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High school football: Springville's offense couldn't get going against East

SALT LAKE CITY — A week ago Springville demolished Alta in the semifinals with a dominant rushing effort to the tune of 401 yards. In Friday’s 4A state championship game, those same running lanes weren’t there.

Top-rated East limited Springville to just 49 yards rushing, and even though it had moderate success passing the ball, it wasn’t nearly enough for the underdog Red Devils to walk out of Rice-Eccles Stadium victorious.

“We like to run the ball first obviously. They’ve got a great D-line and we weren’t able to do that. We had to pass the ball a little bit more and fell behind,” said Springville coach Willy Child.

Unlike most teams against East, though, Springville always remained within a score or two most of the game until two late touchdowns by the Leopards in the fourth quarter.

Child wasn’t surprised by the fight until the end.

“It’s how they’ve been all year. We knew it was going to be a tough game coming in. East is a great team. We had to take advantage of every opportunity, and we weren’t able to do that,” said Child.

Its best opportunity slipped away late in the first half. After Springville’s Seth Mortensen hauled in a Jantsen Thorpe touchdown pass with 2:33 left in the half to cut East’s lead to 27-13, the Leopards fumbled the ball on the first play of the next series.

Springville couldn’t capitalize though and trailed 27-13 at the half.

That squandered opportunity was compounded when Springville’s punt four plays into the second half was blocked. East scored one play later to make it a 34-13 lead.

“Special teams let us down a little bit. You can’t do that against good teams,” said Child.

Even though East hit its season average and rushed for over 400 yards, Springville’s defense rarely got beat on the chunk plays that has been a staple of the Leopards’ offense this season.

“They’re undefeated in the state championship for a reason, they had a great defense, we knew that,” said East coach Brandon Matich.

“They’re well coached, their scheme was good. They tried some different things within their 4-3 scheme, and what they were doing worked. They were able to get to the edge, they use their hands well, they get off blocks well and they’re a great tackling football team.”

However, for the second straight year it wasn’t enough. East beat Springville 42-14 in last year’s 4A semifinals — the only two losses for the program the past two seasons.

“These kids put up two great years. Lost two games in two years, worked hard to get back here and did everything we asked them to," said Child. "I love each one of them, and sorry we couldn’t get it done."

Deseret News prep editor and Real Salt Lake beat writer. EMAIL: jedward@deseretnews.com