Realignment hasn't just damaged college rivalries — high schools are victims as well
Wasatch High School, which jumps from 3A to 4A this year, has experienced similar difficulties. Lonnie Magnusson, who coached boys’ basketball last year for the Wasps, says that his school tried to keep rivalries alive even though regions or classifications change. “We have usually tried to keep the old rivalries going by getting them on our non league schedule.” It’s not always easy, he says: “When I came to Wasatch from Lehi that was a huge rivalry and we kept it going for a while (even after they moved up to 4A) but then something happened where we could not get it worked out one year and we have never been able to get it back.”
The loss of old rivals is painful. Kovi Christiansen, Morgan’s Head Football Coach, says that “not playing Bear River is like BYU and Utah not playing.” Park echoes that sentiment: “There is no question that they were the most spirited, competitive, and intense games.” But Christiansen, like most of the coaches interviewed, likes to keep a positive mind-set regarding rivalries: “I think you develop rivalries with whomever you play. I am sure we will become rivals with other teams that we have hard-fought games with.”
Everyone who has been involved with these rivalries over the years has a story or two of great games, close finishes, and high drama. Van Park recalls that 2003 football game, along with a game his team won at Morgan in 2008 in double overtime on a half-court shot by Matt Weyland as time expired. The following year, Morgan gave Bear River their only loss in an otherwise perfect region season. That meant that Bear River had to beat Logan, yet another rival that has been lost to realignment, in the final game of the year to capture the region title. “Most years there was always a lot at stake with region titles when we played Morgan, making a great high school sporting environment.”
Even this past season, the Bears and the Trojans met in two highly competitive regular season basketball games before the Trojans got the best of them in the State 3A title game. It was a spirited, hotly-contested game, and a fitting conclusion to one of the best 3A rivalries ever. Wiscombe, who gave the Trojans the last word in the rivalry, said it best: “There will always be new rivalries. We will have the opportunity to compete and we are not going to worry about things that we can't control. I wish the teams in our old region the best.”
Chris is a graduate of the University of Utah and Santa Clara Law School and practices law in Heber. He is the father of four, an avid fly-fisherman, and announcer of many Morgan High School sports events. Email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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