When it comes to sports, one man's dream can be another's nightmare.
Mike Favero and his Logan Grizzlies are walking on air after defeating Hurricane 59-29 in the 3A semifinal game Thursday morning at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
"It's the dream of every high school football player to play in the state championship game," a beaming Favero said after his team earned a berth in next week's 3A championship game, where they will face the winner of today's Pine View-Grantsville semifinal game.
The Grizzlies are living that dream in large part due to the athletic ability of quarterback Riley Nelson. The senior rushed for four touchdowns and passed for another four as he led his team past a previously undefeated Hurricane squad.
Logan's first scoring drive lasted 11 seconds and ended with a 23-yard TD pass from Nelson to Jeff Alley less than two minutes into the first quarter. But when Nelson couldn't find an open receiver, he ran — and ran, and ran. He finished with 163 yards rushing and 412 yards passing, and is currently tied for the state record for touchdown passes with 76.
"It's exciting to play for this team because you get the chance to make plays that other players don't," said Alley, who caught three of those touchdown passes — for 23, 56 and 88 yards. "It's just exciting to have a quarterback like that."
Exciting if you're on his team. Downright terrifying if you're trying to stop him.
"That spread offense, the way they run it, is a really good offense," said Tigers coach Chris Homer, who lamented the fact that his team had just three days to prepare for Logan. "We played Saturday and then we got the Thursday game. Three days to prepare for this team is tough."
Homer said his quarterback, who has been injured the past three weeks, might have been a little rusty the first couple of drives, but was proud his team didn't just lie down for the Grizzlies. Not only did quarterback Mike Long, who separated his shoulder, turn it on in the second half, but Cody Olsen looked like he might be able to carry his team back into the contest with several jaw-dropping sideline catches.
"I'm real glad we fought back," he said. "We didn't have to say much. They've got heart. I said some things, but it's them. They're the ones that did it."
Hurricane scored 21 points in the third quarter, and it looked like Logan's lead was actually in jeopardy.
"They hung in there," Favero said of Hurricane. "There's a reason they were 12-0. That's a good team."
As for Nelson's effort, he just shrugged when asked about his performance.
"He's been doing that all year long," he said. "But it's not just about Nelson. It's about that whole team."
One of Nelson's best attributes is that he's an intelligent, modest and hard-working player. Instead of jealousy, his teammates feel proud of their offensive general.
"That's my brother," said defensive end Montie Keiaho. "We live in the same house. My parents moved here to Salt Lake City, but I wanted to stay up north because I grew up with these kids. I'm always amazed by him. He's always pulling through for us."
He's hardworking, smart, intelligent. I'm just so proud of him."