Monday, December 31, 2012

Herriman football: Stetson Sartor profile

In late December, I interviewed Herriman (Utah) football player Stetson Sartor. A shoulder injury forced him to miss a few games during his senior season, but the transformation he made in his two years playing at Herriman will likely make a big difference in his life. Here is the article that will appear in the Herriman 2012 football yearbook.

Stetson Sartor:

Troubles in his junior year made him
a better player – and a better person

By Bruce Smith

            There were a lot of players Herriman coach Larry Wilson was proud to coach during the 2012 season. Stetson Sartor was one.
            Most of Sartor’s accolades were behind the scenes. He was injured for most of his senior season. He caught seven passes for 95 yards and a touchdown, and had 17 tackles on defense. He missed four games – and most of a fifth – due to a nagging shoulder injury.
            Despite having to wear a sling on his right arm most of the time, he said he’ll remember the season mostly for the bond he developed with the rest of his teammates.
            “I still went to practice and every game,” he said. “I helped coach my position.”
            Wilson, and the rest of Herriman’s coaches, noticed.
            “He represents why high-school sports are so important,” Wilson said. “He wasn’t a great athlete, but he was one of our ‘poster kids.’ He bought into the program and grew up.”
            Sartor was a two-year varsity player. At just 5-foot-9 and 160 pounds, he played cornerback and wide receiver. During the middle of his junior season, he got into some off-field troubles and was suspended for two games.
            Sartor was hesitant to talk about it, but the incident – and how he handled it – played a key role in his success later.
            “I was kind of selfish and I got into trouble,” he said. “My mindset just slipped, but something clicked after(ward). I knew what I did and it wasn’t how I wanted to be. I changed this year and I had to do it for the coaches and the team, and not myself.”
            “He could have gone either way, but we saw a 180-degree change in his attitude and effort,” said Wilson. “It’s the reason we (coaches) do what we do.”
            Sartor came back a new man. In his first game back – vs. Clearfield – he had five tackles and his first interception, which he returned 45 yards for an interception. He had a career-high six tackles in Herriman’s play-in game against Springville, and another pick in the Logan game.
            Later, he decided to try out for the Herriman track team and qualified for the 4A state meet in the 100 and 200 meters, as well as the long jump.
            He had high hopes for 2012 – and he started off well. He had four catches for 42 yards and a touchdown in Herriman’s game against Riverton at Rice-Eccles Stadium. At the same time, though, his shoulders began to give him problems.
            “My shoulders starting popping in and out at the beginning of the year (season),” he recalled. “It was random, and they would go away, but they got worse as we got into the season. In one of the last plays (of the game) against Hillcrest, it popped but I thought it would go away. I practiced all week. Then, in the Skyline game, it popped again on the first play.”
            It ended up being a hairline fracture and it hurt – a lot. The Herriman training staff put him on the sidelines, and a doctor confirmed it.
            For over a month, Sartor could only watch and cheer on his teammates. Finally, a couple of days before Herriman’s playoff game vs. East, his doctor approved him to play. He couldn’t wait to spread the news.
            “I didn’t know if he (the doctor) was going to tell me if I needed surgery, or if I’d be OK,” Sartor said. “When he told me, it was a good feeling. I emailed the coaches right after I got out of the doctor’s office. I texted my friends, too, and practiced the next day.”
            Sartor wa limited to offense in the East game, but had two catches for 25 yards. His “never quit” attitude, combined with how much he had impressed the coaches the previous season, made him a favorite.
            Sartor’s improved attitude has shown in other areas, too. In the winter, he cheered on the Herriman boys basketball team and also worked as a referee in area Junior Jazz games. He said he planned to compete in track again in the spring, and hoped it could lead to a college scholarship.
            “I like mano-vs.-mano competition,” he said. “It’s like competing against yourself to try to be better.”

Herriman football: 2012 season recap

I'm putting the finishing touches on the Mustangs' 2012 football yearbook. Below is the article that I wrote that recaps the highlights of their special season.

A special ride

Third-year school built for 2012 and had a great season,
but 4A title hopes ended early due to UHSAA ruling

By Bruce Smith

             Every coach, player and fan has their own special memories of Herriman High School’s 2012 football season.
            What made it special were the relationships. Since the school opened in 2010, its educational and athletic successes had been building and a lot was expected to this group.
            “It was a good year. We accomplished an awful lot,” said coach Larry Wilson. “I’ll remember the kids and the coaches. The games fade, the scenes fade, but you remember the kids and the coaches.”
            About what everyone can agree on was that it ended too soon. The Mustangs finished with an 8-3 record. They won their first-ever region championship and had hopes of at least advancing to the semifinals at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
            The did with great athletes, led by Tueni Lupeamanu, Brandon Farmer, Ben Richard, Francis Bernard. The Mustangs also had speed, skills and depth. Until the playoffs, their only losses were a 23-22 overtime decision to Riverton and a 24-22 region defeat at Skyline.
            They dominated the rest of their region opponents (winning by an average score of 46-11) and would have been heavy favorites in the first two rounds of the 4A state playoffs.
            That would have put them at Rice-Eccles, home of the University of Utah. The Mustangs played there in Week 2, part of what was the “Black and Blue” Classic. Herriman took on Riverton in the matinee, followed by Alta and Bingham.
            “The team just got better and better,” said Wilson. “We had at least two Division I offers and a handful of kids in the recruiting process. The strength of the team was depth and experience.”
            They had the strong-armed Lupeamanu at quarterback, an impressive line and so much depth at running back that two were moved to other positions to give them more time on the field.
            Herriman had  4-7 and 8-4 records in its first two years. Overall, not bad, but amazing for a new school. Wilson said the Mustangs had great talent from the start, accepting kids from the Herriman area as well as players who were not expecting to play at nearby schools like Riverton and Bingham.
            Opponents looked at Herriman like a sleeping giant – ready to awaken at any time.
            “With our success, and as we gradually build our record, people will realize we’re not just another team,” said senior Canyon Hansen. “We’re growing as a community as a whole. We’re getting more recognition.”
            The recognition continued after Herriman finished tied for first place in Region 7, but won the coin flip to take the No. 1 seed. Unfortunately, their first-round opponent ended up being East, which could have been undefeated but was slapped with a penalty for using ineligible players.
            The UHSAA’s decision, which allowed East to compete in the postseason but as a fourth seed, forced the Leopards to work harder but it also made life difficult for the Mustangs.
            At Herriman, meetings were held, and feelings were debated behind closed doors. When they opened, only administrators really talked openly about it.
            “We really didn’t pay much attention to East,” said Lupeamanu. “We would have had to play them at some point. It wasn’t the best time for us. They were the better team.”
            If Herriman would have played East – or another team of its magnitude - in the semifinals, a victory could have put the Mustangs in the championship game. That’s what Herriman expected. But with the UHSAA’s questionable ruling, the road to the title had to go through East, Box Elder, eventual state champion Timpview and Mountain Crest.
            A difficult route, for sure. A different UHSAA decision and Herriman would have played Highland (which it defeated 31-14 in Week 3) or 5-5 Cyprus in the first round.
            “It’s hard to learn the lesson that sometimes life isn’t fair,” said Wilson. “It wasn’t about East. It was about a precedent being set. Timpview had to forfeit all of their games and Snow Canyon’s baseball team did the previous year. The real factor was that four of the top five teams ended up in the same bracket.”
            History will show that, after a fine season, Herriman lost in the first round even though the team had higher aspirations. The Mustangs dominated the all-region squad and Lupemanu made first team all-state.
            Unless you win it all, however … like coach Wilson said, the best memories are the relationships with your coaches and teammates. And, in that case, Herriman probably had no equal.
            But it sure was an interesting ride.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Boys bball: Mtn. Crest beats Woods Cross

On Dec. 29, I attended the Woods Cross-Mountain Crest boys basketball game. It's Christmas break, so fan support was pretty low. The funny thing was that the school wasn't heated during the holidays, so the gym was really cold. I spoke to coaches from Logan and Northridge who were scouting the game. Here is the article that will appear in the Woods Cross boys basketball yearbook.

A cold night for the 'Cats

 Knowles’ big game nice to see
for Mustangs in non-region win

By Bruce Smith
            Playing basketball games during the Christmas holiday is a different occasion.
            Late Friday afternoon, the Woods Cross Wildcats invited Mountain Crest to play a rare game during the break. They were greeted by a frigid gym, which cooled both virtually every player except the Mustangs’ Tanner Knowles, who scored 17 points in Mountain Crest’s 58-49 non-region victory.
            “It was nice to see,” said Mountain Crest coach Graydon Buchmiller. “He was able to do that in the lower levels last year. We had some kids that weren’t 100 percent. The rest of the guys weren’t feeling ‘it’ I’m glad he came through.”
            Buchmiller said Mountain Crest hadn't played during the Christmas break for several years. It felt strange, but the Mustangs led for much of the game. Things got interesting when the Mustangs’ 10-point lead melted in the third quarter after a flurry of three-pointers by Hayden Grant, Mikey Jacobsen and Luke Jowers narrowed the margin and actually gave Woods Cross a three-point lead.
            Faimafili Lautu-Pututau scored moments later to tie the score, and then Knowles took over. He scored Mountain Crest’s next 11 points, including a three-pointer.
            Knowles came in averaging just 7.25 points per game. On this night, he made 7-of-9 shots from various locations on the court. The 17 points was his career high and this game, in all likelihood, will be one he’ll remember forever.
            Woods Cross coach Kasey Walkenhurst said he didn’t call a timeout during Mountain Crest’s run because he “wanted to see if they (his players) could figure it out.”
            “If this had been a region game, I would have done things differently,” he said.
            In this case, though, by the time Knowles was done, so were the Wildcats.
            “There really wasn’t a panic state,” said Buchmiller. “I’d prefer they didn’t wait until the fourth quarter, but they showed they could respond.”
            Mountain Crest wasn’t threatened again because, with the exception of that third-quarter disturbance, the Wildcats had trouble shooting. They ended up making just 19-of-56 (.339). Several layups, mid-range jumpers and three-pointers that normally may have fallen, bounced off the rim this time.
            Even Felipo Mokofisi tried a dunk that clanged away.
            “At halftime, our talk was about senior leadership,” said Walkenhurst. “We at least made it a game.”
            Walkenhurst praised Jacobsen, who had three treys and 13 points. Grant had 17 points, but needed 18 shots to do it. One other way Woods Cross made the game close was by forcing 13 turnovers.

Mountain Crest              13     15       7     23   -   58
Woods Cross                   10       8     16     15   -   49

     MOUNTAIN CREST (58) – Tyler Crosbie 3-15 3-5 9, Tanner Knowles 7-9 2-3 17, Jamison Webb 2-4 0-0 6, Eddy Hall 2-3 4-4 10, Faiamafili Lautu-Pututau 4-9 6-9 14, Tanner Kirby 0-1 2-2 2, Josh Worley 0-0 0-0 0, Jon Huff 0-0 0-0 0, Gaje Fergusen 0-0 0-0 0, Canon Schenk 0-0 0-0 0, Kaedon Buchmiller 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-41 17-23 58.
     WOODS CROSS (49) – Brady Cowley 0-5 1-2 1, Hayden Grant 7-18 0-0 17, Felipo Mokofisi 2-4 0-2 4, Skyler Farnes 3-10 2-4 8, MIkey Jacobsen 5-10 0-0 13, Luke Jowers 1-2 0-0 3, Jackson Pohlman 0-4 0-0 0, Xequille Harry 0-1 0-0 0, Garrett Grant 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 19-56 3-8 49.
     Total fouls: Woods Cross 17, Mountain Crest 9. Fouled out: Jacobsen. Technical fouls: None.
     Three-point shooting: Mountain Crest 5-10 (Webb 2, Hall 2, Knowles). Woods Cross 8-25 (H. Grant 3, Jacobsen 3, Jowers, G. Grant).
     Rebounds: Mountain Crest 35 (Pututau 10), Woods Cross 31 (Mokofisi 7).
     Turnovers: Mountain Crest 13, Woods Cross 8.

Herriman football: Gabe Ruflin profile

In late December, I interviewed Herriman's Gabe Ruflin. We talked about the Mustangs' recent football season and his sports career in general. This is a special kid and was co-winner of the team's highest award at the post-season banquet. Here is the article that will appear in Herriman's 2012 football yearbook.

Gabe Ruflin:

Coaches felt he was a special player
and it showed on and off the field

By Bruce Smith

             Gabe Ruflin’s best memories of playing football at Herriman High School came during his junior year. In the regular-season finale against Clearfield, he caught three passes, all four touchdowns.
            About 10 days later in the 4A playoffs at Logan, he had five receptions for 130 yards and another score.
            So, it wasn’t surprising to learn that Ruflin had high hopes entering 2012. It didn’t go as he expected, however.
            “I didn’t end up having as good of a season … receiving-wise, but I worked for the greater good of the team,” he said. “Everything was just clicking for us most of the time and I just went with the flow.
            “It was kind of disappointing how it ended but, other than that, it was really fun getting to play with all of my friends and it was the last time we’d all get together.”
            Ruflin was a two-sport athlete at Herriman (football and rugby) and a favorite of the coaches, who recognized Ruflin’s character as much as his ability. At the team’s post-season banquet, he and Thad Hay were given the Outstanding Scholar Athlete Award. It was a proud moment for both of them.
            “He (Ruflin) represents what’s possible for every kid,” said Herriman coach Larry Wilson. “He didn’t play much (football) in Little League and was undersized, but worked hard and just blossomed.”
            As a senior, Ruflin was listed at 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds and began playing on both sides of the ball – tight end and linebacker. He ended up with 34 career receptions (17 each year) and averaged an amazing 22 yards per catch. Eleven of them went for touchdowns. At least one other play – a 60-yarder this year vs. Copper Hills – was negated by a penalty, but Ruflin still said it was his finest of the year.
            “They (officials) said I face-masked a guy when I stiff-armed him in the chest,” Ruflin recalled. “It was a delayed, short out route. It wasn’t that I was open, it was just that the ball was (thrown) in the perfect spot and I got it.”
            Ruflin still had three catches for 71 yards in that game, and one went for a score. For the season, he was Herriman’s second-leading receiver. Ruflin, however, claimed Herriman’s success was due to its running game, which frequently got key blocks from him, Zach Hogan, Rory Mulitalo, Andre James, Dallon Burningham and Austin Young.
            “We had multiple backs who could run the ball well and special teams gave us an edge, for sure,” Ruflin said. “We had Francis Bernard, but Brandon Farmer was our difference-maker. He really stepped up for us this year.
            “Francis was playing both sides, so it was nice that we could rest him sometimes but still have a guy who could go in and get it done.”
            Ruflin said Herriman’s best game of the 2012 season was its 31-14 home victory over Highland. That win over a tough 4A opponent came a week after the Mustangs dropped a 23-22 overtime decision to rival Riverton.
            “It was important that we stepped up and responded,” he said. “(Riverton) was a tough loss, especially since it was my senior year and the last time we’d play them.”
            Ruflin’s family lived in the Sugarhouse area until moving to Riverton in 2001. Ruflin attended Fort Herriman Middle School and then chose to follow his friends to Herriman after that. Like most Mustang players, though, he knew a lot of Riverton’s players. He savored the sweet win over the Silverwolves last year, but this year’s game didn’t go as well.
            “That was a tough one. They’re our rival,” he said. “But I’m starting to hate Skyline now, too.”
            After football, Ruflin said he planned once again to play rugby and help Herriman defend its state title. He said a lot of his football teammates play rugby and it just added to the team camaraderie.
            At press time, he was still considering college choices, but had earned a significant academic scholarship to Southern Utah. Unless something better came up, he planned to spend at least the next four years in Cedar City.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Mtn. View football: JV season recap

In late December, I interviewed JV coach Chris Boyer for Mountain View (Idaho) High School. We talked about his season and all the highlights. Here is the article that will be published in the team's 2012 football yearbook.

Mavs rally for impressive season
By Bruce Smith

             Garrett Collingham could be the varsity starting quarterback for many Boise-area teams. Because Kai Turner is ahead of him at Mountain View, the Mavericks’ junior varsity team has been able to benefit.
            Helped by a capable QB, the Mavs’ JV squad finished 5-2 in 2012, which was good enough for second place, even though Mountain View defeated the first-place team, Borah. After a tough start, the Mavs won five straight games. Like the varsity, they were the team to beat in the SIC at the end.
            “They progressively got better,” said first-year coach Chris Boyer. “The strength of the team was its resolve and ability to battle through tough situations.”
            The team was led by Collingham, who also earned some varsity playing time, as well as linebacker Michael Albarran, and a running back combination of Kole Goodwin, Adam Sisson and Chance Smith. On defense, defensive back Devin Gaskins had several great plays at key times.
            “He had a couple of nice plays in the ‘red zone,’” said Boyer. “He also had an 80-yard reception for us and a couple of picks. He made great plays when we needed them.”
            The Mavs started slowly, and Boyer attributed to two reasons. First, Mountain View was scheduled to play Meridian the first week, but the Warriors couldn’t field a team. Because of that, they took on Capital with no previous game experience and the Eagles took advantage.
            The next week, the players also had to deal with the tragic deaths of two Mountain View students.
            “Against Timberline, about 15-20 of our kids left the game at halftime to go to the services,” Boyer said. “The way they handled it and grew together as a team really impressed us (coaches). They had  a great attitude and showed up for work.”
            The highlight of the season was a 25-18 win over Rocky Mountain. The game was tied until Collingham found an open receiver for the game-winning touchdown as time ran out.
            “We got the ball with 1:30 left and drove down the field,” Boyer recalled. “On third down with four seconds left, we took a timeout and told them this one had to be in the end zone. Garrett made a great pass and we all celebrated.”
            Collingham had an impressive season. He also showed his running ability with a couple of touchdown runs of at least 40 yards.
            “He’s a smart player … like having a coach on the field,” Boyer said. “Once you tell him something, he’s pretty much got it. We didn’t have to worry about people being in the wrong positions.”
            The Mavs also had a dominant offense line, thanks to coach Darrin Good. The team rotated eight players and Boyer figured at least 3-4 will start on varsity next year.

Mtn. View football: Freshmen recap

In late December, I interviewed Mountain View (Idaho) freshmen football coach Dan McKnight and we talked about his team's season. Here is the article that will appear in the team's 2012 yearbook.

Mavs gain momentum with wins

By Bruce Smith

            Coach Dan McKnight started a new era of freshmen football at Mountain View High School in 2012. The team’s 4-5 record might be considered about “average.” However, there’s more to that story.
            The Mavericks brought together two rival middle schools – Lewis & Clark and Lake Hazel who, as eighth graders, did not have much success last year. However, helped by strong line play and impressive team chemistry, they had more success than they’ve had in a long time.
            And the way the season also provided momentum for the future.
            The Mavericks won three of their last five games and finished in fifth place in the 10-team SIC. Rocky Mountain ended up undefeated and won the league crown. McKnight said that, with the exception of Rocky, the Mavs played everyone else tough.
            “We had four good wins,” he said. “We beat Capital and, any time you beat Capital, it’s a good win. We also beat our cross-town rival (Centennial), so there were definitely some good highlights.”
            It started in Week 2 with a 26-22 win over Capital. Afterward, McKnight noticed something special about the team.
            “In a back-and-forth battle, we brought home the first victory of the season and there were many tears,” he said. “I didn't understand why everybody was crying. Chandler Bangochia explained that, for many of the kids, this was the first football game they had ever won. It was a special moment and one I will never forget.”
            Close to 70 players turned out for football. McKnight knew some of them, after having coached recreational football and some area all-star teams in recent years. The team was led by Trey Bell, Andrew Schiebout, Tyler Quinn, Brett Carter and several others.
            “Bell was probably our best player, but we were pretty balanced,” McKnight said. “When we started clicking on all cylinders, we were rolling. After the Rocky game, things leveled out and we got consistent. Most of our games came down to one or two plays.”
            Mountain View’s line included Carter and Colton Sisler and McKnight said they helped make the Mavs the most dominant in the league. They helped open holes for Bell, whose talent was obvious to anyone who watched him play. His statistics were not available, but he could play a role on the varsity next year.
            “Bell is as fast as they come. He was the fastest kid on the football field in every game we had,” McKnight said. “He has good instincts and can deliver a hit.”
            Bell also served as Mountain View’s primary kick returner. He didn’t have any touchdown returns, but came close twice and made that part of the Mavs’ game a strength.
            The season ended with a 34-6 win over Vallivue. It was an opportunity for every player on the team to get into the game. Brendan Wood, who was injured most of the year, ran for 100 yards. Also, T.J. Olson, who battles autism and stayed with the team throughout, had a game he’ll always remember.
            “We told him to practice onside kicking, and I made a deal with him,” McKnight said.
            Olson got a chance in the second half and the Mavs recovered. Later, Olson caught a touchdown pass and a two-point conversion.
            “Everyone in the stands was cheering and the players rushed the field,” McKnight said.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Herriman football: Canyon Hansen profile

In late December, I interviewed Herriman's Canyon Hansen, who starred on defense, but also played a role on offense as this third-year school quickly became one of the state's top teams. Here is the article that will appear in the team's 2012 football yearbook.

Canyon Hansen:

 His versatility and amazing recovery
fueled Mustangs’ bid to be a contender

By Bruce Smith

             After being part of Herriman High School’s football program in its initial two years, Canyon Hansen was looking forward to a special season in 2012.
            He was known for his versatility. As a senior, he was 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, but played multiple positions, mostly wide receiver and defensive back.
            “He’s a guy that never wants to leave the field,” said Herriman coach Larry Wilson.
            Wilson noticed him right away and tried to plug him into the lineup in as many different ways as possible. Hansen said he loved being part of Herriman’s history.
            “It was fun to finish off the season with my fellow seniors that I grew up playing football with,” he said. “It was fun to see the kids up and coming and see them develop. It was fun to spend the year with the coaches. It was a good time and I loved it.”
            Hansen was a two-sport athlete (football and rugby) and a three-year varsity football player. His junior year, he starred on defense, but also carried the ball 24 times for 171 yards and scored twice as the Mustangs finished 8-4 and advanced to the 4A state playoffs.
            In the 4A play-in game, Hansen had an interception in the Mustangs’ 44-22 win over Springville. Even after a tough loss to eventual champion Logan the next week, Herriman was highly motivated entering 2012.
            And it started well.
            On the first play of Herriman’s opener at Orem, Hansen caught a pass from quarterback Tueni Lupeamanu and used his speed to spring the rest of the way for a 69-yard touchdown.
            Hansen remembered the play well.
                I was split out in the slot,” he recalled. “It was an all-streak route and I had an opening. The (Orem) guys didn’t me any respect. I just burned it down the field. I caught it on their 30-yard line and just ran the rest of the way. I didn’t get touched.”
            He had another reception for 46 yards as the Mustangs rolled to a 49-21 win. Hansen said that game was clearly his season highlight.
            “That was my only touchdown (of the season),” he said. “After that, we were running scarce at corner(back), so I ended up playing more of that.”
            Hansen had just seven catches on the season, but averaged a team-high 24.4 yards per reception. In Herriman’s seventh game – a 42-9 win over Olympus – he broke a bone in his right hand. That may have sidelined most guys, but Hansen was too eager to play. He only missed the game at Murray the following week, and was back in the lineup after that.
            The way he handled his injury affected a lot of people, including Wilson.
            “We lost him for a little bit, but he did everything he could to come back,” Wilson said. “Against doctor’s orders, he suited up pretty fast and started against East.”
            “I wanted to be back for senior night (against Westlake). I had a cast on and I played,” Hansen said. “High-school football is always what I wanted to become and I had looked forward to it. It was important to be recognized.”
            Hansen said it was also important to show others that Herriman football was something special.
            “With our success, and as we gradually build our record, people will realize we’re not just another team,” he said. “We’re growing as a community the football team is getting more recognition.”
            Hansen felt it started when Herriman made the playoffs in its first year, but the Mustangs’ 29-28 overtime win over rival Riverton in 2011 made a lot of people notice.
            “We showed the state and Riverton that we were not just another second-year program,” he said. “We had the talent and ability to achieve our goals.”
            Hansen also felt that playing rugby helped.
            “It made us more physical,” he said. “It’s like a spring football season. Most of the football guys play, so it allows us to build as a team. When the football season comes around, we have that same chemistry.”
            Hansen said he planned to serve an LDS Church mission after graduation and then enroll at Southern Utah University, majoring in sports broadcasting and earning a minor in music or dance – his favorite class at Herriman.

Herriman football: Lupeamanu profile

In late December, I interviewed Herriman's Tueni Lupemanu, a three-sport athlete who was so important to the football team. He has amazing athletic ability and huge potential at the college level. Here is the article that will appear in the Mustangs' 2012 football yearbook.

Tueni Lupeamanu:

 Team’s star elevated the program
and gave it a quick step forward

By Bruce Smith
           Since Herriman High School opened, Tueni Lupeamanu has been the figurehead of the football program.

            He was already big and talented, but by his senior year he was listed at 6-foot-2 and 240 pounds. After being forced to be a lineman in Little League, he was asked to try quarterback here.
            By the time he left, he held more school records than any other player, and many will last a while.
            “Phenomenal,” was how coach Larry Wilson described him. “He’s a great story.
            “He was the heart and soul of the program. He was so valuable on offense that we had to be careful on defense, or he would have been our most dominant player there.”
            As a junior, he had a bout with pneumonia and missed a few games during the basketball season. As a senior, he also had to sit out some games after losing four of his front teeth thanks to an opponent’s elbow. In football, however, he was almost always on the field.
            Lupeamanu could bulldoze a linebacker and even some lineman. On offense, he was known for his incredible arm strength, his ability to block and keep plays alive with his elusiveness.
            “A play was never over with him,” said Wilson. “He could turn nothing into something really quick.”
            In three seasons, he passed for 4,370 yards and ran for 1,454 more. He threw for 33 touchdowns and was best friends with his running backs, wide receivers, lineman and, certainly, the coaches. He made them all look good.

            “Tueni made the biggest difference,” said teammate Canyon Hansen. “It was his overall focus during the games and holding us to a higher standard. That made us achieve our maximum potential.”
            And it wasn’t just for football. Lupeamanu was a three-sport athlete (football, basketball and rugby) and helped quickly turn Herriman into a contender in each (and even a state championship in Rugby). He ended up having more colleges chasing him than high-school girls.
            “I just did what I could,” said Lupeamanu. “The wins were great, but my best memories will be more about the relationships with the players and coach Larry (Wilson).”
            He said his best friends on the team were Francis Bernard and Sialao Mobley and, of course, Wilson, who began tutoring him shortly after accepting the job in Dec. 2009, when Lupeamanu was a freshman at Riverton High.
            “I was staying with my uncle (former NFL player Ed Mulitalo) and he lived right next to Herriman,” Lupeamanu recalled. “He said he was going to coach at Herriman because of Larry and I went with him.”
            On the field, Lupeamanu became part of a deadly 1-2 combination with Bernard, who also dominated the school record books. Lupeamanu said he didn’t have a favorite receiver, but if Bernard lined up as a slot receiver, “I knew I was going to him.”
            One of Lupeamanu’s favorite memories came in 2011. The Mustangs were on their way to winning their first five games. At Timpanogos, Herriman led 28-10 in the second quarter when Lupeamanu took the ball on the option and found running room. About 30 yards downfield, he pitched the ball to Bernard, who ran the rest of the way for a 61-yard score.
            In its first three seasons, Herriman was an anomaly. The Mustangs had a 20-14 record, a fact rarely seen with new schools. In the school’s first game (2010), Herriman scored first against Hillcrest before falling 17-7. The Mustangs won their second game (at Lehi) by jumping to a 27-0 lead.
            Herriman made the playoffs each season and even defeated its rival – Riverton – in just its second attempt. In Lupeamanu’s senior season, the Mustangs averaged almost 42 points per game and eclipsed 50 five times. If not for a crazy post-season, which forced Herriman to play powerhouse East, the Mustangs probably would have reached at least the 4A semifinals at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
            “Football went really good,” Lupeamanu said. “It didn’t turn out like we wanted, but everything can’t go your way.”
            Still, Lupeamanu tried. With the running attack stopped for the only time all season, he set a school record with 39 passing attempts and 327 yards.
            “We had to put everything in his hands,” Wilson said afterward. “He was the only guy they couldn’t contain.”
            With all of his athletic abilities, Lupeamanu’s future looked bright. In all likelihood, his greatest athletic successes still await. In the meantime, his accomplishments here will never be forgotten.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Mtn. View football: John Munger profile

In mid-December, I interviewed Mountain View (Idaho) lineman John Munger and we talked about the Mavericks' 2012 football season, as well as his sports career, in general. Munger anchored MV's offensive and defensive lines and has a chance at last to play at the college level. Here is the article that will appear in the team's 2012 football yearbook.

John Munger:

 ‘Big John’ used his high energy level
to create holes in opposing defenses

 By Bruce Smith

             For as long as he can remember, John Munger has been bigger than his friends.
            By his senior year at Mountain View High School, he was 6-foot-4 and 285 pounds. He was the anchor of the team’s offensive and defensive lines. He also wrestled heavyweight and played first base on the baseball team.
            “I played with a motor,” Munger said. “I felt like I could always compete, even if I was tired. I would do my best to beat them. I have that real competitive urge to beat everybody.
            “I had a size advantage on a lot of kids,” he added. “I was pretty experienced and I felt like I had a lot more confidence.”
            Munger played three seasons on the varsity football team. As a senior, he was recognized by opposing coaches for his ability to open holes on the offensive line. He made first team all-SIC and first team all-state. Munger played a big role as the Mavericks’ 6-3 season that also featured a balanced offense.
            Mountain View coach Judd Benedick could only smile when reflecting about the team’s biggest player.
            “Big John … never missed a snap,” he said. “He was a tough kid. He’d just swallow you up. In my mind, he’s a Division 1 (college football) player, but that’s tough to figure out. He’s a mountain of a man.”
            Munger was a two-year starter on the football team and had several college football teams considering him by the end of the season. Boise State asked him to walk-on, but he had not yet decided at press time.
            “Football is the way I want to go,” Munger said. “I’ve always been a lot better in football than anything else.”
            On defense, Munger finished the season with 27 tackles and had one sack and a fumble recovery. He said his best game was against Boise, and mostly because of what happened on offense. The Mavs totaled 572 yards in that game.
            “What I remember most was that our O-Line as just pushing them around like they were dolls,” he said. “We were moving them around anywhere we wanted.”
            Munger also had good memories of Mountain View’s late-season wins over Centennial and Eagle.
            “Both of those games were great for the defense,” he said. “We really after those guys (Eagle). We were inspired and the Eagle has always been a great game. Last year, we did the same thing. We beat them at their own place this year it happened to work out again.
            “The Eagle game last year (2011) was my favorite,” he added. “They were undefeated going into that game and they had a quarterback – the No. 2 quarterback in the nation – and we came in and rolled them.”
            Munger started playing football as a fifth grader, but it was the last two seasons that were the most memorable. As a junior, he was part of a Mountain View defense that ranked No. 1 in the SIC. This season, despite losing several front-line teammates to graduation, the Mavericks dropped only to second – behind Rocky Mountain.
            “We had a lot of younger guys step up and fill their shoes pretty well,” he said. “We got away with only missing a little bit. A few experienced defensive players took them under their wings, show them the ropes so they could grow up faster.”
            That was evident, and paid huge dividends late in the season when Mountain View won three straight games, defeating Centennial, Eagle and Vallivue. Early on, it took big plays to secure victories. Munger said he had two favorites:
            “When we played Timberline, I ended up getting a forced fumble and a sack on the same play. That was pretty sweet,” he said. “It ended up that we forced three straight turnovers. With Timberline, you can’t overlook them or they will get you.
            “The other play was the Vallivue game. I stuffed a sweep to the outside in the backfield about five yards deep (behind the line of scrimmage). Their running back (Kato Johnson) was going to play on our team but he moved back (to the Vallivue area) right before the season started. It was the last game of the season, so our athletic trainer wanted me to point at her. I did, and it was pretty funny.”
            Munger said that, despite not making the playoffs, he felt it was a good season. The school had to endure the loss of three students (Tiffany Walters, Robert Rogers, Scott Hyde), who had died in recent months and the football team helped build morale.
            “It hit Mountain View pretty hard, but it also helped make us a tight-knit group,” Munger said.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Girls basketball: Bingham 53, Weber 35

On Dec. 18, I covered the Bingham-Weber girls basketball game at Bingham High School. It was my first opportunity to watch both teams this season. There was some good talent on the court, but this was Bingham's night. Here is the article that will appear in Bingham's yearbook. I'll probably adjust the Weber article a little bit.

By Bruce Smith

             One month into the girls basketball season, the Bingham Miners are 8-0 and coach Rand Rasmussen’s team is doing it with defense.
            Tuesday night, the Miners got a chance to match up against Weber’s Erin Reichle and passed another test. This time, Mackenzie Bruggeman scored 17 points as Bingham claimed a 53-35 non-region victory.
            “I like to play teams whom I know will give me a chess match,” said Bingham coach Rand Rasmussen, whose team improved to 8-0. “I was proud of the girls for the way they reacted.”
            Bingham led the entire game. At halftime, the Miners had a 27-15 advantage and senior Ashton Henderson had helped hold Reichle to just six points.
            But Reichle started the second half with a basket, and then added a three-pointer to start a 7-0 run. With the lead down to five points, Bingham called timeout to regroup.
            “I told the girls, ‘we have to find out if we’re any good,’” Rasmussen said.
            At the pivotal moment, Bruggeman took control. She scored Bingham’s next eight points. The Miners led 40-30 by the end of the period. But, more importantly, they had survived. At that point, their depth made a big difference and the Miners added to the lead when Weber was forced to foul.
            Weber coach Rick Stoeckl hoped his team learned something from this game. The Warriors fell to 6-3, but two of their losses have been to unbeaten teams.
            “Little things made the difference … like a turnover here, and their shots fell,” he said. “With a good team like Bingham, if you don’t score for 4-5 possessions, you’re going to fall way behind.”
            The team’s shooting percent was actually pretty similar (just under 40 percent), but Weber committed 22 turnovers.
            Reichle finished with 17 points, a little below her season average so far. Hannah Charlton added eight points and Hanna Buswell was a beast underneath with a game-high 12 rebounds.
             “We like playing teams like Bingham,” said Stoeckl. “We’re a young team, and need to learn quickly. They’re a challenge and, at least we held them for a few minutes.”
             Sheradyn Parker had 11 points for Bingham and Jilian Powell had nine.

Weber            8       7     15       5   -   35
Bingham     17     10     13     13   -   53

   WEBER (35) – Erin Reichle 5-9 6-6 17, Haley Nelson 0-0 0-0 0, Hannah Charlton 2-6 3-4 8, Maren Ulrich 1-2 0-1 2, Hanna Buswell 2-7 0-0 4, Megan Bedwell 1-2 0-0 2, Abbie O’Neill 1-3 0-0 2, Alyssa Potter 0-1 0-2 0, McKenna Dahl 0-0 0-2 0, Kandice Jensen 0-1 0-0 0, Hanna Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Abri Carney 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 12-31 9-15 35.
   BINGHAM (53) – Madison Aulai-Roe 0-0 1-2 1, Ashton Henderson 0-5 1-2 1, Mackenzie Bruggeman 6-10 5-9 17, Jilian Powell 3-12 2-2 9, Sheradyn Parker 5-9 0-0 11, Cheril Lyman 1-5 1-2 3, Whitney Daniels 2-4 0-1 4, Monique Washington 3-4 1-4 7, Holly Sorensen 0-0 0-0 0, Molly Erickson 0-0 0-0 0, Emily Anderson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-49 11-22 53.
   Total fouls: Weber 18, Bingham 11. Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: Washington.
   Three-point shooting: Weber 2-9 (Reichle, Charlton). Bingham 2-11 (Powell, Parker).
   Rebounds: Bingham 31 (Henderson, Bruggeman, Washington 6), Weber 26 (Buswell 12).
   Turnovers: Weber 22, Bingham 8.


Mtn. View football: Hunter Temple profile

In mid-December, I interviewed Mountain View (Idaho) defensive back Hunter Temple. He wasn't among the team's biggest players, but there was no doubting the size of his heart. He played a big role in MV's success. Here is the article that will appear in the Mavericks' 2012 football yearbook.

Hunter Temple:

 Tenacious defender outgrew his size
and made him one of the team’s best

By Bruce Smith

             In football terms, Hunter Temple was one of the last guys coach Judd Benedick wanted to get off the bus.
            But he was among the first on the field.
            Temple didn't impress anyone with his size. Listed at 5-foot-7 and 155 pounds in the game program, he was actually much lighter. A few months afterward, he wrestled at 138 pounds. However, there was no mistaking his tenacity.
            “He is amazing,” said Mountain View coach Judd Benedick. “He’s as tenacious as they come. He’s always around the ball and has a motor that won’t quit. He plays like he’s 250 pounds.”
            Temple admitted he felt the same way.
            “I am pretty aggressive,” he said. “I’m just competitive. Waiting for things to happen isn’t really my style. I want to get it done before the other person has a chance.”
            He played entirely on defense –as the Mavericks’ strong safety or outside linebacker. He was a team captain and ranked second in tackles.
            He was also selected to the all-SIC and all-state teams. He had two interceptions – both against Centennial, including one he returned 27 yards for a touchdown. Those plays made him the Idaho Statesman’s Player of the Week.
            Even a couple of months after it happened, he still remembered the scoring play clearly:
            “That was my only touchdown of my varsity career,” he recalled. “I don’t know if it was my favorite play, but it was pretty dang awesome. I was playing on the strong side and I went to the flat. I saw the back coming out on a swing route. I looked at the quarterback. He was getting rushed and I knew he was going to throw it. I just jumped the route. There was no one chasing me when I looked back.
            “As I was running, I held up the ball. There were no Centennial guys around. My teammates came up and started hugging me. Congratulatory stuff. It was the series after I had my other pick.
            “What was funny was that John Munger told us on the sidelines that I was going to get another one and I was going to score a touchdown. It was funny that happened.”
            Temple said Mountain View’s football season didn’t go exactly how he wanted, but there were plenty of highlights, especially when the Mavericks ended it by winning consecutive games over rivals Centennial, Eagle and then Vallivue.
            “We ended it right,” he said. “We were upset that we didn’t make the playoffs because we were just hitting our stride, but I guess everything can’t go our way.”
            What made Temple so valuable was that most things did go his way. He was known for his determination and jarring hits. That was evident on the football field, but also in the other sports where he competed.
            Immediately after football, Temple was on the wrestling mat and was a candidate to win state. As a junior, he was the district champion at 126 pounds. He won his division at the Tiger-Griz tournament in Idaho Falls and placed third at state. In track, he chose to compete in the pole vault.
            “I was questioning whether to do track, but I thought the pole vault was pretty cool,” he said. “It’s just really different and I had never done anything like that before.”
            Football, however, was his favorite. Despite his size, he began to earn playing time late in the season his junior year and his efforts were quickly recognized.
            “I was always trying to be enthusiastic, even at practice,” he said. “I wanted to always be in a good mood. I tried to be a vocal leader.”
            Mountain View’s defense wasn’t as solid as in 2011, but there wasn’t much of a letdown. Despite its prolific offense, there were no shootouts. The Mavericks ranked second in the SIC in scoring defense and throttled Eagle when the Mustangs came in with an 8-1 record.
            “They were a pretty good team and we beat them pretty bad,” Temple said. “They’re kind of cocky and we always want to put the hammer on them. Doing it on Senior Night was pretty awesome.”
            Temple recognized his size might limit his potential for an athletic scholarship, but his heart and character won’t. He hoped to major in pre-med or do something with computers in college. If sports is any indication, he’ll give it his best shot.

About Me

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