OGDEN — Ben Lomond High's football players and coaches woke up on the morning of Thursday, Oct. 10, knowing that night would be a chance.
It was a chance to end the state's longest active high school football losing streak. To that point, it had been 1,099 days since the Scots last won a game, that coming on Oct. 7, 2016.
Lyndon Johnson vowed when he took over as BLHS head coach in February that the streak would come to an end.
The streak is finally over thanks to a 6-0 win that day at Uintah. Not only is the 31-game losing streak dead and buried but, finally, the Scots have some wind in their sails heading into Wednesday's Iron Horse Game, scheduled for 7 p.m. at Weber State University.
"It felt amazing. It's something that we've never felt before, it was hard to believe at first," senior lineman Kameron Portillo said. "I mean, that last drive it was going through my head, 'Oh no what if our bad luck starts kicking in,' but it felt amazing pulling it through."
BLHS's coaches and players could tell something was different when they rolled up to Monday's practice. Indeed, there was.
"We knew we felt like we had a chance, more of a chance. The practices were more upbeat the intensity and the energy was higher,” senior DeVaughn Sanders said.
The 6-0 scoreline came from a Sanders touchdown run in the second quarter, plus a shutout effort by the defense.
For the past three years, BL players have gone to practice, workouts and film study, preparing adequately to win a ballgame but always falling short.
There was plenty of work done, but no reward, which one would assume would prompt many kids to quit or lose interest.
"This head coach, I believe that he's here to change things and that he's here for the long run. I've never had somebody motivate me as much as he has. These coaches, on top of that, love us, love the school," Portillo said.
The Scots' current seniors were freshmen the last time BLHS won a varsity football game. Their sophomore and junior years ended with whatever moral victories they could dredge up.
Plenty of kids did quit over the years. Others kept at it.
"We had a lot of kids who had tears in their eyes because they were so happy. It shows you how invested they are and they're trying to be successful. As a coach, that's about all you can ask for right there," Johnson said.
It didn't all go smoothly. Thanks to the long drive to Vernal, the team didn't get back home until 2:30 a.m. and school wasn't coincidentally canceled the next morning.
"7:45," quarterback Thailen Pinkerton said when asked what time his first class on Friday morning was. This was after he went to bed around 3:30 a.m.
Johnson said BLHS had a couple of touchdowns called back and the Scots were penalized right before taking a knee in victory formation with less than a minute left.
The fact the offense had the chance to go out and line up in victory formation was itself a momentous occasion.
"I told Thailen, the quarterback, I was like, 'I feel like crying right now.' I think almost all of us did," Portillo said.
BEN LOMOND IN THE IRON HORSE
Ben Lomond is the home team this year and its fans sit on the west side of the stadium. BL has won the Iron Horse 20 times since the trophy's inception. The Scots have two winning streaks of three games, from 2005-07 and 2014-16.
Their most successful decade in the series was the 1970s when they went 5-5 in Iron Horse games.
But one could argue that Ben Lomond owns the most consequential win in the series as a whole. The two schools played the week before Halloween in 1997, which turned into a 27-20 Ogden win.
Three weeks later in the 3A state semifinals, Ben Lomond got the Tigers back with a 27-21 win.