SALT LAKE CITY — There’s no solicitude in finishing second. On Friday, East’s perfect season slipped away with a 33-28 loss in the 4A state championship game against Timpview at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
The Leopards (13-1) will freeze the loss in the back of their brains. The hurt will never fully dissipate, but eventually with time the players will understand the season that was.
“This team is so talented and they’re such great character kids,” East coach Brandon Matich said. “They’re all remarkable and they’re all my heroes. I idolize and look up to all of those seniors. Amazing kids.”
It’s of little consolidation to broken hearts, but East's accomplishments during the 2013 season are engraved into the record books. The Leopards surpassed Dixie’s 1972 record of 678 points scored with 693 while finishing with the highest margin of victory for the first time since 1996 and capturing the scoring title with an average of 49.5 points per outing.
It was a difficult journey following the controversy that engulfed the program in 2012, but Matich believes the process bonded the team together.
“I think this team is talented, but I think this year with everything that happened last year, I think this is the culmination of that,” he said. “Because last year when that all went down, the reality of us winning the whole thing was much harder. This was the product of that.”
Individually, running back Ula Tolutau finished with the third-highest single-season rushing total with 2,465 yards. He also set the state record for most 100-yard games with 13, while kicker Isaac Anthony ended with 80 made extra points — the second-highest total in state history.
East totaled 5,326 rushing yards — the most in state history — with 66 rushing touchdowns. Overall, the Leopards tallied 7,204 yards of total offense and 85 total touchdowns.
The defense shined, too. East recorded 32 interceptions and 44 sacks during the 2013 season.
But in the end, the Leopards' dream season finished short of a championship. Timpview quarterback Britain Covey delivered a Johnny Football-esk performance with 393 total yards and four touchdowns. On several occasions he extended the play with his feet and either scrambled out of sure-handed sacks or connected with a breaking receiver downfield.
“We picked a bad day to not execute on defense,” Matich said. “We just couldn’t corral them. When we did we’d get them for (a loss of) 15 yards. We didn’t and they beat us.”
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