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Back when I was coaching girls’ basketball at Green Fields Country Day School (NOT the school that is called Green Fields today), we went down to St. David High in Cochise County for a Saturday afternoon game with our main rivals for the conference championship. When we walked into the gym, I saw one of the better players on the St. David boys’ team. He was wearing a T-shirt and a frown and he had brand-new, super-white casts on both wrists.

When I asked him what had happened, he explained that in the previous night’s game, he had gotten a steal and had a clear path to the basket for a breakaway layup. As he neared the basket, he decided to dunk the ball. He took off, but the ball got hung up on the front part of the rim. He tried to force it over the rim into the cylinder, but it was no go. Meanwhile, his bottom half kept going in a horizontal direction. As he fell to the ground, by reflex, he put his hands down behind his back. He landed hard and broke both wrists.

I felt really bad for the kid, but then I said, “Well, try to look on the bright side.”

He did a double-take, then asked, “What bright side?!”

I said, “When it comes time for you to go to the bathroom, you’re gonna find out who your real friends are.”

Which brings me to the NAU game. First off, it was not a case of mass hallucination. The University of Arizona football team did lose to Northern Arizona in a real game where both teams had 11 players on the field at all times. And it wasn’t even a good NAU team. The Lumberjacks went into the game 0-2, having lost their first two games (to D-II teams) by a combined score of 76-23.

But we’re here to look on the bright side. For example:

The UA doesn’t play NAU again until September 2, 2023. That means that for the next two years, NAU won’t be able to beat up on the poor Wildcats again. Or, if you’re an incredibly cockeyed optimist, Arizona has 714 days to prepare to get their revenge on those mean Lumberjacks.

 People can get all of those horrible puns they’ve been holding onto ever since Jedd Fisch was hired to coach the Wildcat football team. He’s a Fisch out of water. For NAU, it was like shooting Fisch in a barrel. Arizona is floundering. The Cats were up 13-0, but Fisch let the ‘Jacks off the hook. That game smelled worse than surströmming.

That last one requires an explanation. Apparently, the Swedish, driven insane by the cold, eat a dish that is lightly salted, raw, fermented Baltic herring. The salt is added to keep the fish from completely rotting during the six-month-long fermentation process. 

Here’s a fun fact: For a time, there was a law in Sweden that made it illegal to sell surströmming unless it was completely fermented. By official royal decree, it was decided that none of that spring’s catch could be sold before the third Thursday in August. (I’m not making this up!) That law is no longer on the books, but all of Sweden’s retailers still respect that date for the “premiere” of the product.

Surstömming is said to have the most putrid smell of any food product in the world. Which, again, brings us back to the NAU game.

 The UA can’t possibly lose more than 12 games this

season.

 After Arizona lost at home to Arizona State last year by the ignominious score of 70-7, Wildcat fans wondered whether that was rock bottom or could things actually get worse. We now know that the answer is the latter. Losing to NAU at home is definitely worse that losing to Arizona State. This HAS to be Absolute Zero rock bottom. Now, it’s upward from here.

 Reportedly, there were fewer than 20,000 people in the stadium during the debacle, so Tucson probably has enough mental health professionals to deal with the trauma.

So, you know what: Good for NAU. Those guys are going to have a memory to last a lifetime and it will get even better for them when (that when, not if) Arizona gets good in football again.

I was one of those people who thought that Arizona had a good chance to win two of its first three games. Turns out San Diego State, which beat Utah, and BYU, which beat Utah AND Arizona State, are both really good. So, winning two of the first three was a pipedream. But Arizona should have won one.

It’s going to take a while to get over it. But, this, too, shall pass…and probably be intercepted and run back for a touchdown.

 

Extra Points: Marana ran its record to 4-0 with a 56-7 thrashing of Flowing Wells at Amphi High Friday, Sept. 24. The Tigers have a stout defense and multiple weapons on offense. When the first rankings are announced on Oct. 12, Marana should be ranked as one of the top 5A teams in the state… Canyon Del Oro finally broke through into the win column with a 21-14 victory over Catalina Foothills… Ironwood Ridge held the lead over Salpointe late in the first half before Salpointe scored 34 unanswered points to win, 34-9… Pusch Ridge had started the season off 4-0, but ran into a Snowflake team that came to town and handed the Lions their first loss. Pusch Ridge and Snowflake are two of the best 3A teams in the state and could very easily meet up again sometime late in the state playoffs… The Canyon Del Oro volleyball team ran its record to a perfect 10-0, winning three matches in a four-day span, beating Rio Rico, Rincon, and Sahuaro, all by the score of 3-0…

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