by Scott Boyle
With a short pass from Barkley Christensen on the Bronco’s first offensive play of the season, Logan Meyer and the San Juan Broncos served notice, 61 yards later, that the 2012 version of the San Juan Broncos are explosive as ever in football.
The Bronco football team started the 2012 season out with flourish with a gritty 19-11 home win over the visiting Snow Canyon Warriors, a 3A school from St. George.
Though the Broncos didn’t score on that first drive, they found paydirt three times in the first half and slowed down the Warriors just enough in the second half to grabbed the big season opener.
Unofficially, Christensen was 11 for 17 and 190 yards in that first half alone, with three TD tosses, one to Bobby Bowring of 10 yards and two to Meyer, 11 and three yards, as the Broncos forged a 19-3 halftime lead on the jittery Warriors, who might have been a little cold in the 86 degree weather at game time.
In the second half, when the Broncos were trying to run the clock, Christensen still connected on six of twelve passes for 64 additional yards. Meyer grabbed seven of those passes for 139 yards unofficially and Bowring caught six more for 64 yards.
Ammon Mitchell caught two passes for 47 yards as the Broncos went repeatedly over the top on the Snow Canyon defense.
Out of the backfield, running back Justin Nielson had two catches. The Broncos made the pass work as the running game had a tough time getting going on the big Snow Canyon defensive front, rushing for only 50 yards on 21 carries by my count.
Nielson rushed for 23 of those yards on ten carries, while Mitchell had 33 yards on four carries.
When asked about how to improve the running game, Coach Lee said, “[We need to] play a team that doesn’t defend the run so well. Just practice. The offense is always behind the defense for the first half of the season. It will come! Kids did great for the first game, we just need to keep getting better each week.”
The Bronco defense showed great heart and stamina against an avalanche of an offensive line for Snow Canyon, including 300 something pound right tackle, Austin Best, who opened huge holes for the Warrior running backs.
But the Bronco defensive line and the linebackers closed those holes just as quickly to not allow the Warriors to ever get any offensive consistency. However, after the Warriors used up seven minutes on the third quarter clock and methodically drove 68 yards in 14 plays to draw within eight at 19-11, the defense had to step up.
Late in the fourth quarter, the Warriors were driving again, using their size, strength and quickness to push the ball to the Bronco 10 yard line. That’s when Mitchell came up with the play of the game.
With the Snow Canyon running back heading to the endzone, Mitchell reached in and ripped the ball away, stopping the drive cold in its tracks with 4:56 left on the game clock. The Broncos managed one first down on a Bowring reception but were forced to punt, when Meyer made the second play of the game. Back to punt with 1:52 left, Meyer watched the center snap sail over his head towards the endzone and certain disaster. Somehow, Meyer reached out a hand way behind and over his head and “with the tips of his fingertips” as the Bronco announcer claimed, corralled the errant snap and got off a booming punt just ahead of the rabid Snow Canyon rush. Then junior Brayden Giddings made three outstanding plays in a row for the defense, sacking the QB, and making two diving stops to end potential big gains, forcing SC to give up the ball on downs and the victory was assured.
The Broncos and the Monticello Bucks tangle this Friday in Monticello, after not meeting last year for the first time in many a year. See you in the stands.
Speaking of Bronco-Buckaroo contests, the volleyball teams of both schools found themselves in the same bracket at the St. George tournament last weekend.
The Lady Broncos of coach Cassy Moon defeated Tony Esplin’s Lady Bucks in straight sets, but the Bucks did better in the bracket, defeating South Sevier and Union, both of whom beat San Juan.
Esplin cited the excellent play of Jessica Ewart and Devin Dalton for the good Buckaroo showing. Important cog Shaylyn Black was battling the sickness bug but should be back to full strength soon as a bunch of new Buckaroos saw action in the tournament.
Cross country teams begin action this weekend in Cedar City.