There are fewer games in a football season than there are in any other high school sport. That means each game carries even more importance — particularly when it comes to region play.
That said, one win isn’t necessarily cause for massive celebration. Nor is one loss a reason for massive panic. Does a win help? Sure. Does a loss hurt? No doubt. Is it going to make or break someone’s season? Hardly.
Take Tooele, for example. At 1-4 overall and 0-1 in Region 11 following Friday’s loss to archrival Stansbury, it has been a frustrating start for the Buffaloes. Their one win is even somewhat of an anomaly — a 28-0 takedown of Uintah that was called long before halftime because of bad weather. There’s no question that it hasn’t been the kind of season Tooele wanted or expected to this point.
But, you know what? There are four more games left in Region 11 play, and five more in the regular season. The Buffs, on paper, should be favored in every region game the rest of the way, beginning with this Friday’s homecoming game against Ben Lomond. A win over the Scots could be just the jumpstart Tooele needs to get its season back on track. If the Buffs run the table in their final four region games, they’ll be hosting a first-round playoff game come late October as a No. 2 seed. They could even bounce back into contention for the top spot if Park City, Bonneville, Ogden or Ben Lomond catches Stansbury napping.
Absolutely nothing was lost for Tooele on Friday other than a mid-September football game.
The same can be said for Grantsville. Perhaps losing the region opener to Morgan can serve as a wake-up call to the Cowboys. They’d won their first four games of the season and had every reason to believe they could win every game the rest of the way. But Morgan showed them there are other teams out there gunning for them.
It was certainly disappointing for Grantsville to spot its oldest rival a three-touchdown lead. That hasn’t been the Cowboys’ M.O. this season. They’ve been behind and had to fight their way through close games, but they haven’t looked as out of sync as they did at times on Friday. But, it happens at all levels of football. No team has gone through an entire season mistake-free. No team has made it through a whole season without a bad game or two.
Friday’s loss likely does mean that the Class 3A North region title won’t be coming to Grantsville this year. It’s hard to imagine Union, Carbon, Emery or Judge Memorial posing much of a threat to Morgan. But Grantsville poses a similar problem for those four schools. If the Cowboys do as expected, they’ll be 8-1 with a first-round bye and a home game in the Class 3A quarterfinals. That’s certainly a pretty good spot to be in when it comes to making a run at the state championship — a game Grantsville has every intention of playing in come October.
Losing to a rival always hurts. But, in the end, it’s just one game. So long as Tooele and Grantsville remember that going into this week’s contests, things are going to turn out just fine for the Buffaloes and Cowboys.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. When his high school football team lost by “only” two touchdowns, he considered it a moral victory. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.