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High school football: West uses physical run game to defeat Roy

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Roy and West compete in a high school football game Friday, Sept. 10, 2021.

Roy and West compete in a high school football game Friday, Sept. 10, 2021, at West High School in Salt Lake City.

Shafkat Anowar, Deseret News

West remained unbeaten in region play, taking down Roy 19-8 at home Friday night. The Panthers used a heavy dose of run plays to pick up the win and move to 3-1 on the year, while the Royals fell to 3-2.

West’s physicality was relentless all game long, only being interrupted by a lightning delay that kept the teams from playing for over an hour. While the Panthers’ aggressive approach gave them an edge on the field, it also proved to be the impetus of penalty after penalty on a night that seemingly rained more yellow handkerchiefs than scattered showers. 

The Royals’ only score came soon after three Panther penalties on a single play moved the ball 40 yards and well into West territory. Panthers head coach Olossa Solovi felt his team needed to clean up their game moving forward.

“In order for us to consider ourselves a real disciplined team, we’ve got to eliminate those things. That’s not on the refs. That’s on us as a staff. We’ll get it fixed,” he said.

Solovi added that his team had been facing multiple distractions that made it hard to focus on football.

“We had three parents die in the last two weeks and multiple guys out with Covid. I still have 10-plus kids out on quarantine right now. We haven’t practiced a lot,” he said. “It’s just been a rough summer. We started out the summer with a shooting and a death with some players. I just give this community a lot of respect and these young men a lot of respect for continuing to fight through. We’re just grateful to be out here and we’re excited to get out of here with a win against a good Roy team.” 

Each of the Panthers’ three scores came on the ground, with the final touchdown adding the finishing touches to a West victory. On fourth down, with one yard to go, Solovi elected to go for it from the Roy 5-yard line. The Panthers picked up all five yards as junior running back Sesi Vailahi carried defenders into the end zone to put his team on top 19-0. 

After coming up a few yards shy of a touchdown earlier in the game, Vailahi knew what he had to do.

“I saw that it was fourth-and-1,” he said. “I was like, ‘Man, I’ve got to score.’ It was in my head the whole day today, ‘I haven’t got a rushing touchdown.’ So I wanted one and that was just the perfect moment for it.”

The West defense held strong throughout the game before giving up a lone touchdown on a Parker Kingston pass to Izic Muniz for 7 yards. Kingston, a BYU commit, was limited in action, only playing in the second half following a dislocated knee cap a week before. 

Roy will look to bounce back when it takes on Kearns next Thursday. West will seek to stay atop Region 2 next Friday night when it faces Hunter. Both games will begin at 7 p.m. MDT.