Anybody see a 1-5 week coming for the teams from the 3AA South this week?
It’s not likely, but that’s exactly how the opening weekend turned out for southern Utah teams, with only Pine View pulling out a victory. But of course, it is the preseason and a wise coach once said, “Nobody wins the state championship in Week 1.”
And besides, just looking at the region’s record in Week 1 doesn’t begin to give us the rest of the story. For instance, Desert Hills actually played pretty well against a 5A powerhouse. Snow Canyon was beaten in the final 10 seconds in its road loss. Hurricane’s loss was just, well, heartbreaking. And Cedar and Dixie did some pretty great things despite losing to 4A opponents.
St. George News sent writers, videographers and photographers around town and around the state to bring the following reports:
Skyline 28, Hurricane 27 (F/OT)
By Bob Hudson
HURRICANE – Seth Kaelin got a 24-yard reception, a one-yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion run to lift Skyline to a 28-27 overtime win over Hurricane on Friday night.
The Eagles led 20-0 after three quarters and appeared headed to an easy win when the Tigers finally got it going. They scored their final touchdown with no time on the clock when Kolby Heaton caught a tipped ball and took it into the end zone to complete a 70-yard pass from Josh Parker. The point-after became a 35-yard field goal after an excessive celebration penalty and Trevor Stackhouse was wide on his attempt.
In overtime, Joe Armijo’s touchdown run and a Stackhouse PAT gave Hurricane a 27-20 lead that only lasted as long as Kaelin’s catch of Andrew Hockman’s pass and Kaelin’s run and two-point conversion.
”I thought the kids played a great game, especially in the second half,” said Hurricane coach Steve Pearson. “I’m happy with the grit they showed. Obviously we’re heartbroken with the loss.”
Sione Matagi had two touchdowns for the Eagles, a 7-yard dash, and a 73-yard scamper. Briggs Binford caught a 6-yard pass from Hockman to complete an 85-yard drive.
Hurricane finally broke through with nine minutes left when Heaton caught a 28-yard pass from Josh Parker and Stackhouse added the point-after. They scored again with 3:24 left when Jaron Cordova scored from four yards out after Parker had connected with Noah Humphrey for 17 yards. Stackhouse’s PAT made it 20-14.
The ensuing onside kick failed and the Eagles killed most of the clock before a punt pinned the Tigers on their own 4-yard line. Steve Campbell’s sack was a key play in forcing the Eagles to give the ball away.
That set up the final crazy plays, including Swenson’s game-tying touchdown.
“A lot of kids didn’t have a lot of varsity experience before tonight,” Pearson said. “I thought a lot of kids came into our expectations for them tonight.”
Mistakes – including that penalty at the end of the game – were a problem all night for the Tigers.
“Hopefully next week we’ll have fewer,” Pearson said.
Before the fourth quarter, the deepest penetration for the Tigers was the Skyline 20. That ended on a turnover, one of several the Tigers committed.
With the final quarter, the Tigers had a 392-365 total offense edge. Parker completed 18 of 41 passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns. Mike Lacy had five catches for 50 yards. Heaton had four for 40 and Tobie Swenson had two for 77, part of it on the tipped pass. Heaton rushed for 60 yards and Cordova had 56.
Jordan 28, Desert Hills 21
By Andy Griffin
Here’s something you won’t here very often: after Desert Hills lost Friday night, there were cheers and whooping and hollering coming out of the Thunder locker room.
“We asked our kids what kind of character they have,” DH coach Carl Franke said of his halftime message to his team, which trailed 21-0 at the time. “Are you going to freakin’ make a second half of it and be proud of a least something? And they responded.”
Jordan took advantage of a raw Desert Hills secondary to start the game (starters Nephi Sewell and Ryan Hoppie were both out with injuries) as Digger quarterback Crew Wakley passed for two TDs and handed off to Alec Evans for a third in building that big lead.
But the second half was another story. DH opened the half with drive that chewed 7:04 off the clock and ended with a Marco Jordan 8-yard TD to make it 21-7. After the Thunder defense held on fourth-and-1 on the next Jordan possession, Quinn Kiser found Braxton Porter from 23 yards out to make it 21-14 with just a minute gone in the fourth quarter.
The Beetdiggers got their only score of the second half on the next drive as Wakley hit Isaiah Jackson on a post pass from 54 yards out to push the lead back to 14 at 28-14.
“Our main goal is to push to the fourth quarter and give it our all the whole game,” DH running back Brock Parry said. “I feel like we did that this game. We held it together as a team and all trusted each other. It would have been easy to give up, but that’s not Desert Hills. We don’t do that.”
Parry’s quick bursts running the ball helped the Thunder make another push and when Kiser snuck one in from a yard out, it was again a 7-point game at 28-21 with 1:59 to play.
DH tried an onside kick with just one timeout left, but it did not work. The Beetdiggers then used three plays to get a first down and then kneeled out the clock.
“We played with heart tonight,” Kiser said. “We talked at halftime about guys just coming out and giving everything they’ve got. We made a lot of mistakes, but we’ll never give up.”
Wakley was the star of the game, rushing for 143 yards and passing for 261 more, including three touchdowns. His favorite target was Jackson, who had five catches for 117 yards and two TDs.
For DH, 0-1, Parry rushed for 78 yards on 16 carries and Kiser rushed for 51 and passed for 78 in the game. Freshman Noah Sewell had an interception for the Thunder, who will play at home against Salem Hills next Friday night.
Springville 37, Dixie 21
By Darren Cole
ST. GEORGE – Down by 16, the Dixie Flyers had forced visiting Springville to punt the ball with just 6:57 remaining in the game. Inside linebacker Malakai Fakahua juked his would-be blocker and found a direct path to the punter. His block knocked the ball back and set up the offense at the 20-yard line with 6:46 remaining. “I actually got a piece of an earlier punt,” said Fakahua. “I felt I had a good shot at getting it. After I blocked it though, I could not find the ball. A touchdown there would have been big.”
Both teams stayed close through the early part of the second quarter. After a three and out on Dixie’s initial drive, the Red Devils drove down the field and got close to Dixie’s red zone. But a costly penalty and two subsequent incompletions gave the ball back to the home team. Springville would get the ball back six plays later when Dixie quarterback Jacob Barben would suffer his first interception.
That turnover led to Springville’s first touchdown with 11 seconds remaining in the first. Springville ran a fake reverse flea flicker back to quarterback Ty Eriksson, who then found receiver Brennan Rymer in the end zone.
The Flyers did not stay down for long, though. Two minutes later, Barben got his first touchdown pass with a 44-yard throw to receiver Josh Topham.
Springville then took advantage of some key mistakes to score 17 consecutive points. A bad snap that went over the Dixie punter’s head gave Springville good field position at the Flyer 22. With 1:44 remaining, running back Cole Bowers gave Springville a 14-7 lead with a 15-yard run.
After another three and out from the Flyers, Springville tacked on a 35-yard field goal with two seconds left to put them up 17-7 at halftime.
The Red Devils got the ball out of the locker room and on their third play from scrimmage, Eriksson found running back Payton Kelepolo on a well-executed screen pass. Kelepolo rumbled 65 yards to paydirt to give Springville a 24-7 lead.
Dixie pulled to within 10 on its next drive when Barben drove the team 95 yards in 11 plays, culminating in a 1-yard keeper by Barben with 6:52 showing on the clock in the third. The Red Devils responded immediately as Rymer returned the ball 99 yards on the kickoff. With the failed extra point the lead grew to 30-14.
On Dixie’s next possession, a miscue on the handoff gave the ball right back to Springville at the Flyers 20-yard line. Four plays later, Bowers scored his second touchdown from seven yards out. Dixie would get the ball twice more deep in Springville territory, but to no avail.
For his first game as a varsity quarterback, Barben completed 10 of 22 passes for 192 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He also scored two touchdowns on the ground. Topham led Dixie in receiving with 77 yards and a touchdown on five catches. Hobbs Nyberg led the team in rushing (83 yards) and had 53 yards receiving.
“Jacob (Barben) had a great game tonight,” said Nyberg. “We were able to get in a better rhythm offensively in the second half. There were still a couple of times where we just could not make the connection. That will get better the more we play together.”
Nyberg got all but one of his yards after halftime. “It is not like we did not call Nyberg’s number in the first half,” said Stokes. “The coverage forced Jacob to other options.”
Dixie falls to 0-1 on the young season and will travel to Lone Peak next week to begin five consecutive games on the road.
Pine View 34, Judge Memorial 7
By Darren Cole
In Salt Lake City, Pine View used a 21-point fourth quarter to put some distance between the Panthers and the home team Bulldogs. The outburst included a 34-yard fumble recovery and return by Jacob Mpungi.
Pine View scored first with a Connor Brooksby field goal midway through the first period. Three minutes later, Panther quarterback Ryan Javines, who had battled two others to get the starting nod in the first game, threw his first varsity touchdown pass – A 46-yard hookup with wide receiver Hudson Reed.
Scoring was scarce in the middle two quarters. Brooksby tacked on another field goal in the second for the only points.
The torrent opened in the fourth. Just into the fourth, Panther running back Jacob Mpungi plunged in from two yards out. With the PAT, the Panther lead grew to 20-0.
Two minutes later, Javines threw his second touchdown pass to Zach Spendlove from six yards out. On the ensuing kickoff, however, Judge’s Sport Falemaka ran the ball back 93 yards to put the Bulldogs on the board 27-7.
With just over two minutes left in the game, the Panthers added their final touchdown. Outside linebacker Dillan Robertson jarred the ball loose from Falemaka. DeAngelo Mpungi gathered the ball up and returned it 34 yards. Brooksby’s PAT got it to the final score 34-7.
As a team, Pine View outgained Judge Memorial 491-118. Javines completed 21 of 37 for 248 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Jacob Mpungi led the team with 104 yards rushing. Kawika Santiago added 98 yards. Michael Moten led the team with eight receptions for 90 yards. Hudson Reed had four receptions for 100 yards.
“Todd Shaw moved into the offensive coordinator position this season,” said Gifford. “His play calling was tremendous tonight. He did a good job preparing the offensive game plan.”
Robertson forced the two fumbles while DeAngelo Mpungi led the team with five tackles.
Pine View moves to 1-0 and will host Uintah next Friday at 7 p.m.
Uintah 25, Snow Canyon 23
By AJ Griffin
In Vernal, the Uintah Utes overcame an early 14-0 hole and edged out the Snow Canyon Warriors 25-23 with a field goal in closing seconds.
Freshman Treven Mckeachnie hit a game-winning 26-yard field goal attempt with only 10 seconds left. McKeachnie, cool under pressure, buried the game winning field goal to help UHS knock off the Warriors.
“Uintah had a huge fourth-down conversion,” Warrior head coach Mike Esplin said. “And they have a really good young kicker with college offers. We thought he might have some freshmen nerves but he nailed it.”
Snow Canyon shot out of the gates early in game and jumped to an early 14-0 lead over Uintah. Tailback Chris Poulsen had a great game and led out the scoring in the first quarter when he converted from four yards and 10 yards out in the first quarter. Poulsen would rack up 153 yard rushing on 17 carries before the night was over.
Uintah responded with a score of its own late in the first quarter, then took advantage of a safety when a bad snap went over SC’s punters reach and out the back the end zone to make it 14-9 SC at the end of the first quarter. Uintah scored twice more before half when QB Kyle Hendersen found Corbin Allen and Dallin Breakfield from 13-yards and 10-yards out, respectively, to take a 22-14 lead into the locker room at halftime.
“We were super amped up and played real well up front,” Esplin said. “But I think a lot of times when it’s new for the young guys, the speed of the game hit and we lost the momentum. We needed to see a consistent effort throughout the game.”
In the second half, the Warriors responded and took the lead after a Britton Webster pick-six and a 46-yard field goal with 2:37 left in the game by Kolton Barber put the Warriors up 23-22.
Uintah, however, put one last drive together and grabbed a win in the closing minute over the Warriors.
Uintah, which moved the ball all night with 388 yards offense, overcame four turnovers on the way to winning the season opener. The Warriors nabbed three interceptions and a fumble while only giving up one turnover, but were unable to come away with a win.
“We had a lot of turnovers we took advantage of,” Esplin said. “To the point where you usually win the game. As far as being consistent it’s not what we wanted, but as far as we had a lot of young kids in their first varsity game, it was good at working to get everyone at the same speed. We saw some really good things and some things that we didn’t want to see.”
Esplin said despite the heartbreaking loss, the game was a valuable learning experience for his young team.
“We knew we would need a preseason,” Esplin said. “And you never want to lose one, but it was a good barometer to lose one. You learn from those games, and those things build character. You do the most learning between week one and week two. ”
Esplin also noted that Snow Canyon’s starting quarterback, Matt Kitchen, sustained a knee injury during the game in which he left and did not return. Kitchen’s knee will be examined Monday to determine his timetable for return.
The Uintah Utes are 1-0 and will play at Pine View next Friday at 7 p.m. The Warriors drop to 0-1 and will travel north next Friday to play Shelley, Idaho, in Pocatello at the Rocky Mountain Rumble. Kickoff is 8:15 p.m.
Provo 35, Cedar 21
By Jordan Abel
In Provo, after a scoreless first quarter, both offenses came up big with four combined passing plays over 50 yards for touchdowns, but the Cedar Redmen fell to the Provo Bulldogs 35-21.
Cedar head coach Josh Bennett said the team did some good things, but has a lot to work on also.
“I was disappointed obviously,” he said. “We gave up almost 400 yards passing, so we’re not going to win many football games like that. At times, we had a miscue here and a miscue there, it just killed the momentum. We just made too many mistakes.”
Cedar couldn’t overcome Provo’s 21-point second quarter and couldn’t come back without allowing any more touchdowns.
Provo scored the first touchdown in the second quarter on a 13-yard pass from Spencer Jorgensen to Tevita Ika. The next two drives were quick touchdowns for the Bulldogs. Jorgensen connected with Ika again with a 64-yard touchdown. Then Jorgensen connected with Ty Jones for the third on a 68-yard touchdown pass.
“They’ve got a pretty good receiver,” Bennett said. “[Jones] may be the best receiver in the state. We had him in double coverage, and he just went up and caught it over our guys.”
Cedar then joined in on the scoring with a 50-yard touchdown pass from Mason Fakahua to Drake Lewis just before the half, but didn’t convert the two-point conversion, leaving the score at 21-6 at the half.
“I just told them to stay calm and go out and execute and do their job,” Bennett said. “I knew if they could do that, we would score.”
Cedar then came out of halftime with a long drive and a 9-yard run by Lewis capped the drive with a touchdown.
“We’ve got some good coaches on the staff,” Bennett said. “We talked with them and came up with some adjustments that we could attack their defense on and our kids did a good job of executing and went down there and scored.”
Provo answered with a drive of its own to keep the big lead with another pass from Jorgensen to Jones. Another touchdown by each team led to the 35-21 final.
Cedar will travel to Mesquite, Nev., to play Virgin Valley High School on Aug. 26. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do on both sides of the football,” Bennett said. “Obviously, we can’t determine our season on one game, but I think we can make the corrections we need to make to get better.”
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