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High school football: Big Mac Brothers lead Hurricane into 3AA title game

Hurricane's running back Jeremiah Ieremia breaks through the line to score a touchdown during the 3AA semifinal high school football game against Desert Hills in the Rice-Eccles Stadium Friday, Nov. 14, 2014, Salt Lake City.
Hurricane's running back Jeremiah Ieremia breaks through the line to score a touchdown during the 3AA semifinal high school football game against Desert Hills in the Rice-Eccles Stadium Friday, Nov. 14, 2014, Salt Lake City.
Hugh Carey, Deseret News

HURRICANE — In video games, there are the Smash Brothers, and in baseball, there are the Bash Brothers. In Hurricane, say hello to the Big Mac Brothers.

Hurricane High linebackers Charlie Sefita and Jeremiah Ieremia (pronounced your-uh-me-uh) love to hit opposing offenses and they're very proficient at it — sometimes even proficient enough to earn a Big Mac.

"This week Charlie got the Big Macs from Coach Humphries for that big hit that forced the fumble at the end of the game," Ieremia said. "We make bets with each other and with the coaches, but it's always just for food."

The two inside linebackers in Hurricane's 3-4 defense have been causing havoc, and likely earning a lot of hamburgers, all season long. Sefita's helmet-to-the-ball hit on Desert Hills' quarterback with under two minutes remaining in last Friday's 3AA semifinals rescued the game for the Tigers and earned Hurricane its fifth trip to the state championship game in the last seven years with the 17-14 win.

"When I saw that ball pop out, I knew it was Charlie — it went like 10 feet in the air," Ieremia said. "I swear, it was in the air forever. I raised my hands and said, 'Yeah, we got this.' I was one happy kid when I saw that."

Sefita, who delivered the punishing blow, along with a dozen other tackles in the game, said he was just trying to do his job.

"I was just trying to tackle him," Sefita said. "I honestly didn't mean to put my helmet on the ball. I guess it was just in the right place at the right time. It kind of changed Desert Hills' plans for the championship, didn't it?"

The fumble, which Tigers coach Steve Pearson said seemed to stop time momentarily, was recovered by Tyson Yardley and enabled Hurricane to run out the clock. But it was nothing out of character for the Big Mac Brothers, who have been making plays like that all season.

"Honestly, those two linebackers are second-to-none in the state of Utah," Pearson said. "I wouldn't trade them for anybody."

The two have forged a friendship that Sefita says is akin to being brothers. And that's saying a lot considering how things started between the two.

"I met Charlie in the sixth grade — we had just moved here — and we kind of hated each other," Ieremia said. "There was just supposed to be one Poly here and now there were two."

The enmity between the two soon dissipated and the two supreme athletes quickly became close friends. But the rivalry remained.

"We compete all the time," Sefita said. "If he makes a big hit or a big play, I have to match it or try and beat it. It's like that all the time. We make a bet to see who has the most tackles and the loser buys lunch. And at lunch, we really give each other a hard time."

Sefita, who had 13 tackles to Ieremia's six in the semifinals, has had to take a back seat to Ieremia when it comes to attention and publicity this season. Ieremia, who is 6 foot 2 and 225 pounds and also plays fullback, has already verbally committed to play at BYU. Sefita, at 5-11 and 220, is still looking for somewhere to play college football.

"I pulled Charlie and Tyson and Kole Richins aside before the season and told them that Jeremiah was going to get a lot of attention this year because of who he was and what he could do," Pearson said. "They didn't care about all that. They've all been good teammates, including Jeremiah."

Ieremia has played a lot at running back this season, though Pearson has tried to limit his touches because of his extreme value on defense. Still, the senior has 778 yards and 15 touchdowns and has averaged 5.4 yards per carry. He was the workhorse on offense against Desert Hills in the second half, carrying 16 times for 60 yards and a crucial TD.

"You know, I don't see him getting tired at all," Sefita said. "I think he could play every down on both sides of the ball and still be going full speed."

Ieremia agreed, although he said he was pretty hammered after the Desert Hills game.

"I was beat up pretty good in the Desert Hills game, but that's OK," Ieremia said. "The one thing they call me is the finisher. I like to finish runs and I like to finish games. Whatever they need. When I'm in, I'm going to run my butt off."

The two 'backers have a shot at a state championship this Friday when Hurricane battles southern Utah foe Dixie. The Tigers beat the Flyers 34-14 earlier this season, though Dixie was without quarterback Ammon Takau and star safety RJ Wilgar.

"They're going to be a different team," Ieremia said. "Ammon Takau is a great quarterback and he makes that team so much better. We definitely have to play our best game."

If they do, Ieremia and Sefita can hoist that state championship trophy — and maybe grab a Big Mac after the game.

Andy Griffin is a southern Utah broadcaster and sports writer and has been involved in covering sports in Utah, including professional, college and high school sports, since 1989. Andy is the sports editor at STGNews.com.