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High school football: Rain, a new baby and a nail-biter make for exciting Highland opener

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 26 2014 11:00 p.m. MDT

Updated: Wednesday, Aug. 27 2014 12:04 a.m. MDT

Rain made Friday night an interesting one for many high school football teams around the state, but perhaps no squad had a more eventful evening than the Highland Rams.

For starters, head coach Brody Benson was unsure whether or not he’d be able to make the trip to Hyrum as his team faced Mountain Crest. His wife was due to give birth that day, and had experienced a few false alarms already.

Half-expecting to have to turn around and come home, Benson drove to Hyrum while his team took a bus. Baby cooperated, Benson coached the entire game, and then tried to bolt home quickly.

Rock slides ensued because of the storms, however, and Sardine Canyon was closed. It took Benson until after midnight to get home.

As for his team, it had even more of an adventure traveling south. The defrosters weren’t working on the bus, so the group rode home with the windows down, with coaches taking turns wiping the windows for the bus driver. The team arrived at the high school after 1 a.m.

Oh, yeah. Highland won 16-13 on a last-second field goal by junior Kasra Rahmati in his first-ever football game.

“It wasn’t as cold as it would’ve been had we lost,” said assistant coach Brandon Winn, “but it wasn’t comfortable.”

Baby Benson waited until Saturday afternoon to arrive, and Mom and Baby are doing well.

“They’re doing great,” the coach said. “My wife did a great job.”

GREEN SOCKS FOR A GOOD CAUSE: American Leadership Academy head coach Billy Nixon was at a gas station in Spanish Fork last week when he noticed a jar that made him think of his 7-month-old child.

On the jar was a request for donations to help raise money for Auni Ray Naulu, an 8-month-old in the area who was recently diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy. The life expectancy for babies diagnosed with the condition is just a few years and there is no cure, but the medical bills are mounting nonetheless.

Nixon decided he wanted to do something to help. This week at the school, neon green socks are being sold, with proceeds going to help Naulu’s family. At the Eagles’ home opener on Friday against Carbon, players will wear the socks and they’ll again be sold for $6, though fans are encouraged to donate more. The Naulu family will be honored at halftime, and Nixon has visions of this becoming an annual tradition.

“I think the school’s really excited,” Nixon said. “ ... You always hear of breast cancer games, but this is something that there’s no help for, for families that are struggling.”

HORROCKS HAS HISTORIC NIGHT: During preseason camp, Union High head coach Matt Labrum envisioned that junior Weston Horrocks would get 10-15 touches per game at running back, with most of his focus being at receiver, special teams and defense.

Horrocks’ 342 yards on the ground last Friday in a win over Ben Lomond will likely change those plans. Carrying the ball 38 times in place of the injured Nic Smith, Horrocks produced the 11th-highest rushing total for a single game in state history. He added two interceptions on defense for good measure as the Cougars beat the Scots 48-34.

“Overall it was a great team effort,” Labrum said, adding it was one of the best blocking performances he’s ever seen from both his offensive line and wide receivers. “Weston got the yards and he deserves that, but I was real happy with our effort offensively and our blocking mostly.”

Ryan McDonald is a part-time reporter at the Deseret News. He is the former sports editor of The Daily Utah Chronicle, the campus newspaper at the University of Utah. Follow him on Twitter @ryanwmcdonald.

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