Prep football: New attitude sweeps through Ogden after Tigers snap lengthy losing streak

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Ogden football players share a laugh during practice. The mood at practice has changed after the team broke its 36-game losing streak last week. Wednesday, September 13, 2017.

Ogden • Senior captains Carson White and Sam Lawrence were all too familiar with the long, dark and somber school bus rides home following losses for every one of the 23 games of their football careers.

Last Friday night finally brought them a different experience.

White, Lawrence, and the rest of coach Erik Thompson’s Ogden Tigers (1-3) snapped a 36-game losing streak by defeating host Carbon, 28-19.

“The entire losing streak was kind of like a dark cloud hanging over us,” said White, the Tigers‘ starting quarterback. “It’s nice that it’s finally gone. It felt awesome, and it’s been a long time. So it’s good to finally get a win.”

INSIDE THE STREAK<br>Length • 36 games <br>Days between wins • 1,442 <br>Ogden points scored • 431 <br>Ogden points allowed • 1,555 <br>Times Ogden shut out • Eight <br>Closest call to ending it • A 27-24 loss to Preston, Idaho, on Aug. 25, 2017 <br>Most lopsided loss • A 70-0 loss to Roy on Oct. 3, 2014 <br>Most losses to • Four to Bonneville <br>Last win before the streak • A 20-17 victory over Ben Lomond on Sept. 27, 2013 <br>Win that ended the streak • A 28-19 win at Carbon on Sept. 8, 2017

As the game clock wound down over Carbon’s home field in Price, a three-hour drive from Ogden, the usual despair felt so often made way for emotions unfelt in this era of Ogden football.

“It was weird because we’ve had so many games where the final seconds have always been sad, so it was surreal because we finally win,” White said. “We finally won and we watched the clock hit zeros and we rushed the field and hugged each other.”

White and Lawrence are part of a senior class that had lost all 23 games of its sophomore, junior and senior seasons.

The team continued celebrating in the locker room before making its way for the buses. Waiting for them was a throng of family, friends and Tigers fans who had made the long trip.

“It was fun to finally be able to mess around and celebrate on the bus ride back,” White said. “It was definitely different than riding back with a loss.”

Lawrence also could tell the evening was going to be special.

“On the bus ride home, there was just a different attitude,” said Lawrence, who plays both linebacker and tight end. “That’s what winning will do.”

The feelings of euphoria were similar for the coaching staff.

“After the game was over, I knelt down and thanked God,” Thompson said. “The kids were jumping for joy and there were a lot of tears and hugs; just quite the scene.”

Thompson, the longtime coach at Northridge who also was part of three Class 5A state championships as an assistant there, was very familiar with the program and community after growing up in Roy and attending Weber State.

Thompson said he was unfazed by the team’s losing streak when he took the Ogden coaching job over the winter.

“I wanted to build on a family atmosphere that was already there as the kids in Ogden are naturally close to each other,” Thompson said. “And they already had this attitude of ‘Us against the world,’ so that was something that was already important to them.”

The Tigers opened the season 0-3 with losses to Judge Memorial, Preston (Idaho) and Logan.

“They had been pressing a bit the first few games, and now there’s a great sense of joy and relief now that [the losing steak is] gone,” Thompson said. “The kids can relax now and just go play football and see if we can win enough games to make a run at the playoffs.”

Elevated morale and enthusiasm throughout the program translated to an increase of 60 players since the 2016 season concluded.

“We’ve been working really hard this offseason, and it showed on Friday,” Lawrence said.

The long and dark ride home north on Interstate 15 was somewhat symbolic of the last three-plus seasons of Ogden football.

As the team buses weaved their way through the city and finally arrived back at the historic campus around 1:45 a.m., the team saw a welcoming party usually reserved for conquering heroes.

Hundreds of family members, friends, fans and students greeted them as they pulled in and refused to leave until joyous renditions of both the school’s fight song and alma mater were heard.

“I don’t know who started it, but the parents and the student body wanted to welcome the kids when they got home,” said Thompson, who said he hardly could control his own emotions. “We rolled down Tiger Street and there’s 500 people there holding sparklers and they’re making a big line and rocking the bus and forming a mosh pit.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of three state championships and some pretty successful seasons, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a crowd celebrate a team like that.”