3A football championship: Fourth time's the charm for Hurricane
Laura Seitz, Deseret News
Click here to watch a full replay of the 3A championship game.
Click here to see more photos from the 3A championship game.
SALT LAKE CITY — After coming agonizingly close to winning a state championship the past three years, Hurricane finally knows what Juan Diego was feeling all those years.
It was worth the wait.
No. 1 Hurricane ended three years of gut-wrenching frustration with a convincing 21-0 victory over Desert Hills on Friday night to claim the 3A state championship on a snowy night at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
"It's an amazing feeling to get this win for coach (Chris) Homer, this community, for the players in the past, it just means a lot to us as a team," said Hurricane running back Weston Yardley.
For a team on the wrong side of the championship drama the past three years, it was a relatively routine victory for Hurricane.
Hurricane dominated defensively, only allowing 117 yards of total offense, and then offensively it tacked on two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to pull away.
"This is crazy. I'm so glad I got the chance to be here with my friends to take the state championship," said Brian Scott, who scored both touchdowns in the fourth quarter and finished with 108 rushing yards. "We're all really close, we're best friends. When someone messes up, we don't yell at them, we just pick them up and tell them to keep going and just do better the next play."
In Week 9 this season Hurricane beat Desert Hills 35-8, but most expected the rematch to be much closer.
Nerves certainly got the better of the Tigers early on as they turned it over twice in the opening eight minutes of the game. Desert Hills couldn't capitalize on the field position though.
After finally solving its ball security issues, Hurricane went ahead 6-0 with 8:05 remaining in the second quarter as Scott scored on a 7-yard burst. The Tigers maintained that lead until the half, and despite the precarious lead against a team it dominated in the first meeting, there was no panic from Hurricane.
"We didn't have any doubt going into half only up 6-0. We were just hoping to fight in the second half and make some big plays," said Yardley.
That big play, ironically enough, ended up being a field goal.
After seeing a nine-play drive stall at Desert Hills' 28 on a third-down incompletion, Hurricane kicker Ethan Stratton booted a 45-yard field goal into the wind to put Hurricane ahead 9-0 with 7:02 remaining in the third.
It was a subtle dagger for a Desert Hills offense that couldn't get anything going. With the snow finally starting to stick, the likelihood of another heart breaking finish for Hurricane seemed unlikely.
Sure enough, Desert Hills only picked up two first downs the rest of the way as Hurricane registered just its second shutout of the season.
Watching his players celebrate while Hurricane's student body chanted, "We love Homer," from the stands, coach Homer surprisingly wasn't giddy. Three years of heartache had prepared him to be disappointed.
"I'm so cautious with my emotions, they haven't started pouring out yet, but I get to be on a bus for 5five hours and I just get to enjoy it," said Homer. "I know it's high school, and I know it's 3A football, and I know it's Hurricane, Utah, but those three losses were, you probably have no idea."
In addition to Scott's big day on the ground, Yardley added 60 yards rushing while Adam Thompson chipped in with 74.