Mitchell: Pleasant memories abound as football season approaches
Post Independent Sports Editor
This coming football season will mark a significant anniversary for me.
Early September will mark 17 years since I covered a high school football game for the first time. And I still remember it: Palisade played Fruita Monument in an early season, non-league game at Stoker Stadium in Grand Junction.
I had just turned 20 years old and had just entered my third year at Mesa State College. I was a poor college student living on Top Ramen and Mac & Cheese, so getting paid a whopping $30 a story as a freelance sports writer for the Daily Sentinel meant I could buy a week’s worth of groceries.
It’s a wonder, looking back at it now, how I didn’t overdose on sodium or something with that kind of a diet. I guess it was a good thing at the time that I had the metabolism of a hummingbird.
None of that is why this season marks a significant anniversary for me, though. It’s significant because, simply put, many of the high school seniors who will play football this year had just been born.
In essence, that means that I’ve been doing this sports writing thing for a daily newspaper longer than most of this year’s players have been alive. I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about that.
It’s safe to say that I’ve built up a lifetime of great, and not-so-great, memories over all these years.
I remember when I inadvertently left a kid’s name out of a season wrapup story following the 2000 Glenwood Springs High football season. The mom left a nasty message on my desk voicemail, and the dad proceeded to go on a profanity laced tirade to me in the middle of the newsroom. We made up for it by putting a mug shot of the kid in the paper with the correction in the next day’s paper.
I can’t remember the kid’s name, or his parent’s names. But considering how childish and immature the parents acted, they’d probably rather not have their names in the paper in that light.
I remember my time in Roseburg, Oregon, an area where a kid named Troy Polamalu grew up and thrived as a running back and safety at Douglas High School. We did a lot of articles on him prior to the Pittsburg Steelers’ Super Bowl XL win over the Seattle Seahawks, and it made that little spot in the Pacific Northwest bleed black and gold for a little more than a week.
I remember being in Greeley in 2008 when former Post Independent Sports Editor Jeff Caspersen sent over his game story of Glenwood’s 52-10 thrashing of Roosevelt in the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs. The Demons, led by QB Dakota Stonehouse, would go on to win the state championship.
I remember being kicked out of doing this full time when the recession hit not long after that, living in Parachute and working as a truck driver for three years while getting to cover Friday night football games when I was off work. Granted, Fridays ended up being really long for a while since my full-time gig started at 4:30 a.m. every morning. But to me, getting to go out and cover football was more of a hobby and a pastime than a second job.
I remember the epic ending to the Roosevelt/Rifle football game in the quarterfinal round of the Class 3A state playoffs at Bears Stadium in Rifle in 2012. With the RoughRiders driving for the potential game-tying score in the final minute, Rifle’s Ryan Moeller picked off a pass from QB Spencer Urban, then raced into the end zone from 91 yards out as time expired to cap Rifle’s 48-34 victory.
Really, there’s plenty of other things I could remember over the time I’ve been doing this. I just can’t remember them right now.
I think it’s pretty safe to say, however, that there will be plenty of memories made this season.
As a football fan, or as a player, memories are what stick with you over time. Fans who rocked the stands with their friends at high school or college football games don’t forget that kind of stuff. Meanwhile, players remember those guys and girls yelling so loud that it was hard to hear on the field.
That’s part of the reason we chose the theme of this year’s preview edition as “Coming Attractions.” Nearly everyone in the stands under the Friday Night Lights has paid good money to go watch their friends, or kids, play football. But regardless of what the outcome is, everyone who’s there will come away with a memory of some kind.
For this year’s senior football players, like so many others before them, it’s their last chance to make memories with their friends on the football field. Every one of them would love nothing more than to build up some memories that, 17 years from now and longer, are as significant as ever.
By the way, Fruita Monument went on to beat Palisade in that game I covered. The Bulldogs didn’t lose a game the rest of the season and won the last of their four consecutive Class 3A state titles.
Will any teams from Garfield County have a memory with that kind of a happy ending? Read on and decide for yourself.
Jon Mitchell is the sports editor of the Glenwood Springs Post Independent and Rifle Citizen Telegram. He can be reached at 970-384-9123, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
The Glenwood Springs-Rifle sports rivalry goes way back for GSHS baseball coach and former Demons multi-sport student-athlete Eric Nieslanik.