The quarterfinal curse is over for the Stansbury football team.
For the first time in school history, the Stallions will play in the Class 3AA semifinals at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, a dream made true by a 54-0 demolition of Park City on Friday afternoon at Stallion Stadium.
“Oh my gosh, this is the best feeling I’ve ever had in my life,” Stansbury quarterback Mitch McIntyre said. “I’m so excited for what we have for the future and hopefully we win it all. We started getting clicking and then we just went off. I’m so happy that all of our guys did their job and did awesome, and I’m excited to go to Rice-Eccles and see what we can do.”
The Stallions (9-2) put together perhaps their most complete effort of the season, outgaining Park City (6-6) 487-101, including 436-5 on the ground. Stansbury forced four first-half turnovers, including a pair of interceptions that led to Stallion touchdowns.
“Our kids were phenomenal,” Stansbury coach Clint Christiansen said, the emotion evident in his voice. “They played outstanding in all three phases. It was the best game they’ve played all year.”
After a scoreless first quarter, the Stallions got going in the second. McCoy Didericksen forced a fumble on the Miners’ 16-yard line with a hard hit on running back Joey Lukich, setting Stansbury up in the red zone. Five plays later, Didericksen scored the first of his four touchdowns on the day, putting the Stallions in front 7-0.
“This was the best game of the year – maybe ever,” said Didericksen, who rushed for 175 yards on 26 carries to lead Stansbury. “It was unbelievable. I love the people I play with and I think that made a big difference.”
Stansbury wasted no time adding to its lead. Three plays into Park City’s ensuing possession, Casey Roberts intercepted a pass from Miners quarterback Spencer Zur near midfield. McIntyre scored on a 52-yard run up the middle on the Stallions’ first play from scrimmage, just 35 seconds after Didericksen’s touchdown.
Another interception by Tavita Gagnier with 1:13 left in the opening half set up another Stallions score, this one on a 13-yard pass from McIntyre to Conner McKay with 12 seconds left.
Didericksen added his second score of the evening on a 38-yard run down the left sideline on Stansbury’s first possession of the second half. Then it was Matt McIntyre’s turn as he gashed the Park City defense for a 52-yard run up the middle to enact the mercy rule as Stansbury took a 33-0 lead.
Didericksen’s 2-yard run extended the lead to 40-0 with 3:57 left in the third quarter. His fourth score came on a 4-yard run with 10:17 left, and Silas Young put an exclamation point on the victory with a 67-yard run with 5:53 remaining as the crowd began chanting, “broke the curse.”
“This is definitely the most fun I’ve had playing football,” Matt McIntyre said. “It’s really cool to think that we’re the [first] senior class and the [first] football team to be able to do this and break the curse.”
Mitch McIntyre ran for 101 yards and threw for 51 more. Matt McIntyre added 92 yards on the ground and Young had 76.
The win means the Stallions will face Desert Hills in the semifinals Thursday at 6:30 p.m. on the University of Utah campus. It has been a long time coming for Christiansen and the Stallions, who began with a one-win season in 2009 and have grown into one of the top teams in their classification year in and year out.
“I’m so proud of the kids and the program,” Christiansen said. “The coaches have done a great job. Now we’ve just got to go out and play and see what happens. We’ll throw it all out there. There’s nothing we’ll leave on the field, I promise you.”