It had been 12 years since the Kanab Cowboys had prevailed over their most storied rival, and when they faced a long field with two minutes remaining last Friday, another impending loss to the Beaver Beavers loomed large.
Barely a second after a buzzer sounded across the stadium to signal the end of regulation, Kanab senior receiver Kasen Janes got both hands on a Hail Mary pass to the end zone between two defenders to pull the score to 21-20. Moments later, senior Parker Franklin dove over the goal line for a game-winning conversion, and the streak was over, Kanab was victorious 22-21.
“It was huge,” Kanab coach JR Quarnberg said. “It’s been so long, you almost start losing the expectation to win, which makes it really challenging to prepare.”
The two schools have been battling each other nearly every year since Beaver opened in the late 1950s. Beaver’s 12-year streak was the longest in the history of the rivalry, and because of that, the entire community around Kanab was aching for a win, especially when the last few years hadn’t even seen the Cowboys get even close, thanks to some exceptionally dominant Beaver teams since 2019.
Leading up to Friday’s game, Kanab summoned up just about every ounce of good energy it could. Quarnberg’s father, Rod, a former Kanab head coach, spoke with the team about what the Beaver game meant to the program. Quarnberg even got Kanab legend Arlyn Hafen, who is the namesake of the Cowboys’ stadium, to address the team.
“We tried to help the kids understand the history and what it’s meant to both programs,” Quarnberg said. “I think they started to sense that a little bit.”
Beaver and Kanab employ very similar football teams, run-heavy wing-T offenses with physical defenses, and it’s unlikely for either team to throw the ball more than four or five times the whole game. Quarnberg even said that Kanab very rarely practiced a two-minute drill, mostly using it for conditioning rather than game preparation.
Yet, with two minutes on the clock, needing a touchdown, and not having time to run, junior quarterback Griffen Bone had to trust a receiver, and Janes heeded the call.
Even when the odds were on their side, Beaver coach Jon Marshall had a pit in his stomach.
“When we scored, I was looking at the clock thinking we should have taken a couple more plays to score,” Marshall said. “I don’t know how everyone else felt about it, but I did not feel good at all.”
Sure enough, Janes hauled in a long pass over multiple defenders with mere seconds remaining to set up a ball spike, stopping the clock at 3 seconds. Janes then delivered the magic on the next play.
Bone finished with 139 yards on 8-of-17 passing with two touchdowns, both to Janes.
Rivalry talk aside, the Cowboys, who haven’t won a state championship since 2007, can be emboldened in their chase for a 1A title by starting with a win over a frontrunner for the 2A state championship. They’ll be heavily favored in their upcoming Friday matchup on the road against Millard this week.
In case anyone asks, Quarnberg said he doesn’t plan on passing the ball more often in the future.