High school football: East, Mountain View will donate proceeds of controversial 4A play-in game to charities
OREM — East and Mountain View will meet on the football field Tuesday afternoon — the result of nearly two weeks of controversial hearings.
Both find themselves in their respective playoff spots thanks — at least in part — to a ruling by a panel of UHSAA Board of Trustee members last Friday.
Instead of resenting the spotlight that will shine on the first game of the 4A state playoffs, however, the Bruins and Leopards hope to use the attention to benefit others.
As soon as the decision put the teams in a play-in game, Mountain View principal Blaine Edman called East principal Paul Sagers to see if he wanted to play for something on top of being able to play in the next round.
The Bruins had decided to donate their half of the proceeds from the game to a scholarship fund set up in memory of two former Mountain View graduates, Nigel Olsen and Carlos Aragon, who were killed in Afghanistan in 2010 while serving in the Marine Corps.
"Thee are a lot of other important things in the world, and we think this sends that message," said Edman. "I talked to East and they wanted to play for breast cancer awareness because that's an important cause to them. I'm just really glad they wanted to join in that way and help keep this all in perspective."
Sagers said he was immediately struck by Edman's request.
"When he called, it really put it in perspective," said Sagers. "His suggestion seemed like the perfect way to put the focus on serving others. … We want to take full advantage of this opportunity."
Sagers talked with his coaches and decided to play for breast cancer awareness because the mother of one of their players is battling the disease. The school will split its share of the proceeds between Swing For Life, a local charity started by softball coach Kathy Howa that benefits Huntsman Cancer Institute, and the East High mom afflicted with the disease.
"If we were going to pick a game, this play-in game is the perfect game because it's so well attended," said Sagers.
Both teams might have been excluded from the playoffs under different circumstances. East was placed in the fourth and final playoff spot by the Board of Trustees panel Friday after an earlier panel excluded them from the playoffs by requiring they forfeit all seven of the games in which they used an ineligible student athlete. The punishment also took all home playoff games away from the Leopards.
Mountain View earned the final spot from Region 8 when the same panel required Timpview to forfeit all four of the games in which an ineligible player was used by the T-birds, one of which was against Mountain View. The win broke a three-way tie for fifth place and gave the Bruins a postseason berth.
"We didn't expect to be hosting a playoff game," said Edman. "So Friday afternoon, we went into high gear. We've been really busy."
Olsen and Aragon graduated from Mountain View in 2007 and 2008, respectively. Each of them joined the U.S. Marine Corps just a week after graduation and both were sent to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in October 2009.
In March 2010, both young men were killed by improvised explosive devices — Carlos on Mar. 1 and Nigel on Mar. 4.
Edman said he hopes the communities that supported Mountain View and East throughout the season and especially during the firestorm of the last two weeks will show up to support the teams in their charitable efforts.
"We hope the communities will show up in force," Edman said.