The Stansbury football team was in a jovial mood following Friday’s Region 10 opener against Cedar Valley, with coach Eric Alder leading the Stallions in song in their locker room after a dominant 52-20 win over the Aviators at Stallion Stadium.
“That’s the only time I ever sing right there,” Alder quipped. “You know what? You’ve got to celebrate the wins. These kids work hard. These are the greatest times of your life, and when you win, you’ve got to celebrate and have fun and enjoy the great feeling that comes with winning.”
There were plenty of reasons for the Stallions (2-2, 1-0 Region 10) to celebrate. Stansbury outgained Cedar Valley (0-4, 0-1) 469-194 and established a strong rushing attack from the beginning. Quarterback Kru Huxford played an instrumental role, throwing for 221 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 106 yards and another score, while Tommy Christopherson rushed for 122 yards and two touchdowns.
“We established the run and had the confidence that we could run the ball and we could pound out big chunks of yardage,” Alder said. “That allowed us to take some shots downfield, and we connected on a few. We just played like we’re capable of playing, and we’ve got some playmakers on the field. It starts up front with our five linemen controlling the line of scrimmage.”
Stansbury didn’t take long to get on the scoreboard. After forcing the Aviators to punt on their first possession, the Stallions needed just three plays to move 77 yards for a touchdown, with Huxford finding Gabe Harris for a 60-yard touchdown on a swing pass with 8:48 left in the first quarter.
“I’ve just been trusting in my quarterback — that’s the main thing,” said Harris, who finished with a team-high seven receptions for 185 yards and two TDs. “Kru, he’s been having some good games. He gets all the receivers involved and the line gives him time to throw. That’s been a huge part.”
Another three-and-out for Cedar Valley set up the Stallions at their own 35-yard line with 7:18 left in the quarter. Nine plays later, Christopherson scored his first touchdown of the evening on a 4-yard run to extend the lead to 14-0.
If there was one thing the Stallions struggled with, it was their kick coverage. Cedar Valley’s Jaxson Dastrup returned the ensuing kickoff 69 yards to the Stansbury 25-yard line, giving the Aviators a short field. On third-and-7, Dastrup caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Payton Weber to cut the lead to 14-6.
Stansbury followed with a 12-play, 83-yard drive that was aided by a Cedar Valley offside call on fourth-and-1. Christopherson’s 6-yard TD run with 33 seconds left in the first quarter gave the Stallions a 21-6 lead.
Early in the second quarter, a 35-yard pass from Huxford to Harris helped set up a 26-yard Kolton Loertscher field goal, but the Stallions’ kick-coverage woes came back to haunt them as Dastrup ran the kickoff back 88 yards for a touchdown just 12 seconds later to cut the lead to 24-12.
“We had to make some adjustments,” Alder said. “I was not happy with our kickoff coverage. Obviously, it’s never a good feeling to be nervous every time you’ve got to kick the ball off. We made some good adjustments with where we were kicking it.”
However, that gave Stansbury the ball back against a weary Aviators defense. Christopherson and Huxford combined to run for 30 yards on the first four plays of the ensuing drive, and on third-and-13, Huxford hit Harris over the middle for a 35-yard touchdown and a 31-12 advantage.
“I feel like the rhythm’s getting there and the connection with the quarterback is getting there with all the receivers,” Harris said.
Rather than kicking it deep after Dastrup’s two long returns, the Stallions opted to attempt an onside kick. It did more than just prevent the Aviators from getting good field position — Stansbury recovered the ball at Cedar Valley’s 33-yard line, setting up another quick touchdown. A 19-yard run by Huxford on third-and-5 helped set up a 9-yard touchdown pass to Pae Tia with 6:15 left in the first half.
Cedar Valley put together a solid drive at the end of the half, getting to the Stallions’ 10-yard line, but a holding penalty caused the Aviators to stall.
Stansbury opened the second half with a five-play, 73-yard drive, capped by a 52-yard touchdown run by Huxford for a 45-12 lead. The Stallions added an exclamation point just over five minutes later when Cayden Clark returned a Cedar Valley punt 68 yards for Stansbury’s seventh and final touchdown of the evening.
“That was great to have Cayden Clark get back there and return one to the house,” Alder said. “That was fun.”
Cedar Valley capped the scoring with an 11-play, 88-yard drive aided by four Stansbury penalties. Kainoa Baker caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Weber with 10:07 left in the game.
Andrew Hanson led the Stallions’ defense with nine tackles, and Lawson Wihongi had seven. Kyler Kolb had a pair of sacks and Dalton Johnson added one. The secondary had an excellent game, with Tyson Tripp breaking up three passes and Jake Nunley, Clark and Harris each breaking up two. Matt Ingersoll blocked a punt, and Kolb and Tyson Pritzkau each recovered a fumble.
Stansbury now turns its focus to its biggest rival, as the Stallions will play host to Tooele on Friday night.
“It’s a high school football rivalry — everyone’s fired up,” Alder said. “The school will be fired up and the community will be fired up. My challenge is to keep them level-headed, but it’s what high school football is all about. It’ll be awesome.”
Tooele 60, Ben Lomond 0
The Tooele football team got its Region 10 schedule off to a sterling start, dismantling the Scots in both teams’ region opener at the Spence Eccles Ogden Community Sports Complex in Ogden on Friday night.
Tooele (2-2, 1-0 Region 10) led 21-0 after the first quarter on touchdown runs of 1 and 30 yards by Nukuluve Helu, as well as a 62-yard scoring run by Gavin Ware. The Buffaloes tacked on four more touchdowns in the second quarter — a 6-yard run by Helu, a 34-yard run by Helu, a 20-yard touchdown pass from Kulani Iongi to Joe Douglas and a 47-yard run by Iongi. Justic Tadifa added a 7-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, and Anthony Cole scored on an 18-yard run in the fourth.
The Buffs’ rushing attack accounted for 349 yards on 40 attempts — an average of 8.7 yards per carry. Ware led the way with 92 yards on three carries, while Cole had 82 yards on eight carries, Helu had 58 yards on nine carries and Iongi had 52 yards on seven carries. Iongi was 7-for-12 for 182 yards through the air, with Douglas catching four balls for 131 yards. All told, the Buffs had 536 yards of total offense.
Defensively, Malakai Sedillo and Drake Gritzmacher each had five tackles for Tooele. Devin Murphy had two tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries, while Gordon Tuiletufuga and Dominic Ashcraft each had a sack, Kayden Goins and Ernest Gurr each forced a fumble and Ware and Bryson Borders each recovered a fumble.