SALT LAKE CITY — Heading into Friday’s night’s high school football action, three 4A teams stood in desperate need of a victory.
After starting the year 1-1, Hurricane had dropped five consecutive contests, including a three-point setback against Crimson Cliffs and a 14-point loss to Desert Hills.
Tooele hadn’t had things all that much better, having suffered back-to-back-to-back losses to rival Stansbury, Ogden and Cedar Valley.
Then there was Bear River, a team that arguably had had things worst of all. Winless in Region 11, the Bears had dropped three straight games by a combined 11 points, heartbreakers the lot of them.
There would be no heartbreak for the Bears on Friday, nor the Tigers or the Buffaloes, as all three teams picked up much needed victories.
The Bears were the best of the bunch, as they defeated Mountain Crest 21-0 (Box Score). Kace Jones led the way on offense with two rushing touchdowns, his 11th and 12 of the season, while quarterback Josh Payne connected with Gabe Dwaileebe for an 82-yard touchdown strike, rounding out the scoring in the game.
Bear River completely shut down the Mountain Crest offense — it was the Bears’ first shutout of the season — and as Bear River head coach Chris Wise explained, his team’s strong defensive play was crucial to the win.
“Mountain Crest had a great game plan and took us out of what we had planned in the first half,” Wise explained. “Our boys came together at half and made adjustments on their own. They would not be denied in the second half. Great defense gave us the space we needed to figure things out.”
The victory over Mountain Crest was the first for Bear River since 1996.
Watch replay: Bear River 21, Mountain Crest 0
Great defense played a significant role in Tooele’s bounce back win as well. The Buffaloes defeated the Uintah Utes 34-14 (Box Score), and shut out out the Utes in all but one quarter.
Offensively, quarterback Justic Tadifa had arguably his best game of the season. He threw a season-high three touchdowns passes, spurring a strong start for Buffaloes (Tooele led 21-0 at halftime).
Other standouts included Mateaki Helu who rushed for a score and had a touchdown reception, and Dylan Makoni, who closed the game with a 12-yard touchdown run.
“It was a great win,” Tooele head coach Andru Jones said. “The kids played a full game. I’m very proud of them. We keep growing and learning.”
The same can be said for Hurricane.
The Tigers took down Canyon View 35-28 (Box Score), and earlier in the year they might have come up short in exactly this type of game.
The Falcons gave the Tigers everything they could handle all night long — the team’s alternated scores through the entire first half and much of the third quarter — and even took the lead late in the third quarter.
Instead of crumbling and suffering another loss, Hurricane outscored Canyon View 14-0 to end the game, the last touchdown coming with under minute remaining.
Connor Nielson rushed for the game-winning 10-yard touchdown with 28 seconds left — he scored both the game-tying touchdown and the game-winning touchdown — giving Hurricane the win in their final home game of the season.
“We are proud of our boys for how they played tonight,”Hurricane head coach Skylar Miller said. “Proud of our coaching staff for their relentless commitment to find a way to put our boys in position to win. It was a great team win! A great tribute to our seniors on their last home game.”
Watch replay: Hurricane 35, Canyon View 28
Also returning to the win column on Friday were the Dixie Flyers.
A week ago, the Flyers fell agonizingly short against Snow Canyon, but that wasn’t the case against Crimson Cliffs.
Dixie defeated Crimson Cliffs 25-15 (Box Score) and it was the Flyers’ defense that proved the difference.
Dixie shut out the Mustangs in the second half and a pick six by Mamao Matalolo sealed the win in the fourth quarter.
“They did a great job defending our offense tonight,” Dixie head coach Blaine Monkres said. “Fortunately for us our defense stepped up and made a couple of big plays.”
For the rest of the winners around the 4A classification on Friday it was more of the same.
Pine View, Sky View, Ridgeline, Park City, Cedar Valley and Cedar City all picked up at least their second consecutive victory (in some cases, much much more than that).
None was more impressive, nor more important, than the Pine View’s win over Snow Canyon.
The Panthers’ and Warriors’ contest was the de facto Region 9 championship game — Dixie may yet have something to say about that — and Pine View came out ahead in dramatic fashion with a 36-35 victory (Box Score).
Neither team trailed by more than a touchdown the entire game — things were knotted at 28 points apiece at halftime — and it took a missed Snow Canyon field goal in game’s dying seconds for everything to be decided.
“I was proud of the grit our kids showed tonight,” Pine View head coach Ray Hosner said. “They love each other and that is what makes it such a fun group to coach. This was a great team win.”
Watch replay: Pine View 36, Snow Canyon 35
In other Region 9 action, Cedar City defeated Desert Hills 17-14 (Box Score).
The Reds trailed early, but responded with back-to-back-to-back scores, including touchdown runs by Seth Brinkerhoff and Bryan White. Those scores, as well as a field goal by Edgar Hernandez-Hinojosa proved just enough for Cedar City to pull out the win.
“Proud of our team tonight,” Cedar City head coach Josh Bennett said. “Our defense played a great game. We came up with some big stops on third and fourth down. We also forced three turnovers that helped win the game. We also had a huge goal line stand that made a difference. Offensively, we were able to establish some great drives and had no turnovers. Our goal was to not give up the big play and have no turnovers on offense. We felt like we would win the game if we we were able to do that, and we did.”
Watch replay: Cedar City 17, Desert Hills 14
Up north in Cache Valley, both Sky View and Ridgeline found a way to win, the norm this season for the rivals.
In the Bobcats’ case it wasn’t too difficult, as Sky View soundly defeated Logan 42-11 (Box Score).
The third quarter was the deciding period, as Sky View outscored Logan 28-0 in the frame. The Bobcats were led by quarterback Kasen Carlsen, who threw two touchdown passes and rushed for two additional scores. Titan Sexton hauled in both touchdown passes, while Isaac Larsen and Walter Collins each rushed for a touchdown. Also singled out by head coach Chris Howell was Sam Thatcher, who finished with four pass breakups.
“Another great performance by our defense and special teams,” Sky View head coach Chris Howell said. “Our offense got rolling in the third quarter and looked really impressive. Sam had an outstanding performance.”
As for Ridgeline, it found a way to survive against Green Canyon. The RiverHawks defeated the Wolves 35-28 (Box Score), in a game that went down to the final moments.
The team’s combined to score 36 fourth quarter points — Green Canyon had 21, Ridgeline 15 — as the Wolves attempted to rally to victory.
A four touchdown outing by RiverHawks quarterback Kaden Cox was too much to overcome, however.
“That was a great team win for us tonight,” Ridgeline head coach Travis Cox said. “Defense was great in the first half and then the offense carried us in the second. Green Canyon played a great game.”
In Region 10, both Park City and Cedar Valley kept up their winning ways (Park City has won five in a row, Cedar Valley four in a row).
Park City handled Ben Lomond 48-7 (Box Score), in a game where the Miners started quickly and never looked back.
“Good game tonight in all three phases,” Park City head coach Josh Montzingo said. “The team came out firing and played well. Good region win and proud of everyone’s effort tonight.”
As for Cedar Valley, well the Aviators came out on top in one of the night’s more entertaining games.
Cedar Valley defeated Ogden 37-27 (Box Score), thanks in part to a four touchdown night by quarterback Payton Weber.
“It was a fun game and battle,” Cedar Valley head coach Weston Zabriskie said. “Ogden has a great team and are very well coached. Our boys had to play a solid 48 minutes in all three phases of the game to get the win. Very proud of our effort tonight.”
Watch replay: Cedar Valley 37, Ogden 27