Snow Badgers light it up for the first game of the season
By John Hales
Aug. 31, 2017
EPHRAIM—The Snow College Badgers chalked up their first win of the season on Saturday, Aug. 26 by crushing a revolution—the Wasatch Revolution, that is, a semi-professional team in the Rocky Mountain Football League.
The Badgers tromped the Revolution, 65-6. Though by any standard an impressive score, the fact that it was an easy win, coming against players roughly twice the Badgers’ age, was not lost on Snow head coach Paul Peterson.
“It was a good warm-up game for us,” Peterson said Monday, adding, “It was a success.”
The score not only indicated an efficient offense, which racked up 412 total yards under the leadership of quarterback Shane Johnson, but also reflected stellar defensive and special-teams units.
Two touchdowns came from the defense: a 38-yard interception return from defensive back Daymon Murray, and defensive lineman Kelle Sanders’ 52-yard fumble recovery and return. And with a 95-yard kickoff return, freshman wide receiver Leon Morgan not only added another score, but became the Badgers’ best yard-gainer of the game.
“Our offense scored on every possession they had,” except for the very last one when Johnson ended the game by taking a knee, coach Peterson said.
Johnson, it turns out, was Snow’s second-leading rusher with 65 yards (just under top rusher Jared Tupou, who had 67 yards). Johnson contributed a rushing touchdown of his own in addition to three touchdown passes.
“He managed the game well for us,” Peterson said of his quarterback. “I’m excited to see how he does through the season.”
Johnson’s performance is all the more noteworthy since he is from Houston, which at the time was being battered by Hurricane Harvey. Despite that concern, Johnson was able to stay focused.
“I wouldn’t say I was distracted, but it was at the back of my mind,” Johnson said Tuesday (see “HEADLINE”).
Johnson downplayed the enormous score differential with a good player’s humility. “I think I did all right,” he said. “We missed a few plays on offense. I know there are little things, fundamentals, I have to work on.”
Johnson’s success was an indication of mental toughness, a trait that Peterson saw in his whole team, despite frequent penalties.
Of the Revolution’s 18 first downs through the game, seven came off Badger penalties; several of those were pass interference.
“We’ve got to correct those technique issues,” Peterson said. However, he said the penalties were all “high-effort” penalties, rather than mental lapses. “Our guys were playing aggressive. We’d rather tell them ‘Whoah’ than ‘Giddy-up.’”
Snow’s victory was one of many firsts that night.
Yes, that’s right—night.
People familiar with Snow football know the Badgers have never played a night game at Robert Stoddard Field (formerly Badger Stadium) because the arena did not have lights.
New lighting lit up the Badger field Saturday as brightly as the Badgers lit up the scoreboard.
And speaking of scoreboard, it was the first time that a new scoreboard, complete with video jumbotron, was used.
The $1.7 million in improvements are the first phase of a multi-phase plan to improve the Snow football venue. Future phases include improvements to player facilities such as the locker room, weightlifting and training area, and the team room. Other projects include stadium seating, complete with a larger press box.
The Utah Division of Construction and Facilities Maintenance provided most of the funding, but a significant share also came from donors.
With the introduction of evening games, the need for more seating was obvious Saturday. Available seating came nowhere close to accommodating the enthusiastic fans who spilled onto lawns on the west, north and south sides of the field.
Brad Taggart, a Snow College art professor who played Badger football almost 30 years ago, and who now sits on the steering committee for the Badger Football Improvement and Facilities Enhancement Campaign, said the crowd was the largest he’d ever seen.
And even though the Badgers clearly outmatched the Revolution, resulting in a what was essentially an exhibition game, Snow fans were as boisterous as would be expected at a conference championship game.
Coach Peterson said he believes his team is indeed championship-caliber. He says the challenge for the team could be not just continuing to win, but guarding against cockiness and complacency.
The Badgers will face that challenge this week when they pick on somebody their own age. Snow goes up against Air Force Academy Prep in Colorado Springs on Friday. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.