It wasn’t quite NFL Sunday Ticket, but in some ways, it felt like it.
I spent my Friday evening with every electronic device I own, live-streaming all three of Tooele County’s high school football teams’ games. My computer was showing Tooele at Ogden. My phone was showing Grantsville at Beaver. And my tablet? That was showing, without a doubt, one of the best high school football games I’ve seen in a long time: Park City at Stansbury.
I had a feeling that the Miners-Stallions matchup had the makings of an instant classic. I even mentioned it to my colleague, Mark Watson, when I asked him if he could go to the game. It was destined to be the game of the year in Region 10.
It lived up to that billing, and then some. Park City looked dead in the water early on, but poured it on in the second half to take command. But back came Stansbury. That should have been expected, though, as the Stallions have shown an uncanny ability to come back from just about any adversity that has been thrown at them. Down 35 to the defending state champs on the road? They’ll make a game of it. Down 14 in the first quarter of the region opener? Turns out that wasn’t a big deal at all.
Down 13 at home to the defending state-runner up? When Kru Huxford scored that touchdown with less than 30 seconds left, and Kolton Loertscher booted the go-ahead extra point, I thought that was it — the Stallions were going to be 5-1, and most importantly, 3-0 in region play. The road to the region title was going to lead directly to the corner of Bates Canyon Road and Aberdeen Lane — er, Stallion Way.
But there were two teams on that Stallion Stadium field with the same never-say-die mentality. Park City had one last gasp, and that was all the Miners needed. It was certainly one of the more exciting finishes you’ll ever see to a football game, no matter what level.
Part of me definitely felt for the Stallions as I watched them walk off that field Friday night, the look of shock on their faces evident even on my iPad. While I do my best to be impartial, I hate seeing our local athletes lose. I’ve known most of these kids since they were freshmen and have watched them turn into full-fledged varsity stars. As thrilling as Friday’s finish was, I would have preferred to see Stansbury win — just as it would have been great to see Tooele beat Ogden, and to have Grantsville snap Beaver’s winning streak.
But, you know what? I think a few years from now, those kids who suited up for the Stallions on Friday night are going to look back on it and realize they were part of something special on that field. They might even run into some of those Park City kids on a college campus somewhere and they can reminisce about it together.
The only shame of the whole thing is that one team had to lose.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. He’s thankful for the live streams, but knows there’s no substitute for being under the Friday night lights in person. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.