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SALT LAKE CITY — Can anyone stop East’s inevitable championship run?
Maple Mountain became the latest victim to fall to the Leopards’ dominant triple-option offensive attack, losing 64-13 in the 4A semifinal game on Friday.
East jumped to an early 21-0 lead in the first quarter and was in complete control for the remainder of the game, adding an additional 36 points in the second quarter. East concluded the first half with 500 rushing yards and 57 points behind the three-headed attack of senior Jalen Warren, junior Sione Molisi and sophomore Charlie Vincent.
The three combined for 489 of East’s 644 total rushing yards. Warren led the team with 218 yards and three touchdowns on 18 carries. With 2 seconds left in the first half, Warren escaped for a 70-yard rushing touchdown. On the previous series, Warren scored a 22-yard rushing touchdown.
Behind Warren’s effort was Vincent’s 118 rushing yards and 29 receiving yards and three total touchdowns. Vincent caught a 29-yard pass to give the Leopards the first score of the game and then followed it up on the next series with a 60-yard rushing touchdown. Molisi added an additional 153 rushing yards and one touchdown.
Warren and his head coach Trevor Matich credited the dominant play on offense to the offensive line and their ability to open up wide gaps against Maple Mountain.
“We do us. We know who we are and we have a good offensive line,” Matich said. “We run triple-option football and our focus is to run the football and run it effectively. It all starts up front with our o-line. We are blessed with a great bunch of guys up front.”
“It’s all my lineman,” Warren added. “Without them we wouldn’t even be close to that.”
Although Warren led the team, he said he's oftentimes more excited about seeing his teammates run the ball well instead of having all the success.
“For me, that gives me a lot of confidence,” Warren said, speaking about East’s ability to use many different players on offense. “I don’t mind not getting the ball, but when you pitch it and you see them running down the sideline, that’s better than running a touchdown for me.”
Maple Mountain struggled to move the ball all game, but managed their first score late in the second quarter on a 77-yard pass to Dawson Beutler. The Golden Eagles would score on the final play of the game on a wide open 28-yard pass to Tyson Denison.
East likely lost its starting quarterback Ben Ford after suffering an injury in the second half. Matich said he was not sure of his exact status but that it “didn't look good.”
“If it is serious, which it does sound like it may be, that’s part of the deal,” he said. “Football is the next man up and that young man is a warrior. He’s a blessing and a great player and a great young man. He’s taken us a long way and if he can’t go next week then we’ll do it for him.”
East looks to repeat as the 4A state champions against the winner of the Alta-Springville game. The 4A championship game will be played on Friday, Nov. 18 at 6:30 p.m. on KJZZ and streaming on KSL.com.