End of season, not end of world
After the first defensive snap of the season, Logan linebacker Chasen Andersen hobbled off the field, clutching his knee.
In football, that's the universal sign that something is seriously wrong. Coach Mike Favero was even more concerned than usual, knowing that his senior, one of his top returning players, wouldn't come off the field for just any bump or bruise.
"When Chasen Andersen comes off the field, you know he's hurt," Favero said. "He could tell right away, he felt his knee pop. I was standing right by where it happened, and I could see it in his face."
The first Friday of football is typically reserved for celebration, for excitement. Fans get caught up in tailgate parties, painting their faces or chests, or cheering until their voices grow hoarse. It's a time when everyone has the same record: 0-0. Optimism is almost never higher than before that first snap.
For many teams, those hopes have been validated today. They feel that ever-elusive satisfaction that comes with victory and on-field heroics.
And then there's the knee that pops on the first play of the game.
"It's obviously very disappointing for these guys who have worked their whole football lives to get to their senior year," Favero said. "The injury bug is part of the game. You cross your fingers and hope you don't lose anybody, but it happens."
The injury bug has bitten Logan particularly hard this year: Andersen joins his twin brother, receiver Hagen Andersen, on the disabled list. Caden Andersen, an all-state defensive lineman last season and a Utah State commit, won't even play a down this year after an offseason skateboarding accident threatened his life, not to mention his football career.
But the defending 4A champs are not the only ones who got hit hard on Friday. The Pine View Panthers, a team seeking redemption for an underwhelming 2011 season, had to be cringing as sophomore quarterback Kody Wilstead slammed the turf with his hand as he tried to get up after a run.
When the rest of the team went to the locker room at halftime, much of the coaching staff soberly watched the trainer check Wilstead's injured leg, which the team believes could be fractured. Wilstead is considered a promising passer, potentially a Division I player in the future. And for a 3A team, his talent is impossible to replace.
Still, coach Ray Hosner was relieved to see Pine View keep battling East, despite falling in a 35-0 blowout. There were a few bright spots to pick out.
"Besides a few turnovers and mistakes, I was proud of them," Hosner said. "East is a great team, but we still intercepted them even when we were down 28-0. To me, that says no one's given up. We had adversity, and they faced it."
We should all hope we can face adversity as well as Mike Moorehead, the senior quarterback at West Jordan who went down with a torn ACL with only four minutes left to play against Bingham.
It didn't take long for a diagnosis to come through: out for the season. Coach Mike Morgan said Moorehead was obviously hurt by the news, but has since transferred almost effortlessly into a sideline role.
He went to watch film with the team on Saturday, taking notes and pointing out issues to his replacements.
"You wouldn't even be able to tell he's injured," Morgan said. "Mike Moorehead isn't fazed at all. He knows he'll have an opportunity to play after this, and he's a 4.0 student, so he'll have a future. He's as classy as they come."
This season, there's sure to be more breathtaking plays, and teams will rise and fall. It's the game: It's how football seasons always go. There will be time to enjoy it.
Let's take a minute to reflect on the young men who will have to find out how they fit into that picture the ones who will try to help their teams from the sidelines, wishing that first snap might've gone just a bit differently.