In the face of a worldwide pandemic, you had to figure that just about nothing would be normal during this high school sports season.
There have been postponements and cancellations, with teams quarantined because of COVID-19. Last week’s Stansbury-Mountain View football game was cancelled barely 24 hours before it was supposed to kick off. It was meant to be a showdown for second place in Region 10, and the winner would have the upper hand in the Ratings Percentage Index rankings that determine the Class 4A playoff bracket.
It might also have been Stansbury’s last true test of the regular season, had the game been played. And that could affect the Stallions as the playoffs approach.
Football is all about momentum, and Stansbury will probably be riding a four-game winning streak into the playoffs. That would normally be a positive, but the last time the Stallions played a close game was their early-September loss to Park City. They blew out Cedar Valley, Tooele and Ben Lomond, and while Ogden looks to be overmatched on paper, Uintah undoubtedly is. When they play their first postseason game on Oct. 30, it will have been almost two months since the Stallions have truly been pushed.
In addition, when that game comes around, they will have played just two games total in a span of 34 days. The Stallions haven’t played at all since Sept. 25, and after next Wednesday’s finale at Uintah, they’ll have another 15 days off. Normally, the opportunity to rest up and get healthy would be welcomed, but it can also lead to rust from not experiencing full game-speed situations.
Of course, the Stansbury football team isn’t the only program in the county that has been affected by cancellations and postponements. Football isn’t even the only sport affected, though there are some changes to the upcoming playoffs. The Class 3A semifinals will take place at Southern Utah University’s Eccles Coliseum in Cedar City, while the finals will be at Trailblazer Stadium at Dixie State University in St. George.
In Class 4A, the semifinals and finals have been moved from their traditional location at Rice-Eccles Stadium on the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City. Instead, the semifinals will be played on the higher seeds’ home fields, with the finals at Dixie State.
The volleyball season has been thrown into chaos, with games being rescheduled and re-rescheduled multiple times. Word came down earlier this week that Tooele’s volleyball team has cancelled the remainder of its regular-season matches thanks to COVID-19-related quarantine, though the Buffaloes hope to be ready to go come state-tournament time.
The state tournament has also seen a format change, since Utah Valley University is unable to host it this year with the COVID-19 restrictions in Orem. Instead,the teams will gather in eight single-elimination “pods” hosted by the top eight seeds, with the final three rounds being played at the Sevier Valley Center in Richfield.
The state cross country meet won’t be taking place at Sugarhouse Park this year, either. Instead, the Class 4A meet will head to Cedar City, while the Class 3A runners will head to Midway. There haven’t been any changes to the state soccer tournament or the Class 4A state tennis tournament as of this writing, so keep your fingers crossed that we get through the rest of this season without too many more changes.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. The only thing certain during this fall sports season is uncertainty, and it’s certainly taking a toll on his planning. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.