California desert high school defines football toughness

In my home state of Indiana and across the nation it’s high school football playoff time. The ultimate reward for the top teams which reach a championship game is a date at a top-drawer college or NFL stadium in their state. Here, it’s the palatial surroundings of Lucas Oil Stadium, the year-old home of the Indianapolis Colts.

The players at Trona High School in the recesses of Death Valley will never have that experience. The Los Angeles Times did an interesting profile a town decimated by industrial decline and unemployment long before 2008.

The school plays 8-man football, a stripped down version of the normal setup on a field with the intimidating name of The Pit. There’s not grass at The Pit – the local school board simply can’t afford the upkeep – but rather compacted dirt. From the story it’s clear that the remaining of residents of this hardscrabble burg take their football seriously despite the poverty and knowledge of how much less they have than others.

It’s something to keep in the back of your mind this weekend as you watch highlights of your local high school games and tune in to watch major college and pro football in glittering stadiums.

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