Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Big Game Small Town Magic

Who Won?
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
In chasing down the big games of small town high school football, I'm always amazed at how it can grab you and sweep you up despite the high gasoline prices. Compounding that, I've had a couple of e-mails recently reminding me of the big games that I should consider attending this coming weekend—Twin Bridges at Sheridan and Hysham at Lambert are two such big small-town games that have been brought to my attention.

Sadly, I'm off to Chicago for a conference that has nothing to do with small town football or photography and won't return until sometime Saturday afternoon, after all the games have passed.

It is at times like this when I need to remind myself (as in this writing) that small town high school football is more than just the "big games." In the spirit of Woody Guthrie's This Land Is Your Land, Small town high school football is also the jovial hamburger crew at Drummond working the outdoor grill. It's the rag-tag assembly of musicians—students and locals—that make up the band in Stanford even if they never march. It's the announcer at Rosebud who only has a bullhorn. It's four referees instead of five. It's the grade school kids playing on the hillside at Harlowton, Noxon or Hays. It's the cars on the hill overlooking the gridiron at Sunburst as they sound their horns and flash their headlights following a Refiner touchdown. And sometimes it's simply gazing up to watch the clouds as they move across the Big Horn Mountains near Dayton during a time out.

Die Hards
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
Last week, I finally made it to Pavillion, Wyoming to attend a Wind River football game. It probably wasn't considered a "big game" regarding it's importance in... say, Wyoming 2A football, but it was big to me. A couple years ago I drove there to watch a game only to find out that it was held the night before (here's the full account of that fiasco). And now, this season, in true small town fashion, the floodlights at Wind River were severely damaged from a big wind storm earlier in the year, forcing a rescheduling of their Friday night games to daylight hours. Who knows when I'd have another opportunity to photograph an afternoon game in Pavillion again?

That was big enough for me.

* * * * *

Since I won't have any particular game to blog about next week, I'll invite/challenge anyone who attends a "big" game (however one defines it) to post their observations below in the comment area. Along with the games mentioned above, Scobey is off to Wibaux, Big Horn is at Wind River in a battle of 2A undefeated teams, Custer-Melstone will play Bridger for the first time while Grass Range is traveling all the way to Meeteetse, Wyoming for a first time showdown as well.

If you go and choose to write about one of these games (or another), tell us what happened, but more importantly, tell us about the small town magic you experienced.

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