San Juan football wins fifth straight, opens state tournament at home on Friday
It all finally came together for the San Juan High School football team Wednesday, October 16 on their home turf.
They held onto the ball, scored when they got into the red zone, made stops on defense, and cruised to a 49-0 win over the Emery Spartans in the final game of the 2019 regular season.
Throughout the afternoon, the Broncos used the passing game to move the ball down the field, then relied on the running game to seal the deal.
They opened the scoring just over a minute into the game when senior quarterback Shaw Nielson punched one in from three yards out and they never looked back.
San Juan added another TD in the first quarter, one in the second, three in the third, and one final score in the final frame. Nielson only passed for one touchdown in the game, a 20-yarder to Ryan Imlay in the third quarter.
Kian Conway carried the ball 21 times for 184 yards and an impressive four touchdowns. Nielson ran for 60 yards and two TDs.
But the big story for the Broncos is that they did not turn the ball over a single time in the game. In the three games prior to the meeting with Emery, they had given it up 14 times and were averaging over three per game.
That bodes well as they head into the postseason.
San Juan head coach Barkley Christensen said he was very happy with his team’s effort. He said that if they can hold onto the ball and score when they’re in the red zone like they did against the Spartans, they’ll have a good shot at a state title.
Their championship quest begins Friday, October 25 at 4 p.m. when they host the Richfield Wildcats in a rematch of the teams’ October 4 meeting. San Juan finished the season ranked #6 in the UHSAA 3A RPI standings, and drew a matchup with #11 Richfield in round one of the state tournament.
In the October 4 get-together, Richfield forced four San Juan turnovers and – at least early on – it looked like the Broncos had their hands full. San Juan went on to win the game 42-17, but Coach Christensen said it wasn’t an easy win despite the score.
“They took away some things we like to do,” he said. “We caught some breaks, and it was closer than the scoreboard indicated.
“Richfield is a good team,” he continued. “They’re well-coached and they’ll throw a wrench into things.”
Christensen confirmed that he is confident, but expects that he and his coaching staff will have to be on their toes since the teams have already seen each other.
The winner of the game on Friday will advance to take on either #14 Union or #3 Grantsville in the state quarterfinals. Grantsville beat the Broncos 52-32 in Blanding September 13.