STERLING – I could’ve written a column in advance, discussing how much I don’t like teams leaving conferences. But I don’t like writing these in advance, even if refusing to do so makes beating deadline a grand feat every Friday.
That, and I wanted to toe the water Friday, seeing if any of the kids would give me some golden anecdote about growing up around the Sterling-Dixon rivalry.
Not really. The closest one was Dixon junior Cody Mighell.
“I think we’ll miss it a lot…114 years…that’s a lot,” he said. “The fact that we can never play them again? It kind of sucks.”
Well put. What about you Sterling guys? I know you’re going to run into the Dixon guys again. After all, you’re about 10 miles apart, making for a phenomenal rivalry. I bet you’re even buds with them. Heck, you might cheer for them now that you don’t share a conference, yes?
“Eh…we’ll see,” senior Bryant Lilly said.
“I wouldn’t say that,” senior Logan Wharff offered.
The best thing I came up with was running into Sterling AD Greg King on my way out. He assured me that he’s going to do all he can to set up another encounter.
Good. Because I think it stinks, and I’m going to do this quick. It stinks because the difference in enrollment is negligible. And Dixon isn’t going to save a mint in travel.
Most of all, it stinks because it feels like nothing stays the same. Tradition falls a distant second – third, really – to success and perceived financial savings. It’s bad enough that college conferences morph every year. You’d think pressure from the communities, which should want continuity, would salvage a high school rivalry.
There. Done. Now let’s talk about Logan Wharff and his football acumen.
I’m not necessarily talking about Xs and Os, but his understanding of what he means to his team. He feels like a jerk for missing a few games for doing something silly.
“That’s one of the worst things, is to sit there and feel helpless, watching your team lose and not play as good,” he said. “It was just such a great thing to be back with my best buds.”
And he paid them mondo credit Friday, gushing about his blockers who allowed him to break into space and bust out some serious video-game moves in space.
“I’m pretty good at seeing things before I do it and setting up defenders like that,” Wharff said. “But that isn’t just all on me. I don’t block all those guys. A lot of that is on the front five.”
Then he raved about Sterling Thornton’s varsity coming-out party.
“I don’t want to say I’m not impressed, but that’s just Sterling,” Wharff said. “He does it all the time in sophomore games. He’s a shifty guy, he’s already a great quarterback, and he’s going to get better and better every single year and every single play. He’s very talented, and the way he can move his hips? He’s a great player.”
And he gave all the credit to the pass rush for his pick-six late.
I recommend the porterhouse, Mr. Wharff.
“Definitely,” he said. “[Rafael] Escalante came off the edge, and he and [Joe] Brouillette were all over him. I just jumped it.”
Similarly, Mighell understands how a football team’s proverbial engine runs. Sterling’s blitz packages were phenomenal, and JD Gieson’s already-miserable night would’ve been a nightmare if it wasn’t for his fullback picking off comers like his QB’s life depended on it.
Who knows, maybe it did.
“I take a lot of pride in blitz pickups, especially with guys coming from the outside, because the linemen focus on the inside,” Mighell said. “I have to read side to side and decide who’s the fastest and who’s going to get through. It’s rough.”
Kudos to you, young man.
“As long as we’re moving the ball, I’m happy,” Mighell said.
That’s better yet.
“I’ll just miss coming out here and hearing that Sterling’s supposed to win and we’re the underdogs,” Mighell said. “Tonight, we could’ve beat them, but mistakes happen.”
Now, where did that come from? Sure, Mighell said it, but now I’m just emptying my recorder out of order.
I wish I could find out if Mighell and the rest of the Dixon juniors could break that nasty 13-game losing streak to Sterling next year.
Here we are again. I think it stinks that we won’t know.