MT. PLEASANT—For the past three meetings, North Sanpete football has had their hands full in dealing with its pesky 2A rival, the Delta Rabbits, but this time, it didn’t seem much of a struggle.
Every aspect of the North Sanpete offense was clicking as the Hawks routed Delta, 42- 13, last Friday to move to 2-1 on the season and mark their second straight win over them. North Sanpete’s defense kept Delta completely off the scoreboard until the last minute of the third quarter, while senior quarterback Ty Allan and the offense scored 14 points in each quarter until the fourth.
“Our kids executed a good game plan,” coach Rhett Bird said. “All week long, we came up with a game plan, and the kids stuck with it. We just played awesome.”
Allan played by far his best game at quarterback of his career, completing 16 of 23 passes for 261 yards, four touchdowns and, even more refreshing, zero interceptions.
The receiver core took a massive hit when senior Beau Jacobson went down with an injury early in the game, but Beau’s young brother, Brock Jacobson, came through in a big way with three catches for 75 yards and a score. Junior Carson Cook had his best night as a receiver, leading the team with six catches for 86 yards and two touchdowns.
While Allan and the receiving corps seemingly could do no wrong, Bird’s continued commitment to the run paid dividends. The Hawks accumulated 142 total rushing yards, led by senior PJ Cook who had 13 carries for 87 yards and a touchdown, an average of 6.7 yards per carry. For the second time this season, the Hawks ran more rush plays than pass plays.
“We’re more run-heavy than I’ve ever been as a coach,” Bird said. “I love to pass the ball, and I think fans love to see that, too. But we understand that the run game is what can extend our season against a good team late in the year.”
Against a Delta team that had spent years punching their way into the endzone through option run schemes, the Hawk defense stifled the Rabbits, as neither of their two scores came from the run. Delta collected 128 total rushing yards on 26 rush attempts.
Senior defensive end Keegan Strickland provided the highlight play of a brilliant night for the defense late in the first half. With the Rabbits facing a second-and-9, Strickland jumped in front of a pass to the right flat, intercepted the ball and ran unchallenged for 34 yards to the end zone for the Hawks third touchdown of the game.
The Rabbits have a new coach this season, and that changed up their style of play, but it also meant they’d be in an adjustment period, which has been evidenced by their 0-3 start and back-to-back double-digit losses.
“They’re still the same gritty kids,” Bird said. “They’re going to find their own identity as the time comes. They’re going to work away from what they’ve been in the past.”
For North Sanpete, the difficulty meter on the rest of non-region play is about to hit the roof. The Hawks will take on the defending 3A champions on the road travelling to 3-0 Grantsville this Friday, preceding a matchup down south next week as they rematch with Desert Hills, a 4A power that beat them, 43-7, in just two quarters of play last season. Bird said he feels ready to take on these teams after the team’s first three weeks.
“Our kids are ready to play those games,” Bird said. “We know that in a couple of those games, we may be a little bit outmatched as far as matchups go…but that’s where we want to be. Those are good teams, and you want to be playing teams like that.”