North Sanpete beats Union, faces Morgan in playoffs
By James Tilson
MT PLEASANT—The North Sanpete High School football team, in the midst of one of their finest seasons in recent memory, advanced to the 3A semifinals last Friday, Oct. 26, after defeating the Union Cougars in a state quarterfinal match-up, 21-7.
“It was a great team effort,” said Head Coach Rhett Bird. “We played solid on defense, and offensively we started fast to give us a good lead.”
That fast start was the result of some opportunistic play by the Hawks. After forcing a three and out on Union’s first possession, North Sanpete got a big play out of fullback Connor Jorgensen, as he broke through several would-be tacklers and scampered for a 60-yard touchdown run to put the Hawks up 7-0.
On Union’s very next possession, Payton Clawson intercepted a Union pass to set up the Hawks on the Cougar 34-yard line. The Hawks drove down to the end zone, but fumbled the ball back to the Cougars before they could score.
But the Hawk defense rose up again, forcing a fumble and recovering on the Union 20-yard line. This time, the Hawks finished their drive, with Brock Justesen doing the honors from 2 yards out to make the score 14-0.
In the second quarter, the Cougars finally were able to mount a drive to make the score 14-7, although they were aided by two Hawk penalties to extend the drive. But the Hawks took the ensuing possession the length of the field to go back up 21-7 on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Chance Clawson to Ethan Bowles.
The second half was all defense, as neither team scored again, and the Hawks looked to protect their two touchdown lead. Coach Bird had prepared his team in the two weeks before the game to put up a big defensive effort.
“The biggest key was out pursuit to the ball,” he said. “We put a lot of time and effort into pursuing the ball carrier the last two weeks and we did a good job with it.”
With the win, North Sanpete advanced to the 3A playoffs semifinals, which will be played at Provo High School on Saturday Nov. 3 starting at 11 a.m. There they will face the Morgan Trojans, the 3A North Region champion.
According to Bird, “Morgan runs a spread offense similar to what we have seen a few times this season with Union and Summit Academy. They have a couple of key players that they try to isolate and the get the ball out fast. We will have to mix it up on their quarterback to keep him guessing.”
The other semifinal game will be Summit Academy versus Juan Diego, also to be played at Provo High School starting at 1 p.m. The fact that the top three seeds from 3A South have all made the semifinals show how competitive the region was over the season.
Bird believes that by advancing this far, the Hawks have what it takes to go all the way. “Now that we are in the semifinal game, we feel the biggest key indicator of who’s going to win the game is going to be who wants it the most,” he said. “After seeing our kids last Friday, I like our chances.”