MURRAY — If a player's worth is determined exclusively by the number of big plays he makes for his team, then there may not be any player more valuable than Cottonwood's Stanley Havili.
The senior running back rushed for 174 yards and four touchdowns on just 17 carries, leading his Colts to a 28-13 win over region rival Olympus in the second round of the 4A playoffs Friday.
The multidimensional Havili also intercepted Titan quarterback Spencer Young midway through the second quarter.
"Stanley was big all the way around for us tonight," said Cottonwood head coach Tom Jones. "We played him at safety, at corner, and even at linebacker because of a few injuries that we've had."
As part of a game plan that had almost become monotonous by the end of the contest, Cottonwood put the ball in the hands of Havili every time it needed a big play. Fortunately for the Colts, their star halfback did not disappoint. Late in the fourth quarter and in dire need of a first down, Havili burned Olympus on what might have been the most impressive play of the night.
Standing in the shadow of his own end zone, the halfback took the ball and started left, then reversed field for a 20-yard gain, embarrassing several Titan defenders along the way.
"We were running stretch left, but the defense read it well," Havili said. "I cut back to try not to lose any yardage. I saw the sideline was open so I headed right, then turned it upfield."
Were it not for that play and several others like it, Olympus could very well be the team preparing to face Mountain Crest on Thursday. The Titans' offense struggled to find any rhythm throughout the contest, but still managed to make a few big plays against the talented Cottonwood defense.
"Olympus played tough tonight," said Jones. "That was not the same team that we played at the beginning of the season."
The Colts' play was by no means perfect. Senior quarterback Alex Cate had an off night, turning the ball over twice and completing 11 of 18 passes for a meager 142 yards. The defense, at times, seemed determined to keep the game close as all three of Olympus' scoring drives were kept alive by penalties.
"We definitely need to clean up our game a little bit," said Jones. "We had four turnovers and a couple of stupid penalties, and we can't expect to win if we keep making mistakes like that."