TAYLORSVILLE — If presented the same situation a year ago, the Taylorsville football team wouldn’t have responded the same way.
At least according to Taylorsville coach Joe Johnson, who has more credibility on that notion than perhaps anyone.
The Warriors had battled back and forth with visiting Northridge throughout Friday’s game, but found themselves down 31-24 with just over two minutes remaining following consecutive scores from the Knights. Enter an experienced team with a strong mentality, and Taylorsville did what wouldn’t have been possible during last season’s 2-9 campaign.
Bit by bit Taylorsville quarterback Humani Wolfgramm guided his offense almost the entire length of the field before hitting Dalton Jamison with a 6-yard touchdown pass with just 14 seconds remaining, sending the game to overtime.
“(Wolfgramm) was just cool, calm and collected during that final drive,” Johnson said. “He didn’t get rattled and just stayed the course. There wasn’t once instance where he panicked until the touchdown pass when he made an excellent read on an RPO (run-pass option) play. I couldn’t have been prouder of him, or for our entire team, for that matter.”
Fueled by the jolt of momentum by the final score in regulation, Taylorsville didn’t take long to finish out the overtime period.
Brison Peisley picked off a pass for Taylorsville during the overtime period, setting up a game-winning 20-yard touchdown run from Braxton Bates for a thrilling 37-31 win.
“I guess my guys just like to make me sweat a bit, but seriously, it was an unbelievable win for the guys and for this program,” Johnson said. “It shows the team’s growth that they’ve made because in that situation last year, I don’t think it would have turned out the same way.”
A lot of the improvements relevant at Taylorsville in the early season can of course be chalked up to experience, although Johnson is quick to remind of the work and sacrifice that has gone into all of it.
“We have kids in this program who are going through a lot of difficult things away from the football field, but they’re all battling through all of it to come together, and you love to see it,” Johnson said. “So there’s few things better than seeing it rewarded in a game like we had last night. There were a lot of times we could have quit, but we refused to do it, and grew as a team.”
Key throughout it all was Bates, who is celebrated by Johnson as someone who deserves a chance to play at the collegiate level.
“Put that kid’s name in large print because it’s past time that he gets the attention he deserves,” said Johnson, who played collegiately for Utah. “I know and even played for a lot of the college coaches in this state, and if they can’t see what that kid has, then they don’t know what they’re looking at. He can flat out play...taking that kid down is a full-time job. You need all 11 guys.”
Others celebrated specifically by Johnson included Peisley and Wolfgramm, along with lineman Tau Iermia, Will Taukeiaho and Byron Dalton, linebacker Kamal Wani and even took time to point out kicker Ramon Sanchez.
“Ramon hadn’t played football, but we just barely got him cleared to play, and he was huge for us,” Johnson said. “He plays soccer, and is a great soccer player, but he was clutch for us in the game.”
Overall Johnson hopes to keep it going and continue to see his team improve with every week.
“It was great to have a great win like that at home, but now we just need to take that momentum and be even better next week,” Johnson said. “But no doubt I’m proud of all of the guys we have in this program, who continue to overcome a lot of things in their lives and then keep going. There’s a lot of character and fight on this team and you don’t get the type of win we did on Friday without it.”