Behind the lines: A Defensive Tackle at Culloden

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    It was a surreal scene. I watched a football team, the Wind River Cougars, I had covered all season from a hotel room at the Apex Waverly in Edinburgh, Scotland. The game began at 8 p.m. local time.

    That’s Greenwich Mean Time for those of you scoring at home.


    The Cougars kicked off with the Big Piney Punchers at 1 p.m. Mountain Time at Jonah Field inside War Memorial Stadium last Saturday as the locals raged outside on Waverly Plaza below the purplish-blue tint of the castle high above the city that once fortified it.

    Strange yes, but digital technology brought the game into clear focus. The only problem in covering the contest was listening to my friend at County10 broadcasting the game with the sound off on the NFHS video broadcast.

    The delay was initially annoying with the video lagging about 45 seconds behind the play-by-play, but later it was a godsend as I was able to check the notes I took from Wyatt Burchika’s play-by-play with the video that followed.

    Here is a question for the Wyoming High School Activities Association to answer. Why does NFHS get exclusive coverage of the state championship games when local media has covered the teams throughout the season and into the first two rounds of the playoffs?


    Some schools depend on the most limited aspects of an NFHS broadcast with a bored teenager occasionally moving the camera from one end of the field to the other without any audio content.

    Rocky Mountain was enjoyable to watch via the NFHS feed as long as game officials let Tobee Christianson announce the game locally from the Grizzly press box in Cowley. His announcing of the ball carrier, receiver, quarterback, and the player making the tackle is superb. The only catch is if the game officials allow him to do it.

    As a guy who likes to watch high school football, even online, Tobee’s work was outstanding. I told some officials from Rocky Mountain to let him know that, but I’m sure they didn’t since guys never like to complement each other.


    Tobee can read it here. Nice work.

    If you’ve watched a remote broadcast from Star Valley, you might confuse it with Monday Night Football. It is crisp, and clear, with great announcing, and brings you right onto the field in faraway Afton.

    Our County10 crew delivers the same quality for Riverton, Lander, and the game of the week among Fremont County’s small schools.


    This quality is missing at the state championship game. If a local media outlet has covered the team all season, why can’t they do it from Laramie in the title game?

    I wrote the story from 4,388 miles away thanks to the magic of digital broadcast and the excellent work of my roving photographer, Jessica Schooner. All she asks for is a press pass, and she delivers quality images of every Wind River activity. Without her, my job would be much harder to do.

    Thanks, Cub Reporter!

    We’ve been in Scotland for almost two weeks and return home to a predictably snowy Fremont County this Friday.

    As we toured the Scottish version of “Pickett’s Charge” at Gettysburg in the 1745 battle at Culloden between the mighty British Army and the upstart Jacobite rebels fighting for “Bonny Prince Charlie” we encountered a young curator named Gavin.

    Gavin was demonstrating battle techniques used by the Highlanders represented by the Jacobites.

    He fired a musket, dropped it, pulled two pistols, shot them then threw them forward at his imaginary English enemy then pulled his broadsword, then finally pulled his shield and dagger as he made slashing motions toward the enemy.

    He had my friend Tad McMillan and me holding wooden training rifles as he approached us.

    “Frightening, isn’t it?” Gavin asked. “Most soldiers broke and ran against a Highland charge.”

    “Most soldiers weren’t the English Army,” I said. “The Brits don’t run.”

    He agreed with me and asked if we saw any weakness in the Highland attack.

    As he slowly approached with his sword held high, I feigned hitting him with the butt of my practice rifle on the side of his head followed by a bayonet stab into his exposed right side.

    “Exactly,” Gavin said. “Did you read about that?”

    “No, I coached offensive and defensive linemen in American football for a long time,” I said. “It’s the same as punching a defensive end in the armpit when he tries to swim you.”

    That concluded a great lesson in colonial-era battle tactics.

    After the presentation, I approached Gavin and asked, “What was your time in the 400 meters?”

    Surprised, he answered, “I ran a 48, how did you know?”

    After coaching track and field since 1980 and watching my son compete in college at Dickinson State University, I could tell a track athlete by how they moved.

    “Did you sprint or run middle distance?” I asked.

    His response surprised me. He bore an uncanny resemblance to former Wind River standout Jaycee Herbert both in his looks and his build.

    “I ran the 800 and 1600,” he said. “I wasn’t good at sprinting.”

    He told me his time in the 1600 at 4:14 and I surmised with a 48 in the 400 and that fast a time in the metric mile he ran the 800 in the low 1:50s.

    Needless to say, we hit it off. An aging sportswriter and former coach and a late 20-something curator with a history degree.

    We were supposed to concentrate on the battle at Culloden but we quickly switched to the American Civil War, the British conquest of Quebec in the French and Indian War, and then on to the trenches in Northern France in World War I and the battle in France before Dunkirk and then after D-Day.

    The Scottish Highlanders were part of almost all those events, save the fateful charge on Cemetery Ridge on that 102-degree day on July 3, 1863, in the Pennsylvania countryside.

    The Jacobites fell in less than an hour in the only battle they lost in their rebellion, but one that crushed them.

    Gettysburg led to a similar fate for the Confederacy that early afternoon in the Keystone State. The South never recovered and lost the war.

    Parallel history, tied together with a love of track and field, mixed in with a bit of technology that shrank one-sixth of the planet into a hotel room far across the sea.

    What a time we live in.


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