Jay Meehan: State!
The fervor surrounding my first pep rally for the annual Kellogg-Wallace high school football game up in that character-rich mid-century Idaho panhandle set the hook firmly in the jaw of my psyche. This would not be catch-and-release. These many decades later, I remain very much “hooked.”
Admittedly, there has been a recent interval wherein my rabidity has lessened. But all it took to get the juices once again flowing at their previous rate were mentions on The Park Record and KPCW websites of the Park City Miners’ current assault on the 4A playoff bracket and I found myself back at that bonfire in the Kellogg of my youth.
Fate would have it that I would leave KHS following the football season of my sophomore year. Kellogg was a highly successful basketball school, anyway, with more than a few state titles under its belt during my stay. They were a marvel at what they did. They were “showtime” well before my Lakers.
My next stop, Gonzaga Preparatory School, however, flaunted its Jesuit sensibility in Spokane, a few easily hitchhiked miles down the road. A love affair with all-things-Bullpups soon blossomed but not to the extent it replaced my Wildcat-fever. Even though I was to go on to a third high school in southern California, nothing would do that!
Following a seemingly yellow brick road out of Dodge, the clan slalomed its way through Portland, Reno, Yosemite, the Bay Area, and Malibu on their way to what I came to refer to as the quaint seaside village of Los Angeles. Lynwood, a bedroom community squished between South Gate and Compton drew the short straw.
The Lynwood Knights, although drawing a quite respectable and rowdy fan-base in all sports, never really threatened their league-mates football-wise, but I was used to that. Plus, the spirit was there. Being true to your school. Dissin’ the refs. Calling them like you see them. That’s all that mattered. Boola boola! Sis-boom-bah!
Following graduation, I grabbed a Greyhound north to the old stomping grounds for a summer of fighting wildfires in the Coeur d’Alene National Forest and carousing with the old gang at the old haunts of Kellogg.
Before I knew it, fall had rolled around with road trips to away games for the KHS gridiron bunch following suit. So it was off to Lewiston and Sandpoint and Bonner’s Ferry and Coeur d’Alene and Wallace among other stops along the Idaho panhandle high school pigskin trail.
Then came Utah, where road trips included Park City playoff games at Grantsville and Rice-Eccles and, having moved to Heber, Wasatch High School matchups at Roosevelt, Bear River, Lehi, Kamas, and, of course, Rice-Eccles.
Always the sideline-rover, I’ve had a lifelong aversion to sitting in bleachers. The point was, and is, to position your point-of-view perpendicular to the ball – a location constantly in flux. That meant sprinting up and down the sideline, the visitor’s side usually offering the best opportunity to arriving prior to the ball being snapped.
Game-faces, of course, were required. Say the Park City Miners were traveling to Heber to take on the Wasatch Wasps back in the day. With me being of the “Wasp” persuasion, I would have organized well in advance a tailgate meet-and-greet with my Miner fan base friends at Tink’s, a well-known Heber haunt of the time.
There, we would hoist a few cold ones, down a pickled egg or two, puff on a cheap cigar, sing along with Hank or Hag or Patsy or Janis on the jukebox, and talk school affiliation trash to each other under the glaring eyes of wall-mounted elk heads.
When it came to “home field advantage,” however, the camaraderie of Tinks did little to prepare the Park City fans for the methane-rich aroma of the working dairy farm sitting to the immediate rear of the visitor’s bleachers in those days.
But back to the here and now! There is a game afoot! At 11:00 a.m. Friday morning at Rice-Eccles Stadium, the #1-seed Park City Miners are taking on the #2 seed Sky View Bobcats in what should be one of the most competitive 4-A Championship games on record.
Both squads have been bowling over their opponents on the way to this classic matchup. If you can’t make it down, you can listen to KPCW’s live broadcast. Go Miners! Damn, I miss those bonfires!
Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social and political scenes for more than 40 years.
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