High school football: 3A championship preview

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Hurricane Tigers (12-1) vs. Juan Diego Soaring Eagle (11-1), 11 a.m.

State Titles

  • Juan Diego 4 (2009. 2008, 2004, 2002)
  • Hurricane 0 (won six-man football titles in 1947 and ‘48)

Last Meeting: 2009 3A State Championship November 20th, 2009
Juan Diego won 20-10

Here we go again.

It's becoming a November tradition for Juan Diego and Hurricane, a meeting in the 3A championship game. These two powerhouse programs meet in the title game for the third consecutive year. If this year's meeting is anything like the last two than football fans are in for a treat.

In 2008, Juan Diego kicker Jaron Bentrude kicked a 23-yard field goal with 3 seconds left to give the Soaring Eagle the win. That was topped by last year when quarterback Cody Stevenson drove the team 80 yards in 40 seconds capped off by a 'hail Mary' touchdown pass to Bruce Nix with no time left on the clock. The dramatic finish set off a celebration for the ages for Juan Diego while the Tigers have dealt with the pain ever since. It has also provided plenty of motivation to get back for another chance to win it all.

"We just wanted to be here again," says junior running back Brian Scott. "This has been a goal for us since day one in practice, two-a-days. It just put a bad taste in our mouth from last year. We want to fix that."

The Tigers spent almost the entire season ranked No. 1. They have the highest scoring offense in 3A thanks to their three headed monster in the backfield. Jarom Healey leads a talented stable of running backs. The senior has rushed for 1,196 yards and 22 touchdowns while Brian Scott and Trey Smith have combined for 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns. The trio combined for 386 yards and five touchdowns in a semifinal win over Delta.

They definitely have the talent and experience to bring home the first 3A football championship in school history.

"They're a great team and we'd love to beat them." says lineman Daniel Neilsen who will play for the University of Utah next season. "It's always nice to get a little revenge. I respect them though, great program, and it will be a great game no matter who comes out on top."

Juan Diego is known for their defense and for good reason. They have held their opponents to just 11 points per game this season. Jalin Ames and Jeff Ika have combined for 13.5 sacks. Taylor Cassita leads the team with 95 tackles and Oliver Weight has four interceptions. They have the challenge of containing the Hurricane run game on Friday.

"We're just going to come out and play Juan Diego football," says linebacker and tight end Eric Heinz, who caught the game winning pass in the Soaring Eagle's 13-7 overtime win over rival Judge in the semifinals. "We can't let any of the individual rivalries get to our heads, just play our game."

The Soaring Eagle offense will be at full strength on Friday as quarterback Nathan Elloreaga is expected to return to the lineup. They don't have a flashy dynamic offense, instead preferring the run game and ball control which makes things easier for their defense to dominate opponents. They are aware that Hurricane will bring a lot of emotion to this emotion on their quest for revenge.

"We know that they are ready for revenge," says running back and backup quarterback Brock Garn. "We just know it's going to be a good game no matter what. We've got to bring our best and we know they are going to bring their best."

Final Analysis and prediction: This is the matchup we expected before the season began. It doesn't get any better than two good teams like this with a history of classic battles getting together for a championship game. It's become 3A's version of Bingham and Alta. This game features the best offense in 3A against the best defense. This should be another nail biter. After losing in heartbreaking fashion the last two years it is Hurricane's turn to celebrate at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

Prediction: Hurricane 17 Juan Diego 14

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High SchoolSports
Jeremiah Jensen sports reporter


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