It isn’t uncommon for high school sports in Utah to be delayed due to inclement weather.
During the spring, baseball, softball and boys soccer games are consistently delayed, postponed and/or canceled due to uncooperating Mother Nature.
This past spring, all three sports postseasons were affected in some way or another due to the elements.
The 5A and 6A boys soccer semifinals were delayed, specifically Viewmont vs. Brighton and Herriman vs. Bingham. The 4A, 3A, 2A softball tournaments were all pushed back, a day here, a week there. The 4A baseball regionals were relocated, from Spanish Fork and Smithfield to as far away as St. George.
Nothing that happened earlier this year can compare to what occurred Friday night across the state, however.
Twenty-one high school football games, all season openers, were delayed due to lightning.
It all started with Tooele, the first school to be hit by a storm that at one point stretched from Richfield to Elko, Nevada. The Buffaloes were cruising in their contest against the Uintah Utes, holding a 28-0 lead just two minutes into the second quarter, before the game was delayed and ultimately called.
Before too long, games at Lone Peak, Granger, Lehi, American Fork, East, Olympus, Highland, Riverton, Brighton, Copper Hills, North Sanpete, Pleasant Grove, West Jordan, Provo and Beaver, Cyprus, Judge Memorial, Wasatch, Juab would all be delayed.
In the end, only the Tooele-Uintah game was called, the results nullified. As far as official statistics go, the game was never played. (Games can be made official after the completion of two quarters. It is generally accepted that the coaches from both teams agree to call a game final, though the official UHSAA handbook is vague in that regard).
Two games were called early, but the results will stand. Those contests were Olympus vs. Cottonwood — the Titans won 47-0 — and Juab vs. Delta — the Wasps walked away with a 54-6 win.
Those two decisions marked only the second time in Utah high school football history that two games were time-shortened on the same day, the other occurrence coming on Sept. 21, 1945.
On that day, Granite and Provo ended in a 7-7 tie, the game halted because of “pouring rain,” per George Felt. Jordan and Grand Junction, Colorado ended 14-0, in favor of Jordan, when the “weather played havoc” with the stadium’s lights.
Back in this century, Juan Diego vs. Bear River, Highland vs. Desert Hills and Wasatch vs. Park City were each called in the second half as well Friday night, with Bear River (14-7), Highland (14-0) and Wasatch (13-7) appearing to come away victorious.
The decisions whether to make those results official or to resume the games at a later date were still up in the air, however, with no timetable as to when those respective decisions would be made.
The final 16 games that suffered delays resumed play at some point or other during the night, with many finishing as at 11 p.m. or later.
All told, according to Felt, there had been 17 time-shortened games in Utah prep football history.
That number now officially stands at 19, with the potential for 22 still very much a possibility.
What an opening night.