that one up Sept 26, 2003 at Sundance. The win evened Lusk’s record at 2-2 before the Tigers made a run to the state championship game. The game was tied at six at halftime before the defense tightened up after the break. Lance Roetman with 112 yards and Calvin Kraft with 107 both went over 100 yards in rushing in the 21-12 win.
Which brings us to Wright High School last Friday night. The Tigers were not crisp on offense and mental errors on the defensive side gave the Panthers hope. NCHS put up three early touchdowns, but the home team did a nice job of containing all-state tailback Drake Lamp.
While the Panthers faded in the second half, Lusk eased out to the historic 48-7 win for head coach Ryan Nelson.
“It’s just a cool thing, it shows the consistency of the program and all the people we’ve had be a part of it so long.” Nelson said after the game. “Now on to 600.”
(Writer’s note: This article was written with the assistance of The Stat Rat, Wyoming-football.com and The Lusk Herald archives. Win totals are current as of Oct. 3 2020.)