Since opening in 2017, Thunder Basin High School has never lost a crosstown football game to rival Campbell County.
The Bolts have a perfect 5-0 record heading into Friday’s regular season game between the two Gillette Schools. Thunder Basin won all four regular season competitions and also beat the Camels in the first round of the 2019 playoffs.
The playoff game was the closest the rivalry has ever had, with the Bolts maintaining a 24-20 lead in the quarterfinals. Outside of that November 2019 reunion, Thunder Basin beat Campbell County 216-21.
This year’s rivalry game has the feeling of a more competitive clash. After winning just one game a year ago, Campbell County started the season 2-2 and nearly earned a third victory almost upending reigning state champions Cheyenne East on September 10.
But Thunder Basin has established itself as one of the best programs in Class 4A, and this year is no different. The bolts were rated # 3 in the WyoPrep.com football coaches and media rankings before the weekend.
The Bolts are off to a 3-1 start after wins over No.4-seeded Cheyenne East, Cheyenne Central and Cheyenne South. Thunder Basin’s only loss was to No.1-ranked Rock Springs, a team that was undefeated until a road loss to No.2-ranked Sheridan on Friday.
Other than the playoff game, the Campbell County and Thunder Basin football games have never been close. The Bolts beat the Camels 47-0 in 2017, 63-0 in 2018, 51-14 in 2019 and 55-7 last year.
CCHS coach Andrew Rose is hoping to change that this season, and it starts with the attitude of this year’s squad.
âEach week is a springboard for where we want to be at the end of the season,â said Rose. âObviously this game is one of the games that is continually marked on our calendars because it is our rival from crosstown.
âTo say we can’t wait to play this game would be an understatement. Were excited. “
Beating Thunder Basin hasn’t been the only problem camels have had since opening a second high school in Gillette. Campbell County haven’t won a game in TBHS ‘first two seasons and have already hit their highest season wins (two) since 2017.
Thunder Basin players are not to blame for the gap in results between the two football programs. TBHS senior quarterback Ryan Baker expects this year’s rivalry game to be much closer than games of the past.
âThey’ve got guys this year and I’ve known a lot of these guys and played against them since we got into midget football,â Baker said. âThey’re going to bring it and they’re going to be on their pitch and we have to be ready to play.
âThese aren’t the camels they’ve been for the past two years. We know that. … It will be a fun game. These crosstown games are always fun.
TBHS coach Trent Pikula has established himself as one of the state’s top football coaches during his five seasons at Thunder Basin. His mindset for the crosstown rivalry is the same as any other week.
âObviously when we play in Campbell County there are so many emotions,â said Pikula. âAnytime you’re in a two-school town, like with Casper or Cheyenne, there’s so much emotion. You just have to get over that.
“A lot of the time it’s about who can control this and play it on their own.”
Pikula acknowledged that Campbell County looks like a much improved football team this year. This gives him even more reason to channel his energy into making sure his players are focused on the task at hand, which takes their fourth victory of the season.
At the start of week three, Thunder Basin and Campbell County were ranked No.5 and No.6 in total offense respectively, according to WyoPrep.com. The Bolts were averaging 355 yards per game while the Camels were averaging 314.
Baker earned Friday’s 10-7 victory over Cheyenne Central, ranked No.2 in Class 4A passing with an average of 203 yards per game. The Camels’ rushing offense was just ahead of Thunder Basin in 5th place with an average of 179 yards per game.
Campbell County will have home court advantage for this year’s game. The Camels are coming off a 67-15 victory over Cheyenne South (0-4) on Friday.
Thunder Basin is 2-0 at Camel Stadium. The Camels and Bolts will kick off at 7 p.m. Friday at CCHS.