by Tad Barton
The San Juan Bronco volleyball team is once again Region 15 Champions after defeating Manti on Friday, October 14 and North Sevier on Saturday the 15th. The Broncos improved to 9-0 in region competition with one region game left against the Emery Spartans on Wednesday, October 19 in Castle Dale, UT.
Even with one game left, San Juan is guaranteed sole possession of the region crown since they lead the second place North Sevier Wolves by two and a half games with just one game left for both teams, putting any chance for a shared title to rest.
On Friday the 14th, the Broncos welcomed the Manti Templars to Blanding where San Juan picked up the win in three sets, 25-17, 25-17 and 25-16. The Broncos combined for 12 aces, 28 kills and 45 digs on their way to the victory.
The Broncos followed the win over the Templars up with a big win on Saturday the 15th over the North Sevier Wolves. After dropping the first set to the Wolves 21-25, the Broncos rallied to win the next three sets 25-23, 25-18 and 25-23.
The win over North Sevier solidifies San Juan as the number one seed from Region 15 heading into the 2A State Tournament in two weeks.
The Broncos next game is against the Emery Spartans on Wednesday, October 19 as mentioned above.
Following the match against Emery, San Juan will prepare for the state tournament which begins Thursday, October 28 at Utah Valley University in Orem, UT. The Broncos will face the number four seeded team from Region 14 at 5:30 p.m. on court number three.
The ladies aren’t the only ones to secure an outright region championship. As reported last week, the San Juan football team claimed at least a share of the 2A South Region Championship with a win over North Sevier.
Their win over Grand last Friday, October 14 gave the Broncos the outright championship, as they completed their region schedule with an unblemished 5-0 record (8-1 overall). Two weeks in a row now, San Juan has dominated all facets of the game from start to finish, outscoring their last two opponents 104-0.
The Broncos didn’t waste any time finding the end zone against Grand after Jordan Blake took the opening kickoff and returned it 80 yards for what looked like San Juan’s first score of the night. A holding penalty on the return negated the score and took the Broncos back to their own 20 yard line.
The penalty didn’t do much too slow San Juan’s momentum, as they picked up big chunks of yardage when Blake hooked up first with Nathan Nielson for a 34 yard gain and later with Jaxon Lee for another 31 yards on the Bronco’s opening drive.
Lee’s reception took the ball down to the three yard line where Jay McDonald capped off the drive with a three yard plunge for the touchdown. Aaron Mitchell booted the ball through the uprights for the point after, and San Juan led 7-0 with 9:42 left in the first quarter.
The San Juan offense returned to the field shortly after their first score thanks to the solid play of their defense, which held Grand to just three offensive plays and a punt. Two plays later, the Broncos struck pay dirt again when Blake threw the ball out to Bayl’r Eldredge on a quick screen.
Eldredge caught the ball, picked up some blocks and made some great moves on his way to the end zone from 64 yards out. Once more Mitchell kicked the ball down the center of the goal posts, giving San Juan a 14-0 lead.
In the second quarter, the Broncos passing game took over, as Blake tossed three more touchdown passes. The first, a 21-yard strike to Mitchell. Lee grabbed the next scoring pass from Blake from 34 yards out.
The third touchdown pass of the quarter was without a doubt the play of the game. Blake took the snap, faked the hand off and booted left to find no one open before spying Mitchell in the back of the end zone with a Red Devil defender all over him.
Blake let the ball fly anyway as the defender undercut Mitchell and looked to have an interception. Mitchell made sure that didn’t happen, as he came down over the top of the defender and took the ball away for his second touchdown reception of the night.
All three PATs by Mitchell were good and the Broncos took a 35-0 lead at the intermission.
The Broncos worked a lot of younger players into the game in the second half, but the intensity never let up as the younger players played bend but don’t break defense and continued to move the ball on offense.
San Juan had two more scores in the second half, one came via a five yard run by Su’eSu’e with 5:01 left in the third quarter. Then at the 11:00 mark, Carver Black capped off the scoring with a nine-yard touchdown run.
Mitchell remained perfect on the night, driving home both of the PATs to give the Broncos the 49-0 victory on the road.
San Juan has a bye this week in the first round of the 2A playoffs. The Broncos will then host the winner between Gunnison Valley and Grand.