Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Olympus Beats Bingham

High school basketball in Utah is in full swing and, on Dec. 15, I attended a game between top-ranked Bingham and Olympus.

I was considering the West Jordan at Brighton contest, but I received word that the Deseret News would be there. Since part of my goal is to cover games the other media doesn't, I chose Oly-Bingham because I thought it would be a great matchup.

It was. Nicholas Paulos scored 22 points, and Paulos, Ben Sonntag and Joe Bourne hit some key free throws down the stretch as the Titans held off Bingham 68-63 in a non-region game.

It was Bingham's first loss. The game had a great high-school atmosphere. Oly led for most of it, but Bingham made a nice rally to make it close at the end. Certainly Bingham wasn't happy to lose, but the Miners played hard and showed a lot of grit.

To read my game story, click here, and then scroll to the game.

Afterward, I found Bingham coach Mark Dubach and asked to interview him. Dubach is a volatile coach during the game, but was very nice afterward. However, he declined to be interviwed. He said, "I only talk after wins."

I guess we can add that little eccentricity to our knowledge of Dubach. I had spoken to him earlier in the day, and he seemed like a nice guy. There's a lot more to learn about him, so now I know.

I found Olympus coach Matt Barnes, and he always likes to talk to the media. Barnes said he and Dubach attended Olympus High together back in the mid-1980s. Barnes was the school's basketball star (judging from all the school records he owns) and he said Dubach was the school's baseball phenom.

Barnes talked about his team. He said Paulos is still recovering from mononucleosis, but is getting into form on the basketball court. Paulos had a great game, nailing 6-6 free throws (the fans call him "automatic") and a couple of three-pointers. He's a good guy to have the ball near the end of the game.

Will Watkins sported a cut near is right eye in practice Monday. The cut was covered with a bandage during the game, but reopened when he got hit while battle Shad Sommerville for a rebound. He had to leave the game with a trainer, but returned shortly afterward.

What makes Olympus so impressive is they four players who are 6-6, one 6-5 and three 6-4 guys. And they can all play.

If Oly could get Bourne to shoot a little better (2-6 on free throws tonight), they would be a state title contender.

Here are a few other things I noticed:

* - Bingham's MVP was Sommerville. The guy is dynamite. He had 23 points, and seemed to score whenever Bingham needed it. If I had to pick one guy from Bingham's lineup for my team, he would be my choice.
* - Ben Clifford is good, too. He's 6-8, and had a nice game with 19 points and seven rebounds, even though he was in foul trouble. He also seems to be a man of many talents. Late in the game, Bingham set up a play for Clifford to shoot a three-pointer. It was a nice shot, but missed. Still, the fact that the play was set up for him says something.
* - Late in the game, when Clifford had four fouls, Oly tried to get him to commit another. Several Bingham players came to his aid, and that was impressive, even to Oly fans.
* - I was also impressed with Oly's Andrew Pellatt. He's the 6-5 guy who was often matchup against Clifford. Pellatt didn't show me much against Box Elder, but he was awesome against Bingham. He had six points and six rebounds, and made several big plays. He's also another example of how deep Olympus seems to be.
* - Lastly, Bingham's three top players (Sommerville, Nate Girsberger and Clifford) accounted for 58 of Bingham's 63 points. The Miners need more help from guys like Ty Hannay, Michael Arnell, Spencer Brown, Logan Parker, etc... If Bingham is going to win the 5A state title, at least one other guy has to step up.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Covering Olympus-Box Elder

Today was a fun day. I was getting ready to attend a local high school basketball game when James Edward, the prep editor of the Deseret News, called and asked me to cover a game.
He suggested the Olympus-Box Elder matchup, so I headed over there tonight. There wasn’t a big crowd, but it was an entertaining game.
Olympus won 50-36, but only pulled it out at the end, scoring the game's final 16 points. Afterward, I thought Box Elder coach Keith Mecham might be bent out of shape, but he was a class act.
I also debuted my new stat sheet, and it worked beautifully. There is a box score at the bottom of this blog (below). Now I'm able to keep multiple stats faster. I'm excited to cover future games.
As for this game, here are a few things I noticed:
* - Oly can't shoot. At least not yet. They hit just 35 percent of their shots (3-16 from three-point land). Point guard Joe Bourne threw up several bricks. He was 0-4 from the field and 2-5 from the free-throw line. Oly really doesn't have a true point guard. Bourne is the closest thing. He does other things well, but hit shot is off.
* - Box Elder guard Brant Mecham hit 0-12 shots, but at least he kept shooting. That's what a shooter does. Eventually those shots will fall. I know he was disappointed tonight, but he'll have great games, too. Coach Mecham wasn't worried.
* - Guard Nicholas Paulos didn't score. I kept waiting for him to make a difference in this game, but he never did. Coach Barnes said he has mononucleosis. Well, now I understand. I hope he gets better soon. He makes Oly a lot better team.
* - I got to the game early and spoke to a lot of Oly people, including coach Barnes, football coach Mike Smith, counselor (and amateur photographer) Julie Fairbourne and a few others. I like Olympus, and I also met some new people. It's also worth it to arrive early and get "in" to the game before tipoff.
Below is my game story, which I submitted to the Deseret News. There's also a detailed box score at the bottom. It appears I may also get to submit game stories to the website soon. I spoke to them today. That should be fun.

By Bruce Smith
For The Deseret News

Imagine the Olympus Titans as a light switch. For three and one-half quarters Friday night, it’s questionable whether or not it was working.
But for the last four minutes, there was no doubt.
Will Watkins scored 16 points, including the go-ahead three-point basket, as Olympus scored the game’s final 16 points and beat Box Elder 50-36 in a non-region game.
Obviously, the game was closer than the score indicated. Olympus led most of the way, but the Bees rallied behind the inspired play of guard Cody Eyre to take a 44-39 lead going into the final quarter.
“We played a good game. We limited them, and they’re a legitimate 70-point run-and-shoot team,” said Box Elder coach Keith Mecham.
That was true. Olympus was as a hot-shooting team last season, but this year’s team hasn’t looked so promising yet. Sharpshooter Nicholas Paulos has been hampered by an illness, and the team has yet to show the same marksmanship.
But the Titans scored the first four points of the fourth quarter and regained the momentum, forcing Mecham to quickly call a timeout. Unfortunately, it didn’t help.
“It is a gutty win,” said Olympus coach Matt Barnes, whose Titans improved to 3-0.
Barnes, of course, was more concerned with Oly’s third-quarter problem, an eight-minute time frame when Box Elder outscored the Titans 14-7. He noted that his team has had trouble immediately after halftime in each game this season, although that was only evident the last two games.
The Titans erased Box Elder’s lead quickly, forcing five fourth-quarter turnovers. Watkins, Connor Brady, Manny Riak, Joe Bourne and Spencer Harris scored to put the game away.
Box Elder didn’t score the last four minutes of the game. Eyre, who led the Bees with 13 points, hit some amazing shots early, but ended up 6-14 from the field because he always seemed to have a hand in his face in the fourth period.
The Bees’ leading scorer, Brant Mecham, also was handcuffed, but for the entire game. Mecham, the team’s leading scorer last year, whiffed on all 12 of his shots Friday. His only points came on 3-4 free throws.
“We did a nice job on him. He lit us up last year,” noted Barnes. “We really did turn up the defense in the last quarter.”
Keith Mecham noted that, too. He said once Watkins’ big trey gave Oly a 39-36 lead, his team also played differently.
“We were trying to put them away too early,” he said. “Once Watkins hit that shot, we kind of panicked.”
Box Elder was also forced to foul and Olympus, which hit just 13-22 charity shots for the game, hit most of them down the stretch.
Brady backed up Watkins with 15 points and Riak, who started in place of Paulos, had 10. Justus Brown and Chad Talbot had six points each for Box Elder. Talbot also had a game-high nine rebounds.

Box Elder 10 10 14 2 - 36
Olympus 13 9 7 21 - 50

BOX ELDER (36) – Munns 2-5 0-1 4, Eyre 6-14 0-1 13, Brown 3-7 0-0 6, Talbot 3-8, 0-0 6, Mecham 0-12 3-4 3, Barlow 1-2 2-3 4, Clawson 0-1 0-0 0, Mund 0-0 0-0 0, Jensen 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-49 5-9 36.

OLYMPUS (50) – Riak 4-10 1-2 10, Bourne 0-4 2-5 2, Watkins 5-10 5-6 16, Brady 6-11 2-3 15, Sonntag 2-5 0-2 4, Pellatt 0-1 0-0 0, Paulos 0-2 0-0 0, Harris 0-3 3-4 3, Reynolds 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 17-47 13-22 50.

Total fouls: Box Elder 20, Olympus 13. Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: None. Three-point goals: Box Elder 1-15 (Eyre 1), Olympus 3-16 (Riak, Watkins, Brady). Rebounds: Box Elder 31 (Talbot 9), Olympus 35 (Bourne, Brady 7). Turnovers: Box Elder 17, Olympus 9. Blocked shots: Box Elder 4 (Brown, Talbot, Mecham, Clawson), Olympus 1 (Bourne).

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Basketball season begins

The Utah high school basketball season has started and, on opening night, I decided to check out the Cottonwood at Taylorsville game.

Why that game? It was convenient. I will try to see each team in the area at least once this season, choosing the best games of the night. I also want to make sure I don't go to the same games the local media is covering.

There was a decent crowd at Taylorsville, and it was a good game. Afterward, I visited with both coaches and learned a lot more about their teams. I also used a new scoresheet, which helped me compile game stats.

Here is a game story I wrote, as well as statistics. I hope to cover 1-2 games a week from now on.

By Bruce Smith

TAYLORSVILLE – In the season opener for both teams, the Cottonwood Colts left the gym with a good feeling, while the Taylorsville Warriors wondered what might have been.
The Colts got 17 points from senior Raymond Chavez, and blitzed the Warriors with steady three-point shooting, to earn a 56-53 victory in a non-region game.
Afterward, however, Taylorsville coach Ron Burnside was upset that this one got away. He felt Taylorsville had a lot more it could have shown the home crowd.
“We had our big guy out and that hurt us,” said Burnside, referring to 6-foot-7 senior Yai Ajak, who reportedly had a death in his family. “We didn’t rebound. We needed to have that big guy.”
Ajak’s departure basically meant this was a battle between two evenly matched, perimeter-oriented teams, and Cottonwood came away with the win for two reasons.
* - The Colts were able to bury three-pointers. As a team, they connected on 9-16 shots from beyond the arc, led by Chavez and Parker Vassau, who had three apiece.
* - The Colts hit a big basket, and prevented Taylorsville from doing the same. Holding a three-point lead with two minutes left, Cottonwood held the ball for a minute before Chavez found Tim Glenn on a backdoor cut, and Glenn responded with a layup. Taylorsville had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds, but never got a good look on a three-point shot.
Cottonwood coach Dave McConnell was happy how his team responded in key times, especially near the end.
“We wanted to put them to sleep and make them think we were going to stall,” he said.
McConnell said Glenn, a senior who had four points and four rebounds, was his team’s player of the game.
“He did a lot of things tonight without the ball, so he gets the game ball,” he said. “We couldn’t have done it without him.”
Besides the Colts’ late-game basket, there were two other times that Cottonwood responded well.
Trailing 12-7, Cottonwood opened the second quarter with eight straight points, including a pair of threes by Chavez, and never trailed again. Then, after a scoreboard snafu caused caused a brief delay in the third period, the Colts came out and put in a pair of treys.
Taylorsville was able to stay close, thanks primarily to the play of Andrew Togiai, who led the Warriors with 15 points, and the shooting of the Wright brothers – Wesley and Brady – who added 14 and 13.
“We competed well as a team,” said Burnside. “We have two slashers and two shooters, and that showed tonight. But I sure would like to see how we would do if we were at full strength.”

Cottonwood 7 17 23 9 - 56
Taylorsville 12 8 19 14 - 53

COTTONWOOD (56) – Chavez 4-7 6-8 17, Carter 0-2 1-2 1, Glenn 2-2 0-1 4, Kristensen 1-3 3-3 5, Dooley 1-4 0-0 2, Smith 3-6 2-4 10, Lundquist 2-4 0-1 5, Vassau 3-3 1-1 10, Malugin 1-2 0-2 2. Totals 17-35 13-22 56.
TAYLORSVILLE (53) – Togiai 5-9 3-3 15, Meters 1-3 2-2 4, W. Wright 6-10 0-0 14, McCloyn 2-7 3-4 7, Roper 0-1 0-0 0, Saelim 0-1 0-0 0, B. Wright 4-7 3-4 13. Totals 18-40 11-15 53.
Total fouls: Cottonwood 12, Taylorsville 17. Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: McCloyn. Three-point goals: Cottonwood 9-16 (Chavez 3, Vassau 3, Smith 2, Glenn). Taylorsville 6-19 (Togiai 2, W. Wright 2, B. Wright 2). Rebounds: Cottonwood 22 (Glenn 4), Taylorsville 24 (Togiai 4). Turnovers: Cottonwood 17, Taylorsville 17.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Alta does it again

For the second consecutive week, I had the chance to cover the Alta High School football team. The Hawks defeated Cottonwood 37-13 in a 5A quarterfinal contest at Alta.

It was a beautiful day for football. Sunny skies, only a little bit of wind, with temperatures in the upper 50s. I wore a coat, but didn't need it until late in the game.

Alta is a great team. The Hawks don't beat themselves. They make you beat them. Cottonwood and Alta faced off in the first game of the regular season, and the Hawks dominated, 59-20. QB Jordan Brown is the offensive leader, and had a great game. But to beat Alta, you have to hold down their receivers.

Zach Liston, Skyler Mayne and Tyron Morris each had great games, and they made Brown look good. Alta's offensive line usually gave Brown time to throw, and Cottonwood couldn't keep up. With the win, Alta advanced to play Bingham in one 5A semifinal game at Rice-Eccles Stadium. In the other game, Hunter will play Davis.

I'm trying to avoid disrespecting Hunter and Davis, but you have to figure the Alta-Bingham winner will be favored in the 5A championship game. Alta is the two-time defending 5A champion, but Bingham should be favored to win next week's game because the Miners edged Alta earlier this year.

Cottonwood looked good in the first quarter of this game. QB Crosby Jensen hit Tim Glenn a few times and RB Nadan Hosea earned the majority of his yardage. The defense also stopped Alta on its first two drives. The Colts hurt themselves, though, when Jensen threw an interception that led to Alta's points. Cottonwood also settled for field goals, instead of touchdowns, and couldn't gain a lot of momentum.

This is Cottonwood's first year back in 5A, and the Colts were respectable, although they believe they should win it all. They simply don't have the depth and talent like Alta and Bingham ... not yet at least. Cottonwood finished with an 8-4 record, and lost to teams that are still playing. Cheers for Cottonwood for playing a tough schedule, and for challenging itself to be the best team possible.

Cheers also for both teams in that they played with class. In the first game they played, there was some on-field talk between the teams, and it may have lacked sportsmanship. This game was different.

So, what do I remember most from this game?

* - Realistically, it wasn't that memorable, except I believe I learned more about Alta's football team. That may come in handy next week when I watch the big semifinal contest. Steve Luhm was there, representing the Salt Lake Tribune. I used to work with Steve when were both at the Tribune, and he is a good guy. He's a big asset to the Trib's sports department, and it was a pleasure to hang out with them at this game.

* - Alta's receivers aren't that fast, but they're quick. They also broke a lot of tackles that led to big plays. Alta had four pass plays over 40 yards. What's sad is they are in the same region as Jordan's great receivers, so it's possible some of those guys won't make first team all-region, even though they might deserve it.

* - Cottonwood's uniforms. The Colts' colors are yellow, black and white, and they sometimes differentiate their uniforms for each game. I like that. Alta wears all black at home, with grey numbers. The numbers are somewhat difficult to read from a distance, but I've noticed a number of teams are going with that kind of design.

* - The homes that overlook Alta's field. They are above the stadium, on a small hill, and it gives the homeowners great views of the games. There are some disadvantages to east-facing homes, but if I lived there, I would host parties every night Alta plays at home.

* - The game started at 4 p.m., and it was a bright afternoon. Alta was on the west side of the field, and in the shade. Cottonwood was in the sun for most of the first half, and it couldn't have been comfortable. I noticed a lot of people there trying to shield their eyes from the sun. Steve and I stayed on Alta's sideline in the first half, then moved to the Cottonwood side after the sunset.

* - Parking. Last week, I found a nice parking spot. This time, I had to park in a nearby neighborhood. Still, the stadium wasn't full. It helps to arrive early, it seems, to get the best parking spot.

I got to the game late, so my statistics weren't as good as usual. However, the Cottonwood statisticians provided me with some info, so I was able to catch up. Here they are:

Cottonwood 3 3 0 7 - 13
Alta 3 13 21 0 - 37

A – FG Vance Bingham 41
C – FG Riley Harper 27
C – FG Harper 28
A – Tyron Morris 67 pass from Jordan Brown (Bingham kick)
A – FG Bingham 23
A – FG Bingham 28
A – Morris 70 pass from Brown (Bingham kick)
A – Skyler Mayne 3 run (Bingham kick)
A – Mayne 21 pass from Brown (Bingham kick)
C – Jason Lundquist 10 pass from Crosby Jensen (Harper kick)

Team statistics

First downs: Alta 20, Cottonwood 17
Rushes-yards: Alta 26-74, Cottonwood 28-116
Passing yards: Alta 432, Cottonwood 188
Passes: Alta 20-25-0, Cottonwood 17-45-1
Fumbles: Alta 0-0, Cottonwood 2-2
Penalties: Alta 8-77, Cottonwood 7-45
Punts: Alta 3-38.3, Cottonwood 4-50.2

Individual statistics

RUSHING: Alta – Eyring 10-34, Finnerty 7-33, Mayne 5-22, Jefferson 1-7, Brown 3 -(-14). Cottonwood – N. Hosea 25-98, K. Hosea 2-13, Carter 1-5.

PASSING: Alta – Brown 19-24-0-424, Handley 1-1-0-8. Cottonwood – Jensen 16-38-1-188.

RECEIVING: Alta – Liston 8-173, Mayne 8-86, Morris 3-166, Eyring 1-7. Cottonwood – Glenn 8-103, Lundquist 5-55, Roberts 2-16, N. Hosea 2-10, Beveridge 1-9, Jensen 1-(-1).

Friday, October 30, 2009

Alta opens playoffs with narrow win

The Utah high school state football playoffs started tonight and, unfortunately, there were no real upsets.

I was at the Fremont at Alta game and, while Fremont put up a good fight, it was all Alta in the second half. The Hawks won 38-14 to advance toward what could be their third straight 5A state championship.

There were a couple of games that surprised me. Syracuse beat Skyline 31-7 and Delta whipped Judge Memorial 41-7. Those would have been my upset picks. I found later, however, that Skyline's RB - Algernon Brown - was injured in the first quarter and didn't play after that. Judge? Well, Judge hasn't played to its potential all year.

The game I was at was played Alta. It was a cold afternoon, thanks to a southerly wind that finally died down at halftime. You can read my game story in the Deseret News, but here are the highlights.

Fremont played well. For being the fifth seed from Region 1, the Silverwolves had Alta worried. Fremont's QB, Brody Garr, played a great game. Fremont scored its first touchdown on a fake field goal, where Garr took a pitch and hit 6-foot-6 Tate Lewis wide open for a touchdown.

That gave Fremont some momentum. They lost it a while later when Alta when a big QB sack turned into a safety a couple of plays later. Garr was at his best when he got rid of the ball quickly. But he was sacked for a 17-yard loss. Then, under heavy pressure, he threw the ball away from the end zone. There were no receivers in the area so the referees awarded Alta two points. It was a legitimate call.

To make a long story short, Fremont scored on a nice screen pass to take a 14-12 lead, but there was still over a minute left. Alta doesn't need much time, and QB Jordan Brown led a nice drive that culminated with a 9-yard TD pass to Tyron Morris.

The score was 20-14 at halftime, and the second half was dull. Alta dominated, on both offense and defense. The Hawks scored on their first possession and, the way their defense was playing, the game was never in doubt.

I have to admit ... I like upsets. I also like close games. So, maybe I'm a bit one-sided on this subject. I appreciate Fremont giving Alta a decent game. That's the fan in me. I like the NCAA basketball tournament for that reason.

But Alta was obviously the better team. The Hawks had too many penalties, but it didn't make a difference in the game. Here are a few things I noticed:

* - Alta's offensive and defensive lines dominated. They held Fremont to minus-41 yards rushing, thanks to six sacks. On offense, Alta rushed for 243 yards. If that's not a season high, I'll be surprised.

* - Alta has great receivers, but my favorite is No. 10 - Tyron Morris. It was no surprise that's who Brown often threw to when he needed to make a play. Morris caught a 9-yard TD pass late in the second quarter that was one of the big plays of the game.

* - Late in the game, a funny thing occurred. Brown got the snap, faked to a running back, and then went sprinting to the right. Most of the Fremont players (and the fans) followed the running back and ... well .. so did most of the officials. When he was tackled, a referee blew his whistle. At the same time, Brown was running with the ball and was eventually tackled near the sideline after a short gain. Then an official threw a flag as they tried to figure out what happened. Turns out it was a great fake. The officials didn't know what to do, so they called a "do over." I've never seen that happen before. Great fake, Jordy.

* - Fremont should be congratulated. The Silverwolves were obviously outclassed. Alta has too many talented players. But Fremont played within itself and didn't make many mistakes, so it stayed close. Alta coach Les Hamilton told me later that coach Bosgieter was a great coach who won a state championship at Weber back in 1998. I never confirmed that, but it makes sense.

Alta knew it was in a game. I kept statistics during the game, and here they are:

Fremont 7 7 0 0 - 14
Alta 7 13 8 10 - 38

A – Jordan Brown 1 run (Vance Bingham kick)
F – Tate Lewis 20 pass from Brody Garr (Corey Craynor kick)
A – FG Bingham 39
A – Safety, intentional grounding penalty in end zone
F – Nick Vigil 17 pass from Garr (Craynor kick)
A – Tyron Morris 9 pass from Brown (Brown run)
A – Brown 5 run (Morris pass from Brown)
A – FG Bingham 24
A – Bryan Finnerty 2 run (Bingham kick)

Team statistics

First downs: Alta 28, Fremont 12
Rushes-yards: Alta 47-243, Fremont 15(-41)
Passing yards: Alta 213, Fremont 216
Passes: Alta 17-24-1, Fremont 21-35-2
Fumbles lost: Alta 0-0, Fremont 0-0
Penalties: Alta 12-143, Fremont 5-39
Punts: Alta 1-45.0, Fremont 5-34.8

Individual statistics

RUSHING: Alta – Eyring 18-99, Finnerty 16-71, Brown 9-49, Liston 1-13, Jefferson 3-11. Fremont – Vigil 5-8, Wilson 1-1, Bitton 1-(-1), Stucki 1-(-6), Garr 7-(-43).

PASSING: Alta – Brown 17-24-1-213. Fremont Garr 21-35-2-216.

RECEIVING: Alta- Mayne 5-87, Morris 4-61, Liston 4-40, Sylvester 2-14, Eyring 1-8, Brady 1-6. Fremont – Lewis 5-62, Bitton 5-44, Vigil 4-54, Craner 4-30, Willie 3-25.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Jordan advances to playoffs

On a cold, wintry evening in October, the Jordan Beetdiggers qualified for the 5A playoffs, and they proved they deserved to be there by advancing the hard way.

The Beetdiggers defeated Brighton 35-30 in a 5A play-in game played at Hillcrest High School. It may have been the best game I have seen all season.

There were heroes on both sides of the ball. I like games like that. In reality, one play didn't win it or lose it for either team. It was a combined effort. A game both teams will remember the rest of their lives.

Despite the excitement that lasted throughout the game, it ended sadly. Jordan deserved to win. The Diggers played better than Brighton in two straight games. I don't believe they will match up well against their next opponent - top-ranked Bingham - but that doesn't matter.

Why do I feel this way? Simple. Brighton has a lot of talent, and the Bengals made a name for themselves this season with their defense. If Brighton is to win, it has to do it with defense. In this game, Jordan's defense outplayed them. Brighton cannot give up 35 points and expect to win.

As the game was winding down, Brighton QB Derek Newell appeared to score on a 16-yard run through the blowing snow. It was nullified by an illegal block penalty. I never saw the infraction. After the game, I spoke to Bingham coach Dave Peck, who was watching the game from the concourse level. He said he saw it. The block likely sprung Newell for the score. He said without the block, Newell probably would not have reached the end zone, but Brighton would be very close.

Newell threw an interception on the next play, which happens so often in sports. Jordan then ran out the clock. As the players congratulated each other, the referees had to walk (run) past the Brighton fans, and they were booed as they left the field.

If there was a sad point to this game, it was that an official's call decided the outcome. Sure, there probably was a penalty on that play. Too bad it couldn't have happened with five minutes left in the game, instead of the final minute.

Now, Brighton's season is over. The Bengals finished 6-4 and may have won the title in another region. But this is Region 4. Don't be surprised if Region 4 has at least three teams in the 5A semifinals.

Will Jordan be one of them? Hard to say, but the Diggers showed something on this night.

The game was played in cold temperatures, and it snowed frequently. Midway through the game, the Brighton Booster Club arranged for gas-powered heating units to be placed on each team's sidelines. That was a class act on their part.

Hart never took advantage of it. He was too involved in the game. He completed 22 of 32 passes for 327 yards and was in great form. He combined short passes over the middle, with occasional lobs down the sidelines that were on target.

His favorite receiver was Braden Hammond, who set a Utah state record this season for most receptions. Hammond caught all four of Hart's touchdown passes, including a 58-yarder when be broke several tackles.

Jordan's offense has earned the headlines all season, but the defense was the difference. Even with Heimuli starting at center, Jordan held its own. Plus, the Diggers made big plays. They forced a fumble that Grant Gary returned 16 yards for a touchdown. Earlier, the Diggers also blocked a punt that Bill Vavau returned that set up a score.

Brighton had its share of big plays, but all by the offense and special teams.

Stephen Robinson, who botched a punt that helped Jordan win the previous game, returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. Robinson also caught a 68-yard pass from Newell for another score just before halftime.

Jace Felix, who was the team's QB for much of last season, completed a 65-yard scoring pass to Zane Smith with about five minutes left that set up the pivotal ending.

Here are a few other things I noticed:

* - Taylor Loomis. Anyone see this kid? He was No. 7 in Jordan's defense. He also punted and kicked off. Loomis played a huge role in this game that few fans may have noticed. Loomis also played at Brighton last year (as a freshman), but transferred to Jordan, which drew the ire of many Brighton players and parents. Anyway, Loomis made several big tackles, including at least two on kickoff returns that might have saved scores. He also had a nice night punting under difficult conditions.

* - Anyone notice Big Budha? Channel 13's morning show personality was on Jordan's sideline during the game. He has a son that plays on the team, he said. Before I could ask his son's name, I was shooed away. Still, it was cool to see him there. If his kid's even half his size, he's probably pretty good.

* - Brighton's exuberance. In last week's game, Brighton coach Ryan Bullet said his team didn't show enough emotion. They were better this time, but very vocal in the final quarter. That's how Brighton MUST play to win. When they do, they're very tough to beat.

* - Heimuli played in his final high-school game. It was a great season, and he will advance to play college ball somewhere. He made a huge difference on defense. Jordan still threw for over 300 yards, but their rushing yards were way down.

* - Media coverage of this game was pretty good. I roamed the sidelines on both sides of the field and saw plenty of TV cameras, and a Deseret News reporter (John Coon). Apparently, Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune was there, but I didn't see him. He's from Florida, though, and probably sat in the press box. In his game story, he wrote that the game was played in blizzard-like conditions. He needs to live here longer. It was snowy, but I only wore a light jacket. I did need two glasses of hot chocolate, though. It was very good.

Since I didn't cover this game, I didn't keep statistics. I wish I had. That would have been interesting.\

Next up? I'll be at the Fremont at Alta game Friday night. Let's hope it's a little warmer.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Jordan upends Brighton

It's Friday night in the fall, and that means I'm at another football game.

And what a great game it was. This time, I was at the Brighton vs. Jordan football contest. It had a lot of buildup. It was "senior night" at Brighton, meaning it was the final home game of the season. It also was a big game because it could decide the fourth - and final - playoff berth in Region 4.

Brighton had a 3-2 region record, while Jordan was 2-3. Thus, Brighton had the advantage. But Jordan won the game, 28-20. It was a great game, but it was missing something. I couldn't figure out what it was until afterward.

The atmosphere once the game ended was a mess. Since it was "senior night," Brighton was acknowledging all of its senior players. Of course, they were disappointed, but the show must go on.

I spoke to Brighton coach Ryan Bullett, and he finally informed me what it was. Brighton wasn't inspired. When I was on the sidelines for the Brighton-Alta game, their whole sideline was involved. It was exciting. But not this time.

Brighton's star player, Ricky Heimuli, didn't play. He was hurt. I noticed that immediately, and asked him what was wrong. Heimuli was brooding. He told me about his injury, and he appeared meek. This guy is 6-4, 295 pounds, but he was a head case.

I told him - and I probably should not have done this as an independent bystander covering the game - that he needed to be his team's biggest cheerleader. He didn't take my advice (why should he?).

Coach Bullett said his team wasn't inspired, and I believe it. Brighton is a good team, with a great defense. But it has to be inspired to show it. If not, they may not even make the playoffs.

Jordan deserved to win the game. I spent the second half on the Jordan sideline, and it was impressive to watch. Everyone on that sideline was involved, and so were the Jordan fans.

I got a chance to interview Jordan QB Alex Hart after the game. He was a class act. He's going to Utah State next year, and he may end up starting for them someday. I hope he does because he threw some great passes and has great knowledge of Jordan's playbook.

In the interview, he showed me that he knew when he made great plays, and he knew when he screwed up. He accepted both. That's the sign of a great player. I became a fan of Alex Hart right there.

Jordan runs the spread offense, but its receivers aren't that fast. The thing about the spread is that it's the QBs job to get the ball into the hands of the receivers, using short, pinpoint passes, and then the receivers make the yards.

Jordan doesn't seem to have that game-breaking receiver, but Hart does a nice job of getting the ball to them anyway. He passed for 328 yards, which is an off-night for him.

Brighton's offense wasn't impressive. It took a while for Brighton to get going. The Bengals benefited from a 90-yard kickoff return on a reserve by Sosiah TaKai, but the offense had just two first downs at halftime.

TaKai ended up with 96 yards, and became a force in the second half. QB Derek Newell couldn't hit the long ball (and he tried several times), but had good luck throwing short and letting his receivers do the work.

Stephen Robinson, who fumbled a punt late in the game that made a big difference, also showed that he has the potential to do a lot of good things. Robinson was the hero in Brighton's win over American Fork last week, and he will be a hero again, I'm sure. He caught a 77-yard TD pass from Newell.

Jordan and Brighton meet again Tuesday night. Here's a thought: Get the ball to Robinson more. While Jordan played consistently on this night, Brighton has the game-breakers, and Robinson is one of them.

OK. Enough of that. Here are a few other things I noticed from Friday's game:

* - It was "senior night" and Brighton traditonally shoots off fireworks afterward. It was a great show, and it kept the fans there after the game. That was great. Keep it up.

* - Brighton and Jordan have to play their playoff game on a neutral site. Brighton chose Hillcrest; Jordan chose Alta. Why? Brighton wanted to play on grass; Jordan on turf. Does it really matter? Yes. Because Brighton can't practice on turf. They viewed that as an advantage for Jordan. I asked Brighton principal Charisse Hilton (in a jokingly matter) if she had an extra $500,000 to put turf in the stadium. She answered very nicely, "No. We like playing on grass." She's right. So do I.

* - The other day, I discovered this website called It has a lot of potential. It's a website dedicated to the coverage of Utah sports, especially high-school athletics. Their Facebook site is great. I liked it because that's where they place game photos. They had a photographer at the Brighton-Jordan game, too. I spoke to their leaders Friday, and they were at this game. I want to learn more about them, and see if we can help each other. There's big potential there.

* - I got to know Jordan coach Eric Kjar and I met athletic director Mark Hunter after the game. They were classy guys. I was impressed with Jordan's professionalism. Their fans, though, are another story. They were bad-mouthing the referees the entire time. I don't know what to say about that. It was ... disappointing.

* - One last thing. I met a woman on the Jordan sidelines. I didn't get her name. But her last name was Babka, and her son is No. 52. Wow. She was wearing Jordan athletic gear, and she looked impressive wearing it. She was taking photos of the game. I spoke to her briefly. I wonder if No. 52 knows her mother is hot? I don't know how old she is, but she still has "it." Her husband is some big muckety-muck named Beau Babka. I remember his name because he used to be associated with the police. Beau, if you ever read this, I hope you realize how fortunate you are.

Ok. That's enough of that.

I kept statistics from the game, of course. Here they are.

Jordan 7 14 0 7 - 28
Brighton 7 7 0 6 - 20

J - Bill Vavau recovered fumble in end zone (Cory Rodgers kick)
B - Sosiah Takai 90 kickoff return (Anthony Mares kick)
J - Steve Morgan 8 pass from Alex Hart (Rodgers kick)
J - Morgan 17 pass from Hart (Rodgers kick)
B - Stephen Robinson 77 pass from Derek Newell (Mares kick)
J - Hart 1 run (Rodgers kick)
B - TaKai 7 run (kick blocked)

Team statistics

First downs: Jordan 24, Brighton 10
Rushes-Yards: Jordan 30-56, Brighton 29-80
Passing yards: Jordan 328, Brighton 148
Passes: Jordan 30-50-1, Brighton 9-20-0
Fumbles-lost: Jordan 3-0, Brighton 2-1
Penalties: Jordan 5-37, Brighton 2-16
Punts: Jordan 6-37.2, Brighton 7-32.1

Individual statistics

Rushing: Jordan - Hart 15-10, Spillman 9-23, Malaga 4-12, Hill 2-1. Brighton - TaKai 18-96, Newell 8-(-6), Lotulelei 1-3, Woodland 1-2, Felix 1-(-5)

Passing: Jordan - Hart 30-50-1-328. Brighton - Newell 9-20-0-128.

Receiving: Jordan - Hammond 8-107, Morgan 7-67, Hill 5-37, Hunt 3-47, Spillman 3-20, Malaga 2-15, Demis 1-6. Brighton - Robinson 3-104, Smith 2-18, Lotulelei 2-16, hansen 1-5.

Missed field goals: None

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Skyline blows past Murray

The nice thing about this week is that we have prep football on Thursday and Friday nights. The Deseret News asked me to cover the Jordan at Brighton game Friday night, but I wanted to go out early.

So, on Thursday night, I went out and watched the Skyline at Murray game. I'm very familiar with Skyline, having helped the school's booster club publish its preseason program. I wanted to see Murray, though. The Spartans have had a breakout season, and I wanted to be part of it.

Skyline won the game, 59-35. The Eagles' offense was impressive. QB Chase Dunford had a great game and RB Algernon Brown was unstoppable. Skyline reached the playoffs for the 24th consecutive season, and that's impressive. The Eagles will play Syracuse next week, and they have a chance to pull off the upset.

This was my first time attending a game at Murray since I used to work for the Salt Lake Tribune in the early 1990s. I was disappointed in the crowd. The Murray crowd was rather small, and Skyline also didn't travel well.

Later, I found out I might have been mistaken. Football games, as most people know, is a social occasion. A lot of the Murray fans weren't sitting in the stands. They were congregating at the south end of the stadium. Unlike me, they weren't interested in the game. So, I learned something.

So, what made this game stand out?

I don't know. I suppose, at the start of the season, when Skyline was looking at its schedule, this was written as an automatic victory. Skyline did blow Murray out in the first half. But the second half, when Skyline was playing its reserves, the Spartans did come back.

Coach Dan Aragon should be proud because his team did not give up. The Spartans put up 35 points on Skyline. I look forward to Murray competing even more in the future. It appears he's on the right track.

Skyline, of course, has been on track for some time. After the game, I interviewed coach Roger Dupaix. He and I know each other. I've interviewed him a number of times. He's such a class act. I hope that when he finally retires, they rename their stadium after him.

Here are a few other tidbits:

* - Dunford throws a nice ball. He only passed the ball (officially) three times, and completed two for 70 yards. But his throws were on target. Ironically, he had one pass that resembled a "wounded duck" and Murray had a chance to intercept it. They missed it, but the play was wiped out by a penalty anyway.

* - Brown is a monster. He can outrun opponents, and run right through them. Syracuse will have its hands full. In the playoffs, Brown will get the ball more, I'm sure. Skyline even has him returning punts. Not a bad idea.

* - No Brian Orr tonight. Turns out Skyline's star receiver was injured last week in an off-the-field incident. He's out for the season, and may not be able to play basketball until the region season. Skyline missed him. He has a chance to make all-state.

* - Murray QB Dee Hamala isn't what I expected. He's a lot smaller, but he makes good decisions. Besides playing QB, Murray has him returning kicks and he had a couple of nice returns tonight. I'll be curious to see if he plays college ball.

Of course, I kept statistics during the game. Here they are:

Skyline 14 28 7 10 - 59
Murray 7 0 14 14 - 35

S – Algernon Brown 2 run (Izak Yapius kick)
S – Matt hew Newman 10 run (Andrus Jones kick)
M – Kamron Sanders 26 pass from Dee Hamala (Zack Battenfield kick)
S – Brown 46 run (Yapius kick)
S – Brown 37 pass from Chase Dunford (Jones kick)
S – Andy Rounds 23 run (Yapius kick)
S – Dunford 1 run (Jones kick)
M – Bronson Gray 9 pass from Hamala (Battenfield kick)
S – Taylor Lithgow 65 run (Yapius kick)
M – Hamala 24 run (Battenfield kick)
S – FG Jones 18
M – Kamron Sanders 25 pass from Drew Rindlisbacher (Battenfield kick)
S – Mike Pell 58 run (Yapius kick)
S – Sanders 58 pass from Rindlisbacher (Battenfield kick)

Team Statistics

First downs – Skyline 17, Murray 17
Rushes-yards – Skyline 37-388, Murray 33-73.
Passing yards – Skyline 70, Murray 316
Passes – Skyline 2-3-0, Murray 20-41-0
Fumbles lost – Skyline 1-0, Murray 3-2
Penalties – Skyline 6-58, Murray 5-54
Punts – Skyline 1-40.0, Murray 3-29.3

Individual statistics

Rushing – Skyline – Dunford 9-87, Pell 5-78, Brown 4-65, Rounds 5-45, Newman 7-36, Lithgow 1-65, Ubani 1-9, Johansen 5-3. Murray – Hamala 18-67, Prestwich 5-18, Jensen 3-8, Fisihetau 3-5, Rindlisbacher 2-(-10), Sanders 1-(-1).

Passing – Skyline – Dunford 2-3-0-70. Murray – Hamala 15-31-0-189, Rindlisbacher 5-5-0- 127.

Receiving – Skyline – Brown 1-44, Hultquist 1-33. Murray – Sanders 7-146, Flitton 5-79, Miller 4-35, Moore 2-30, Gray 2-25.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Bingham wins Region 3

It’s mid-October and, surprisingly, the weather isn’t too cold tonight. It’s also nice to be at Bingham High School because it plays on artificial surface, which isn’t as cold as the grass was last week at West Jordan.

Tonight’s game was between Riverton and Bingham. It’s also Bingham’s homecoming. I’ve grown tired of watching homecoming activities at halftime, so I made sure to duck out during that time.

This was my first time at Bingham’s stadium, although I feel like I know it so well. I published Bingham’s preseason football guide, so I know more about Bingham’s football program than most. I’m glad the Deseret News asked me to cover this game, though, because I was anxious to see Riverton play, and I wanted to see what the atmosphere was like at this stadium.

First, the atmosphere. The stadium was packed. Perhaps it was just homecoming, but Bingham fans were involved. At halftime, I left the field and grabbed something to eat. There were plenty of different options (hamburgers, hot dogs, popcorn, even carmel apples). I was impressed. I could smell the barbecue all night from the field.

Parking wasn’t bad, even though the place was packed. The stadium has a nice setting, with the mountains providing a nice backdrop and the nearby temple looked nice. This time of year, it gets dark at about 7 p.m. I was told by a local photographer that Bingham’s stadium lighting is better than most.

On the sidelines, I didn’t see any other reporters. Afterward, I saw a lady from Channel 5 (I forget her name, but she’s very attractive), and Comcast was there. I don’t understand Comcast. It’s a cable TV company, and they have a representative there interviewing coaches and players after the game.

As for the game, Bingham won 35-7. The outcome was never in doubt. Bingham is so much better than any other team in Region 3 that it’s not even funny. Riverton’s offense had trouble moving the football. The Silverwolves will earn a playoff berth, and even a first-round home game. But they’ve never won a playoff contest, and it’s unlikely it will happen this year.

This was the only time I’ve seen them play, and they lost, so it’s likely that I didn’t see them at their best. I would like to see Riverton win, but they’re going to open the post-season against the third-place team from Region 4 (Lone Peak, Pleasant Grove or Alta) and will probably get crunched again.

This wasn’t one of Bingham’s best games. RB Harvey Langi had 122 yards rushing and two touchdowns, including a nice one with just a few minutes left in the game. Still, I was impressed with Bingham’s defense. Riverton only moved the football once.

Bingham led 21-0 at halftime, but the third quarter belonged to Riverton. There were so many personal foul penalties in that quarter that it was tough to keep track of them all. Riverton scored in the third quarter and – briefly – it was a game again. But it didn’t last long.

Bingham’s Braden Anderson was on the bench. He injured his hamstring the week before against West Jordan, and won’t play until the post-season. That kid’s a stud and worth at least seven points each game.

What do I remember most of this game? Afterward, I interviewed Bingham coach Dave Peck, but Riverton left the stadium quickly, so I never got a chance to talk to Riverton coach Mike Miller. That disappointed me. It’s not his fault; it’s mine. I blew it, and it affected my game story.

I did keep statistics from the game. Here they are:

Riverton 0 0 7 0 – 7
Bingham 14 7 0 14 – 35

B - Baker Pritchard 7 pass from Ty Hannay (Derek Loveless kick)
B – Kamron Coon 26 interception return (Loveless kick)
B – Josh Smith 10 pass from Hannay (Loveless kick)
R – Dillon Draper 1 run (Matt Sullivan kick)
B – Harvey Langi 2 run (Loveless kick)
B – Langi 40 run (Loveless kick)


First downs – Bingham 20, Riverton 9
Rushes-yards – Bingham 35-198, Riverton 25-58
Passing yards – Bingham 133, Riverton 77
Passes – Bingham 10-14-0, Riverton 8-14-2
Fumbles lost – Bingham 0-0, Riverton 4-0
Penalties – Bingham 7-89, Riverton 4-37
Punts – Bingham 2-31.0, Riverton 6-29.5


RUSHING – Riverton Luau 8-50, Draper 8-6, Zymola 3-3, Evans 4-17, Thoreson 2-(-18). Bingham – Langi 18-122, Vakapuna 4-33, Hannay 6-20, Cantwell 6-16, Stephens 1-7.

PASSING – Riverton, Thoreson 8-14-2-77, Bingham, Hannay 9-13-0-112, Peck 1-1-0-21.

RECEIVING – Riverton, Bowman 4-52, Draper 3-10, Hansen 1-15. Bingham, Copier 2-49, Smith 2-22, Afalava 1-21, Vakapuna 1-16, Fackrell 1-13, Pritchard 1-7, Langi 1-3, Cantwell 1-1.

MISSED FIELD GOALS: Bingham (2) – Loveless (46, 45)

Bingham dominates its rival

I love rivalry games. It brings out the best in both teams ... usually. Fans turn out in record numbers, there is passion on the field. It's high school sports at its best.

Bingham vs. West Jordan used to be a great rivalry, but it has gone south. Years ago, when West Jordan High School opened, it took a lot of its students from Bingham. The kids are neighbors, they've played each other in Little League, and they know each other well.

In football, Bingham has built a tradition. West Jordan hasn't yet. This game showed it, as Bingham won 41-7. The game wasn't close, but I can see that the Jaguars are making progress.

Last season, I covered a West Jordan game (at Olympus) and was very impressed with the team. The Jaguars won all their non-region games, but then collapsed in region. During the offseason, Oly's coach joined West Jordan as an assistant and he brought his "spread" offense with him. This year, the Jaguars are scoring a lot of points.

A week or two ago, though, they lost their starting quarterback, Adam Boelter, to injury. Tonight, they started freshman Michael Moorehead. The offense isn't the same, and that showed. Moorehead has a lot of potential, but he is still a freshman. Boelter is a junior, and was on a record pace when he was hurt (against Riverton).

West Jordan lost the Riverton game, 14-6. After the Bingham loss, I interviewed coach Mike Morgan and he Boelter got a concussion. "We couldn't understand his reads in that game," Morgan said. Turns out he had a concussion. That's why. That's probably why West Jordan only scored six points.

Anyway, Bingham dominated this game. West Jordan's only hope was to match Bingham's scoring, and never could. Bingham RB Harvey Langi had two touchdowns in the first quarter, and finished with 127 rushing yards. He could have had a lot more, but Bingham coach Dave Peck recognized that this game was not going to be competitive, so he instructed his QBs to try to work on their passing attack, which they will need later.

Bingham didn't scored in the second quarter, so it was still a game at halftime. But the Miners put up 20 points in the third period, including a 52-yard interception return by Manoa Pikula. That made the clock run faster (due to the 35-point "mercy rule). I found out later that Pikula's INT return marked the third straight game Bingham had returned a pick for a touchdown.

The passing attack wasn't great, but had its moments. QB Ty Hannay completed 6 of 18 passes for 165 yards. The other QB - Stefan Cantwell - didn't play as much. He was just 1 of 3 for 7 yards. DB Braden Anderson had a nice night with two interceptions, and a TD reception on offense. He also had a couple of nice punt returns.

Anderson was injured late in the game (hamstring) and his status is uncertain. That hurt, but Bingham is so deep that it should be able to wrap up the Region 3 title without him.

Bingham just doesn't have a weak spot. If I had to find one, I'd say quarterback. That's because they play with two QBs, and that's usually not a good thing. Hannay didn't have a good game at Trinity, but he has been just fine against Utah schools. Bingham doesn't need him to win games; just don't lose them. As long as Hannay understands that concept (Bingham has plenty of guys who can win games), the team will be fine.

By comparison, look at Alta. The Hawks need their QBs to win games. Same could be said for West Jordan.

So, what were the highlights of this game:

* - First, I froze. It was a clear, cold night. I'm wearing tennis shoes next time. I wore my nice shoes on this night, and my feet got cold. I won't make that mistake again. I noticed coach Peck wasn't even wearing a jacket, and he was fine. He probably had a lot of adrenaline running through him.

* - Second, I looked for my high-school friend, Jeff Nicol, but didn't find him. His stepson, Dalton Fackrell, plays for Bingham. Fackrell wasn't suited up on this night (injury). He's a big kid who might be able to play college football. Like I said, Bingham is loaded.

* - Third, credit West Jordan's fans. Bingham led 21-0 by the end of the first quarter, and they stuck it out. When the Jaguars finally scored - on an 18-yard pass from Moorehead to Deshawn Perkins - they cheered loudly.

* - After the game, I interviewed coach Peck and then looked for West Jordan's coach - Morgan. He and the team had already vacated the field and were in the locker room. Since the game ended early, I waited for him. I'm glad I did. It was a rough interview at the start, but he and I got to know each other. He's a class guy. That was one of the best interviews I've had with a coach this season.

I kept statistics from this game, too. Here they are:

Bingham 21 0 20 0 - 41
West Jordan 0 0 0 7 - 7

B - Harvey Langi 12 run (Braden Loveless kick)
B - Langi 22 run (Loveless kick)
B - Braden Anderson 20 pass from Ty Hannay (Loveless kick)
B - Langi 62 pass from Hannay (Loveless kick)
B - Josh Smith 23 pass from Hannay (Loveless kick)
B - Manoa Pikula 52 interception return (Loveless kick)
WJ - Deshawn Perkins 18 pass from Michael Moorehead (Alex Giordani kick)

Team statistics

First downs - Bingham 13, West Jordan 7
Rushes-yards - Bingham 27-119, West Jordan 16-86
Passing yards - Bingham 172, West Jordan 120
Passes - Bingham 7-21-0, West Jordan 11-30-4
Fumbles-lost - Bingham 1-0, West Jordan 1-1
Penalties - Bingham 7-51, West Jordan 3-20
Punts - Bingham 5-34.0, West Jordan 4-29.8

Individual statistics

RUSHING - Bingham, Langi 9-127, Cantwell 5-(-4), Hannay 4-(-7), Vakapuna 2-4, Housel 1-2, Tausinga 1-(-1). West Jordan, Moorehead 10-62, Maestes 3-10, Peacock 2-11, O'Neal 1-3.

PASSING - Bingham, Hannay 6-18-0-165, Cantwell 1-3-0-7. West Jordan, Moorehead 11-30-4-120.

RECEIVING - Bingham, Smith 3-59, Langi 1-62, Copier 1-32, Anderson 1-20. West Jordan, Perkins 6-81, Redmond 1-7, Collins 1-3, O'Neal 1-(-8).


Juan Diego's trip to Idaho

It was another Fall trip to Eastern Idaho, and this time the weather wasn't so good. A cold front recently blew it and, when it's cool in Salt Lake, that means it's cold in Pocatello.

The Deseret News sent me to Poky to cover the Juan Diego at Highland (Idaho) game. Actually, I volunteered to do it. I enjoy Pocatello and, this time, I was able to bring my kids. I have two daughters. They don't enjoy football much, but they did enjoy staying in a hotel, walking around the Minidome (Holt Arena). Plus, since this game was played on a Thursday night, we incorporated it with a visit to Boise to celebrate my birthday and see relatives.

We drove up the day of the game, with an hour stop at Smith & Edwards in North Ogden. I hadn't been there in years, and the kids loved browsing. We also found a bunch of old things (candy mostly) that you can't find these days. It brought back a lot of memories.

Once we arrived in Pocatello, we checked in at the Holiday Inn and spent an hour in their indoor swimming pool. I wanted to go to my favorite restaurant - Buddy's - but we didn't have time. We saved it until after the game.

The game didn't go well ... at least for Juan Diego. Highland won 28-3, and looked good doing it. More bad news for the Soaring Eagle. They had three players who seemed to be hurt seriously (DL Dan Jimenez, RB Lars Gunderson and LB Bryson Pitcher). Afterward, JD coach John Colosimo said they could be out for the season. Playing this game could hurt the team's post-season chances in Utah.

Highland dominated the line of scrimmage, especially on defense. JD never got its running game going. The Soaring Eagle's biggest plays came when QB Cody Stevenson connected with Keegan Anderson on a flare pass out of the backfield. Anderson would go in motion, then Stevenson would hit him immediately on a laser throw as he turned upfield. Highland never stopped that play, but JD only ran it twice.

Stephenson also seemed to have trouble on snaps. JD only had a one or two fumbled snaps, but the snaps just didn't seem crisp, and Stephenson sometimes didn't get the ball cleanly. Perhaps they should snapped the ball from the shotgun formation? I don't know. I'm not a coach.

Highland's QB, Tanner Nielson, had a decent night throwing the football. The Rams use a ball control passing offense and JD had trouble stopping it. Thus, Highland controlled the time of possession and, in a 48-minute game, that also limited JD's possessions.

There were some highlights for the visiting team. Here's what I noticed:

* - The team traveled well. That is, there were a lot of JD fans, almost as many as the home team. I know it wasn't a pleasant trip back to SLC but they do support their team.

* - Lighting in domed stadiums is often not too good. I spoke to a JD photographer, and she pointed out that the lighting was great. Judging from her photos, which you can find at, that was true. The people who operate this site shoot photos for Judge Memorial, Juan Diego, Westminster and more. It's awesome.

* - Juan Diego kicker Jaron Bentrude scored the team's only points - a 46-yard field goal. He boomed it, and it cleared the crossbar with plenty of room to spare. Afterward, I spoke to Bentrude on the sideline and he said, "I didn't hit it well." There were others on the sideline that said ISU (Idaho State) kickers can't do what Bentrude did. I hope that made him feel better.

* - I interviewed both coaches after the game. As you can guess, JD coach Colosimo was rather solemn. The loss didn't both him much, but the injuries did. And I don't think you can blame the artificial surface. Highland just beat up JD. The busiest person on JD's sideline were the trainers. There were a lot of delays because of the injuries. I don't recall Highland having too many injuries, though.

* - Highland coach Gino Mariana said his team went 3-1 against Utah schools this year, and wants to play more Utah teams next year. I guess his league will lose a team next season, which will mean he will need another non-league opponent. He would like to play Highland (Utah) again, Mountain Crest or Sky View. He figures Judge Memorial and Juan Diego won't want a rematch because Highland dominated them this year. I'm very familiar with Highland football. They have good talent, but playing here in the dome is a big home-field advantage for them.

* - Highland publishes its own game program. It's about 20 pages, black-and-white. It sells for $1. It's not a beautiful publication by any means, but it is put together by school's Advanced Journalism class. I found that interesting. It's the only school that I know that does that. Good for them.

Overall, I felt badly for Juan Diego. Nobody likes to see injuries, especially so many of them. It was a good experience for the team, though. When I played, road trips often brought the team closer together. This could hurt them (due to the injuries), or it could help. Only time will tell.

I did keep statistics from the game. Here they are:

Juan Diego 0 0 0 3 - 3
Highland 7 7 14 0 - 28

H - Kai Campbell 3 pass from Tanner Nielson (Paul Muzzo kick)
H - Tanner Nielson 1 run (Muzzo kick)
H - Kai Campbell 14 pass from Tanner Nielson (Muzzo kick)
H - Ean Filiaga 15 run (Muzzo kick)
JD - FG Jaron Bentrude 46

Team statistics

First downs - Juan Diego 11, Highland 20
Rushes-Yards - Juan Diego 30-80, Highland 30-100
Passing yards - Juan Diego 78, Highland 197
Passes - Juan Diego 5-11-2, Highland 20-29-0
Fumbles - Juan Diego 3-2, Highland 1-0
Penalties - Juan Diego 8-45, Highland 7-69
Punts - Juan Diego 2-34.0, Highland 2-42.0

Individual statistics

RUSHING - Juan Diego, Vea 13-73, Gunderson 6-13, Garn 3-9, Stevenson 8-(-15). Highland - Filiaga 6-34, Campbell 6-24, Gonzales 6-22, Castillo 3-9, Nielson 5-3, Rasmussen 1-(-4).

PASSING: Juan Diego, Stevenson 5-11-2-78. Highland, Nielson 20-29-0-197.

RECEIVING: Juan Diego, Bentrude 2-29, Anderson 2-25, Gunderson 1-24. Highland, Rasmussen 6-79, Castillo 5-49, Filiaga 3-24, Campbell 3-14, Schiess 2-27, Evans 1-4.


* -

Monday, October 12, 2009

Brighton Upsets Alta

The weather has started to change ... finally. Temperatures in the 90s are fine, but it's just not right for football season.

Here in mid-September, the first real cold front is coming and, while it was still warm on Friday evening, the rain has hit the mountains. It's just windy in the valley, but it won't be long before the rain hits here, too, and then the cooler weather arrives.

Rain is a sports writer's worst enemy. It means you can't take notes during the game, as long as you're on the football field. I spent the first half in the press box. In the second half, it was just windy. That's a sports writer's second-worst enemy because it blows your notebook pages. But at least it's better than rain.

Snow is OK. It adds to your story. Actually, though, a sports writer's worst enemy is deadline. But I've been in this business a long time, and can handle most deadline pressures.

Tonight's game is Alta at Brighton. The Bengals have a great home field, with the mountain in clear view. It's also homecoming here, and the stadium is packed. Alta brought a nice crowd to its sideline, but Brighton's side is overflowing. And everyone is dressed in orange or dark blue. On a sunny day, it makes for pretty pictures.

Speaking of pictures, I met a good friend on the sidelines. His name is Ted Cordingly. He is a professional photographer, and Brighton has hired him to shoot their games. His photos are great. I used a few of them in last year's Brighton football yearbook. He and I talked briefly during the game. He showed me a few of his shots from this game. As usual, they were great.

My good friend, Marty Renzhofer, was also there. Marty is a sportswriter for the Salt Lake Tribune. He and I go way back, when he was a sports writer in Pocatello, and I worked in Nampa. I used to enjoy covering sports events with Marty. He's an opinionated guy, and often gives too much opinion during games. Still, it's always a pleasure to cover a game with him. Marty's one of the best.

This was also a great game. Brighton won 21-10, handing Alta its first Region 4 loss. It also means Brighton is back. Bengals coach Ryan Bullett needed a "signature" win and he got it. This was probably the biggest victory in his coaching career.

Coach Bullett is a good guy. I don't know if he's a great coach. I'm not a good judge of that. But I'm glad to see him have success. Brighton has a good football tradition, and it's nice to see them win again. I covered last year's Brighton-Alta game at Alta, where the Hawks won 45-0.

Ricky Heimuli had a good game. He's a 6-4, 295-pound lineman and he was all over the field. The Brighton defense was awesome. Alta still moved the ball at times, but Brighton's defense made plays, and forced three turnovers. That was the killer.

On offense, Brighton has a little running back who moved in from Cedar City. His name is Sosake Takai. He rushed for over 100 yards, including along TD run that broke the game open.

QB Derek Newell can run, too. Newell is not a great passer, but when the running game is working, it makes him better. Newell is a junior, and he is only going to get better. He plays basketball, too. He has scholarship potential somewhere.

Alta was all about QB Jordan Brown. He threw it, he ran it. He was a one-man show. Alta also has great receivers, but I felt they were too one-dimensional. Alta needs to find someone who can break a game open ... besides Brown. The Hawks have a RB named Bryant Finnerty. He ran for 28 yards, but he has potential. He just didn't handle the ball enough.

Alta was behind the whole game, so Brown had to throw it. He threw 30 times. Alta lost the game because of turnovers and that it couldn't handle Brighton's physical play.

Overall, this was probably the best game I've seen this season. It was broadcast locally on the radio. I liked it because it was an upset, which doesn't happen much in Utah high school football. I was also glad to see Brighton get that win for coach Bullett.

Now there are four good teams in Region 4. Brighton still has to prove itself some more to make the 5A playoffs. Alta is still a "lock," but the Hawks have to show up to win.

Here are my game statistics:

Alta 0 10 0 0 - 10
Brighton 0 14 7 0 - 21

B - Sosaki Taki 45 run (Anthony Mares kick)
A - FG Vance Bingham 24
B - Stephen Robinson 57 pass from Derek Newell (Mares kick)
A - Zach Liston 35 pass from Jordan Brown (Bingham kick)
B - Andy Jones 8 run (Mares kick)

Team Statistics

First downs - Alta 16, Brighton 16
Rushes-Yards - Alta 26-80, Brighton 40-198
Passing Yards - Alta 317, Brighton 114
Passes - Alta 20-30-1, Brighton 5-13-0
Fumbles-Lost - Alta 2-2, Brighton 0-0
Penalties - Alta 9-95, Brighton 4-25
Punts - Alta 1-41, Brighton 40-30.8

Individual Statistics

RUSHING - Alta, Finnerty 8-28, Brown 12-25, Eyring 3-18, Jefferson 2-2, Liston 1-7. Brighton, Takai 29-160, Newell 10-30, Jones 1-8.

PASSING - Alta, Brown 20-30-1-317. Brighton, Newell 5-12-0-114, Jones 0-1-0.

RECEIVING - Alta, Morris 6-123, Mayne 5-78, Liston 4-58, Finnerty 2-17, Jefferson 1-13, Brady 1-11, Richards 1-4. Brighton, Robinson 1-64, Felix 3-43, Chaus 1-7.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Greetings from Pocatello

It's early September and the weather is still pretty nice in Pocatello. I kind of "volunteered" to cover the Rocky Mountain Rumble here at Holt Arena because I enjoy coming here.

Why? For the football, of course.

Hardly. Pocatello is the home of Idaho State University, and the Bengals have been pathetic since my freshman year in college. That was a long time ago, although I do remember that vividly.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I noticed that four Utah teams would be playing four Idaho teams here in the Rocky Mountain Rumble. Since I am from Idaho, and know the Idhao teams, too, I thought it was a good idea. It also gave me a chance to get out of town and hit Buddy's, a local Italian restaurant in Pocatello and well worth the visit.

First, let me hit on Buddy's. This restaurant is known for its salads. It has a garlic viniagrette dressing that is amazing. It keeps me coming back.

I left Salt Lake early Saturday morning and made it plenty of time for the 11 a.m. kickoff for the first game (Sky View vs. Lake City, which is from Coeur d'Alene). I suppose they scheduled this game so Lake City could hop on its bus and have plenty of time to head home afterward.

Sky View buried Lake City, 41-7. The game was close early, but then Sky View was the dominant team. QB Kyler Carlson had a decent game passing the football, completing 18 of 29 passes for 205 yards and three TDs.

Frankly, I was most impressed with Sky View's ability to rally. Since this game was Saturday, I was supposed to send text messages to James Edward, the prep sports editor for the Deseret News, to keep him informed. He was doing a radio show that morning. That way, he could provide the listeners with score updates. It was 7-0 Lake City after the first quarter.

But Sky View came back with 20 points in the second period. When it was time to send him a text, his radio show was over. So, most people, I figured, thought Lake City was rolling to a victory.

It didn't happen. The big play was when Sky View blocked a punt and then Jamison Carroll recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown. That gave Sky View a 20-7 lead and Lake City never recovered. They should have just got on the bus after that.

I wrote my game story, and then it was lunchtime. I skipped the first half of the Bear River-Minico game and went to my hotel, and then over to Buddy's, where I put down one of their amazing salads. Ahhhhh.

I got back at halftime. Minico, which is from Rupert, Idaho, had this one in hand. The Spartans led 15-7 and Bear River fans thought they were in trouble.

The Bears rallied in the second half, though, and won 31-21.

The Rocky Mountain Rumble people in the press box were having trouble with their computerized statistics program, so they couldn't help me. Hey, I missed the first half.

So, after I interviewed the coaches and players, I interviewed a few others to get first-half info. I spoke to some great Bear River fans, and I also found the Bear River radio announcer. Apparently, the game was broadcast on the radio back to Tremonton. Sweeet. I got lucky.

I met a lot of neat Bear River fans. They were class acts and, when I told them I was representing the Deseret News, they were more than happy to help me. In return, I told them about the best restuarant in Pocatello. I hope many of them went to Buddy's before they left town.

There were two late games. Mountain Crest played Pocatello, and then the two Highlands met. I was anxious to see Mountain Crest, especially QB Alex Kuresa. He wasn't that impressive, though, because Pocatello blitzed him to death. He was running for his life on almost every play.

Speaking of that, the first play was great. Mountain Crest kicked off, and its kicker hit a line drive that nailed the Poky player right in the helmet at the 20-yard line. The ball bounced straight ahead and Mountain Crest recovered.

The Mustangs scored within the first minute of the game. Soon afterward, it was 12-0. After that, Poky started blitzing and Kuresa was in trouble. Keep in mind, too, that the Indians had thousands of fans and soon gained the momentum.

Mountain Crest didn't recover until the fourth quarter, and then put together a couple of drives to beat Pocatello. It wasn't the Mustangs best game, but it was good enough to grab the win. I wouldn't give Kuresa the game ball, but he did show a lot of agility while trying to evade the Poky pass rush.

Afterward, I interviewed the Pocatello coach. He was a great guy, and he told me that they had put a lot of thought in how to beat Mountain Crest. Poky had a detailed game plan, and it wasn't good enough.

The last game was the Highland (Idaho) vs. Highland (Utah). I didn't know it at the time, but I guess these teams played back in 1976. I'll have to check on that. I was somewhat worried about this game.

Why? Well, it was supposed to start at 8 p.m., but it was later. It was also a game between two schools named Highland, both named Rams and they had the same school colors. Just so you know, Highland, of Salt Lake, opened six years before Highland of Pocatello. So, if you want to know who copied who? Now you know.

This was a great game. Highland of Idaho won 19-17. I know that's important, but I was more impressed with how both teams handled themselves during the game - and afterward. This was an intense contest that wasn't decided until Highland (Idaho) kicker Paul Muzzo nailed a short (21-yard) field goal with four seconds left.

When it was over, I went onto the field of the ISU Minidome, which is now called Holt Arena. I walked right near both teams, and they were class acts. After such an emotional game, they both had respect for each other, and it showed.

Frankly, these teams should play each other EVERY year. Why not? Highland vs. Highland? What a great rivalry.

Highland, of Idaho, had an impressive passing game led by QB Tanner Nielson and RB Kai Campbell. Highland, of Utah, showed a strong running game led by RB Toi Taufa. He's a big 225-pounder who carried a bunch of guys on his back. Taufa finished with 139 yards on 20 carries. This guy was a stud.

Highland, of Utah, turned the ball over too many times early, which caused it to fall behind. However, they came back to even took the lead 17-16 late in the game. Everyone was on their feet in the final minutes until the game was decided.

But nobody left. After the game, the Rocky Mountain Rumble people handed out trophies and everyone cheered. It was an amazing event.

I could post statistics from each game, but it's not important. I stayed overnight at the Holiday Inn and had a great time. Yes, the games were indoors, and on astroturf, but I didn't see any bad injuries.

Highland, of Utah, coach Brody Benson told me afterward that his team had made "turned a corner" in that game. He believed it, and so did I.

It was a pleasure to be there.

Olympus Whips Copper Hills

It was a warm Friday night on Labor Day weekend when I covered the Olympus vs. Copper Hills football game.

Olympus won the game, 24-7. It was a pretty decisive victory for the Titans, whom I had seen play earlier this season against Hillcrest. It was a pleasure watching them again, and I was also happy to get to know their new coach, Mike Smith, a little bit better. He was a classy guy in the post-game interview.

This was also my first time covering Copper Hills. I had been to the school many times, but never for an actual sports event. Their football stadium is very nice. They have apparently set up a deal with the Sonic Drive-Inn to provide food at the stadium. Smart idea.

The athletic director at Copper Hills is Brad Tingey, whom I had met when he was at Hillcrest. Brad's a decent guy. I met his parents when I was a travel agent, so it means something special to me to deal with him.

Brad showed me the Copper Hills preseason football guide and it was very impressive. The photography was very nice. It's a classy production. I'm hoping I might be able to help them with it in the future, but that's another story.

I also met the photographer who provided most of the photos. His name is Terry Cullop, and he is one of the best I've seen. He gave me his website address while we talked, and I was impressed. The guy can shoot.

Now, back to the game.

Olympus pretty much dominated. Titans' running back Terry Isaia had a big night, including a long touchdown run. Isaia is one of those few backs who can run between the tackles, and outrun the secondary, too. He has a chance to play college ball.

Isaia finished with 154 yards rushing, but because Copper Hills had to focus on him, it also allowed QB Spencer Harris to make some big plays. Harris only threw for 121 yards, but he ran for 50 more and had a big impact on the game, just like he did against Hillcrest.

Copper Hills' QB, Quin Wright, threw some nice passes when he had time to throw the football. He tends to hang on to it too long, though, and that allowed Oly to get some sacks.

When he threw quick passes, that's when Copper Hills moved the football. The Grizzlies have a running back, Colton Fogarty, who had a good night, rushing for 133 yards on 24 carries, but the star of this team is Chandler Johnson. He plays WR, and he is quick and fast. When Johnson got the ball, he could score at any time.

So, what do I remember most about this game? Copper Hills tried several times on fourth down, and failed pretty much every time. Oly had that happen to it at the Hillcrest game a couple of weeks ago. Ironic, isn't it?

Here are some stats from this game:

Olympus 7 10 0 7 - 24
Copper Hills 0 0 0 7 - 7

O - Isaia 1 run (Hendriks kick)
O - FG Hendriks 26
O - Lindsley 34 pass from Harris (Hendriks kick)
CH - Fogarty 1 run (Newbold kick)
O - Isaia 52 run (Hendriks kick)

First downs: Olympus 13, Copper Hills 13
Rushes-yards: Olympus 35-205, Copper Hills 35-183
Passing yards: Olympus 121, Copper Hills 122
Passes: Olympus 12-17-0, Copper Hills 9-22-2.
Fumbles-Lost: Olympus 2-1, Copper Hills 1-1.
Penalties: Olympus 1-5, Copper Hills 4-36
Punts: Olympus 1-35, Copper Hills 1-31.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Highland vs. Hunter

I covered the Highland vs. Hunter prep football game tonight at Highland. The Rams won 27-3 and looked good doing it. Hunter didn't impress me at all. To read my game story in the Aug. 29 edition of the Deseret News, click here.

I thought this game would be more competitive, but Highland dominated the line of scrimmage and spent a lot of time in Hunter's backfield. The Wolverines never put together a serious drive.

Highland led 14-0 at halftime. The Rams got the second-half kickoff and, on their first play from scrimmage, fumbled the ball. Hunter recovered and, if they could have moved the ball into the end zone, it might have changed the game.

Hunter didn't. It took the Wolverines eight plays to go 15 yards - and they got five of those via penalty. That's pathetic. They kicked a field goal. Highland got the kickoff and scored a touchdown in five plays. Game over.

So, what will I remember from this game?

* - Highland needed this win. The Rams were demolished 49-28 last week by Mountain Crest, but their defense showed up. How a team goes from giving up 49 points to 3 is ... well ... amazing. High school kids are so impressionable. I hope coaches understand how impressionable they are. That's why it's so important to have a good coach. A bad coach can screw up a kid and affect their future.

* - Hunter beat Kearns 13-0 last week, and that's saying something. Hunter is also known for being a physical team. I didn't see that tonight. You know, when the Jazz don't show up to play a game sometimes, I attribute that to the fact they're all making $6 million a year and they're playing 82 games. In high school, you're playing for pride. I didn't see that tonight from Hunter, and that was disappointing.

* - Highland has a running back named Christopher Lloyd. He's a good running back. He carried the ball just four times tonight, and got nailed for losses twice. The other times, he ran for touchdowns. This seems to be a special kid. I say give him the ball, and let him make plays. Judging from just two games so far this season, that's what he will do.

* - During the game, I met some people while walking the sidelines. I'm not always gawking at the cheerleaders. I met the Highland team photographer (and arranged for him to send me a few photos), the head of the Highland booster club and the school principal. They were talkative. While I was on the Hunter sidelines, nobody said anything. I attribute that to game's outcome.

* - Highland's principal, Paul Schulte, is a man of interest. That's because I know his brother, Chris Schulte. I worked with him years ago at the Salt Lake Tribune. I liked Chris, but he didn't like me. I learned that Chris is the sports editor for the newspaper in Wausau, Wis. He's been divorced twice and is now with his third wife. His kids, whom he loves a lot, I'm sure, live with one of his previous wives in Montana. That has to hurt. Nobody deserves that. I wouldn't trade places with him.

* - Lastly, I stopped at Arby's (across the street from Highland) and they had a deal $5 for 5 Arby's roast-beef sandwiches. I didn't want five sandwiches, but it costs $2.69 for one. So, why not? I bought five. I thought about trying to eat them all, but ... didn't. I have two left in the fridge. Perhaps this means food is more important than football? LOL.

I kept detailed statistics from this game that the media will never print. So, I'll show them here. Here you go:

Hunter 0 0 3 0 - 3
Highland 0 14 7 6 - 27

Highland - Lloyd 3 run (Hicken kick)
Highland - Fakahafua 7 pass from Keller (Hicken kick)
Hunter - FG Jex 23
Highland - Lloyd 58 run (Hicken kick)
Highland - Keller 5 run (kick failed)


First downs: Hunter 8, Highland 17
Rushes-Yards: Hunter 32-83, Highland 38-287
Passing Yards: Hunter 20, Highland 2
Passes: Hunter 4-12-2, Highland 1-7-0
Fumbles-Lost: Hunter 1-1, Highland 2-1
Penalties: Hunter 5-42, Highland 9-105
Punts: Hunter 4-29.8, Highland 3-30.3


RUSHING: Hunter - Bloomfield 21-79, Tavo 2-13, L. Tanuvasa 3-4, Lunceford6-(-11). Highland - Taufa 12-93, Keller 12-75, Lloyd 4-48, Payne 4-38, Lauti 2-25, Fakahafua 1-12, Coleman 2-(-4).
PASSING: Hunter - Lunceford 4-12-2-20. Highland - Keller 1-7-0-2.
RECEIVING: Hunter - Pulu 1-8, Davidson 1-7, L. Tanuvasa 1-4, Tavo 1-1. Highland - Fakahafua 1-2.

* -

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Game 1 - Hillcrest vs. Olympus

The high school football season started in Utah today, even though temperatures were near 100 degrees at kickoff. I was given the opportunity to cover the Hillcrest-Olympus game, and I was happy to get it.

I figured this would be a close game between two rebuilding schools. Hillcrest, of course, is always rebuilding. Olympus has a new coach and not much was known about how much different the Titans would be from previous years.

I got a chance to meet Oly's new coach - Mike Smith. I've talked to him on the telephone before regarding other matters (he teaches a sports marketing class at Olympus). I also heard he had a hot-shot running back as an adoped son - Terry Isaia.

It was a great game, and Olympus ended up winning 10-7. The game went right down to the wire. Both teams could have pulled it out, although Olympus probably deserved it more, based on the fact that its offense could move the ball more easily and that Hillcrest turned the ball over three times.

However, Olympus failed three times on fourth downs. The biggest one came with less than two minutes left, when the Titans tried tried a fake punt on its own 29 yard-line, and Hillcrest stuffed it. Personally, I thought it was a great call because it was one play where Olympus had a chance to win the game. Hillcrest coach Kirk Merhish said it should have cost Oly the game.

Turns out, both guys are right. Oly won the game, but it could have gone either way. I was at the game, and you can read my game story by clicking here.

I thought this was a good article. It was a lot better than the season-opening story I wrote last year. The Salt Lake Tribune reporter was there, too, and I read his article. He looked like a decent guy, but it's funny how are statistics were different. I've learned that, with my background, I trust my stats more than anyone else.

Anyone who knows me recalls the time I started keeping statistics for KBOI Radio (the Voice of the BSU Broncos) starting in seventh grade, and then I was BSU's official statistician for football and basketball through high school. I also worked in the University of Idaho's sports information office for over four years. Lastly, I've covered prep sports for ... good God ... it's been a long time.

Anyway, it was great to be on the field again. If you want to see my game stats, they're lower on this blog. But here are a few things I noticed at the game:

* - Olympus QB was Spencer Harris, who started all season last year and did a great job. But coach Smith brought in a sophomore - Scott Porter - in the first quarter and he did well until he was injured in a jarring tackle. Porter should be OK. Coach Smith said he didn't bring him back into the game as a "precautionary measure." We really didn't see all Porter's talents, but they have to be there. There's no way coach Smith would have put him in otherwise. I mean, why would you replace your senior starter for a sophomore? Coach Smith knows more than we do.

* - Hillcrest has a good home-field advantage. The Huskies were on the west side of the field and in the shade, while Oly was baking in the sun. Temperature at game time had to be in the mid-90s or more.

* - Hillcrest may never develop into a winning program, simply because it doesn't have enough players. They're gamers, though, and put up a tough fight. They just need a few more quality kids. The Huskies had a chance to win this one, but their top players need to make the plays. Bridger Dallimore is a gutsy kid, but he couldn't come up with a TD pass and then the pass intended for him late in the game was intercepted by Oly sophomore Cole Benson. Guys like Dallimore have to make those plays.

* - Terry Isaia is a tough runner for Olympus, and I'm sure Skyline will look at the tape of this game and the coaches will scratch their heads. He's a good-sized kid and a bruising runner. He also has game-breaking speed. He ran for 124 yards in this game, but didn't really have a long run. Hillcrest also frustrated him at times, and he showed he might have a temper. Oly can't afford to have him booted from a game.

* - I'd say the difference-maker in this game, though, was Spencer Harris. In the second half, he carried the ball 18 times and allowed Oly to dominate the time of possession. Last year, he threw the ball a lot, but this year's team is different and he won it with his running.

* - Hillcrest didn't show much on offense. Its quarterback - Tanner Kemp - is decent, but he does not have a fluid throwing motion. He takes too long to throw it. He had a nice game against Oly, though, and his only interception was a nicely thrown pass that the Oly kid made a nice play. Hillcrest just couldn't run it.

* - Oly didn't turn the ball over, while Hillcrest lost it three times (two fumbles, and an interception). Dallimore also caught a pass in the third quarter and was tackled at his own 10 yard-line. While struggling for more yardage, he coughed it up but the referee ruled he was down. I was right there, and the official could have ruled it either way. From the way he acted, I think Dallimore thought he fumbled. A turnover there would have given the ball to Oly in the "red zone." Hmmm, based on my comments I don't want to be too tough on Dallimore. He's a talented player, and will have better games.

* - Coach Merhish's son is Nick (Merhish). He's a strong kid and a great linebacker. I wish I could have seen the defensive stats because he was all over the field. He played running back a couple of times, too. He has the potential to earn a college scholarship, perhaps at a JC or small school. I think Hillcrest's eventual record may limit him, but he can play.


Olympus 7 0 0 3 - 10
Hillcrest 7 0 0 0 - 7


First downs - Olympus 17, Hillcrest 8
Rushes-yards - Olympus 52-301, Hillcrest 21-31.
Passing yards - Olympus 59, Hillcrest 155
Passes - Olympus 7-14-0, Hillcrest 11-17-1
Total offense - Olympus 66 plays, 360 yards; Hillcrest 38 plays, 186 yards
Fumbles-lost - Olympus 2-0, Hillcrest 4-2
Penalties - Olympus 7-62, Hillcrest 4-25
Punts - Olympus 2-39.0 avg., Hillcrest 4-26.8 avg.


RUSHING: Olympus, Isiah 22-124, Harris 20-99, Lignell 3-59, Porter 3-8, Sonntag 1-8, Hendriks 1-6, Kacinski 1-0, Young 1-(-3). Hillcrest, Pecht 4-12, Merhish 4-7, Kranz 2-6, Li 3-5, Thompson 2-3, Kemp 2-0.
PASSING: Olympus, Harris 6-13-0-49 yds, Porter 1-1-0-10 yds. Hillcrest, Kemp 10-17-1-155 yds.
RECEIVING: Olympus, Johnson 3-27, Young 2-27, Isaia 2-5. Hillcrest, D. Thompson 1-61, Dallimore 4-49, Li 3-26, A. Thompson 2-19.


Friday, February 6, 2009

Brighton Does It Again

It has been a month since I last updated my blog. I've been busy, putting out programs, dealing with difficult printers, trying to keep my website up to date, publishing game programs and trying to see where this business is going.

It is going. That's for sure. This is a great time of the year, and I need to spend more time at games because that's the exciting place to be.

Tonight, I was at Brighton High School, watching the Bengals take on Skyline in a boys basketball game. I've wanted to see Skyline play for a long time, and this was a great opportunity. I also figured Rick Osterloh would be there. Skyline's top player is Ryan Osterloh and Rick is his dad. I have talked to him on the phone several times, and he has helped me in a few situations.

I delivered game programs to Brighton during the mid-afternoon and, while stopping by, I saw that someone had decorated this window in one of the entry doors to the gym. Ironically, Brighton's maintenance crew had cleaned the window by game time.

Brighton won 59-53. I expected Skyline to win this game because Brighton is playing without its leading scorer - Corbin Miller - who is likely out for the season due to an injury. Turns out the Bengals are playing better than ever.

Skyline started quickly, jumping to a 16-4 first-quarter lead. The Eagles had plenty of fans and they got into it with the Brighton cheering section, and it added to the atmosphere. Both teams were class acts. There was one time where the Skyline cheering section over-applauded the Brighton drill team.

I also noticed that, while Brighton's head coach is Lyndon Johnson, he has plenty of help. Sometimes, it was difficult to tell who was the head coach and who were the assistants. I guess coach Johnson understands he had good help around him. I doubt if Brighton gets outcoached too often by its opponents.

So, here were some other highlights (from my perspective):

* - I didn't see a state championship team. I was more impressed with Brighton because the Bengals got more output from several different players than Skyline.

* - Brighton forward Sam Wanderli has an uncanny ability to get rebounds. He had 11 tonight. Wunderli is 6-4, but he can leap and he is often in the right place at the right time.

* - Skyline's Kevin Wagstaff is fun to watch. He was the QB on the football team. On the basketball court, he never sits still. I'll bet the guy covered 20 miles, and he never showed signs of being tired. He led the team with 23 points, too. I'd hate to see where Skyline would be without him.

* - The player of the game was Austin Hudson. Brighton's 6-6 forward is only a sophomore, but he had 13 points and six rebounds, and he hit some big shots. Brighton needed a guy to step up and Hudson did that.

* - Fouls played a big role in the game. Brighton's Will Cannon played maybe 10 minutes and picked up five fouls. I almost felt sorry for the guy. Some nights are like that. Cannon could have sulked, but he came back in the fourth quarter and scored five points, including a three-pointer.

* - Ryan Osterloh only had six points. He is apparently not a "take charge" guy on the court. He lets the game come to him, and it didn't reach him much this time. He had foul trouble, too. He hit just one three-pointer, but it's apparent he has a sweet shot. I'd love to watch him when he gets hot.

* - What was the difference in this game? Brighton couldn't shoot, but the Bengals could rebound. The outrebounded Skyline 33-23, and also made it to the free-throw line a lot more.

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

Skyline 16 15 13 9 - 53
Brighton 6 21 11 21 - 59

- Wagstaff 9-18 1-2 23, R. Osterloh 2-7 1-2 6, Taylor 5-7 2-2 14, Judkins 0-2 2-2 2, J. Osterloh 0-1 1-2 1, Orr 1-1 0-0 3, Weixler 2-5 0-2 4. Totals: 19-42 7-12 53.

BRIGHTON (59) - Richards 1-3 4-4 7, Newell 0-5 1-2 1, Cannon 1-4 2-2 5, Felix 0-2 0-0 0, Masina 0-0 2-2 2, Wertz 0-3 0-0 0, Wunderli 2-8 7-8 12, Lotulelei 4-8 3-4 13, Ricketts 1-2 0-0 2, Hudson 3-4 5-8 11, Barker 3-7 0-0 6. Totals: 15-46 24-30 59.

Total fouls: Skyline 22, Brighton 17. Fouled out: Judkins (Skyline), Cannon, Ricketts (Brighton). Rebounds: Brighton 33 (Wunderli 11), Skyline 23 (Weixler 8). Turnovers: Skyline 11, Brighton 9. Three-point goals: Skyline 8-18 (Wagstaff 4, Taylor 2, R. Osterloh, Orr). Brighton 5-18 (Lotulelei 2, Wunderli, Cannon, Richards).

Friday, January 9, 2009

Olympus Buries Highland With Threes

We're in the middle of the Utah prep basketball season now, and watching hoops is a great way to escape the doldrums of January.

I'm not a skier anymore, so prep sports has become my passion at this time of year. I like to follow - in particular - the schools in Region 6 because they are often so competitive.

Tonight I watched the Olympus at Highland game. I went there for a couple of reasons:

* - Recently, I met Tony Parks, who is the best PA announcer in the valley, and I wanted to see him in action.
* - I wanted to meet with Highland football coach Brody Benson on a particular matter.
* - I had heard that Highland had one of the best home-court advantages in the valley, mostly because their fans really get into it. I found that to be true.

It's the students ... really. Highland has good student involvement at its football games. It also has a band - at least it did for a portion of the first quarter. Those kinds of things really help a basketball team get wins on its home court.

Olympus won the game 51-35. Will Watkins and Corbin Green scored 13 points apiece as the Titans built a lead in the second quarter and never let Highland within six points.

Highland's problem was that it couldn't shoot. The Rams were 14-50 from the field (28%), and were particularly bad from three-point range (2-18).

Highland's coach is Keith West, and I like him. He preaches defense. The Rams are among the state's best in that category, and they force opponents to change their game. The Rams also had a 35-23 rebound advantage, so they got second chances on some of their missed shots.

For Olympus, the Titans couldn't find an inside scoring threat, but they have at least a half a dozen players who are comfortable shooting the three-pointer. Watkins was 3-3 from three-point land. Green, Connor Brady, Nick Paulos and Spencer Harris also canned long shots.

Last year, Spencer Hille was the top scorer but he is not the main player in this year's offense. Hille also seems to have a temper that he needs to control. I don't think he has found his niche on this year's team. When he does, this team will be tough to beat.

Green was funny. He's a big kid who can score inside and shoot the three-pointer. He didn't get a break on this night. He had foul troubles, although it wasn't his fault. When he got nailed with his second foul, the referees made a mistake and called it on him when the foul should have gone to another player. He sat out most of the second quarter. Still, he came back to nail a bunch of free throws in the second half and he played a decisive role in the outcome.

I figure Oly will challenge West for the Region 6 title. Highland might be lucky to earn a post-season berth. It needs to find someone who can score. Spenser Bowen, Taylor Brightwell or Jordan Crayton would be good candidates. We'll see what happens.

The next morning, I discovered there was a Deseret News reporter at the game - John Coon. I read his story, and he did a nice job. The mark of a good reporter is one who tells you things you didn't know, even if you were at the game. John did that here. I should have introduced myself to him. Oh well. Maybe next time.

While at the game, I kept detailed statistics. Here they are:

Olympus 14 12 8 17 - 51
Highland 12 4 8 11 - 35

OLYMPUS (51) - Hille 1-3 1-3 3, Bourne 0-3 2-4 2, Watkins 4-6 2-2 13, Green 1-5 10-13 13, Brady 2-5 0-0 6, Paulos 2-4 1-2 7, Harris 2-2 0-0 5, Spafford 0-0 2-2 2. Totals: 12-28 18-26 51.

HIGHLAND (35) - Bowen 1-7 0-0 3, Brightwell 3-9 0-0 7, Orchard 1-7 2-2 4, Crayton 1-4 0-0 2, Heimuli 4-6 1-2 9, Angstman 0-1 0-0 0, Jensen 3-7 0-0 6, Fakahafua 1-8 2-2 4. Totals 14-50 5-6 35.

Total fouls: Highland 17, Olympus 10. Fouled out: none. 3-point goals: Olympus 9-16 (Watkins 3, Brady 2, Paulos 2, Harris, Green). Highland 2-18 (Bowen, Brightwell). Rebounds: Olympus 23 (Green, Brady 4), Highland 35 (Heimuli 13). Turnovers: Olympus 11, Highland 12.

About Me

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