No one was happier about Jesse Ence's huge semifinal performance last weekend at Rice-Eccles Stadium than his quarterback, James Lark.
The Pine View running back finished with 126 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Panthers to a lopsided 58-14 victory over Grantsville. Those three TDs elevated Ence's season total to 31, just the way Lark likes it.
"James said to me at the beginning of the season, 'Coach, I don't care about my records, I want to get a record for Jesse. He never gets any pub,' " said Pine View coach Ray Hosner.
Last year, Lark set a state record with 41 touchdown passes — a record that has since been broken by Logan's Riley Nelson.
Considering he was only a junior last year, and most of Pine View's key starters were returning this year, Lark could've easily challenged his old record had that been his agenda. Instead, he wanted to make something happen for Ence.
"They care more for the other guy to be successful than themselves, and I think that's why they've been able to accomplish what they've accomplished," said Hosner.
Ence's 31 rushing touchdowns this year rank No. 7 all-time in Utah high school football history.
With just one touchdown in Friday's 3A championship game, he would move into a tie for fourth with Bear River's Nick Chournos (1995, 1996) and Park City's Brandon Rogers (2001). With two scores, he'd move into a tie for second with Monticello's Kyle Curtis (2001) and Beaver's Kelly Smith (1979).
Ence would need a career day to catch Grantsville's Alan Mouritsen, who finished with 38 rushing touchdowns in 1997.
It's unfortunate Ence is playing behind a future BYU quarterback, because few people out of St. George have ever heard of him.
"I do go unnoticed, but for me it's just about having fun," said Ence, who is also a starting linebacker for Pine View. "I've always loved playing football. I take playing with James Lark as a privilege. It helps me if anything. People are always worried about the pass, so it opens up the run."
Ence's 100-yard game last week pushed his season total over 1,000 yards, to 1,118 so far this year.
"To everyone else, he flies under the radar, but not to us," said Hosner. "Those kids rally around him, they love him."
For Pine View to have a chance against No. 1 Logan next week, the Panthers are going to need to establish Ence in the running game early. Otherwise, Logan's offense will be on the field, which usually ends in points for the Grizzlies.