By Shain Gillet
Clipper Sports Editor
In high school, these games have a number of monikers. Non-region is the most popular one I’ve heard over the years, while others refer to them as “non-league” or, more simply, preseason games.
Even though some chide the idea of having to play a preseason game at all, I believe the preseason games are more important at the high school than at any other level in sports.
In college football, basketball, baseball, etc., wins are what’s important. A single loss, even in a “preseason” type game, could be the difference between playing for a national championship or ending the season without a chance at even a conference title.
I remember one season where Weber State, my college alum, finished the season 26-4. They didn’t win the conference championship tournament, however, and were left behind to play in the now-known College Invitational Tournament, or CIT.
In the National Football League, preseason games are shunned, referred to as “money grabs” for owners while coaches try to figure out who the last remaining player will be on a 53-man roster.
While losing all of them causes a little panic, winning all of them doesn’t guarantee regular season success either.
But wins and losses at the high school level don’t mean as much as they do in the college and professional ranks during the preseason period.
Friday’s Bountiful/Viewmont boys’ basketball game may have town pride for the winner, but it doesn’t count towards either teams’ region record.
For a lot of high school teams, the chance to play preseason games with their players allows coaches to define player roles.
A supposed “bench role” player could turn into a starter if he/she performs well. A combination of players may play better together if both are on the floor at the same time, leading to more wins during region play.
All of these things, and more, could be the deciding factor between a possible region champion and a No. 4 seed heading into the playoffs.
I remember a few years ago when the Woods Cross girls’ basketball team, coached by Craig Geis at the time, won only two preseason games.
They went onto win the Region 6 title.
I also remember Viewmont’s football team getting counted out of Region 2 in football before they even hit the field.
The Vikings split their four preseason games, then went on to win the Region 2 crown in their first year.
These are just two small examples of why preseason games are important at this level, because in high school sports, sometimes you never know what might happen.
Of course in some cases, the preseason could unveil something we already knew about the team altogether as well.
So head on out to all the games possible before region play starts up again. Most of the games won’t really start to count until January.