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High school football: Alta welcomes Cottonwood back to 5A with blowout win

SANDY — Although they've won two straight Class 5A state championships, the Alta Hawks entered their endowment game showdown with Cottonwood feeling like they wanted some respect.

Oh, did they ever earn it.

The Hawks blasted the Colts in their first game in 5A since 2004, taking a 14-point lead 95 seconds into the game and then cruised to a stunning 59-20 win at Alta High.

"It just seemed like they had no respect for us on the field all night, even when we were beating them," said Alta's 6-foot-7 offensive lineman Jordan Black. "But whatever, it's football. It's cool."

It was certainly cool to be a Hawk on Friday night, as Alta thoroughly dominated on offense, defense and special teams. In what was supposed to be one of opening night's best contests, the Hawks had the 35-point mercy-rule clock running continuously late in the third quarter.

Coach Les Hamilton hesitated to confirm that he thought the Hawks could roll like they did on Friday night, but after outstanding practices on Tuesday and Wednesday he had a great feeling about his team's opener.

"I knew our guys were ready," Hamilton said. "The coaches did a great job with the game plan and the kids executed."

Alta's quick-strike offense made sure the game was never in doubt.

Quarterback Jordan Brown, making his first varsity start, rushed for 64 yards on Alta's first play from scrimmage. That run set up a 6-yard touchdown run by Adrian Jefferson that gave the Hawks a 7-0 lead just 35 seconds into the game. After forcing a punt, Bryan Finnerty scored on a 57-yard run to put Alta up 14-0 just 95 seconds into the contest.

Although the Hawks had some lulls offensively — if you can believe that when they put 59 points on the scoreboard — the theme of the night was Alta's running game. The Hawks have a three-headed monster in their backfield with Jefferson, Finnerty and junior Taylor Eyring that is going to be nearly impossible to stop this season.

"That's going to be huge for us," Hamilton said.

Cottonwood did start to make a game of it after halftime, but it was short-lived. The Colts' Crosby Jensen connected with Jason Lundquist on a 64-yard touchdown pass early in the third quarter to get the Colts within 24-14. But instead of turning the game into a nail-biter, it seemed to awaken what had been a stagnant Alta offense.

The Hawks then scored on four straight possessions with sophomore defensive back Austin Lee adding a score with a 10-yard interception return for a touchdown. Brown completed touchdown passes to Tyler Brady and Tyron Morris to turn the game into a rout. Brown's 58-yard strike to Morris put Alta up 52-14.

Alta also dominated defensively, as it was able to stop Cottonwood's run game with five guys while dropping others into pass coverage. The Hawks held the high-powered Colts' offense to just 14 points even with standout linebacker A.L. Ho-Ching missing the game with an injury.

"Best freakin' linebacker in the country is out and we still dominated on defense," Black said.

Even when things went against the Hawks, they seemed to find a way to go right. Alta lined up for a field goal late in the fourth quarter, but a bad snap forced senior holder Skylar Mayne to improvise. He simply picked up the bad snap, and outran the Colts for a 17-yard touchdown.

"It was a fire call and we just ran it in," Mayne said. "We practice it a lot. That's what practice does."

On this night, it made the Hawks almost perfect.