Dick Harmon: Showdown in Syracuse: No. 4 Snow College travels to New York for Carrier Dome Bowl vs. No. 3 ASA
EPHRAIM — Bowl week took on a sense of urgency and excitement at Snow College this week. Players were plugged in and excited, coaches were wired, and college recruiters smothered the place.
Late Wednesday, head coach Tyler Hughes loaded up his team and headed for Syracuse, N.Y., where the No. 4-ranked Badgers (10-1) will play No. 3 ASA College (9-0), from Brooklyn, N.Y., in the Carrier Dome Bowl on Saturday. It is the farthest east Snow has ever played a game.
On Tuesday, Hughes could hardly take a drink of water before the afternoon practice due to back-to-back phone calls from recruiters that strung on hour to hour. He had a handful of other recruiters hanging around campus, meeting players.
"In my opinion, Snow College is one of the best junior colleges around and I recruit Kansas, Iowa and a bunch of different places," said one recruiter from a Division I school in the Midwest. "This year they have as much talent as anybody."
That recruiter didn't want to be identified by name or school. "I don't want some rivals to know I'm here," he said.
Hughes takes an explosive Badger team to this bowl and the defense is stingy. Snow averages 49.2 points a game, the most in school history, and scored 30 in its only loss of the year to Georgia Military College back on Sept. 8.
At the top of Snow's list is WSFL Offensive Player of the Year Breon Allen — a 5-foot-8, 180-pound running back from Daytona Beach, Fla., who just took a trip to Boise State and has interest from Utah, Utah State, Oregon State and Hawaii. He will take a trip to Memphis on Dec. 14.
Allen averages 146.3 yards per game, which makes him the No. 1 rusher in junior college this year. "I like to run between the tackles, just to show I can because people think I'm too small to do that," Allen said.
"Let's just say he makes my job a lot easier," said sophomore quarterback Christian Stewart, who threw for 34 touchdowns this season. "He brings everyone up in the box and I just throw over them. He's fun to watch, kind of like Reggie Bush. He runs a 4.39 and can stop on a dime."
Stewart, a former walk-on at BYU, threw 44 touchdown passes at Timpanogos High his senior year, but has yet to receive any Division I offers. "That's disappointing because I'd like to keep playing football."
On the other side of the line, the Badgers feature the nation's top sack defense, a group that registered 63 sacks, seven touchdowns and an unheard of eight safeties. Three of the four WSFL all-conference defensive linemen were from Snow, including defensive player of the year, nose tackle Ofa Hautau, Jake Miller and Thomas Bryson.
"We've had a pretty good year," said Hautau, a former East High star whose brother signed at Oregon State. Hautau, who graduates this spring, won't start taking recruiting trips until January.
"We are stacked everywhere," Allen said. "It starts with our offensive line and our receivers are awesome. Our defense is ridiculous. We're a pretty scary team."
Hughes knows traveling 2,000 miles to play a game will be tough. He also respects ASA, who was left out of what is considered the junior college national championship game, the Graphic Edge Bowl in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. That game will feature two other undefeated teams, No. 1 Iowa Western and No. 2 Butler Community College from Kansas.
"This is a great challenge for us to travel that far and play a great opponent. They are undefeated for a very good reason. It's extremely hard to go undefeated for a whole season," Hughes said. "But our guys are excited and we want to showcase our kids at a great venue, the Carrier Dome."
"They are very fast," Stewart said. "But we have a great game plan and we're excited to see how it works."
Hughes claims a key ingredient to the 2012 Badgers is team unity. "These kids work hard and care for each other. They really like each other. They've done everything I've asked them to do and earned everything they've gotten."
Hughes, in his second year as head coach, was named the WSFL Coach of the Year after the Badgers won the league title for the first time since 2008.
Bowl week in Ephraim?
Today, it's moved to New York.
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