Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for high school football being on television.
I get that Park City has a bunch of games televised because of a local station’s presence, and that’s cool. It even makes my job easier when I’m already trying to report on two other games if the third gets bumped a day to accomodate a television schedule, or if it’s a road game I wasn’t going to be able to get travel approval for anyway.
But come on, there had to have been something better to choose from than 0-9 Judge Memorial at co-region champion Tooele. Everyone knew that game was going to be a blowout.
I’ve been trying to figure out what Thursday Night Lights was thinking when they looked at the schedule and said “that one.”
I understand the TV schedule gets picked out in advance, like way before the season actally starts. I know Judge has been a powerhouse in the past and the name still carries an amount of prestige — anyone remember the one-loss season and state championship in 2014? I guess it’s fair to say from the outside looking in that last season’s three-win debut into 3AA could have been the rebuild portion of a championship sandwich.
It’s also justifiable picking that game from the Tooele perspective. Last season could have either been a fluke or the start of something great and either way there are great storylines to tell — would-be quarterback Peyton Baker’s back injury, head coach Kyle Brady’s first season without a younger brother on the field, etc.
But let’s just look at the other games on the schedule from last week, shall we?
First off, Stansbury hosted Bear River on Wednesday in what amounted to a No. 1-vs.-No. 4 league matchup. I know the Stallions haven’t lost to the Bears in quite a while, but I’ve heard of other sports — and other teams in Tooele County — having a fair rivalry with the teams from Garland, Utah. Truth be told, I wouldn’t have picked that game for television either if I was in charge of the world, but hindsight proved to be 20/20 after the Bears upset Stansbury’s outright region championship with a go-ahead touchdown in the final minutes of the game.
Sky View played Mountain Crest on Wednesday in what amounted to a barn-burner last season. Now that the Mustangs have split off to Ridgeline, it wasn’t a great performance, and I probably wouldn’t have picked this year’s 45-13 blowout. Lehi played Westlake in kind-of a rivalry game Wednesday and won by three scores; that could have been an OK-ish game to pick.
Any of the 3AA South matchups that happened Friday — especially Pine View beating Cedar by five — would most-certainly have looked more attractive than a Tooele/Judge blowout before the season started.
But the game I definitely would have taken was Corner Canyon hosting Alta. Neither of those teams are particularly good, but Corner Canyon split off of Alta not too long ago and took a bunch of talent away from Juan Diego, too. The demographic of upper-level socioeconomic residents in the Draper/South Sandy area would eat a TV game right up.
Again, it’s tough to know what’s going to happen during the course of the actual game, but if I’m a neutral sports enthusiest in the southern suburbs of Salt Lake County, I’m a lot more likely to watch Corner Canyon score three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to come back from a 35-17 halftime deficit than I am to watch a crappy NFL game on Thursday, especially if one of those featured teams is the Bears’ second-string team. And if I’m a casual television viewer who is equally interested in sports as I am a Thursday-night sitcom or the presidential campaign meltdown of 2016, an Alta/Corner Canyon matchup is better than anything else on.
Tavin Stucki is a sports writer from Midvale, Utah, who grew up disliking the larger schools on the south end of Salt Lake County. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.