SANDY —The Alta Hawks were quick to shake hands with the Cottonwood Colts following their impressive 48-7 Region 3 victory Thursday night.
Coach Bob Stephens gathered the team in a big circle. Each player sat on one knee and the Hawks realized they had accomplished two goals. Not only had they won the Region 3 title (their seventh region crown in the last nine years), but they had avenged a tough 28-21 loss to Cottonwood the year before.
"We wanted to get off to a good start, and we really shut them down," said Alta lineman Kole Afu. "We wanted to get after them. They have six of our (former) coaches over there and they've been talking about how bad they were going to beat us."
There was no confirmation available among the coaches. However, the Hawks let their actions do the talking on their home field. They limited Cottonwood's usually powerful offense to just 94 total yards.
With the win, Alta improved to 9-1 overall and 5-0 in region. The Hawks earned a No. 1 seed and will play host to Syracuse next week in the first round of the 5A playoffs. Cottonwood (5-4, 3-2) took the third seed and must travel to Northridge.
The Colts will hope to find their offense, which was dominant at times this season but disappeared at Bingham and Alta.
Facing a Hawks' defense that had shut out three of its last four opponents, Cottonwood had 13 possessions. The Colts lost a fumble on their second offensive play, scored one touchdown and had 10 drives go three-and-out. The other drive lasted two plays and ended at halftime.
"It wasn't pretty," said Colts coach Josh Lyman. "Our goal (on offense) was to help the defense stay off the field and you do that by sustaining long drives. We had too many quick possessions."
Alta, on the other hand, had Bryan Engstrom.
The Hawks' 5-foot-9, 175-pound running back used his speed to rush for 169 yards on 18 carries, including a 71-yarder in the second quarter that set up the second of two field goals by kicker Parker Timmerman.
Alta was never really threatened. With Engstrom's running, and the timely pass completions of quarterback Tyson Blackner, the Hawks scored on their first three possessions and built a 17-0 lead.
Cottonwood rallied following Kingston Liavaa's fourth-down sack of Blackner, and Bateman and Gabe Hosea put together a 52-yard drive that ended with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Bateman to Inoke Lotulelei.
But that would be all of Cottonwood's offense. With Afu, Shadrach Ennis, Ryan Jensen and Zacharias Adams creating havoc in the Colts' backfield, there was little chance of a rally.
At least until Cottonwood uses this game as an incentive next season.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company