You can’t necessarily judge a game by the score.
And you’d best judge people on their character.
So we are purple proud whenever we turn from the woes of the world to the wonder of the Payson Longhorns’ championship run.
But here’s the odd thing. We are most especially and inescapably proud of the two touchdowns rival Snowflake scored on the unbeaten Longhorns last week — mostly because of what it said about Coach Josh Anderson.
Let us back up a bit.
The all-star starting lineup of the Longhorns had demolished Snowflake, running up a score of 36 to 7 with 8:20 to go. The last time Payson played Snowflake, the Longhorns won 52 to 15. Now, it looked like the Longhorns could top even that performance.
So what did Anderson do?
He pulled the starters and sent in the reserves.
So suddenly the kids who had filled the gaps, sweated out the practices and cheered from the sidelines most of the season took the field. There, they fought hard for the state championship — against the starters of one of the best teams in the state.
Anderson also shifted to a running game, partly to run out the clock.
Some of the fans didn’t get it. They started yelling from the bleachers. Some even turned on Anderson’s wife in the stands and complained. They wanted to run up the score. They wanted to crush and humiliate Snowflake. They wanted to be the best.
Of course, down there on the field, Coach Anderson and the sophomores were showing what it takes to be the best.
Snowflake scored, with 3:28 to go in the game.
Anderson ignored the catcalls — and stuck with the reserves. He knew they’d earned this moment. He knew they would tell their grandkids about playing for the championship. Beyond that — he knew the most important score wasn’t on the board. He wanted to teach those kids how to do the right thing and play as a team, not a backfield of superstars.
Snowflake scored again on the last play of the game, leaving the final score at 36 to 19.
We’re so proud we can hardly stand it.
The game was closer. But when it comes to character — it was a blowout.