You're the Alta Hawk football team and, thanks to a 22-point third quarter, you've just demolished the defending champion Orem Tigers 40-0 in Friday's 4A state final at Rice Stadium. So what are you going to do now? One possibility was shouted along the Alta sideline in the closing minutes of the contest--a pharse that has overtaken a sideline Gatorade shower as the ultimate in championship celebrations.
"We're going to Disneyland!" came the battlecry, although chances are slim for an Alta student sabbatical to Anaheim.
Sparking Friday's triumph - the most lopsided championship game in recent memory _ were Hawk running back Chad Knowles and quarterback Tyler DeHart, with each having a hand in Alta's six touchdowns. Knowles rushed 19 times for 142 yards and touchdowns of 47, 13 and 3 yards, while DeHart threw scoring passes of 14 and 35 yards to Darin Dixon and added a 12-yard scoring run himself.
Alta Coach Doug Berry said the artificial turf only enhances the balance, speed and size of his 190-pound running back. "He throught that once we got up on the turf, nobody could stop him - and nobody has."
Believe it or not, the game had suspense - all through the first half, in fact. Alta managed a mere 6-0 lead on Knowles 47-yard TD, while Orem missed on several scoring opportunities.
Then, just like the white, round projectiles being thrown from the stands, Alta's scoring snowballed, starting with a 22-point third quarter. The scoring performances included the two DeHart-to-Dixon scoring passes, a two-point PAT pass from Dehart to tight end Rob Harvey, Knowles' 13-yard TD run, and two Craig Garner PAT kicks.
The fourth quarter was more of the same - with a 12-yard run by DeHart and a 3-yard run by Knowles. Add that to Alta's only first-half score - a 47-yard scamper by Knowles - and you've got the 40-0 score.
In the first half, Orem had a legitimate chance to score anywhere from 10 to possibly 21 points. Berry was not oblivious to the fact that early Orem leads had led to the Tigers' upset playoff victories over top-ranked Granger and fourth-ranked Brigton in the previous two weeks.
"That could have taken some wind out of our sails," said Berry musing the possibility of another early Orem advantage.
But it didn't materialize, as evidenced by the following:
- Orem recovered a fumble at the Alta 39, but the Tigers only moved the ball backward and had to punt four plays later.
- Orem appeared ready to answer Alta's sole first-half TD with its own impressive drive, aided in part by the running of fullback Matt Harding and passes by Bryan Rowley. A pass interference call against the Hawks at the goal line gave the Tigers a first-and goal fron 9 yards out.
But three plays netted no yards and the Tigers botched the snap and hold for a 25-yard field goal attempt that would have cut in half the 6-0 deficit early in the second period.
- Later in the second quarter, Orem drove from its own 37 to the Alta 15 on runs by Rowley, Harding and substitute tailback Blake Hendry. On a third-and-1, Harding fumbled the handoff from Rowley, with Alta's Lee Knappenberger recovering to hold Orem scoreless still.
- The Tigers had one last chance in the first half, with the defense forcing Alta to punt from its own 15 with a little more than a minute remaining. However, Knappenberger dove into a pile of players on the punt and drew a roughing-the-kicker call that allowed the Hawks to maintain possession through the end of the half.
Berry credited the Hawk defense for keeping Alta in the game in the first half. The defense then kept Orem out of the game in the second by allowing only 18 yards of total offense in the final two quarters.
Meanwhile, the Tigers can blame themselves for their second-half woes, with penalties, poor punting, poor kick coverage and an untimely turnover at their own 3.
Reasons for Alta's explosive second-half performance? Chose from these: one, the Hawks settled down from their penalty-plagued playing style in the opening half; two, the more physical Hawks finally wore down their Region 2 peers; and three, the Hawks benefited from great field position.
Of the latter, consider that Alta's worst spot was at the Hawk 29 - and that was after fielding the kickoff to open the half. From there, Alta started possession at the Orem 38, Orem 13, Alta 48, Orem 49, Orem 3 and Orem 44.
And after enjoying a first half of fruitful field possession themselves, the Tigers initiated each of their second-half possessions somewhere betweeen their own 6 and 28.
Alta's triumph in Friday's UHSAA-First Security Bank state championship game is the first Hawk football title since 1983, when Alta won it all in its first year of existence.