It’s hard to believe, but this will be Tooele County’s last week of Friday-night high school football games for the 2020 season.
This week is Grantsville’s last home game of the regular season, with the Cowboys’ final two games coming in Draper and Morgan. Next week, Tooele and Stansbury both play on Thursday, and the week after that, their games are on Oct. 14 — a Wednesday. Tooele isn’t likely to get a home playoff game, and if Grantsville and Stansbury get to host games, they’ll kick off in the late afternoon and finish before the sun goes down.
It hardly seems possible that we’ve made it through 70% of the high school football season already. It seems like it just started. We’ve had so many memorable moments through these first seven games, though perhaps the best is that they’ve been played at all — and, relatively incident-free.
I have to admit, I wasn’t optimistic that we’d get here when the season started. I’m still not overly optimistic that we’ll get through the postseason, which would be awful for everyone involved, but especially the student-athletes. Stansbury having to play on the road in Orem in front of nobody this week is a sign of how precarious a position the high school football season is still in. And, given the state’s COVID-19 case numbers over the past 10 days, anything is still possible, as we’re all-too-familiar with after losing the spring sports season.
But, this isn’t a time for doom and gloom. It’s a time to celebrate one of small-town Utah’s greatest traditions: Friday night football. This week marks one more opportunity to ring in a weekend with football games in Grantsville and Tooele, where the home bleachers will, no doubt, be packed as the sun drops over the Stansbury Mountains and late afternoon turns to evening, and eventually night.
There will also be desperation on the field, as the Cowboys and Buffaloes both need victories at this point in the season. Usually, when the leaves start changing color, the intensity picks up on the gridiron. There’s no reason to believe that this season will be any different, even with all the uncertainty that’s going on in the world around us.
Perhaps that’s the greatest gift this last Friday night of football season in Tooele County can bring us: an escape. For just a few hours, we can be distracted from the chaotic world around us and enjoy watching our community’s youth compete, instead of being bombarded by news of pandemics, societal unrest and political discord.
In a month and a half, the high school football season will have reached its conclusion and (hopefully) state champions will be crowned. Until then, let’s enjoy it while we can as the lights come on in Tooele County on a Friday night, one last time this year.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. He has thoroughly enjoyed watching Tooele County’s student-athletes return to competition this fall. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.