During a first round playoff game last year, the Stansbury Stallions football team found itself with its back against the wall.
Tied at 20-20, and with their opponent Olympus High School in possession of the ball inside Stansbury’s side of the 50-yard-line, the Stallions needed a stop or good fortune to keep the score knotted. Then, after Olympus fumbled the ball, Stansbury got the much-needed break and found itself with its destiny in the hands of then-junior starting quarterback Ezra Harris.
On the first play of the drive, Harris launched a 52-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Kaden Skousen with only 19 seconds remaining on the clock. The Stallions held on to win 26-20 and advance to the second round.
Despite the team eventually losing in the semifinals, Harris said the game-winning pass, as well as the loss, will be used to drive the team forward in the 2022-23 season.
“We’ll use (the loss) as fuel to push further than we were and use it as motivation to try harder and do better this year,” Harris said.
Already sitting at 2-0 in the early stages of the season, Stansbury appears poised to make another deep run. As a large part of the success, Harris and the Stallions are piling the points on, scoring 72 and 43 points respectively in the first two games.
Looking back on his success from last season, the 17-year-old Harris attributes much of his talents to his family and head coach Eric Alder. As a boy, Harris played catch with his father and older brother, both of whom played high school football. In Harris’ freshman year, he played on the freshman team while his brother played for the varsity.
“Me and my brother are (very) competitive, so we’ve always pushed each other to be better,” Harris said. “I’ve always looked up to him and his playing style.”
Harris’ first year also coincided with Alder’s first year as coach, which both have said created a lasting relationship detrimental to the team’s success. As Harris progressed in his play, Alder gave him more freedom out on the field. Not only was he given the ability to call routes and tell fellow players where they need to be, he has also earned the trust from his teammates to make those calls.
“This year, I would say — more so than any other year — I’ve allowed Ezra to make a lot of decisions on the field and he’s probably at ease,” Alder said. “It’s nice to be able to have a (returning starter) and we kind of picked up where we were from last year.”
In turn, Harris has equal trust in his fellow teammates and over the past four years they’ve created bonds on and off the field.
“We’ve always grown up playing with each other and we are really comfortable with each other’s play styles,” Harris said. “We play really well together, especially with Nisi Vaka (defensive tackle) and Mateaki Helu (running back) coming down this year.”
After high school, Harris has expressed interest in playing college football and his dream would be to play at the University of Utah or at least an in-state school. Whether or not he gets to play, his ambitions are to go into the business field.
“I’ve always been a big fan of Utah growing up, but I’m also being realistic,” Harris said. “But I will be happy going anywhere.”