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Cole Hagen, competitive practices lead Corner Canyon to back-to-back state titles for first time in school history

(Steve Griffin, KSL)

10 photos

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SALT LAKE CITY — If Corner Canyon had any flicker of doubt of repeating as champions in the Class 6A title game against American Fork, the Chargers only needed to lean on experience.

No, not the experience of last year’s Class 5A title, the first in school history.

Not the experience of the Chargers’ undefeated season.

The experience Corner Canyon leaned on came in practice — with Noah Kjar jawing at Van Filinger, Cole Hagen getting after little brother Cody, and Division I-bound talent on both sides of the line of scrimmage.

It was all for moments like Friday.

Cole Hagen threw for 349 yards and four touchdowns, and ran for 76 more yards to lead Corner Canyon to an unprecedented Class 6A state title, 49-14 Friday afternoon at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

“Our defense is awesome. Going against them every day in practice kind of sucks, because they kick our butts sometimes,” Hagen said. “A big part of our success is having a good defense.

“Even if we mess up a lot, we know that our defense is going to go out and get stops.”

The Chargers held American Fork to seven points before the fourth quarter with a dominant defense that had four interceptions, two sacks and a team-high 16 tackles from BYU commit Josh Wilson.

“I’d do anything for these guys. They’re my best friends, my brothers,” an emotional Wilson said after the game. “We worked so hard for this — you guys have no idea.”

Corner Canyon quarterback Cole Hagen (7) fires a pass during the 6A championship football game between American Fork and Corner Canyon at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, Nov. 22, 2019. (Photo: Steve Griffin, KSL)
Corner Canyon quarterback Cole Hagen (7) fires a pass during the 6A championship football game between American Fork and Corner Canyon at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, Nov. 22, 2019. (Photo: Steve Griffin, KSL)

Texas commit Van Fillinger added seven tackles and a sack for the Chargers (15-0), Luke Cahoon added 11 tackles and a pick. Dustin Millich grabbed two interceptions for Corner Canyon.

Again, it all goes back to practice.

“It’s crazy to have kids who compete against each other, day in and day out; it’s unreal,” Corner Canyon coach Eric Kjar said. “It’s heated. It gets pretty fiery all the time, arguing with each other, trying to fight each other.

“They do a great job, but it starts with that, for sure.”

Hagen completed a team-high eight passes for 74 yards to wide receiver Cody Hagen, a fitting end to a standout prep career for the senior quarterback considering offers from Princeton, Harvard and Yale.

The two brothers end their joint prep careers as back-to-back state champions.

“This is the best feeling. It’s what you dream of ever since you start playing football,” said Hagen, who improved to 28-0 as a starter. “It’s awesome.”

Dylan Simons ran for 31 yards and three touchdowns in relief of injured starter Austin Bell for the Chargers, who completed an undefeated season with a 15-0 record for the first time in school history. Noah Kjar caught six passes for 91 yards and three touchdowns, and Talmadge Handley added five grabs for 102 yards.

But it all started with Hagen, who threw a 14-yard TD strike to Kjar on the Chargers’ first offensive series and never let up.

“Cole’s amazing,” Wilson said. “I’ve played with that dude since I was in sixth grade, and that dude is another brother. He’s come a long way with me.

“He’s put in so much work. It didn’t come when he was born. He had to work for that — and he’s an amazing player. He has a bright future.”

Corner Canyon wasted little time taking the early lead, scoring through Hagen’s 14-yard strike to Kjar for the first of two touchdowns in the first half that shifted the Chargers' offense that averaged 42.3 points per game into another gear.

“He’s a special kid, super competitive, but always in control,” said Hagen’s high school coach, who won his third state title and second at Corner Canyon. “We’ve had some times where we’ve been in some situations … but it comes out all right, and a lot of that is because of him and the calmness he brings to our team.”

Maddox Madsen threw for 146 yards with a touchdown, and Jaxon Gregory finished with 146 yards and a touchdown on the ground for American Fork (10-6), and Peyton Wilson had 10 tackles, an interception, two pass breakups and a blocked PAT for the Cavemen.


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