When the Wasatch High School football team made it’s first road trip of the season, it was fortunate to get the longest one behind them—and early on.
The Wasps made the long hour and a half bus ride to Ogden on Friday night to face the Tigers in their first ever meeting on the gridiron. Wasatch came out on top with a dominating 35-0 victory.
Perhaps it was the long bus ride, maybe it was not being focused on their opponent, but whatever it was, it was not a sharp beginning for the Wasps. After kicking off to the Tigers to start the game and forcing them to give the ball over on downs, Wasatch could not take advantage of the early field position.
Sophomore kicker, Skyler Southam, who has been automatic on PAT’s this season and booted a 55-yard field goal the night before in the Junior Varsity contest, missed a 40 yarder to end the drive.
The Wasps continued to shoot themselves in the foot with uncharacteristic penalties, allowing the home team to chew up the first quarter clock and get the ball across midfield.
Facing a fourth and one, and having Wasatch backed up, Tiger quarterback, Cam Mortenson, was sacked by the Wasps for a huge loss. It was the second consecutive time for Ogden to turn the ball over on downs.
The visitor would then take control of the ball at the Tiger 32 yard line. Wasp quarterback Zack Reiss found receiver Ben Hill on the right and the big target moved his offense into the red zone down to the four-yard line.
Another pre-snap penalty would back Wasatch up five yards, but that only created more space for senior Anderson Davis, who took the pitch to the left and galloped into the end zone for the Wasp’s first score of the night with two minutes left in the first quarter. Southam added the point after attempt and Wasatch was up 7-0.
The second quarter showed no offensive momentum for Wasatch early on as they had a couple of three-and-outs despite staying dominant on defense.
The Tigers only managed to gain yardage on the edges, but the Wasps were able to contain the multiple running formations and thwart Ogden’s only real scoring threat midway through the second.
Not getting much on the ground and sitting inside the red zone, the Tigers went to the air where Wasatch linebacker Cade Cloward helped ignite his team with his first of two interceptions on the night at the five-yard line.
That gave the Wasps the ball with four minutes remaining in the half, but 95 yards to pay dirt in front of them.
Wasatch turned to tailback Hunter Pella to get their backs off the wall, which the senior did by pounding out several gains. Once they had some room to work, Reiss found wide out Carson Law for a huge pass that the receiver took down to the Ogden 15 yard line.
Another untimely Wasp penalty, however, backed the ball up 15 yards giving the visitors first and ten from the 30-yard line.
Wasatch turned again to Pella to grind out the yardage the rest of the way and eat up the remaining time on the first half clock. With 49 seconds left before halftime, Pella punched the ball in from the two-yard line giving the Wasps a 13-0 lead. Southam made it 14-0 with his sixth PAT on the year.
Despite the two-touchdown advantage, Wasatch head coach Steve Coburn was not pleased with his team’s first half performance.
“I don’t know the answer to that,” Coburn said. “If you figure it out—you let me know, because I don’t have a clue. We had a good week of practice. A good trip up. I just got on them and told them we had to play better which they did.”
However Coburn got on them at the half, it worked in his squad’s favor. Wasatch was sharp in the second half on both sides of the ball. They eliminated their pre-snap penalties and were able to execute the ground control ballgame the coaching staff had drawn up.
As rain began to fall, so did the hopes of the home team. With 6 minutes left in the third quarter Reiss hit a wide-open Kayden Conner down the right sideline for a 70-yard touchdown play. The point after made it 21-0.
After again stuffing anything the Tiger offense would throw at them, the Wasps regained possession with just over two minutes left in the third.
Pella added his second touchdown run of the night a minute later with a 10-yard scamper putting the game out of reach for Ogden at 28-0.
Pella, who gained 79 yards on 16 carries, would credit his offensive line. “Yeah the line was blocking just great,” Pella said. “The holes were just opening up and I was able to get through. I love the plays were calling right now on the runs. And it was fun out there in the rain!”
The senior didn’t dwell too much on his team’s flat first half. “I think maybe we just came out a little over confident,” Pella said. “We need to give it our all for the whole game and not underestimate anyone.”
Wasatch used the final quarter to get some experience for sophomore tailback Matt Tate. The track star was quick to the perimeters and showed speed when he was able to turn the corner. It was yet another offensive weapon Coburn and his staff have in their arsenal.
“It was good to get Matt (Tate) in there,” Coburn said after the victory was sealed on Tate’s 5-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. “I thought he ran the ball well. So did Hunter (Pella). I’m happy with our second half performance.”
Tate’s score and Southam’s point after made the final 35-0. It was the second consecutive strong defensive performance for the Wasps and their offense is showing signs of breaking out.
“That’s the team we are—the one in the second half there,” Coburn said. “It’s great to get the first road win behind us. Next week starts region and everybody’s got a clean slate.”
Wasatch’ defense has only surrendered one field goal in it’s last two games, while putting nine touchdowns of their own on the board. That type of play will have to keep up for the young Wasps as they head to Provo next Friday for their first Region 8 match-up since moving to 4A this year.
High School Football: Wasatch shuts out Ogden 35-0
Wasatch tailback Hunter Pella punches the ball into the end zone from 2 yards out.
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: email@example.com. To contribute to DNews Preps for your area, enquire at 801.237.2143.