Sunday, December 21, 2008

Is Granger for real?

On Friday night, I noticed that the Granger Lancers upset the Jordan Beetdiggers in the first round of Jordan's "holiday" tournament. That struck me as the biggest upset of the day.

I like upsets. It makes sports interesting. That's why I closely monitor the NCAA basketball tournament and I relish watching games like Boise State-Oklahoma. It's nice when the little guy wins once in a while.

I went to Jordan the next day because I wanted to see if Granger was for real. I watched the end of the Lehi-Jordan game, and then all of the Granger-Riverton contest, which was to be for the tournament championship.

Here are some things I noticed:

* - The guy who runs the show for Lehi is Jacob Obiamo. I would like to see Lehi be successful because the deck seems stacked against them in Region 4. The Pioneers had a tough football season, and it's great to see them win. Without Obiamo, they wouldn't be. He ran the offense and, in the final seconds, he was the guy with the ball. He made some nice moves, then flipped it to his center for a layup and the 60-58 victory.

* - Granger was a disappointment. The Lancers don't know how to play team basketball. They have a lot of athletic ability, but Riverton schooled them. The Silverwolves are 8-0 because they play team ball. Granger's first four shots were from three-point land. They ran plays only after timeouts. Then it back to playing one-on-one basketball. Tre Musgrow is about the only guy who can do that with any success.

* - One of Granger's other good players - T.J. Tapusoa - was given a lesson. It's questionable whether he learned it or not. Tapusoa hit the game-winning three-pointer to beat Jordan the night before. Against Riverton, he hit another three to start the game, but then it went to his head. As the clock was winding down in the first quarter, he got the ball. He tried to dazzle the crowd with his dribbling, then he went for the shot. Everyone knew it, including Riverton. Three guys converged on him and his shot was blocked. There might have been a foul, but it doesn't matter. Tapusoa got upset, and got a technical. He sat on the bench for several minutes of the second quarter. When he got into the game again, he was whistled for a foul and mouthed off to the ref (again). He was ejected.

* - Granger needs to sit down and watch "Hoosiers." Granger could win Region 6, or finish last. It's up to them. Play the game like it's supposed to be played guys, and you will be successful. Riverton won 55-35.

* - The fan support for the games I watched was dismal. Jordan has a beautiful gym, but the thing I noticed the most was the lack of student support. During the Riverton-Granger game, I noticed six Riverton students making noise. That's all. But I didn't see any Granger students. Maybe they were there, but they were silent.

* - What's the story with the Jordan holiday tournament? What's the purpose of it? I like the idea of holiday tournaments, but it's missing something. It's missing student support, of course. I'd like to talk to Jordan athletic director Marc Hunter and see what can be done to make it better.

* - Riverton's Scott Friel is fun to watch. He's a good, but not great, player who just does everything to help his team win. He was the tourney's MVP, and he deserved it. He has the size and skills to help his team. He's the primary reason Riverton is 8-0.

Since I was at the game, I kept detailed statistics. Here is my box score:

Granger 5 12 6 12 - 35
Riverton 13 15 11 16 - 55

GRANGER (55) - Thorup 0-3 0-0 0, Musgrow 2-9 8-12 12, Scott 1-5 2-3 5, Tapusoa 2-5 0-0 5, Koyom 1-8 1-2 3, Ulugia 0-1 3-4 3, Caputo 1-2 90-0 2, Algic 1-1 0-2 3, Daniels 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 9-35 14-23 35.

RIVERTON (55) - M. Trujillo 1-3 4-4 7, Friel 5-10 1-1 11, Neilson 2-5 4-6 8, Valdez 0-1 3-4 3, Thomas 3-8 0-1 6, Gunderstrup 4-6 1-1 9, Tanner 2-2 2-4 6, A. Trujillo 0-1 1-2 1, Peterson 1-1 0-0 3, Gamblin 1-1 0-1 2. Totals: 19-38 15-22 55.

Total fouls: Granger 17, Riverton 16. Fouled out: None. Technicals: Tapusoa 2 (ejected). Rebounds: Riverton 30 (Friel, Thomas 7). Granger 24 (Koyom 7, Thorup 6). 3-point shots: Granger 3-9 (Scott, Tapusoa, Algic), Riverton 2-6 (M. Trujillo, Peterson). Turnovers: Granger 16, Riverton 13.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

West Jordan-Brighton game recap

I try to attend as many high school sporting events as possible. This weekend, I chose to go to the West Jordan vs. Brighton basketball game?

Why? The Deseret News has West Jordan ranked No. 1 among 5A schools. Also, I view Brighton as an up-and-coming team, even though the Bengals are in last place in their region.

It was a great game. It was a good atmmosphere. West Jordan had its gym "open." The facility itself is huge. It has three basketball courts. They can close them off, but they didn't Friday night. It's a great facility, and eliminates the scheduling problem of all the groups that need gym time.

West Jordan beat Brighton 58-49. Jordan Weirick scored 21 points, and he and D.J. Tialavea controlled the rebounds in the second half as the Jaguars rallied for the victory.

Brighton jumped on the Jags early in the game, taking an 18-10 first-quarter lead and 33-25 at halftime. At the start of the third quarter, West Jordan got back into it, tying it 40-40 and never looking back.

Here are some things I noticed:

* - West Jordan may be No. 1 by the Deseret News, but have a ways to go. Brighton outplayed the Jags in the first half with crisp passing. The Bengals hit 14-25 shots in the first half, primarily due to its passing.

* - West Jordan played like a championship team in the second half. Weirick was a star on both offense and defense, but the real key might have been Reyes Gallegos. He had an "off" night offensively, only scoring 10 points. But he had to guard Brighton's Corbin Miller. The sophomore guard hit three treys in the first half, but then Gallegos pressured him into moving further away in the second half, and he was never the same.

* - Early in the second half, Miller threw up an air ball from way past the three-point line. The Jaguars' fans really got on him, and I think that made a difference. He was not the same player. Miller may eventually become all-state, but if he wants the attention, he has to accept what might happen. Gallegos won this battle.

* - Where were the Brighton fans? The only noise I heard - and I was sitting in the Brighton cheering section - was from the home (West Jordan) crowd. Even though you're in an opponents gym, you can still cheer for your team. I also saw few Brighton students ... only adults.

* - West Jordan has four great players - Weirich, Gallegos and potentially Tyler Holt and Mason Sawyer. Tialavea can rebound, but he doesn't seem to understand the game. Who does West Jordan go to when they need points? Weirich had 21 points, and Gallegos took control a few times ... but there didn't seem to be a clear leader.

* - Sam Wunderli is Brighton's best player. He scored 15 points and had nine rebounds on this night, and was a pleasure to watch. He was always in the middle of things. Miller has potential (he had four three-pointers for 12 points), but he's the only outside threat. Brighton's point guard, Neil Richards, is not a scorer, and that means both opponent guard can focus on Miller on the perimeter. Someone ... and someone big (like perhaps Moses Lotulelei) needs to come outside and set screens for Miller, so he can score. Miller can potentially change games with his shooting. The kid is for real.

I was able to keep detailed statistics during the game. Here they are:

Brighton 18 15 9 7 - 49
West Jordan 10 15 22 11 - 58

BRIGHTON (49) - Richards 0-1 0-0 0, Cannon 3-10 2-8 8, Miller 4-12 0-0 12, Wunderli 7-11 1-2 15, Ricketts 2-3 0-0 4, Hudson 2-2 0-0 4, Lotulelei 2-2 0-1 4, Barker 1-4 0-0 2, Masina 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 21-45 3-11 49.

WEST JORDAN (58) - Sawyer 2-13 2-2 7, Weirick 7-12 6-6 21, Holt 5-6 1-2 11, Gallegos 3-8 2-4 10, Udy 2-7 0-0 4, Tialavea 2-3 0-0 4, Herrin 0-1 0-0 0, Knighton 0-1 0-0 0, Ashton 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-51 12-16 58.

Total fouls: Brighton 19, West Jordan 12. Fouled out: None. Three-point shooting: Brighton 4-13 (Miller 4), West Jordan 4-10 (Gallegos 2, Weirick, Sawyer). Rebounds: Brighton 30 (Wunderli 9), West Jordan 33 (Tialavea 9, Weirick 8). Turnovers: Brighton 17, West Jordan 18.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Cottonwood-Hillcrest great game recap

I attended the Cottonwood vs. Hillcrest basketball game last night. The reason? It was at Cottonwood, which was a convenient location, and this game is a good rivalry on the hardwood.

I wanted to go to a game that involved both schools where I handle game programs. I also felt the local media would not cover it (it wasn't a marquee game on the schedule), and it turns out I was correct.

It was a great game, too. Hillcrest won 55-50. There was a near melee with 6:03 left in the game, and Cottonwood's Alo Moli and an assistant coach were ejected.

Frankly, I agreed with the referee's decision. Moli and Hillcrest's Kyle Maughan got tangled up on a rebound and Moli seemed to take Maughan down. He also swung one of his arms, which could be viewed as a punch. One of the players - Maughan or Moli - was also grabbing the other's uniform and that contributed to both players hitting the floor.

I can't really fault the Cottonwood assistant. He ran out onto the court to get two of his players away from the melee. He never contributed to the incident, and was only trying to help end it. After Moli and Maughan went down, the referees blew their whistles and were trying to separate them. At the same time, players were running toward the scene and it could have been violent.

The game was close, and both teams were feeling the pressure. Hillcrest might also have become a bit frustrated because Cottonwood had the momentum - and the lead - at the same. Hillcrest had led most of the game.

I was sitting above the Cottonwood bench at the time, and the Colts coach - Dave McConnell - knew immediately that his assistant would be ejected. He confronted his assistant immediately and informed him that he was not allowed to the leave the bench area, regardless of what happened the court.

The result? Moli and the assistant was ejected. Moli was also given a flagrant foul. Unlike the assistant, though, he stayed on the bench. Moli is a gifted athlete, but was not a factor in this game. He never got a chance after the melee. I hope he learned his lesson.

Maughan went to the line and hit 1-of-2 free throws. The Huskies then got four more free shots (for the technical on Moli and the assistant) and Jeremy Ulrich nailed all of them.

Hillcrest then got the ball back and hit a basket, which turned into a 38-31 lead, which they never relinquished.

It's sad that the memory of this game will be that near-melee. At least the fans stayed in their places. Cottonwood principal Garett Muse, who was still dressed in a suit, and assistant principal Mitch Nerdin stayed in front of the Colts' loudest fans to make sure they didn't leave their spot.

Additional police were called, and they were placed near the Hillcrest fans, but they weren't needed. This matter DID NOT get out of hand. The referees handled it well, as did the Cottonwood hierarchy.

After about a 10-minute delay, the game restarted and was very entertaining. It was a good win for Hillcrest.

I have to congratulate both coaches. They showed their smarts in this game.

* - For Cottonwood, coach McConnell recognized early that Hillcrest was slowing the game and that would not benefit his team. The score was just 6-5 late in the first quarter. He sped it up by extending his defense to midcourt, then put in full-court pressure. Hillcrest didn't handle it well many times and it resulted in 26 turnovers.

* - For Hillcrest, coach Brad Tingey recognized McConnell's move and placed his best player, Maughan, on the perimeter (inside of down low), so his guards had a player who could catch a pass, break the press and take pressure off the guards. Tingey also called key timeouts late in the game when Hillcrest was having trouble breaking the press. That likely prevented two turnovers and additional Cottonwood points. I believe the Huskies score after each case, too.

In the last month, I have developed a new statistical sheet and I put it to use for the first time Friday night. Here are my unofficial statistics, but everything adds up correctly.

Hillcrest 6 15 11 23 - 55
Cottonwood 8 11 12 19 - 50

HILLCREST (55) - Dallimore 1-5 6-10 8, Maughan 4-5 10-17 18, Jackson 2-5 0-0 5, Blackmore 1-5 3-4 5, Jongejan 1-4 0-0 2, Ulrich 2-4 6-6 12, Lao 1-4 2-4 4. Totals 12-32 28-43 55.

COTTONWOOD (50) - Glen 0-2 1-4 1, Chavez 4-9 2-2 13, Lundquist 1-3 2-3 4, Nelson 4-9 0-0 8, Moli 1-4 2-4 4, Lundquist 1-2 0-0 2, Reynolds 3-7 4-6 10, Baricic 1-3 0-2 2, Ziegler 3-3 0-0 6. Totals 18-42 11-21 50.

Total fouls: Hillcrest 16, Cottonwood 25. Fouled out: Reynolds. Rebounds: Hillcrest 31 (Lao 9, Blackmore 8), Cottonwood 24 (Komenda 5). Turnovers: Hillcrest 26, Cottonwood 19. 3-point shooting: Hillcrest 3-10 (Ulrich 2, Jackson). Cottonwood 3-12 (Chavez 3).

Saturday, November 1, 2008


I covered the Cottonwood-Orem football game Friday afternoon (Oct. 31) at Cottonwood's home field. It ended up being a great game.

It was also an afternoon contest, and the weather was great, except for a persistent south wind. Cottonwood jumped ahead 17-0 at halftime, and then made it 24-0 after three quarters.

Orem had a great rally in the fourth quarter, cutting the lead to 31-24 and then recovered a fumble. The Tigers threw a long pass that put them at the Colts' 18 before Cottonwood's defense came alive and stopped the threat.

I have compliment Orem on its comeback. I roam the sidelines during the game and, in the second half, I was on Orem's side of the field. There are some big kids on that team, and their QB - Josh Hamblin - throws a nice ball. This game had two good QBs as Cottonwood's Steve Romero is also among the best.

Cottonwood has a little tailback - Isi Sofele - who is a shifty little guy who makes people miss. He ran for 124 yards on 28 carries. In this game, Sofele never broke loose for any long runs. Cottonwood also hurt itself with over 100 yards in penalties, and had three touchdowns called back because of those issues.

Afterward, both coaches were not unhappy. Orem's Robert Steele said that if his team had not lost to Tooele and Springville, they would not have had to play a team as powerful as Cottonwood in the first round. I can understand losing to Springville, but Orem must have just caught Tooele on a good day. The Buffaloes only won three games this year.

Cottonwood coach Cecil Thomas was also unhappy. I like Coach Thomas. He's a good guy. He's a big fellah with a deep voice, and you can't help but fear or respect him. Cottonwood is so intent on making the 4-A finals and playing Timpview. I can't say they were overlooking Orem (certainly they weren't in the first three quarters), but ...

I spoke to some Orem players during the game and asked them to compare Cottonwood and Timpview. The Orem players said they thought Timpview was the better team. "They hit harder," one player said.

I wrote a decent article about the game, which you can access from my website - - or you can find it on

I also got a request from a reader that, since I keep statistics during the game, to publish the detailed report here. So, I will do that from now on. Here it is:

Orem 0 0 0 24 - 24
Cottonwood 14 3 7 7 - 31

C - Sofele 1 run (Curtis kick)
C - Lundquist 22 pass from Romero (Curtis kick)
C - FG Curtis 26
C - Sofele 7 run (Curtis kick)
O - Boulter 20 pass from Hamblin (Hamblin run)
C - Sofele 8 run (Curtis kick)
O - Boulter 14 pass from Hamblin (Jones pass from Hamblin)
O - Jones 17 pass from Hamblin (Huntbach pass from Jones)

Orem Cott
First downs 22 22
Rushes-yards 33-54 35-146
Passing yards 310 250
Passes 24-38-1 18-28-1
Fumbles-lost 3-2 3-1
Penalties 5-40 11-105
Punts 4-44.0 2-41.0

RUSHING: Orem - Boulter 11-49, Huntbach 4-16, Villagra 3-2, Habel 3-2, Hamblin 12-(-15). Cottonwood - Sofele 28-124, Romero 6-21, Thomas 1-1.
PASSING: Orem - Hamblin 24-38-1-310. Cottonwood - Romero 18-27-1-250. Sofele 0-1-0.
RECEIVING: Orem - Boulter 10-89, Jones 5-76, Egbert 4-39, Poulsen 3-72, Huntbach 2-28. Cottonwood - Larsen 7-99, Lundquist 6-106, Moli 2-28, Sofele 2-9, Payne 1-12.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Manu Samani Show

Last Friday night (Oct. 10), the Deseret News sent me to cover the Granger at Olympus game. It was the Titans' homecoming, and it was COLD. Fortunately, the game was probably the best I've seen all year.

The reason? Granger put on a show, especially running back Manu Samani. He rushed for 289 yards on 30 carries and also caught three passes for 81 yards.

Olympus led 27-6 at one point and its offense was playing the best it had all season. Quarterback Spencer Harris was hitting his receivers and the Titans scored every time they had the ball.

When it was 27-6, though, Granger started giving the ball to Samani. Quarterback Brentt Phillips would often just hand him the ball on dives up the middle. He would also seemingly push him through the line. On several occasions, Samani would not go down, even though he was in a lot of traffic.

He had Granger's first score, a 79-yard run, in the first quarter. But his last touchdown was even better, a 93-yarder.

This was my first time covering Granger. I wasn't impressed with the team's overall football knowledge. For example, Oly kicked a field goal on its second possession, but was given a first down when a Granger player was caught roughing the kicker. It was obvious, but the Granger kid acted like he was surprised.

Granger does have a lot of athletic ability. Besides Samani, receiver/defensive back T.J. Sapusoa was fun to watch. He caught a pass in the back of the end zone that I thought was way overthrown.

Granger is also entertaining. On the game's first play, the Lancers successfully went with the onsides kick. They also had at least three successful fourth-down plays.

After one touchdown, they went for a two-point conversion. Phillips got the snap, turned around and acted like he was going to hand off to Samani. Instead, he flipped the ball high into the air (over his head), where Tapusoa was waiting.

Fortunately for Olympus, a couple of alert players were watching intently and prevented Tapusoa from catching it. I've watched football for a long time, but I've never seen a play like that.

Overall, it was a great game. Olympus had been winless in Region 6 play, and needed the victory but both teams deserved it. Samani's rushing yardage has to be one of the best performances by a back this year in Utah.

It was a pleasure to watch the game.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Best Teams I've Seen

Every week, the Deseret News requests that I cover a football game. Of course, I agree. It's one of the highlights of my week. There's no place I would rather be on a Friday night, except in the arms of a good woman. But that's another story.

Two weeks ago, I covered the West at Cottonwood game. The Colts won, 40-0, in a blowout. In fact, it was 40-zip at halftime. Cottonwood has separated itself as the best team in Region 6, although I have not seen East play yet. We'll see what happens there this weekend.

Last week, I was at Brighton at Alta. I didn't expect this game to be close, and it wasn't. I've watched Brighton play, and the Bengals just don't have the offense to keep up. It seems like it's "three and out" almost every time. The defense is on the field most of the time, gets tired and ... game over.

Brighton's defense is decent. But if it gives up more than 20 points, it's game over. And there's no way Alta is going to be held to less than 20 points.

I like to walk along the sidelines. I feel it gives me a better look at the game. Besides, if I'm covering it for the newspaper, I want to be able to see things that the fans, who are in the stands, can't see.

I've covered prep football for over 20 years, and I've found it helps to stay in shape because you need to be able to run when you're on the field.

I predict Alta and Cottonwood will be in the 5-A and 4-A championship game. I don't see anyone beating Alta. Cottonwood is talented, but has to face Timpview. I haven't seen the Thunderbirds play, but I hear they might be the best team in the state. Regardless, the Cottonwood-Timpview final will be a good game. Cottonwood is fast.

With three weeks left in the season, here are my MVP picks. I'll pick them by region, and only the regions I know best - 2, 3 and 6.

Region 2 MVP - Ammon Olsen (Alta)
Region 3 MVP - Alamoti Vaenuku (Kearns)
Region 6 MVP - Tana Afeaki (West)

I base my picks on what players are the most important to the success of their teams. If these schools didn't have these guys, they would not be as successful as they have been.

In all likelihood, the media and coaches won't pick them, except for Olsen perhaps. The media will likely go for Olsen, Jake Soffe (Bingham) and Isi Sofele (Cottonwood).

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

George Felt column

George Felt is a Salt Lake City resident who is a big fan of high school sports. He has published a book entitled, "Utah High School Football." Because of his knowledge, he has also become a weekly guest columnist for the Deseret News.

I met Mr. Felt last week and wrote a small article in last week's issue, of "Matchup," your football game program. Mr. Felt sent me his column this week, and I'm placing it here on the blog. Enjoy.

Week 6 Preview

The Undefeated and the Winless

Just one team – Alta – lost for the first time last week, leaving 11 unbeaten teams. There’s one game between undefeateds this week: North Summit at Manti (both 5-0) in a 2A-North showdown. NS is enjoying the second-longest current winning streak, 17 games, well past its previous school record of 12 set in 1974. Of course, Timpview expects to defeat Mountain View and tie Rich’s state-record 28-game winning streak, set from ’94-’97. The third longest current win-streak belongs to the other nine 5-0 teams.

There’re only two more possible matchups between undefeated teams the rest of regular season: Juan Diego at Delta on Oct. 24 and, depending on the NS-Manti winner, either Manti at Juab next week or Juab at North Summit on Oct. 15.

The only Class 5A team still undefeated is West Jordan. Last week, the 5-0 Jaguars matched their best-ever start set in 1999. However, this week’s opponent, Bingham, has won six straight over WJ and leads the series 20-7. In 4A, Cottonwood, Sky View and Timpview remain unbeaten.

Cottonwood (5-0) will match its best-ever start with a victory over West. In 37 years, the Colts have been 6-0 three times before, including last season.

Delta hasn’t been 5-0 since starting 9-0 in 1994. The Rabbits lead the state in shutouts this year with three.

Millard and Snow Canyon picked up their first victories last week, leaving 10 winless schools. That’ll go down by at least one as Payson visits Provo in this week’s only matchup of winless teams.


Uintah has gone from 1-9 last year to 4-1 so far this season and Hurricane from 3-8 to 5-0.

This Week's Most-played Rivalries (series leader listed first)

Murray and Cyprus battle for the 70th time; Murray leads 37-28-4….Kanab meets Parowan for the 67th time; the Cowboys have won 44 straight over the Rams and lead 61-4-1 in the state’s most lopsided series. Parowan last beat Kanab in 1970….Delta and North Sanpete clash for the 63rd time; Delta dominates this series, 51-9-2, but North Sanpete won last year, 20-13….American Fork plays Spanish Fork for the 53rd time; AF leads 36-15-1, but Spanish Fork won in ’06 (22-20) and ’07 (22-16).

Other Game Notes

Hunter has taken 14 of 18 from Kearns….Copper Hills holds a 5-4 edge over Riverton, but Riverton has won the last three. Highlight of the series: CH won a double-OT thriller, 61-60, in 2000….Northridge has defeated Layton 11 of the 16 times they’ve met. Layton won last year, 28-10, after Northridge claimed the previous 10….Bonneville gave Sky View its only region loss last year.

Also, Skyline leads its series with Alta 7-4, but the Hawks have won the last three….Fremont has a 5-3 edge in its series with Viewmont….Carbon and Emery clash in the Coal Bucket game; the Spartans have captured the traveling trophy 17 of the 19 times they’ve played since starting the series in 1989. Carbon won it in 1994 and 2000.

First time meetings

Salem Hills at Juan Diego and Box Elder at West Oaks Academy (Orlando), a private, Christian school. The Flame defeated Florida Christian, Beacon of Hope Christian and Potter’s House Christian before losing to South Florida Christian last week.


In addition to Kory Bosgeiter and Rhett Jackson’s quest for win #50, Marshall Sheriff is going for his 75th victory at Millard….West Jordan’s Mike Morgan is coaching his 100th game.

Bear River is playing its 750th game, Richfield, its 650th and Riverton, its 100th contest.


Three small, private schools have recently added football programs. Abundant Life Academy, Diamond Ranch Academy and Sorensen’s Ranch all play independent schedules, mostly against out-of-state schools or each other. And all are schools for troubled teens – many from out of state – that usually stay for just one year before returning home.

Abundant Life Academy (Kanab) began to play 8-man football in 2006. In ’07 and ’08, the Warriors played a mix of 8- and 11-man games. Bob Fredrickson, a California transplant, leads ALA.

Diamond Ranch Academy (Hurricane) also played an 8-man schedule its first year of football, 2007. This season, the Diamondbacks play a single 8-man contest and six 11-man games. One of those is at Park City on Oct. 24. Former Dixie High and Dixie State standout Robbie Dias direct DRA.

Sorensen’s Ranch (Koosharem) is in its first season of football. Coached by Tevita Vakautakakala, who was an assistant at nearby Richfield High, the Mustangs have just three 11-man games and one 8-man contest on their schedule.

ALA plays its 11-man home games at Kanab High, DRA hosts at Hurricane High and Sorensen’s Ranch uses South Sevier High.

The addition of those three makes 99 schools fielding football teams this season.

Big Turnaround

Grantsville was held to a total of minus-nine yards by Delta on Sept. 5, but the next week against Carbon, Grantsville amassed 532 total yards, the highest of any team this season.

From last week

Copper Hills posted its first shutout since 1998, a span of 101 games, and only the second in its 14-year history. Manti also claimed its first shutout since 2003, a span of 53 contests, while Roy suffered its first whitewash since 2003, 53 games ago.

2008 Single-Game Performances

With the regular-season half over, here’re some of the top performances as reported from various sources (corrections and additions are welcomed). This is only place you’ll find records for single games; season stats appear in and the Deseret News, among other places.

Total Offense (Rushing Plus Passing)
385, Junior Cole, Northridge (9/12 vs. Weber)
369, Jeff Manning, Logan (9/29 vs. Highland, Idaho)
368, Alex Hart, Jordan (8/30 vs. Washington (Massillon), Ohio)

Net Rushing259, Adam Timo, Snow Canyon (9/5 vs. Las Vegas)
251, Nick Orchard, Highland (8/29 vs. American Fork)
248, Dylan Chynoweth, Park City (8/22 vs. Canyon View)

Rushing Touchdowns5, Brennon Hunt, Beaver (9/5 vs. Milford)

Rushes33, Adam Timo, Snow Canyon (9/5 vs. Las Vegas)
31, Anthony Heimuli, Mountain View (9/2 vs. Payson)
30, Brennon Hunt, Beaver (9/5 vs. Milford)

Passing Yards
387, Kyler Carlsen, Sky View (8/30 vs. Campbell County, Wyo.)
347, Josh Soter, Copper Hills (8/22 vs. Payson)
332, Ammon Olsen, Alta (9/29 vs. Grant (Sacramento), Cal.)

Touchdown Passes
6, Kyler Carlsen, Sky View (8/30 vs. Campbell County, Wyo.)
5, Jeff Manning, Logan (8/22 vs. Murray)
5, Josh Soter, Copper Hills (9/19 vs. Taylorsville)
5, Ryan Workman, Viewmont (8/22 vs. Orem)

Passing Attempts
51, Jordan Smith, Lehi (9/12 vs. Kearns)
47, Jeff Manning, Logan (9/5 vs. Sky View)
46, Alex Kuresa, Mountain Crest (9/5 vs. Northridge)

Passing Completions31, Jordan Smith, Lehi (9/12 vs. Kearns)
26, Alex Kuresa, Mountain Crest (9/5 vs. Northridge)
25, Josh Soter, Copper Hills (9/12 vs. Pleasant Grove)

Receiving Yards
200, Travis Van Leeuwen, Timpview (8/29 vs. Spanish Fork)
164, Josh Thompson, Logan (9/12 vs. Judge Memorial)
162, Anthony Heimuli, Mountain View (9/19 vs. Tooele)

10, Spencer Hille, Olympus (8/22 vs. Hillcrest)
9, Chandler Allen, Copper Hills (9/5 vs. Hillcrest)
9, Chandler Allen, Copper Hills (9/12 vs. Pleasant Grove)

Touchdowns Responsible For
6, Josh Soter, Copper Hills (1 rush, 5 pass – 9/19 vs. Taylorsville)

5, Dylan Stadel, Lehi (8/29 vs. Springville)

3, Dayton Deloach, Delta (9/5 vs. Grantsville)

Field Goals
3, Parker Brown, Timpanogos (8/29 vs. Hunter)
3, Parker Brown, Timpanogos (9/5 vs. Orem)
3, Dallin Lund, Hunter (8/29 vs. Timpanogos)
3, Carson Smith, Box Elder (9/5 vs. Bear River)

Extra Points
9, Roberto Taddeo, Juan Diego (8/29 vs. Grantsville)
8, Michael Stephenson, Pine View (9/19 vs. Canyon View)
8, Brock Warren, Sky View (9/12 vs. Box Elder)
8, Brock Warren, Sky View (9/19 vs. Roy)

Season Touchdowns Responsible For
20, Jeff Manning (5 rush, 15 pass), Logan
18, Junior Cole (8 rush, 10 pass), Northridge
16, Justin Ence (13 rush, 3 pass), Pine View

Longest Plays Of The 2008 Season (90 yards min. unless indicated)Rushing
93, Bryce Delnort, Park City (8/22 vs. Canyon View)

96, James Taylor to Dax Cederholm, Bear River (9/5 vs. Box Elder)
95, Nick Wood to Corie Blackham, Parowan (9/12 vs. Gunnison)
92, Alex Kuresa to Ethan Rasmussen, Mountain Crest (9/12 vs. Woods Cross)
90, Jeff Manning to Stephen Gwynn, Logan (8/29 vs. Park City)

Interception Returns
97, Zach Bigelow, Alta (9/12 vs. Hunter)
91, Dominick Cagle, Kearns (8/22 vs. Brighton)

Kickoff Returns (99 yd. min.)
99, Dee Hamala, Murray (8/29 vs. Hillcrest)
99, Devin Miner, Orem (8/29 vs. Snow Canyon)

Fumble Returns
96, Evan Pettit, North Sevier (8/29 vs. Gunnison)

Field Goals (50 yd. min.)
54, Parker Brown, Timpanogos (9/5 vs. Orem)
53, Parker Brown, Timpanogos (9/5 vs. Orem)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

News from the week

Another week of prep football. We're already approaching Week 4 and some teams are starting region play. Now, it gets even more interesting.

Last week, I was at the West Jordan at Olympus game. I covered the game for the Deseret News and wrote one of my better articles. I started the season slowly, but I'm getting into it now. All of my articles have been on the D-News web site only, but perhaps they'll see that I'm improving. I have over 15 years of sports writing experience. Every week, I should be doing the job well.

West Jordan-Oly was a good game. I usually stand on the sidelines. In the third quarter, I switched over to the Oly sideline and saw a man I knew. It was Shane Smith. Shane is the head custodian at my kids' elementary school. But he also is an assitant coach at Oly. We talked for a while. I see him at my kids' school frequently, so now we have more in common.

West Jordan is 3-0, but I learned this week that its football stadium has been undergoing renovations and still isn't finished. Athletic Director Dan Cowan said the school is putting in new bleachers and a new track, and it's still not done. Cowan was pretty upset on the phone. So, this week's game against Taylorsville will be a road game for the Jaguars. That's tough.

It seems that stadium problems are rampant here. Last year, it was Jordan. This year, it's Judge Memorial, Bingham and now West Jordan.

"The district just wants to keep improving our facilities, and this is just a hardship," Cowan said. "But they (the construction company) have had more than enough time."

West Jordan only had three home games this year - now the most it will have is two, unless the Jags make it to the postseason.

* - Every week, I have to deliver game programs to the schools. Currently, there is heavy road construction on 10400 South (near Bingham) and 3600 West (near Granger). You would think roads near schools would undergo construction during the summer, when school is not in session. Granger has had four home games to start this season, so I have been by there every Thursday or so this last month. I still can't see where the construction company has made any progress.

* - The big game this week is Bingham vs. Jordan because the Miners' are inaugurating their new stadium, with all its amenities. I've never covered a game at Bingham. I'll be at Brighton, which is hosting Spanish Fork. Other good games are Highland at East, Logan at Judge Memorial (being played at Juan Diego) and Kearns at Lehi. I'm also anxious to see if West Jordan improves to 4-0. With the Jags playing all their games on the road so far, that's a great story.

* - The game to miss is probably Cottonwood at Murray. I covered that game last year, when it was at Cottonwood, and the Colts won 47-0. Frankly, it wasn't that close. Cottonwood linebacker Lynn Katoa was all over the field. He earned a scholarship to the Univ. of Colorado. I figure Cottonwood will do the same thing to Murray this year.

Friday, September 5, 2008

What a Game

I just got home after covering the West Jordan at Olympus football game. It was the best game I've seen all year. West Jordan is 3-0, but Oly has its spread offense going.

Good game for everyone, especially since not everyone can win. I sent my game story to the Deseret News already. If you'd like to read it, here it is:

By Bruce Smith
For the Deseret News

West Jordan and Olympus each learned a lot about themselves Friday night, while playing an entertaining game in front of a near capacity-crowd.

But only West Jordan is 3-0.

The Jaguars drove 80 yards in less than three minutes to nip Olympus 35-28 in a non-region battle.

Quarterback Jace Rogers hit his giant tight end – D.J. Tialavea – on a 5-yard scoring pass that ended up being the winning points.

“I knew they gave us too much time,” said Rogers, explaining how he felt after Olympus tied the game with 3:25 remaining. “We were keeping our cool.”

West Jordan coach Mike Morgan couldn’t be prouder. He wouldn’t answer – but only smiled - when asked how he felt about being 3-0.

“These kids overcame adversity to win this game,” he finally said. “We responded after (Olympus) scores. We came up with the plays.”

There was plenty of adversity – on both sides. West Jordan rushed for 352 yards, but gave almost half that back in penalties.

One penalty – an illegal block – came when Tyson Udy intercepted a pass in the end zone and ran 100 yards for a touchdown. The block was behind the play and likely would not have affected Udy’s run.

Olympus coach Mark Smith also noticed the ups and downs. But despite the loss, he was pleased the Titans’ have shown improvement in each of their three games.

The Titans’ spread offense put up a season-high point total. Olympus, which trailed 20-7 at halftime, came out in the second half and quarterback Spencer Harris hit sophomore Carter Young on a 64-yard touchdown pass on the first play.

Shortly afterward, Olympus recovered a Jaguars’ fumble. Then Harris tossed a short pass to basketball star Spencer Hille to give the Titans their first lead.

“We hit on maybe four cylinders in our first two games,” said Smith, who couldn’t help but smile despite the loss. “But tonight we hit on 5½. I was very proud of the improvement we made.

“Preaseason (non-region) is over, and we’ve made progress. I’m looking forward to doing more of this in region.”

Olympus starts Region 6 play next week at home against Cyprus.

On this night, though, the Titans turned things around in the third quarter. Their two quick scores seemed to surprise the visiting Jaguars, and West Jordan took a while to recover.

Finally, the Jaguas started riding the back of running backs Damien Maestes, who had 126 yards on 28 carries, and Brandt Henslee, who added 110 yards on 11 attempts.

The Jaguars moved the ball and finally scored on a 5-yard run by Maestes. West Jordan then added a two-point conversion on one of its favorite plays - a short toss to Tialavea - who caught five passes on the night.

Olympus retaliated, taking advantage of two pass interference penalties, and tied the game when Hille caught his second touchdown pass, but there was still 3:25 left in the game.

Maestes did most of the damage, but was helped by Henslee and the shifty Devon Paraso, who added 60 yards on the ground. Finally, with Oly’s defense confused and intent on stopping the run, Harris found Tialavea for the winning score with 37 seconds left.

“We have a lot of weapons with that offense,” Morgan said. “We proved that in the Mountain View game (a 40-37 win last week).”

The Time Has Come

It has been several weeks since I posted a blog, and I apologize for that. The website has been taking a lot of my time, as well as designing, writing and publishing programs for 24 Salt Lake-area schools.

Football season has started. Tonight marks the third week of the schedule. Besiding doing all that I mentioned above, I also cover games for the Deseret News. Tonight, I will be at West Jordan at Olympus. That should be a fun game to watch. I'm anxious to see West Jordan because the Jags are 2-0 and both of their wins have been close, entertaining games.

The last time I covered a game at Olympus was many years ago, when I worked as a sportswriter for the Salt Lake Tribune. Oly must have been playing at team from Weber County because Dennis Larsen, a reporter from the Ogden Standard-Examiner was there, too. It was pouring down rain. One of the worst rainstorms I can remember. That year, it rained at a lot of the games I attended and it forced me to buy really good rain gear.

I can't find that rain gear now, but the forecast looks good. I haven't seen Dennis for a long time. He was a good guy, and always fun to talk to. I always look forward to seeing other newspaper reporters when I cover a game.

It has been a busy year so far. My schedule goes like this: On Saturday, I'm working on my computer, updating my website ( and the upcoming week's programs. This week, for example, I'm handling game programs for 13 schools.

I do that on Sunday, too, so I can get as much information as possible to my printer - Steve Wells at Action Printing in Murray. I'm usually finishing things up Monday, but then I have to spend a lot of time at the printer's office, editing the programs. This week, because of the Labor Day holiday, we did everything a date later than usual.

On Tuesday, we finish printing and I deliver game programs on Wednesday. That usually takes all day. I end up driving all over the valley, from Lehi through Grantsville. Fortunately, my car gets good gas mileage.

The latter part of the week is now spent improving the program, talking to coaches and athletic directors, fixing any errors, etc... I can adjust my time, so I can do things with my kids, but I really don't have a weekend.

The first week we handled 17 programs, and we had some screwups. We (myself and the guys at Action Printing) found ways to improve our editing. We did not have any problems the second week. This week, I almost forgot the Hunter at Brighton game.

I could never do this without Action Printing. I've known the guys there for several years, and their customer service is fantastic. They go above and beyond the call of duty and, unfortunately, I take advantage of that.

We're getting a lot of compliments. I think the advertisers in the program - Comcast, The Deseret News, Rocky Mountain Power, SLCC and LDS Business College - are happy. In addition, I got a call from Paul Pugmire, who is running for Salt Lake County Council, and he asked to advertise in the programs involving West Valley teams.

One woman, a realtor who saw the program at a Judge Memorial game, asked to advertise but I haven't heard from her recently. There is ad space available, although it's minimal. I'm still learning what we can do.

But enough of this. I'm slowly becoming more of an expert on local high school football. Here are some questions I can answer:

* - What teams have surprised you so far? Copper Hills, Riverton, Kearns, West Jordan and Bingham. Those first four teams are unbeaten, while Bingham is 0-2. And I'm surprised for those reasons. What's also noteworthy is all of those schools are from the west side. Alta seems to be the dominant east-side school and that will probably always happen until a new high school is built in Draper.

* - You deal with a lot of people. Who are your favorites? People who will help me. That is, people who will return phone calls, etc... The biggest problem with putting together these game programs is getting a calendar of upcoming events from the schools. A lot of schools have not updated their websites since last May. Also, I'll never understand why school personnel cannot email. A lot of them don't know how. The excuses I received were "I never learned," or "I'm too old." Just think what would happen if some student gave something close to that excuse. Learn people. Learn.

* - What are the biggest games this week? I'm happy covering West Jordan at Olympus, but I'd also like to see Alta at Kearns. I don't see Alta losing this year, but this one has possibilities. I also want Kearns coach Bill Cosper to be successful. I met him last year, and instantly liked him. There's a great article that the Magna newspaper did on him that tells his story. Basically, his son got a football scholarship to Weber State and Bill picked up the rest of his family to follow, so they could watch him play. Bill was a football coach in Texas, and he is bring his knowledge and experience to Kearns.

* - Since Bingham has lost its first two games, are they done? No. All Bingham has to do is fare well in Region 3 and it will make the 5-A playoffs. Playing Skyline and Alta might have been a good move because the Miners will know how much they will have to improve in the playoffs. Plus, they have a new stadium field, scoreboard and more. I wouldn't write them off.

* - Lastly, the Deseret News asks me every week to put together a list of my Top 25 Utah high school teams. It's a lot of guesswork. I basically followed Parry's Power Guide, which is published each week on my website and in the game programs. Alta is No. 1 and Bingham No. 2. Next week, I'll change that vote because you can't put an 0-2 team at No. 2. I'll probably move Skyline up the list because I've learned you can never count out those guys.

That's it for this post. I will post more often now - maybe even daily. Thanks for your interest in Utah high school football and Matchup.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Stadium Woes for Judge

Last year it was Jordan. This year it seems Judge Memorial is going to be the Salt Lake City area school with field problems that means it will not be able to play on its home field.

The Salt Lake Tribune published a story today (Aug. 1) with the news. I knew something was up. I drove past Judge a couple of weeks ago and noticed its artificial-turf field was not on the ground (see photo).

Here is the article the Tribune published. Good job, Trib.

The Judge Memorial High football team will be forced to play its home games at Juan Diego, according to a source close to the Bulldogs program, because renovations to its field are progressing slowly.

The source, who spoke with The Tribune by cell phone Thursday, confirmed that Judge had hoped repairs on McCarthy Stadium would be finished in time for the season opener. But, repairs have been slow in coming, forcing the Bulldogs to look elsewhere for a home.

"Nobody wants to take responsibility for repairing the stadium," said the source. "It's a shame because it's the kids that are getting screwed."

The stadium, which seated 1,600, opened last season. But the problems began in January when the retaining wall broke. There are also a number of sinkholes in the field, which had to be dug up.

All of that has led to the Bulldogs not having a place to call home.

"They were calling around and they called us," Juan Diego coach John Colosimo said. "We're happy to give them a place to play. Our dates meshed, so it looks like there will be football on every Friday night. Judge is going to have a great team, so I hope that takes some of the sting out of it. I know it's got to be frustrating for [Judge coach] James Cordova."

Under the agreement with Juan Diego, Judge will play all of its home games there except for East.

The schools, natural rivals, will be in the same district starting next season. Logistically, playing essentially on the road for Judge is a nightmare. This means the team will have to get on a bus for every game and practice.

Judge, which advanced to the Class 3A state championship game last season, is again expected to challenge for a state title with the likes of Keenyn Walker and Dee Crandall.

To read the actual article on the Trib's website, click here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Busy Football Season Approaches

It's going to be a busy high school football season for me, starting in about one month, when I start preparing the game programs for the season openers, which will be Aug. 22.

I will be handling the game programs for 24 different Salt Lake-area schools, and the first week looks like it will be the busiest. So, it will be important to have any glitches worked out immediately.

I'm still selling advertising for the programs, but the future looks bright. Here is a list of games where you will be able to find the "Matchup" game program.

Friday, Aug. 22 (17 games)
Hillcrest at Olympus, Cyprus at Tooele, Snow Canyon at East, Logan at Murray, North Sanpete at Judge Memorial, Clearfield at Cottonwood, West Jordan at Lehi, Spanish Fork at Alta, Wasatch at Grantsville, Skyline at Bingham, Northridge at Jordan, Davis at Hunter, Payson at Copper Hills, Taylorsville at Granger, Kearns at Brighton, Timpanogos at Riverton, Juan Diego at West.

Friday, Aug. 29 (9)
Murray at Hillcrest, Kearns at Cyprus, East at Skyline, Bingham at Alta, Juan Diego at Grantsville, Roy at Granger, Springville at Lehi, Taylorsville at Riverton, West at Tooele.

Friday, Sept. 5 (12)
Hillcrest at Copper Hills, Juan Diego at Cyprus, Ogden at Granger, American Fork at East, Murray at Taylorsville, West Jordan at Olympus, Pine View at Cottonwood, Provo at Lehi, Skyline at Highland, Layton at Jordan, Delta at Grantsville, Alta at Kearns,

Friday, Sept. 12 (14)
Riverton at Hillcrest, Taylorsville at West Jordan, Spanish Fork at Brighton, Jordan at Bingham, Carbon at Grantsville, Pleasant Grove at Copper Hills, Alta at Hunter, Logan at Judge Memorial, Kearns at Lehi, Cyprus at Olympus, Highland at East, Cottonwood at Murray, West at Granger, Orem at Tooele.

Friday, Sept. 19 (10)
West Jordan at Hillcrest, Spanish Fork at Hunter, Skyline at Kearns, Judge Memorial at Juan Diego, Copper Hills at Taylorsville, Riverton at Jordan, Cottonwood at Cyprus, East at Murray, Granger at Highland, Olympus at West.

Thursday, Sept. 25 (3)
West Jordan at Bingham, Copper Hills at Riverton, Hunter at Kearns.

Friday, Sept. 26 (7)
Jordan at Hillcrest, Brighton at Taylorsville, Murray at Cyprus, East at Granger, West at Cottonwood, Highland at Olympus, Salem Hills at Juan Diego.

Thursday, Oct. 2 (1)
Kearns at Bingham

Friday, Oct. 3 (13)
Timpview at Tooele, Skyline at Hillcrest, Brighton at Alta, Taylorsville at Jordan, West Jordan at Riverton, Copper Hills at Hunter, American Fork at Lehi, Cyprus at West, Olympus at East, Granger at Murray, Cottonwood at Highland, Park City at Judge Memorial, Bear River at Grantsville.

Friday, Oct. 10 (15)
Hillcrest at Alta, Skyline at Taylorsville, Jordan at Brighton, Hunter at West Jordan, Bingham at Riverton, Copper Hills at Kearns, Timpanogos at Lehi, East at Cottonwood, Highland at Olympus, Murray at West, Granger at Olympus, Payson at Tooele, North Sanpete at Juan Diego, Wasatch at Judge Memorial, Ben Lomond at Grantsville.

Wednesday, Oct. 15 (10)
Brighton at Hillcrest, Taylorsville at Alta, West Jordan at Copper Hills, Hunter at Bingham, Riverton at Kearns, Cyprus at East, Olympus at Murray, Cottonwood at Granger, West at Highland, Union at Judge Memorial.

Friday, Oct. 17 (1)
Carbon at Juan Diego

Thursday, Oct. 23 (7)
Kearns at West Jordan, Bingham at Copper Hills, Riverton at Hunter, Pleasant Grove at Lehi, East at West, Murray at Highland, Olympus at Cottonwood.

Friday, Oct. 24 (5)
Hillcrest at Taylorsville, Skyline at Brighton, Alta at Jordan, Pleasant Grove at Lehi, Granger at Cyprus.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Hype Gets Started

High school football in Utah is still over one month away, but already the excitement is starting to build. I'm sure the players, and perhaps the fans, are thrilled that fall is approaching, but most of the excitement starts with the media.

I listened to "The Prep Fan's" radio broadcast Saturday on 1320-KFAN. It wasn't an excited broadcast, but it was fun to listen to and I'll try to catch it each week. Who knows? Perhaps they'll invite me as a guest as soon as I'm more well known (following the season openers).
The Salt Lake Tribune's three prep writers - Maggie Thach, Chhun Sun and Tony Jones - have already started by attending "unofficial" practices and writing previews about teams. On Monday, for example, the Tribune highlighted Jordan High School.

I figure Jordan should be pretty good ... again. Last year, the Beetdiggers started well and then died. They lost their last three games. I attended two of them. But Jordan's coach, Alex Jacobsen, is a good motivator and his offensive coordinator knows what he's doing. Thus, the Diggers will always be able to score points.

Their problem last year was defense, and the fact they got tired. I noticed several of their players were playing both ways - offense and defense. It was really no surprise when they were beaten in the first round of the playoffs.

Jordan was also hurt by the fact that its field was unavailable. That's actually an interesting case, and I might pursue that a bit more later. Jordan spent the money to have a new - artificial turf/grass - field placed in its stadium. To my knowledge, no other school had this problem.

Look around. These new fields are up at Judge Memorial, Cottonwood, Juan Diego and now Alta and Bingham are putting them in. Hmmm. All these schools are east-side schools, too. When I went to visit Cyprus High last spring, it was apparent that it could use a field like that, too. But because more money is available on the east side, it's not likely to happen.

Regardless, I decided to visit Jordan the other day. I stopped by and looked at the Diggers' field. I also snapped a few photos (see above). It looks nice. It appears to be done, but the goalposts are not on the field yet, and there was a little bit of construction being done on the south end. The field is also surrounded by a track, and the lanes were not marked. That's not necessary for football, but I noticed it.

I have never attended a game at Jordan. There appeared to be nice restrooms on the south side, but I didn't see any kind of concession stand. Maybe it's just me, but I expected more. Well, I can't judge yet. Let's start the season. After I attend a game there, I'll provide a more-informed opinion.

I appreciate the Tribune's preseason coverage, and hope the Deseret News starts its coverage soon. You can read each on the links I've provided on the Home page of this site.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Local schedules are out

I just looked through the Deseret News web site and obtained copies of the 2008 football schedules for the Salt Lake City-area schools. They look pretty interesting.

About Me

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I am the author of Matchup, which provides yearbooks to high school sports teams, commemorating their seasons.