You wouldn't know it from their new No. 1-ranking in 5A, but it's been a couple of tough weeks for the Hunter High football program.
The Wolverines' most serious misfortune happened a week and a half ago when starting varsity linebacker T.J. Aukustino was severely injured during a junior-varsity game at Kearns High. Aukustino, filling in as Hunter's JV QB, was temporarily paralyzed after a disc in his back slipped when he was cleanly tackled by one of the Cougars.After being taken by ambulance to Pioneer Valley Hospital, Aukustino was transferred to the University of Utah Hospital for back surgery and rehabilitation. He is still there, and Hunter coach John Lambourne said the prognosis looks good that he'll have complete mobility after rehab.
"I think with a lot of work and God's grace he'll fully recover," Lambourne said, adding that Aukustino wanted to attend Hunter's game a week ago though he lay prone in pain.
On the same afternoon of Aukustino's injury, Hunter star running back Joe Lomu was suspended from school for getting in a nonviolent verbal confrontation with a school employee. Lomu had to sit out the last two games, including Friday's closer-than-expected 18-13 win over West Jordan.
"It's been rough," said Lambourne, "but all of our kids have responded well, including Joe and T.J."
Lomu should be back in uniform Friday when Hunter hosts Viewmont.
"Joe is a big-hearted kid; he just does some dumb things once in a while," Lambourne said. "He feels bad about it."
A couple of other injuries left Hunter without four key starters against 1-3 West Jordan. But David Fiefia put the rest of the Wolverines on his shoulders and lifted them to a 4-0 record and the top ranking.
Fiefia ran for 197 yards and three touchdowns against the Jaguars Friday to follow his 200-plus-yard, three-TD rushing performance at Kearns.
"He was the blue-collar guy," Lambourne said of his first-team all-stater. "He had to battle and battle all game long, and he found a way to do it."
An example he hopes Aukustino and Lomu can follow.
STREAK STOPPERS: The state's longest winning streaks - and the only two dating to last season - came to an abrupt halt Friday.
The Bear River Bears mauled Morgan 31-14 to snap the Trojans' state-high 16-game winning streak. Even more shocking was surging Davis' stunning 27-24 win over 5A's previously No. 1-ranked Skyline. The three-time defending state champion Eagles had won 15 in a row.
Thirteen teams now share the longest winning streak at four wins.
THE RANK AND FILE: Lambourne is flattered with the No. 1 billing, but his vote goes to unranked Northridge. The 4-0 Knights have outscored their opponents 136-7.
"I think you ought to put Northridge in there," he said. "I was kind of skeptical at first, but what they're doing is impressive."
Northridge will likely crack the Top 5 if they beat No. 4 Skyline Friday.
Fresh off a 29-7 nonregion whupping of Woods Cross, Jordan (4-0) debuts in the rankings at No. 5. The Beetdiggers replaced Orem in the Top 5 after the Tigers were blanked 17-0 by a 4-0 Hillcrest team that looks to be for real.
In 4A, Mountain Crest jumped into the rankings after walloping Weber 44-0. Logan could make an argument with its 4-0 mark, but the Grizzlies can prove worthy against No. 3 Bonneville this week.
FOURTH GAME IS THE CHARM: After three losses, Taylorsville first-year coach Brad Molen notched his first win when the Warriors edged Copper Hills 19-14.
Class 5A Record Prv.
1. Hunter 4-0 2
2. Bingham 4-0 4
3. Granger 3-1 5
4. Skyline 3-1 1
5. Jordan 4-0 -
Class 4A Record Prv.
1. Highland 3-1 1
2. Olympus 4-0 2
3. Bonneville 3-1 4
4. Pl. Grove 3-1 5
5. Mtn. Crest 4-0 -
Class 3A Record Prv.
1. Uintah 4-0 1
2. Dixie 3-1 3
3. Canyon View 4-0 4
4. Cedar City 3-1 -
5. Morgan 3-1 2
Class 2A Record Prv.
1. Millard 4-0 1
2. San Juan 4-0 2
3. Grantsville 3-1 3
4. Juab 3-1 5
5. Kanab 4-0 -