Kenny Bristow, Wasatch Wave
Heber City – After last weekend’s home opening loss to Timpanogos High School, the Wasatch Wasps were anxious to redeem themselves. They did just that this Friday night with a convincing victory over the Mountain View Bruins 28-3.
The home team made no secret of its desire to come out and make an early statement with a big defensive stand that culminated with a blocked punt. Senior tackle Brendan Edler, followed up his first quarterback sack of the season and first of four on the night, by blocking and recovering the kick that put the Wasps 1st and 10 inside the Bruins’ 20 yard line.
But the Wasps’ offense couldn’t measure up to that right away and fumbled on its first play from scrimmage when quarterback Zack Reiss was forced out of the pocket and yanked to the turf forcing the ball loose.
The black and gold defense came to play on Friday night and again shut down the Mountain View offense.
Once Wasatch got the ball for a second drive, Reiss drove his team down the field on the shoulders of tailback Hunter Pella and the Wasp’s offensive line. At 3:30 in the 1st quarter, Pella punched in the Wasp’s first touchdown—and first of the season, from three yards out. Skyler Southam booted the extra point and Wasatch was up 7-0.
That was all the home team could muster in the first half, however, as Mountain View found a way to keep the ball despite the dominating Wasatch defense. The aggressive Wasps were penalized several times on two different 2nd quarter Bruin drives which enabled the visitor to keep their offense on the field.
The Bruins, eager to capitalize on the Wasatch mishaps, could not make anything stick except for a 48-yard field goal from Thomas Redford at 6:07 that made the score 7-3.
Wasatch used a different offensive personnel package in the second quarter, replacing Reiss and Pella with Garrett Davis and Jon Durrant, respectively. The switch seemed to ignite the Wasps as they moved the ball swiftly yet came away with no more first half points.
Wasatch Head Coach Steve Coburn liked what he saw with the change at a couple of his top skill positions.
“Jon (Durrant) is a perfect change-up from Hunter (Pella),” explained Coburn. “It’s a perfect 1-2 punch. Jon’s going to use his speed to get outside while Hunter will grind out the yards on the inside. But really, either one of them can make a big play at any time,” Coburn said.
Coburn was happy with the play of his starting quarterback, Reiss, but wanted to give his sophomore back-up, Davis some playing time. “Garrett’s young,” Coburn said. “But we need to see if he’s going to be ready for us if that opportunity comes. It wasn’t anything about Zack, we just wanted to get Davis some reps. I have no complaints about either of my qb’s tonight. They played great, I thought.”
The early going of the second half looked much like the second quarter of the game. Mountain View showed it’s last signs of being able to foil the Wasp defense about midway through the period when they converted a fourth and ten from the Wasp 36 yard line with a 28-yard pass play that put them in scoring position.
That only seemed to anger the Wasp front lines as they pressured Bruin quarterback Jaren Flaker repeatedly, sacking him twice for big losses. Mountain View tried to salvage the opportunity with a Redford 28-yard field goal attempt that sailed wide to the left.
Wasatch, sensing an opportunity to seize momentum of the game, worked its way swiftly in the opposite direction. Reiss found receivers Kyler Cook and Zach Purdy for first down pickups getting the home team to the 35-yard line. Reiss then found senior Kayden Conner on the right flat with a pass that the big tight end took into the end zone with just over a minute remaining in the third period.
The Bruins could get nothing going in the fourth quarter either as the Wasp defense continued to swarm to the ball.
After a Mountain View punt, the teaming of Davis and Durrant took the field for Wasatch and the show continued on. Durrant added a couple of large gains as he slashed off the edges of the Bruin’s defense and found his way into the defensive backfield.
With 6:10 remaining in the game, Wasatch put up the touchdown that allowed the home crowd to begin celebrating. With a third and goal from the five, Davis hit Purdy in the end zone. Southam kicked his third extra point of the game and Wasatch was up 21-3.
Southam’s ensuing kick-off flew into the end zone forcing the Bruin’s to start from their own 20. After failing to gain an inch and being forced to punt, the Bruin punter bobbled the low snap in the face of the onrushing Wasps who created the late game turnover to seal it.
Reiss returned to the huddle for Wasatch and called the number of junior wide-out Carson Law, who caught the final touchdown with 3:10 remaining. After the PAT by Southam, Wasatch had cemented a 28-3 advantage, which would hold up for a final.
The Wasp victory was an about face in intensity and Reiss credited his offensive line. “It all starts up front,” Reiss said. “Coach talked to us all week about better play calling, better execution and better blocking. I think we mixed the run and pass perfectly and were able to control things at the line of scrimmage tonight.”
The defense may have made the biggest impression on the Wasatch faithful on this beautiful Friday night in Heber. The line was consistently in the grill of Flakey repeatedly sacking him and forcing him out of the pocket. When the Bruin quarterback was able to get the ball off, the Wasp linebackers, Tagg Baxter, Cade Cloward and Pella were there to make the play.
Edler was nearly unstoppable for the black and gold as he recorded four sacks and a blocked punt. He came close to blocking a second punt and was in on numerous gang tackles along the front.
“I think we just needed to get past that first game and put it behind us,” Edler said. We sort of gave up on ourselves last week, but tonight we stayed aggressive and just fed off each other. I knew we would bounce back. We’re a good defense. It just feels great to get that first win.”
Coburn too said its good to get that first win. “Absolutely. It gets us over that hump. There’s confidence now and we can just keep working.”
Wasatch wins battle in the trenches
Kayden Conner third quarter touchdown reception.
Wasatch wins battle in the trenches, defeats Mountain View
Carson Law's fourth quarter touchdown reception.
Kenny Bristow is the staff sports writer for the Wasatch Wave and contributes to the Deseret News high school coverage for the Wasatch region. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. To contribute to DNews Preps for your area, enquire at 801.237.2143.
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