Templars beat new school in season opener 27-14
By James Tilson
MANTI—The Manti High School football team rolled to an opening weekend victory over the visiting Crimson Cliffs Mustangs 27-14 last Friday night.
The Templars had to overcome a sluggish first half where they fell behind 0-7, but they came roaring back in the second half to score 27 unanswered points behind an effective running game and a dominant defense.
“I’m very pleased with the kids’ effort,” said Manti Coach Cole Meechum. “If we can keep up that kind of effort—you know, we’ve still got to clean some things up—but I think we’ll be OK.”
The Mustangs struck first, with a 42-yard pass by Mustang quarterback Chase Hansen to Ammon Smith to make the score 0-7. The Mustang offense was able to move the ball early on, while the Templar offense struggled to find its footing. While the Templar running game looked good all night, the passing game struggled in the first half.
But then in the second half, the Templars came out and turned the game around. After forcing a three-and-out on the Mustang’s first possession of the second half, the Templars marched down the field on eight straight running plays. Seth Jensen took it in for the first touchdown, making it 6-7.
“We made a couple of minor adjustments at halftime with how we were running some routes, and how we got alignments on our linebackers,” said Meechum of the turnaround in the second half.
After their first touchdown, the Templars forced another three-and-out, and marched down the field again. This time, Tyler Taukei’aho did the honors, and a completed two-point conversion made the score 14-7.
Overall, the Templar defense only allowed 4-yards of total offense from the Mustangs in the third quarter. Meechum gave credit to the entire team for the great defense. “Our offense kept the ball for long drives, and the defense didn’t have to stay out there for long periods.”
In the fourth quarter, the Templars kept pouring it on, and this time the passing game opened it up. Jax Parry connected with Travis Thompson for a 31-yard pass for touchdown, to make it 21-7. Thompson was able to create separation from his defender at the last second on a savvy, senior play.
“Our passing game settled down in the second half, we were running our routes better,” said Meechum. “Our pass blocking was definitely better, Jax [Parry] wasn’t as hurried, was able to get more comfortable back there.”
Both teams tacked on one more score before the end of the game to make the final score 27-14. Manti starts the year at 1-0, and will host Payson this week, kickoff at 7 p.m.