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.
"They have more team speed than we have," said Henrie. "Their quarterback is incredible. They have a good running back. They really have some talented players, as so most of the teams we play. We just have to play every game like it's the biggest game of our lives. They will be a handful."
While the Rabbits try to slow Ogden's offense, they will focus on basics in trying to win another football game in this storied season.
"We're just going to keep it simple — block and tackle," Henrie said. "We have to take care of the football and just do what we do. This is an explosive team and we just have to try and contain that quarterback and keep him from hurting us."
Ogden quarterback Anthony Sattiewhite has thrown for 1,536 yards and 14 touchdowns. That's nearly three times the yardage Delta's Christensen has thrown for this season.
"He leads by the way he plays on the field," head coach Troy Kolan said of Christensen. "He really goes out there every down and he gets after it. The kids see that."
But the Tigers have struggled with consistency this season, opening the season with four losses, then winning four in a row, and finally losing their last three games. The last game was an especially difficult 33-32 loss to Grantsville.
"The last game we lost was a tough one," Kolan said. "But we're still playing pretty good football right now. The kids still believe."
He said the two teams differ in style, but called Delta "the team to beat."
"They do a lot of good things," said Kolan. "We'll try and play our best game. They're 9-1 for a reason."
Kolan will rely on his players' toughness as they take on what they know is a "hard-nosed" opponent.
"They line it up, and they come after you," Kolan said.
Henrie is grateful that some of the team's work ethic comes from their upbringing.
"I'm lucky to belong to a program that has hard work born into them," he said. "People always ask me, 'How do you get those kids to play so hard?' And I say it's just born into them. They're fighters. No matter what, they'll fight. Sometimes that will work out and sometimes it won't."
Ogden statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 18.5 ppg
Scoring defense: 24.8 ppg
Passing leader: Anthony Sattiewhite (134-238, 56.3%, 1,536 yards, 14 TDs, 7 INTs)
Rushing leaders: Anthony Sattiewhite (101 carries, 656 yards, 4 TDs)
Receiving leaders: Zac Annis (36 receptions, 335 yards, 3 TDs), Blake Newman (34 receptions, 398 yards, 2 TDs)
Sacks leaders: Larry Rodriquez (7.5 sacks)
Delta statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 28.9 ppg
Scoring defense: 15.1 ppg
Passing leader: Colin Christensen (31-63, 49.2%, 479 yards, 9 TDs, 1 INT)
Tackles leaders: Jace Johnson (81 total tackles), Kaydon Hughes (75 total tackles)
Sacks leaders: Not provided
Interceptions leader: Colin Christensen (6 interceptions)