The 2020 high school football season is a microcosm of the world around us right now, in that nobody knows quite what to expect.
Will the season go off without a hitch during a worldwide pandemic? Everyone hopes so, but nobody knows for sure. Will state champions be crowned come November, or will things grind to a half again like they did this past spring? All I can say is: expect the unexpected.
I love the Friday night lights. High school football has been a a fall tradition in my life since at least my freshman year in high school some 22 years ago, and possibly longer than that. It pains me that I’ll be watching most games from my computer screen instead of in person this season, and I truly hope that things evolve to a point where I can be back on the sidelines soon.
We’re all having to do our part. I’m staying home to keep my roommates safe. Those of us who are going to the games need to be respectful of the protocols that are in place — and, yes, they vary from school to school across the state — so the kids can keep playing. And they’re the most important people in this whole situation.
On one hand, it may seem foolish to try to play high school sports in this current situation. And it might well prove to be. However, in a world where school itself has to be altered, the existence of high school sports might be the difference between graduating and not graduating for some students now more than ever. Sports give struggling student-athletes a reason to keep their grades up. No sports? That could spell disaster for some.
Somewhat selfishly, I hope the season goes off without a hitch just because our local teams have a chance to be really, really good, and I’d hate to see that wasted.
Stansbury is a region title contender, and could find itself at Rice-Eccles Stadium in a semifinal game if everything goes its way. Tooele is a program on the rise, and is loaded with young talent, making the Buffaloes a dark horse in Region 10. Grantsville has a chip on its shoulder since everyone seems to think that the Cowboys peaked last year and are due to take a step back, but the Cowboys are determined to prove that last year’s state semifinal appearance was only the beginning.
When the lights go on at high school stadiums across the Beehive State this weekend, let’s keep our fingers crossed that the games keep going on. We’ve been through a lot this year. Even something seemingly as simple as high school football can help us feel normal, if only for a few hours on a Friday night.
Any dose of “normal” is welcomed in these troubled times.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. He hopes the season goes on uninterrupted for all of Tooele County’s student-athletes this fall. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.