Hey, ESPN. This is Utah football.
We know Friday night didn’t go as well as you hoped. It wasn’t anybody’s fault — not really.
Sure, we all had high hopes back in March, when it was announced that Skyline, the passing powerhouse from Sammamish, Wash., would come down to Cottonwood in the fall.
It made perfect sense then. Max Browne and Cooper Bateman, two of the top quarterbacks in the country, would highlight the matchup. The Colts still have mounds of Division I talent, and maybe in another situation could’ve put up a fight, or maybe even won.
No one could’ve really predicted then how the ground would shifted under Cottonwood — the coaching departures, the tragedy, the confusion.
It was clearly a team still coming together that was shredded by the USC-committed Browne and his capable receivers in a 57-25 blowout. It wasn’t exactly compelling national television, although we did learn Browne could play on Sundays in a few years.
Cottonwood struggled mightily, but still showed flashes of hope. The Colts know they have to play better even to make the playoffs. At times, you could even see the kind of plays that gave them so much hype when this game was scheduled.
Cottonwood will heal. It will take time. But that’s not what this is about.
Utah has had only limited exposure on the national scale. We know we don’t pump out NFL-caliber talent like the football factories in Florida or California. We know that good football is close to religion in Texas, and we don’t have any high schools with $60 million stadiums.
But give us another chance. Not because you’re feeling charitable — because we deserve it.
This may have been the first time a Utah high school appeared on national television, but it shouldn’t be the last. There’s a lot of exciting things happening on the football fields in this state.
Cottonwood had to take the stage at a challenging time for the program, but there are plenty of schools here that would be ready given the chance.
Don’t say we don’t have the pedigree. Programs such as Bingham, Timpview and Alta have been good for a long time. Utah programs have gone out and played against other powers. They don’t always win, but sometimes they do.
Just last week, Bingham knocked off Valor Christian of Colorado, a private school that boasts plenty of future college players. Later this month, when Jordan takes on St. John Bosco, Calif., and Alta faces Don Bosco, N.J., it will be a barometer for how healthy football is here.
And healthy, it is. For a state with fewer than 3 million people, we’ve had our fair share of success stories. Haloti Ngata and Chris Cooley went to high school here. Jordan quarterback Austin Kafentzis might be one of the best high school players in the nation right now.
Television has its whims to be followed: audience, interest, money, et cetera. Sure, ESPN can’t always come to Utah. The Oaks Christians, Bishop Gormans, Trinities, Armwoods and Don Boscos will — to an extent — always take precedent over schools here.
That doesn’t mean that we don’t deserve another shot.
Next time you’re picking out a game that’s meant to showcase football talent around the country, don’t forget to look in our direction. One game doesn’t tell you everything there is to know.
Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.