COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — As the sun set over the Wasatch Front and fans filed into the stands, two powerful yet hungry teams were warming up below on the field. Both squads, who were still searching for their first region win, were off to very different starts.
Cottonwood (1-5, 1-1 Region 3), which has nine players committed to Division I teams, had been struggling mightily but realized that Friday had to be its night to find the spark to carry it through the rest of the season.
Brighton (5-2, 0-2 Region 3), on the other hand, was off to its best start in years despite losing to region rival Alta a week earlier.
On this occasion, the team that had been struggling rose to the occasion. Indeed, Cottonwood did what was necessary to emerge with a 42-35 victory over the Bengals Friday night.
While penalties still plagued Cottonwood’s performance, star QB Cooper Bateman and Co. marched the ball up and down the field with the exception of a costly fumble in the first quarter that allowed Brighton to light up the scoreboard first. However, Brighton’s normally efficient defense that prior to Friday had only allowed one other opponent to score over 30, struggled to matchup against the Colts as players like Gabe Hosea and Inoke Lotulelei continued to catch and run the ball up the middle in order to put the Colts in scoring position.
“We just had a hard time matching up with them tonight. We tried different things — zone, man-to-man — nothing seemed to work” Brighton head coach Ryan Bullett said.
The Brighton offense was quiet but productive as its true freshman quarterback, Drew Jensen, in tandem with Masina brothers Osa and Uaea and the rest of the offensive team found the end zone four times. However, costly interceptions and failed conversions stifled the Bengals from several scoring opportunities.
As the game clock wound down and Bateman took a series of knees for his final plays, a ripple of excitement swept across the Colts' sideline. They had done it, finally finding their first win of the season.
As Cottonwood head coach Greg Croshaw could be overheard asking his players “Doesn’t that feel good for a change?” amidst whoops and hollers of excited football players, he was also mindful to point out that the Colts still have a long ways to go.
“We play in a tough region. Tonight was a must-win game for us. … Truthfully so was last week although that didn’t happen. … We’ll probably need to win the rest of our region games to get a playoffs shot, but I think we’re prepared to do it” Croshaw said.
Chriss Anderson is a current writer for the Daily Utah Chronicle and can be followed on Twitter: @Chriss_Am_I