What went right? Everything. —Alta coach Bob Stephens
MURRAY — Call it deja vu. For the second straight year the Alta Hawks closed out the regular season by racking up 48 points on the Cottonwood Colts. Wednesday night's 48-12 victory may have been even more impressive than last year's 48-7 thrashing.
Hawks quarterback Chipper Lucero threw for 293 yards and five touchdowns in the first half, two each to receivers Ammon Barker and Harrison Handley. Running back Kendal Reese also ran for a score in a game that saw a continuously running clock throughout the second half.
"What went right? Everything," Alta coach Bob Stephens said. "We wanted to come out clicking on all cylinders, offense, defense, special teams. We wanted to finish off the regular season, and we did that."
Cottonwood, led by senior quarterback Cooper Bateman, was unable to ever get started in the first half. Two of Bateman's top weapons, running back Gabe Hosea and tight end Siale Fakailoatonga, were sidelined with injuries. The Colts would manage to score twice in the fourth quarter against Alta's backups on drives led by Bateman and sophomore running back John Halaeua.
The rest of the game belonged to Lucero, an explosive offense and an unforgiving defense.
The Hawks opened the game with 21 points from three drives. Lucero was connecting with a variety of receivers, including Mack Richards, Logan Harrison and Trevor Hill, while the running back trio of Reese, Max Broman and Hill were keeping the defense honest with runs up the middle. Hill's 2-yard plunge into the endzone placed the score at 21-0 just minutes into the game.
On the flip side, the Colts didn't earn a first down until halfway through the second quarter. The Alta defensive backs blanketed the Cottonwood receivers, paying special attention to star wideout Inoke Lotulelei.
The Hawks added two more touchdowns to begin the second, both on Lucero connections with Handley. Up 34-0 after a blocked extra point, the Hawks would add another score on a 67-yard screen pass reception by Barker.
In total, Alta racked up nearly 400 yards of total offense in the first half, including 293 by Lucero and 172 by Barker. The Hawks' backups would play the rest of the game under a continuously running clock, per UHSAA rules.
"We planned out everything this week and got it perfect," Lucero said. "We've got four good wide receivers. I just need to get the ball to them."
Alta wraps up second place in Region 3 and finishes the regular season on a three game winning streak.
As similar as the game was to last year's, the Hawks hope that the next result — the first round of the playoffs — isn't a repeat. In 2011 the Hawks were stunned by Syracuse at home, 16-10. Stephens hopes the team is better prepared in 2012.
"I hope they learned their lesson last year," Stephens said. "We're going to hit it real hard next week, and I think there's still room to grow on this team.
"We feel good, better this year," Lucero said. "We're going to make a run."