North Sanpete Hawks to play for championship
By James Tilson
PROVO—With the chance to do something that no other North Sanpete football team has ever done, the Hawks came to Provo last Saturday and dominated the Morgan Trojans 23-15 on the way to securing their a berth in the 3A state football championship game.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better buy-in this past week,” said Head Coach Rhett Bird. “Our kids were engaged every day and knew that if we wanted a shot at the state title, we would have to execute the game plan.”
And the game plan was similar to what the Hawks have done all year–play smothering defense, win the turn-over battle and control the clock on offense.
But the Morgan Trojans were going to be quite the challenge. Morgan brought the third-highest scoring offense in 3A into the game, with quarterback Cater Thackery having thrown for 26 touchdowns and over 2,500 yards.
“Our entire game plan was to make passing as hard as possible for their quarterback,” Coach Bird said. “Most of the game, we only brought three guys and dropped eight back in coverage.”
At first, it did not seem that either teams’ defenses were going to be very successful. Both teams took their first possessions the length of the field. But both failed missed field goals and failed to convert those possessions to any points.
After that, the defenses began to squeeze down. The first to strike was the Trojans. They punted their second possession and were able to bring the punt down on the Hawk’s 1-yard line. One play later, the Trojans recovered a Hawk fumble, and scored their first touchdown.
But when the Hawks got the ball back, their offense returned to form. The Hawks began to pound the ball on the ground up the middle. Eventually Connor Jorgensen, who had a career day with 106-yards rushing and 35-yards receiving, broke through for a 52-yard touchdown run to make the score 6-7.
Then the Hawk’s defense really took over. On Morgan’s next possession, defensive back Ashton Osborne stepped in front of a Thackery pass and sprinted to the end zone to put the Hawks up 14-7.
On Morgan’s very next possession, they did it again. This time, Payton Clawson took an interception back to the Trojan 15-yard line, where Jorgensen scored his second touchdown of the day to make it 20-7.
“It was one of our expectations this past week that we were going to get a defensive score,” said Bird. “I couldn’t be more proud of our defense and the way they rallied around each other last Saturday.”
The first half ended with the score 20-7.
The second half played out like many North Sanpete games this year–the defense shut down the opponents and the offense didn’t make any mistakes.
The Hawks came out fired up on defense for the second half, and did not allow Morgan a first down until half way through the fourth quarter. By then, the Hawks had added a field goal to go up 23-7.
Late in the game, the Trojans tried to rally back into the game. With 3 minutes and 29 seconds left to play, Thackery managed to get a pass over the top of the Hawk’s defense and score a long touchdown. That brought the Trojans to within a touchdown, at 23-15.
But the ensuing on-side kickoff was recovered by the Hawks, and they squelched any remaining efforts by the Trojans at a comeback.
Besides Jorgensen’s excellent day, Hawk quarterback Chance Clawson had perhaps his best passing day of the season, going 9 of 14 for 91 yards. Linebacker Brage Anderson led the Hawks with 5 tackles, although 10 Hawks had multiple tackles in a true team effort.
On Saturday, the Hawks will go to Weber State to take on the Summit Academy Bears for the 3A state title with kickoff scheduled for 4 p.m. With the game coming after the 1A and 2A championships, the starting time might be delayed somewhat.
This will be the first time the Hawk football team has made it past the semifinals to compete for a championship. But the Bears will be a familiar foe. Summit Academy is in the same region as North Sanpete and they played in Mt. Pleasant on Sept. 21.
The Bears managed a late touchdown to squeak out a 10-14 victory, in what was the lowest point total for the Bears against Utah opponents all season.
“We go to camp with Summit every year, and it has been really good competitive scrimmages with them,” Coach Bird said. “We are not unfamiliar with what they do, and we’re excited to get another shot at them. I think both of us will definitely go back and watch the film from earlier this year and make adjustments.”