Try as I might to prevent it, it may be happening again.
I may be leaning toward trying to guess who’s going to win the Sept. 20 matchup between the Hayden and Soroco High School football teams.
I learned the hard way last year why that’s not a very good plan.
We had this wild idea in the office, me and then-sports reporter Luke Graham. We’d each pick one team, Hayden or Soroco, then write a column about how we thought our chosen team would win when the two Routt County rivals matched up the following day.
I was never crazy about the idea because I don’t like people to think I’m taking sides in those battles. I’d like to think I’ve developed a certain amount of trust in both Hayden and Oak Creek in the last six years of high school sports coverage, and choosing one side over another seems like a good way to unravel that.
But, I think the whole thing was my idea, so I can’t point the finger anywhere but at myself.
Plus, the columns only ran online. No one was even likely to see them, right? Right?
And, it’s all in good fun, of course. I’m neutral. I enjoy spending Friday nights in both towns. I don’t have favorites. You all know that, right? Right?
I picked Soroco, seduced by talent at the skill positions and several spectacular wins against very undermanned teams.
The game, of course, went decidedly the other direction with Hayden winning in a romp. The clock had not expired before Hayden players and fans began chirping at me, reminding me of my pick and asking me what happened.
I’m just lucky they didn’t make me ride home with Soroco.
But, here we are again. The big intra-county matchup is two weeks away, and both teams seem even more focused upon it than they were a year ago.
There are plenty of reasons to believe Soroco can win. The Rams actually have more athletes out for football this year, a remarkable fact considering where each program was six years ago when I first began covering them.
Soroco has that big, thick offensive line that it hasn’t had recently, and it again has plenty of talent at receiver, running back and quarterback. It’s built to play an entirely different kind of football than the spread attack that sputtered as the 2012 season progressed.
The Rams looked awfully good Friday night beating up Justice.
Then again, Hayden won last year’s game, and while it lost a few key pieces, it returns plenty from that team. The Tigers got beat up badly Saturday against Dayspring Christian, of course, but comparing scores in eight-man football is a sure way to look like a fool. The games have a funny way of getting out of hand, and the final score isn’t always representative of the difference between the teams.
Hayden’s been playing good football for as long as I’ve been here, and there’s no reason to believe that’s going to stop now.
So, who do I think is going to win? I have no idea.
No one’s called me out for picking last year’s game incorrectly for about three months, so maybe everyone’s forgotten.
Maybe I will take a stab when we get closer to kickoff. It’s all in good fun, right? Right?