2A football championship: Undefeated San Juan to put it all on the Line against defending champion Manti Templars
Broncos putting perfect record on the line against Templars
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
PLEASANT GROVE — The San Juan Broncos are undefeated. They have won 11 straight games and have allowed just 55 points all season.
The Manti Templars are the defending 2A champions. Their only loss on the season was early in the year against 3A semifinalist Juan Diego.
The Broncos have had an average margin of victory of approximately 30 points while the Tempers have won by 25 points.
In spite of what both head coaches will say, when the two powerhouses meet in the 2A championship game at Pleasant Grove High School on Saturday at 11 a.m., the game will be unlike any other they have played all season.
The two have not met since a semifinal matchup in 2008, and Manti is favored by just a single point on the neutral field.
"We tell the kids the game is not any different from any other road game," Manti coach Cole Meacham said. "We try to make (travel) just like any other game."
San Juan coach Monty Lee expressed the same sentiment, also adding that, "we are preparing the same way we have all year."
The Broncos have been led throughout the season by quarterback Barkley Christensen. The senior recorded two touchdowns — one passing and one rushing — in San Juan's 15-9 victory over South Summit in the semifinals last weekend.
Manti is led by a junior quarterback, Connor Aste, who passed for three scores in the Templars' 58-15 semifinal victory over Grand County.
"Conner is in his first year starting at quarterback, and he has done a nice job," Meacham said. "He throws well and he makes good decisions."
Along with Aste, the Templars have implemented a handful of other new players in starting positions around the field. The offensive line returned just one starter from last season's championship team, and junior T.J. Pogroszewski is in his first year playing at tight end and receiver for the Templars after serving as a running back. He is leading the team with 402 yards and five touchdowns.
"We have some positions where kids are brand new," Meacham said, "but some positions that return" with championship experience.
Austin Jackson is one of those returners. He leads the team in rushing years and tackles.
Alongside Christensen for the Broncos is a team full of experienced veterans as San Juan won the 2A championship in 2010.
"We have a team full of kids that have one goal in mind — to be better today than we were yesterday," San Juan coach Monty Lee said. "If we focus on that, the winning takes care of itself."
Although both coaches have spent time preparing for championship games, Meacham said it does not get easier and that the feeling of excitement does not lessen.
"It is exciting any time you get there," he said. "It takes a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck."
He then added, "it is important that the coaches and the players make the very most out of the experience."
Scoring offense: 33.7 ppg
Scoring defense: 10.3 ppg
Passing leader: Connor Aste (87-132, 65.9%, 1,466 yards, 15 TDs, 7 INTs)
Rushing leaders: Austin Jackson (101 carries, 511 yards, 9 TDs), Taylor Soper (72, 364, 5)
Receiving leader: T.J. Pogroszewski (20 rec., 402 yards, 5 TDs), Jamen Miller (16, 353, 3)
Tackles leader: Austin Jackson (65 sacks)
Sacks leader: Koleton Moon (6 sacks)
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