The dog days of summer are about to give way to the boys of fall here in Tooele County.
Yep, that’s right. Two-a-days are just around the corner for the Tooele, Grantsville and Stansbury football teams, with the season openers for each sitting just a month from Monday.
I say, bring it on.
There’s no doubt that there is something different about a small town on a Friday night in the fall.
These kids have been working hard all summer in an effort to gain any sort of edge they can, and they’re representing more than just their little slice of suburbia. In a small town, they’re the kids who grew up playing catch behind the bleachers while their seemingly larger-than-life high school heroes toiled on the big field. They dreamed that someday, that would be them.
Now, it’s their chance. Their chance to bring another region or state title to their football-crazed fans. Their chance to feel the electricity as they run out on that field for the first time in front of their friends and family.
Most of all, it’s their chance to make memories that go far beyond the scoreboard.
My last two years of high school, we won all of one game. The only thing pretty about Friday nights in Moab was the red-rock scenery surrounding our home field. And if we had to hit the road, which meant a 110-mile round trip to Monticello at best and well over 500 miles to Grantsville, Coalville or Kanab at worst?
Let’s just say there were some tough bus rides as we seemingly found new ways to lose in a progressively more spectacular fashion week after week.
But the joy of victory and agony of defeat fade as you get more removed from your high school experience. What you always remember most are the times you spent with your friends, whether it was out there on the field during practices or games (freshmen make excellent tackling dummies) or talking and playing cards on the bus.
Sure, we still remember those games to an extent. Falling down 14-0 in the first minute of a playoff game in Grantsville; erasing a 25-point deficit in the second half to take the lead, only to lose on the last play of the game against North Summit; the time Juab failed to hire referees, forcing us to wait until a game in Payson finished so those refs could officiate our game, which eventually ended well into the wee hours of Saturday morning … those of us who were there still remember all of them.
Some of us still lament them, a la Uncle Rico from “Napoleon Dynamite.” You know the type: “If Coach would’ve put me in fourth quarter, we would’ve been state champions. No doubt. No doubt in my mind.”
But I digress.
So while our Buffaloes, Cowboys and Stallions all dream of bringing home that big trophy come November and are working their hardest to make those dreams come true, let’s hope they still enjoy the biggest opportunity of all — the chance to make memories that will last long after the clock strikes triple-zero.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. After seeing a hapless freshman running back get his first flying lesson at the hands of an All-State defensive lineman in practice one day, he knew his own talents were much better suited for the press box. Email him at email@example.com.