THE FRONT ROW WITH JASON ELLIOTT: Still learning, all these years later

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They say that with age comes wisdom.

Hopefully in the next 40 years, that happens a little sooner than later.

Go ahead, ask just what have I learned so far ...

FOR STARTERS, no matter what you think might happen during an 8-man football game, it doesn’t always come true.

Say what you will about the Mullan program, but at least the Tigers are entertaining.

Crazy games, sure, watching them score 92 points in a game and play in a driving snowstorm are one thing.

But have you ever seen a fan take a chainsaw out of his pickup, then cut down a tree because it was blocking his view?

It happened, as crazy as that might sound.

A few years later, on a field on the Harrison Flats, future NFL linebacker Leighton Vander Esch was a one-man show for Salmon River against Kootenai during a state 1A Division II playoff game.

Kind of sad to see one of those programs (Mullan) struggle with numbers due to low enrollment for a few years, then seeing Kootenai this year not be able to field a team. If there’s a bright side to be had, the Mullan/St. Regis co-op has been pretty special for those communities. And some of it might have to do with football.

Teams from Coeur d’Alene, Lake City, Post Falls, Lakeland and surrounding areas have been must-see at times as well.

Judging by the first couple of weeks of the regular season, it could get pretty exciting as teams in the 5A and 4A Inland Empire League wind toward league play in a few weeks.

A lot of different things could happen, but — just a bonus guess here — that the Oct. 25 game between Post Falls at Coeur d’Alene could and likely will determine a ton of things for the start of the 5A playoffs in November.

THIS AREA had a coach that used to equate his schedule to a meat grinder, where his team took on challenges from teams that were bigger and stronger, then get on the bus and do it again the next night.

A few national championships later, I learned he was absolutely correct.

Yes, in North Idaho, it seems as if the winter sports season — which features basketball and wrestling — drags on forever.

It could have something to do with the long winter months. Not complaining, but when it stretches from mid-November to late March, it’s not exactly the most ideal start for spring sports up north.

Then again, watching as last year’s state tournaments were altered by rain both here and in the Boise area, it didn’t finish all that great either.

Maybe this year will be a little different, with state volleyball up north this fall, and state golf here in the spring.

Everything in between, that will just be a little icing on the cake.

True, it’s been a meat grinder so far.

Expecting anything less, then I guess I haven’t learned anything yet.

Jason Elliott is a sports writer for the Coeur d’Alene Press. He can be reached by telephone at (208) 664-8176, Ext. 2020 or via email at jelliott@cdapress.com. Follow him on Twitter @JECdAPress.

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