After Richfield defensive player, Levi Hobbs commented in the papers last week, “San Juan better watch out!” the San Juan Bronco football boys let the Wildcats do the watching as they made their 22nd straight quarterfinal game their tenth win of the season with a solid 33-0 victory Friday afternoon, earning a trip to the semifinals in Cedar City next Saturday.
Even though the Broncos sat idle for nearly three weeks without a game, they overcame three interceptions and early game rustiness to stifle the Wildcats and make the semis for the 15th time in those 22 seasons.
As for the Hobbs comment, Coach Monty Lee observed, “Kids will say a lot of things in a moment of excitement and I would be lying if I told you I don’t use some of those things as a key motivational topic. I put more emphasis on what other coaches and adults might say so I try pretty hard to not say something stupid and give other coaches ammunition.”
The Bronco defense had all the ammunition the Broncos would need, however, only allowing two Wildcat first downs the entire game, and also turning in the key play of the game.
After a Richfield interception, the Wildcats had the ball fourth and three on the Bronco six yard line early in the second quarter.
With the score still 0-0, the quick Bronco defensive line, anchored by sophomore Stetler Shumway (who is probably not only the youngest nose guard in the state but surely the smallest and nippiest) stuffed the fourth down play to give the sluggish Bronco offense the ball on their own five yard line.
Ten seconds later, however, the listlessness was gone and the Bronco rout was on when Jace Holliday sprinted around the end and dashed 95 yards untouched for the backbreaking touchdown.
Holliday showed his speed when he simply outran a swift Wildcat defensive back who had the angle on him. The Broncos later scored three more times on the ground, with Kohler Black adding two and Peyton Black one.
In between the run barrage, QB Jimmy Johnson tossed a 50 yard TD pass to Lewis Sharpe. Kohler Black added three extra point kicks.
With the win the Broncos have a 26-2 record in home playoff games. Coach Lee offered some thoughts on the game and the Bronco preparation during the long break, “We really had a couple of weeks of good practices, well as good as could be expected. We spent the first week going back to basics and not really preparing for any opponent. We just went back to Boot Camp mode.
“After we found out we were playing Richfield it wasn’t difficult getting the kids focused on the game. But 17 days are waaaayyyy too many days to try and stay sharp; I think it showed in the first quarter. Richfield did a great job frustrating the kids and we were lucky to make a couple of plays that lit a fire under us.
“There wasn’t a single practice, after finding out who we played, that we talked or even discussed any team but Richfield. We have been around the block enough times to know not to overlook any team, especially as good a team as Richfield. They had just beaten a quality team in South Summit.
“I think the top four teams in the state are still playing and we are simply honored to be one of those teams. Manti is a quality program. We have locked horns several times and have loved every encounter. I promise that next week will be no different.
“People that love football will come away from this game entertained and will appreciate the true spirit of high school football. I promise you will get your monies worth!”
The Broncos haven’t matched up against the Templars since 2005 and only 14 times total, but have come out on top in 10 of those games. In playoff games against Manti, the Broncos have prevailed five of seven times. They have met in the semis twice, with San Juan winning both, the last meeting in 2005.
The Buckaroo football season ended in Salina on Friday, after a palindromistic 41-14 loss to the North Sevier Wolves.
The Bucks fought to the end, scoring a second touchdown as the game was drawing to a conclusion, like they have so many times this season. They never gave up, but in the end, North Sevier’s power, size, and numbers proved too much for the Bucks. The Bucks end the season with a 3-6 record. Time to hit the weight room boys!
Part of the chain gang at the San Juan/Richfield quarterfinal game heartwarmingly included Eric and Cory Acton, sons of former long time San Juan chain ganger, the late Kim Acton. That put a smile on my face.
See photos from the game here