MANTI — With his defensive secondary short two key players due to injuries, Manti football coach Cole Meacham was concerned about stopping the big play against Emery. The young Templar secondary stepped up to intercept a trio of Spartan passes and helped Manti open region play with a 28-0 win.
Going into the game Manti was ranked third in Class 2A, with the Spartans in the No. 4 spot. The Spartans were the only undefeated team in the 2A north region, but a tough preseason schedule had the Templars ready and good defensive play by Manti never allowed the Emery offense to get on track.
"Emery is a tough, solid team," Meacham said. "Defensively we've got to take away the big plays."
Manti did better than that, taking the ball away six times, recovering three fumbles to go along with the three interceptions.
Emery coach Jim Jones knew the Templar defensive line would be a challenge. "They're big and strong," he said. Manti showed its strength early, taking control of the trenches on Emery's first possession and holding them to three yards on three plays to force a punt. The snap was high and went into the end zone where Manti's Austin Jackson pounced on the ball to give Manti the early lead.
The Templars took a page out of the Spartan playbook, getting two more first-half scores on big plays of their own. Kyle Larsen got a key block from quarterback Brady Aste to go 44 yards for the score and then Aste ran a bootleg down the right sideline on a 56-yard touchdown run to make the score 21-0 at the half.
After a scoreless third quarter Manti went 66 yards on a drive that burned seven minutes off the clock. Zane Stevens punched it in from the 2-yard line and Carlo Garcia drilled his fourth PAT of the game to earn Manti the 28-0 win.
Emery had 170 yards in total offense, 137 yards rushing and 33 in the air. Cory Cox led the Spartans with 60 yards on 10 runs. Jesse Winn had 42 yards on 10 carries. Spencer Labrum completed 3-of-9 passes, David Dyer catching two for 21 yards.
Manti gained 274 total yards, concentrating on its running game for 210. Manti had a balanced ground attack, getting 59 yards from Stevens, 57 from Aste, 55 from Larsen and 19 from Kenneth Peterson.
Aste was 6-of-13 passing. Jackson was his favorite target with four receptions for 48 yards.
"We're getting better every week," Meacham said, "but there are some things we've still got to fix."