“Hey, Luke, how are you?”
Ahhh, you know...
... it’s been fun.
“Wait, wait, what?”
This is it! The last O’Roark’s Oracle I plan on writing!
“Oh, thank goodness. So glad I don’t have to see this stupid column no more.”
Ahh, I’ll miss this space to write what’s on my mind. I’ll miss being heckled for not picking the right team.
I’ll miss you, Reader.
Doing this column for the previous two falls has been fun. Genuinely, I’ve loved writing these.
But it’s time for a change, you know?
“No, we hate change, Luke.”
I talked to my mom earlier Thursday for about an hour and half (it’s funny how she always seems to pop up whenever I feel conflicted and confused).
My stepdad always joke that it’s almost impossible to follow my mother and I’s ever-branching conversations. We usually talk about life lessons, redemption, growing up, fears, sports, travel, our contemporary political landscape, cars, whatever. We talked about growth and learning. She’s one of my best friends (I’m not afraid to admit that slightly embarrassing fact anymore).
Thursday was no different.
“Change can be a good thing, honey,” she told me, as I mentioned my (eventual) switch from the sports desk to the news desk. “Just look how far you’ve come.”
Sure, the next person who writes this picks column will probably be more analytical, more of a sports junkie and more fun than me.
They’ll probably sit and study more team’s film than me. They’ll probably make you, the reader, blush more — swooning you by writing about worn-out, cliched sports themes like perseverance (!), ambition (!!), tenacity (!!!), coming of age (!!!!) and how boys become men due to some football team’s training regiment (!!!!!!!!!!). They’ll probably make you laugh harder than this corny column I’ve written during the previous two falls.
I’m not the best writer or journalist, and I know that.
But since moving more than 2,000 miles west from my hometown of Centreville, Virginia, I’ve gained valuable life experience. Idaho has changed me. It’s helped me grow and mature.
“What’s in Idaho?” my oldest brother asked me about two years ago before I uprooted here.
“It’s honestly impressive you’ve lasted that long in Idaho,” one of my best friends texted me a few weeks ago.
Yes, O.K., I’ve sometimes questioned myself. I’ve sometimes hated myself for moving away from everything I ever knew. I’ve sometimes wish I was closer to my family and friends back home.
I’ve sometimes wished I studied biochemical engineering, or business analytics, and went out and lived on Wall Street or something super lame like that, rather than be a journalist.
But honestly, I might not be alive if it wasn’t for Idaho — the Gem State has given me space to reflect and learn and come to grips with hard truths.
I’ve enjoyed my experience here — but, more importantly, I needed my experience here.
Reader, it’s been a pleasure being your sports reporter (though, I think, I’ll be covering some winter sports, so you’re not completely done with me yet).
Journalism — no matter the world view you hold — still has a place in our society.
I mean, who else is going to cover east Idaho football on Friday and Saturday nights? Who else is going to keep box scores? Who else is going to remember what kid scored which touchdown for which team? Who else is going to sacrifice their Friday and Saturday nights just so you can get mad at our sports desk and call us at 9 a.m?
(Sidenote: we don’t work mornings. We work nights. You’ll probably have a zero percent chance of reaching us if you call the sports desk at 9 a.m. looking to chew one of us out. I know it’s pretty shocking.)
Coming to Idaho Falls changed my life. And without writing.... well, I got nothing.
“Luke, we know you’re getting all sappy and the emotional wheels are starting to fall off, but this is a sports column—”
No, no, this column is truly about life. As a society, sports are a part of life.
Sports are about living, and finding a sense of purpose. Finding a reason for existing. Finding ways to challenge yourself. Changing, and learning about yourself.
If you hate that idea — totally understandable. Hating on reporters is the cool, edgy thing to do these days, I guess.
But, regardless of how you feel about me, or about my silly assertions, or my writing style... thank you.
Thank you reading, and for making me feel like I’m worth something.
”Luke, we appreciate all you do. We mean that earnestly and sincerely, but real quick: my son’s highlights can be found on our Hudl, MaxPreps or online at www.mystudentathletehighlights.com. Do you think you could maybe watch his film and write a feature about him before you switch over to the education beat? I mean, he’s such a hard-working student athlete who just loves the game and—”
GAME OF THE WEEK: Hillcrest vs. Bishop Kelly, Saturday at 1 p.m. at Albertsons Stadium.
Oh, I hate this.
I can’t hardly type these words.
How am I ever going to deal with myself for this?
Bishop Kelly 35, Hillcrest 34*
* — In all seriousness, I expect Saturday evenings 4A bout to be close. 2016-type close. The exact score? I don’t know — I’m not a genie. I’m paid the big bucks to cover sports, not predict them. While you could be concerned with Bishop Kelly’s run defense going up against the best run offense in the state, I think the Knights (the ones from Boise) are hungry** for their first 4A state title since 2015.
** — yes, I’m using the adjective “hungry” here. Do teams actually eat wins/their trophies? No, at least I hope not. But “hungry for a win” is a silly sports cliche used often by people who get paid way more than me and I’m trying to use as many sports cliches as possible in my final column because sports are one of the most ridiculous constructs humans have ever made. Sports deserve to be made fun of (kind of like me).
Rocky Mountain vs. Highland, Saturday at 10 a.m. at Albertsons Stadium
Well, well... if it isn’t the teams that always play for championships.
If you really want to know who I think will win this game, you can check the picks graphic on A9 (or inside the newspaper if you’re reading this online).
But the reality is... no one wins when the same dang teams are playing in every state title game — whatever the sport may be.
Both these teams have won 5A football state titles the last three postseasons (Highland in 2017, Rocky in 2015). Highland has been a part of three of the last five 5A state title games.
Rocky Mountain, if it wins, could get its third 5A state title this fall.
So, really, the winner of Saturday’s 5A matchup in Boise....
Sports 0, The Public 0.
Sugar-Salem vs. Homedale, Saturday at 1 p.m. at Middleton High School
Lots of history on the line here.
The Diggers’ football team haven’t played in a state title game in 30 years, coach Tyler Richins told me last Saturday.
What happened in 1988 — you may ask this lonely, 24-year-old reporter?
Well, 30 years ago, the film Akira (aka the best sci-fi animation film ever made) was made.
Let’s see..... what else.... uh.....
*checks the 1988 Wikipedia page*
.... Adele was born! Uh.... Clayton Kershaw and Kevin Durant were born?
Yeah, lots happened in 1988...
Anyways, I like Sugar-Salem Saturday.
The Diggers don’t even play one of the area’s most talented players — Gerohm Rihari — every snap, and that’s saying something.
Yes, Homedale has Daniel Uranga, who’s thrown for over 2,000 yards and is the nephew of Homedale’s quarterback during its 1997 state championship run. The Trojans haven’t won a state title since then.
But Sugar-Salem proved its legitimacy last Saturday. Following two early fumbles that backed its defense up in its own redzone, Sugar-Salem eventually caught fire* and won 56-27.
Sugar-Salem 38, Homedale 30
* — another sports cliche. Yeah, no, the Diggers didn’t actually catch on fire last Saturday. Gosh, who came up with these stupid sayings? I just wanna talk...
Declo vs. North Fremont, Friday at 5:30 p.m. in Holt Arena
Both these teams come in firing on all cylinders.*
Declo hasn’t lost since Nov. 18, 2016.
....Still studying journalism and communication studies** at Ohio University. I was a senior in college the last time the Hornets lost.
North Fremont, meanwhile, hasn’t lost this year — basically barreling through every opponent its played en route to its first state championship appearance in 29 years.
If there’s a team that can stop Keegan Duncan and Declo in 2A, it’s North Fremont. The Huskies have plenty of experience and skill on the defensive side of the ball. Garrett Hawkes may be one of the best 2A athletes in the state.
But, I just don’t see anyone stopping Duncan — who had seven touchdowns last weekend.
Declo 41, North Fremont 29
* — one of the worst, if not THE worst, sports cliches of all time. What does this even mean? Is it supposed to represent a metaphorical vehicle running smoothly? Like, a cylinder and axle churning smoothly and without any screeching? Am I just dumb? Who made this cliche up? I just wanna chat...
** — don’t do this. Paying back student loans for the rest of your life is not fun.
Valley vs. Oakley, Friday at 8:15 p.m. in Holt Arena
Valley beat Oakley earlier in the season, 50-8.
Congrats, Valley. I’m picking you to win one more time.
Valley 44, Oakley 27