69th Iron Horse Game: Ben Lomond, Ogden aim for rivalry win to offset difficult seasons
Ben Lomond and Ogden meet Wednesday night for the 69th Iron Horse Game that, for the first time since 2014, will be played at a high school site with a full house (last year’s games at OHS had restricted attendance due to COVID-19).
The early kickoff trend for the football rivalry continues with this year’s game starting at 5:30 p.m. (last year’s game was a 4 p.m. start) for what’s been curtly described as “security reasons.”
Several years ago, both teams and both sets of fans got too hostile for the schools’ liking, so the game was moved to Weber State to better separate the two sides, but it’s now back at the schools (and so is that hefty chunk of gate revenue).
Ogden leads the all-time series 51-22 since 1953, and leads 48-20 in Iron Horse games (OHS and BLHS have played five times in the playoffs).
According to prep football historian George Felt, the Ben Lomond-Ogden series is the third-longest active, uninterrupted rivalry series in the state behind the Golden Spike Game (Bear River-Box Elder, 101 games) and the Cedar-Dixie (92 games) game.
The National Weather Service has forecasted a 50% chance of rain and snow Wednesday night in Ogden. That could make the game messy and it also means fans should be prepared for the cold, wet weather.
As for the game itself, both teams welcomed the switch to 3A back when the latest realignment was announced.
Apparently, so has 3A.
BLHS and OHS have a combined 3-15 record this season, are 0-8 in the 3A North region and the three combined wins are against 2A schools.
Here’s a quick look at both the teams heading into Wednesday’s game:
Record: 1-8, 0-4 3A North
Point differential: 77-355 (8.6 ppg offense, 39.4 ppg defense)
Season synopsis: A season that started with legitimate promise and optimism lost a wing in August and has been mostly in free fall ever since, save for a 28-0 win over Judge Memorial in September.
“We, like everybody, have had a lot of guys get hurt, had some guys that were ineligible that we thought were going to be eligible. When we lose guys it’s a greater impact than anybody else. It’s just been a very challenging year,” BL coach Lyndon Johnson said.
There were a lot of moving parts for Ben Lomond this summer, including many new transfers into the program and some different coaches.
“All those things brought challenges that we probably didn’t overcome very well. Hopefully in the next couple weeks, we’ll have a chance to do that and we’re probably as healthy as we’ve been,” Johnson said.
Other than the Judge win and a 14-13 home loss to Evanston (Wyoming), the Scots have been out of games by halftime.
In some ways, the Iron Horse represents one of the last chances to make something good happen this season at BL.
“Things are getting better. We’re finally starting to click a little bit more. Hopefully, it should be good enough for Ogden,” senior Torsten Hawks said.
There’s a lot of energy in the school and the team right now in advance of the down-the-street rivalry, Hawks said.
As part of the festivities, there was a “Tiger Hunt” on Monday at the Green Acres Dairy corn maze out near West Weber, where whoever found a hidden tiger in the maze got a prize.
Playoff outlook: Ben Lomond is No. 11 in the 3A RPI standings, which puts the Scots in a first-round road playoff game. They’re far behind No. 10 Ogden mathematically, but close to No. 12 Carbon. A win Wednesday might not be enough to get to No. 10, but a loss could drop them to No. 12. At this point, though, any first-round opponent is six of one, half a dozen of the other.
Quotable: “We need to rally to the ball,” Hawks said about what needs to happen against Ogden. “They don’t have Logan Shobe, which is going to be a big help for us.”
Photo supplied, Robert Casey Ben Lomond’s Dahlen Workman (11) takes a hit from Ogden’s Ozzy Norton (20) during a 4A first-round playoff game Friday, Oct. 23, 2020, at Ogden High School.
Record: 2-7, 0-4 3A North
Point differential: 169-272 (18.8 ppg offense, 30.2 ppg defense)
Season synopsis: Head coach Erik Thompson’s public ALS diagnosis in the summer aside, this season has been hard for Ogden on the field, too.
Save for one game, the Tigers were competitive in all their non-region games, going 2-3. All four region losses so far have been by double digits, though one was 10-0 to Grantsville.
It seems like every year, this one included, Ogden’s has its fair share of injuries, both before and during the season. But the Tigers are in a better position now than they have been.
“All hands on deck. Everyone’s playing,” Thompson said after Monday’s practice.
Thompson didn’t want quarterback Chino Furniss to get hurt during scout team drills Monday, during which backup quarterback Kale Adams was playing safety, so one of the assistant coaches stepped in and played quarterback for a bit.
Thompson says the best is yet to come for Ogden this year.
“We’ve had a lot of adversity this season, so it’s kind of hard to be confident going into a game, but everybody has their head on right now,” senior Jaden Gallegos said. “We’re practicing hard and working for it. Everything’s finally coming together for us.”
Playoff outlook: Ogden is No. 10 in 3A RPI and likely on the road for the first round. The Tigers are well behind No. 9 Manti, so it looks like 10’s the magic number. If they jump to No. 9, they could get a rematch with No. 8 Canyon View, provided CV stays there.
Quotable: “The rivalry, plus we just saw a gauntlet of seeing like the three best teams in 3A with some injuries we’re dealing with. We battled in a couple of those games, but morale’s up and they know they have a chance to be playing in a game where it’s two even teams, they’re going against their friends, a lot to be excited about,” Thompson said.