Against dominant teams, Beetdiggers and Hawks won some battles if not the games.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Sometimes life smacks you around. Sports can be the least painful of the kind of events that profoundly affect you.
But then again, when you're down 31-0 at halftime, that locker room can feel like a cave, burrowed miles and miles underground, with sunlight nowhere to be seen. Hope can be rare in those moments.
Faced with that situation at Rio Tinto Stadium, the Alta football team heard one message.
"Win the second half."
And then they set out and did it. Look inside the 52-24 score: The Hawks found a way to outscore Don Bosco Prep 24-21 in the second half, their own personal second game.
No one can argue that the Hawks are somehow better than the Ironmen at football. It wasn't even close.
Disaster after disaster piled up for the Hawks. Pick-six to start, then allowing huge runs and passes, more interceptions and just generally getting steamrolled.
Emotionally, it's tough to fail in something you work hard for. Once you lose your grip on a situation, you can freefall. That's where the Hawks were in a free fall against the Ironmen.
But as coaches understand, teaching resilience is as important as teaching winning. That's what Bob Stephens asked his team for on Saturday night: resilence. Win the second half.
It meant something to the Hawks.
"We wanted to show New Jersey that Utah is no flick in football," Alta receiver Mack Richards said. "I think we did that in the second half. We came out, and we fought with a lot of energy."
Utah's best football programs came out to test themselves against the nation's best. They wanted to see how they measured up.
The answer is they don't. Not quite. In Jordan's case, just by a point.
But it's somewhat telling that both Alta and Jordan showed resolve. It's a battle that's not waged against another team, but against oneself.
Those battles are won when you retake the field after your first, second or third interception, as both quarterbacks threw on Saturday. Or when you regroup after giving up an untouched touchdown by a fleet-footed runner, as both defenses gave up Saturday.
No, it's not the same as winning. It doesn't always have its own rewards.
But that's life. Some mornings, you wake up and know you have to lose. And yet, most people keep getting out of bed.
Coaches will tell you: Lessons don't always come easy in losses. They sting. They drag at you long after they're over. Losses, unfortunately, aren't nearly as fleeting as that feeling of winning.
But if there is a lesson here, it's this: Keep fighting. Keep working. Both Alta and Jordan displayed that willingness on Saturday against teams that proved to be better than them.
It ain't much when you look up at the scoreboard. But it's something.