Monday, November 24, 2008

A Championship Sabbatical

King Of West Yellowstone
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
Not since 2002 have I missed a Wyoming or Montana high school championship football game—that was the year that I dedicated myself to following the Belfry Bats to everyone of their games, including their playoff game in Geraldine. Once they were eliminated from the playoffs, I thought it was only fair that I removed myself from the season as well.

This year, my excuse for missing a title game isn't as convincing, certainly not as clear.

Because I've been to plenty of big games in Wibaux and Geraldine over the years, I'd guessed the scenery in either location wouldn't be too different with the exception of uniform colours and fans (from a photographic perspective). Yet, the football lover in me found Superior at Wibaux too good to be true—it was the ultimate in "East Meets West" because when it comes to Montana, there aren't too many places further west of Superior while Wibaux is the last stop in Eastern Montana before crossing into North Dakota. Despite my reluctance to hit the road, I found myself restless during mid-week. Wide awake at 2:30 a.m., I was considering the idea of driving to Laurel and loitering along Interstate 90 in an effort to capture the Superior team bus crossing the vastness of Eastern Montana with its small entourage of fans and parents in tow.

Highwood at Geraldine tempted me too. Earlier this season, I had received my wish to witness and photograph a typical Highwood vs. Geraldine shootout (read about it here) and so, like a fisherman who had caught the ultimate fish, I didn't want to be greedy by casting my line back into the water. Besides, there are those image-rich photographic moments when one should simply put away their camera and let someone else have a go at it. The same held true of the game in Wibaux.

Even if I had decided to make another title day pilgrimage, not long after leaving the semi-final game in Superior last week, the early signs of a head and chest cold surfaced and by mid-week, I was completely inundated. Without fail it seems, every year I get one of these during the season, but never this late. Undoubtedly it's a good thing I hadn't planned on going anywhere, otherwise I would have really been either bummed or just plain miserable.

Despite the lingering cold symptoms, it was weird Saturday morning to be up and about, putzing around the house at my leisure with nothing to do and nowhere to go—not on the way to Geraldine or not in a motel in Miles City preparing for the remaining drive to Wibaux.

I'm already looking forward to next year's offering of six-man football in Wyoming and all its new photographic venues such as Farson, Kaycee and Baggs. No doubt, my travels into Montana will likely suffer, but given that Montana's playoffs usually run a week longer than Wyoming, I'll probably be in one of Montana's Class C towns at this same time next year.

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