After a long, hot summer of workouts, two-a-days and taking out aggression on scout-team underclassmen, the boys from Grantsville, Tooele and Stansbury will all take to the field Friday night for their first games of the 2018 football season.
It’s the most exciting time of the year for these programs, at least so far. Optimism is at its peak — nobody’s lost a game yet, after all — and everyone believes that this season could be special. We’ll get a little taste of just how special this season might be, keeping in mind that everybody’s still a work in progress in mid-August, and it won’t be until October that everyone is at their best.
Stansbury opens the 2018 season, its 10th as a program, at Sky View in a matchup of two region-title contenders. It will be Stansbury’s 100th game in school history, with a 63-36 record through the first 99. It hasn’t taken long for the Stallions to establish themselves as one of the strongest programs in the state, but Sky View poses a major challenge in its own right.
The Bobcats beat Stansbury 27-17 on the Stallions’ home field last season and went 9-0 during the regular season en route to a Class 4A semifinal appearance before losing to eventual state champion Orem. However, Stansbury was one of only three teams to hold Sky View under 30 points last season, and the Stallions are hungry to avenge last year’s season-opening defeat.
Tooele has a young, inexperienced team that’s going to have to grow up in a hurry. That growing process starts Friday night at Buffalo Stadium against Uintah, a team that is adjusting to a new head coach and is looking to reverse a trend of losing seasons. On paper, Tooele has the advantage, but coach Jeff Lewis won’t be quite sure what he has until the Buffs hit the field in a game situation for the first time.
The Buffs are going to have to grow up in a hurry, though, as the schedule immediately gets more difficult after Friday’s game. They have three consecutive road games at Sky View, Dixie and Grantsville before opening Region 11 play at home against rival Stansbury.
Grantsville gets things started Friday night at home against North Sanpete, giving the Cowboys an early look at a squad they might see again when the Class 3A playoffs roll around. Coach Kody Byrd wanted to get a better look at Class 3A South this season, and with Friday’s game against the Hawks plus other matchups against Summit Academy and Manti, they’ll certainly get that.
The Cowboys have high hopes this season after advancing to the quarterfinals and giving eventual state champion Juan Diego all it could handle. Whether or not they’re able to have that breakthrough won’t be determined until later this fall, but the process of getting there and learning lessons that will benefit them down the road begins Friday.
The offseason is over. Let the games begin.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. He enjoys the Friday night lights, especially while it’s still warm outside and he can feel his fingers and toes. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.