Friday, November 09, 2007
All week long I've been telling people and myself that I'm just too tired from last week's trip to Sunburst, and its 900-plus-miles of driving. That excuse is probably good enough.
But, laying in bed this morning, I started thinking about the game. In fact, I even felt this tug that said, "Get up early Saturday morning anyway, and just go to Wibaux. Go on."
I tried to picture what I'd photograph once I arrived. I was rolling around in my mind what could be visually different than last year's blockbuster at Wibaux. I could see myself up on the hill—not the sidelines—by the statue of Pierre Wibaux watching from a distance. Like a little kid at a horror movie for the first time watching with my eyes half covered by my hands and wincing the entire time.
Wibaux and Drummond are two great football programs—traditions some might say. Who could argue the claim? I think of them as iconic in their own unique style.
I saw the first match-up at Drummond in 2004 where, what seemed to be, an over-confident Wibaux team walked off the bus to the gridiron like Roman soldiers about to capture another unsuspecting, miniscule chunk of distant land. Drummond was a machine, but even with one state title under their belt from the previous year, there was a feeling that many folks around the state believed they still hadn't been truly tested—that is the Wibaux test. We know what happened that day.
Then last year, I watched the same two teams who clearly held mutual respect for one another battle it out again in Wibaux. Many expressed that Drummond wasn't as invincible as previous years, but still had a long string of consecutive victories on their resume. Wibaux only had a score to settle.
I suppose it's safe to say that both Wibaux and Drummond know how unbearably long the bus drive is between the two opposing towns, especially after the game has concluded.
On one hand I hate to see Drummond make that same drive home from Wibaux as they did last year, but I know Wibaux duplicated the same drive a week later after their state title loss in overtime at Centerville. I know, it's all part of the game.
On the other hand, Wibaux has been teased enough since their last title in 2001. You'd think they'd never won one at all—reminiscent of the Cubs in baseball. Yet, they're due because they keep coming back year after year no matter who graduates.
As a neutral observer for most of the games I attend, I neither drive away from any gridiron feeling elated or dejected regarding the game's outcome. My formula for elation and dejection is related to whatever images I come away with that day; multiplied by the mileage. Yet, there are those teams like Drummond and Wibaux that I've seen play enough times that it's difficult to not wish them the best. And when they play each other in their little corners of Montana, it's always bittersweet, emotionally draining... simply exhausting.
I'm going to regret not going—I just know it.