Ogden (4-6) at Delta (9-1)
3A state tournament first round
Friday, 5 p.m.
Parry's Power Guide: Delta by 4
All-time series: First meeting
Coach vs. coach: First meeting between Ogden's Troy Kolan and Delta's Russ Henrie
The entire community of Delta felt so slighted, overlooked and ignored by the realignment process last year that football coach Russ Henrie didn't know what to expect from his teenage players this season.
"I knew I had a good team coming back," said Henrie, whose 9-1 Delta squad will host 4-6 Ogden in the first round of the 3A football playoffs this Friday. "We had great senior leadership. … But being the smallest school all the time, it's kind of hard on some kids. We had five or six kids who didn't play this year."
They'd been in a Rabbits uniform when the team lost at Rice-Eccles Stadium to Hurricane — a school that had two-and-a-half times the student population as Delta did.
"They remembered Hurricane and thought, 'Why do you go beat your head against the wall?' I just think they got a little discouraged," he said.
Most of his players, however, didn't just show up. They set out to prove something — not just to the rest of the state but to themselves and the community that supports them.
"We could have used that for an excuse, said, 'Poor us!' and go cry and quit," Henrie said of the Region 12 champions, who lost just a single game (to Manti) this season. "Or we could pin our ears back and go fight. We might be the smallest, but we'll make the biggest impact. And this is where we're at. They've fought their hearts out, that's what they've done. They've fought their hearts out."
The players' attitude transformed what could have been a demoralizing situation into one that has inspired everyone associated with the program and the school.
"What these kids have shown me is that it really is not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog. It's been an amazing year; it's been a fun year."
In fact, Henrie said the resolve of the team has uplifted the entire community.
"After the gloom and doom of last year with the realignment, and all of the bad feelings, I think this has been a breath of fresh air to our community," he said.
He credits his seniors with leading the way — both athletically and emotionally.
"We have some seniors that are incredible leaders," Henrie said.
Quarterback Colin Christensen provides quiet leadership. He's rushed for almost as many yards as he's passed for and has nine passing touchdowns to his eight rushing scores.
Running back Kaydon Hughes epitomizes the toughness of the team.
"Last year he played the whole season on a broken leg," said Henrie. "He just sucked it up and played."
Receiver Jace Johnson, one of the team's captains, was an unexpected leader.
"He just showed up and grabbed the bull by the horns," said Henrie. And then there is Brock Lawrence, another team captain, who provides leadership with his hard work.
Henrie believes that Delta will have to do what it does well if it wants to beat Ogden this Friday.