At every bit of 6-feet 4-inches, Bountiful’s Faletau Satuala showed up big on the field Friday night against Skyline in both stature and production.
The dominant two-way playing junior nabbed two interceptions at safety and caught a touchdown pass at receiver to lead Bountiful to a 16-14 victory over Skyline.
After starting Skyline quarterback Josh Calvert was injured on the first drive of the Eagles’ evening, Satuala picked off backup Justice Fons on fourth down.
Just 13 plays later, Satuala was in the back corner of the end zone on the receiving end of an arcing rainbow throw from Owen Geilman to give Bountiful a 6-0 lead with 10:32 left in the second quarter.
“He brings a lot of confidence and trust,” Bountiful coach Jason Freckleton said of Satuala. “When you have a guy out there that you know you can rely on who makes plays, everyone else can play a little bit more free and relaxed.”
The Redhawks defense grabbed a second diving interception courtesy of Ford Creswell and kept Skyline’s offense consistently off kilter. Geilman went to work again late in the second quarter with some big quarterback keeper gains to set up a designed rollout and 2-yard touchdown toss to Kaden Mertz for a 13-0 lead heading into the break.
Skyline took the opening second half kickoff for a good return, but a tipped pass that ricocheted off an Eagles receiver found Satuala’s hands again for the Redhawks’ third and final turnover of the night.
Satuala said his frame is a big advantage on the field, but that it’s not the only reason he’s productive.
“It’s also a lot of work I’m putting in just to get faster and stronger,” he said. “Working on my hand-eye coordination to catch and everything, but it definitely helps a lot.”
Skyline’s receivers finally jolted the Eagles’ offense to life with a couple of big run after catch gains to assist Fons and open the door for a tough 6-yard scoring tote from Bo Tate to end the shutout, 13-7, with 2:40 left in the third quarter.
Skyline recovered an onside kick immediately afterward, but couldn’t capitalize as both teams struggled to gain traction offensively.
The Redhawks leaned heavily on Kenobi Doctolero to run the clock down and hold on to the lead in the second half.
“Obviously the line did a good job getting him some windows, but he ran hard and got up the field north and south and did a great job,” Freckleton said.
With under three minutes to go, Ben Smith, who had missed two field goals and had an extra point attempt blocked earlier in the game, nailed a 49-yard field goal for more breathing room and a 16-7 lead.
Skyline wasn’t yet finished, though, and found itself in striking distance after a big catch from Miles Hall coupled with a roughing the passer penalty.
Fons hit Luke Wright wide open and tiptoeing the line in the back of the end zone for a scoring drive in under a minute of game time to make it 16-14 with 1:02 left in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles had another shot at an onside kick, but two consecutive penalties pushed them out of range and Bountiful recovered the attempt easily to end the game in victory formation.
After a split result 2-2 preseason, Freckleton said his team is forming an identity and has gotten better weekly heading into Region 5 competition.
“We talked all week about finishing and we would have liked to finish in a different way, but at the end, we finished and we won the game. Guys made plays when they needed to,” Freckleton said.
“They’re a good group. They didn’t give up. They fought to the end, and I’ve got to give them props for that.”