It’s hard to believe, but the fall high school sports season could be over in Tooele County as soon as Friday evening.
Let’s hope it doesn’t. That, of course, would mean that the Grantsville and Stansbury football teams both lost their opening-round playoff games, both falling short of potentially magical seasons. That seems rather unlikely, but there’s a reason they have to actually play these games. You never know what could happen once the playoffs start.
It has been an amazing fall already. Tooele’s Bridger Holmes very nearly brought home a state golf championship. Grantsville’s Porter Whitworth did bring home a cross-country title, and Stansbury’s Josh Oblad wasn’t far off from one of his own. Several Grantsville tennis players found themselves still playing on the second day of the state tournament, helping a young Cowboys squad to a strong team finish.
Even on the soccer pitch, Grantsville’s Whitney Wangsgard continued her all-out assault on the record books with another season scoring more than 40 goals.
This week brings us the end of the volleyball season with the Class 3A and Class 4A state tournaments. Unfortunately, Tooele fell just short of qualifying for the 4A tournament, leaving Stansbury as the county’s only representative in that bracket. The Stallions had a couple slip-ups late in the season that cost them a higher seed, but you’d have to think they’ll be coming into Wednesday morning fired up to prove just how good they can be.
Likewise for Grantsville, which wasn’t as consistent as it would have liked in the second half of the region season. They’ve got plenty of talent, as well as plenty of big-game experience from those who have played big roles on the Cowboys’ back-to-back state championship-winning softball team and last year’s third-place girls basketball squad. If anyone knows how to step it up on the big stage, it’s them.
Friday evening will feature the first football playoff games for Tooele, Stansbury and Grantsville. Tooele faces a tough task, having to go on the road to face defending Class 4A state champion Orem. The Buffaloes likely feel that nobody outside their own locker room feels like they can compete with the Tigers, but perhaps they can use that as motivation to put on a suprising showing.
Stansbury will play host to Mountain View in a game that looks like a mismatch on paper, but you never know. The Stallions haven’t looked like themselves for the past three weeks, giving up big plays in wins over Park City and Ben Lomond that helped them clinch the Region 11 title but struggling to get in the end zone in a loss to Bonneville in the regular-season finale.
Grantsville gets a rematch of last year’s quarterfinal game against Juan Diego, hoping to avenge a heartbreaking loss that came down to a missed two-point conversion. The Cowboys have championship aspirations, and the first step is to take down one of Class 3A’s perennial powerhouses.
It’s going to be a fun week, win or lose. Hopefully there will be a lot more winning for the kids from Tooele County.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. He’s looking forward to watching our local athletes chase their state-championship goals this week. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.