High school football: DJ Nelson scores 8 TDs for Logan in rout
LOGAN — The Logan Grizzlies believe they have a secret weapon that has them enjoying an undefeated season.
Both players and coaches said it helped the team beat crosstown rival Sky View 67-7 Friday night.
It's not a quarterback who can score eight touchdowns — five passing, three rushing. It's not an offensive line that seems to wear down even the toughest defensive lines. It's not a corner who snagged three interceptions in a game for the second time this season. It's not a running back who acts more like a bulldozer than a teenager.
It's not even one of the state's most respected, most successful coaches.
"Our workouts are insane," said senior cornerback Johnny Luke, who led the defensive effort with three interceptions, "but working out pays off in the end."
But doesn't every football team believe they're the best-conditioned athletes in the game? He laughs.
"It's possibly, well, definitely the best workout we'll ever do in our entire lives," he said, his teammates nodding in agreement. "It's the best thing that's happened to this program. Dr. Ray knows exactly what he's talking about; you listen to him, you get results, and you can see from our season how it's going. It's going in the right direction. It's a big part of our game and our program right now."
Having players who are stronger and faster allows head coach Mike Favero to ask a lot of his players. Quarterback DJ Nelson and running back John Schmidt ran a quick pass play that was almost a lateral from Nelson to Schmidt and then Schmidt turned and ran up the sideline with a lot of success. Some of it was great blocking by their teammates, but just as often, Schmidt powered through tackles to gain yards for the Grizzlies.
"He's been doing that all year," said Favero, adding that others are starting to notice the senior. "He's so explosive and so physical. His efforts in the off-season strength and conditioning program are paying huge dividends."
Another secret to the Grizzlies' success has to be Nelson, who offered fans another jaw-dropping performance. He went 30-for-43 for 300 yards passing and five touchdown passes to four different receivers. He also rushed for 157 yards and ran three touchdowns in himself.
"He's the best quarterback in the state, I think," said Schmidt. "He makes the right reads. He can run the ball. He makes things happen out of nothing. He rarely takes a sack and he gets yards every time."
Nelson did help the Grizzlies out of a tight spot more than once, scrambling away from linebackers and linemen to turn what should have been a sack into an unbelievable pass play or a thrilling run.
"He's phenomenal," said Favero. "Very intense, very competitive, very intelligent. In fact, tonight he threw his first two interceptions of the season, so he's human … He's highly competitive, like his brother Riley."
Incidentally, while DJ Nelson was shredding the Bobcat defense, his brother Riley Nelson was leading BYU to a come-from-behind victory against his future teammates, the Aggies.
"I was told that," Nelson said of his brother's 96-yard, game-winning drive. "I don't know how I feel about it. He just beat my team."
Nelson got off to a quick start with a 10-yard pass play to Caden Anderson in the first few minutes of the first quarter. He hit Anderson again just a few minutes later, and then he ran in a 6-yard touchdown to end the first quarter 21-0.
Skyler Hunt would answer for the Bobcats with a 10-yard run, but the offense struggled to finish drives, especially after starting quarterback Nick Carver left the game injured early in the third quarter.
Nelson hit Beau Artist for a 7-yard pass play, and then he turned what should have been a sack into a 40-yard rushing touchdown at the beginning of the third quarter.
He hit Schmidt with their very effective short pass, long run play for a score at 8:45 in the third, and then Schmidt earned another touchdown on a 3-yard run.
Nelson's last touchdown came on a seven-yard pass play to Jacob Thompson, who managed to come up with the ball amid three defenders in the end zone.
It was an emotional game, and the Grizzlies said they were surprised at the lopsided score.
"They lost their quarterback," said Nelson. "They're a good team. But when our offense gets it rolling, it's tough to stop."
Schmidt said there isn't anything the Grizzlies don't have.
"We think we're good enough to do this every time," he said. "Our offense can only be stopped by ourselves, by our turnovers. And obviously our D gives us good field position every time."
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