EPHRAIM In only its fourth year in existence, the Zions Bank Top of the Mountains Bowl will be the setting for the National Junior College Association's national championship, and the game's perennial home team is one of the contenders.
The bowl committee announced Tuesday that the NJCAA's No. 1-ranked Snow College Badgers will host the No. 2 Butler Community College Grizzlies on Dec. 1 in Rice-Eccles Stadium. The game will most likely determine the NJCAA national-title winner.
"The Zions Bank Top of the Mountains Bowl was organized with this very game in mind an NJCAA championship," said Kevin White, the bowl's executive director.
"We have the right teams, the right venue and the right support from sponsors, fans and media to stage this game."
Zions Bank came back in as the bowl's title sponsor after saying earlier it wanted to reduce its contribution in favor of a broader base of sponsors. It is giving the bowl another year to gain that base.
KJZZ television has committed to be the game's media sponsor and will broadcast the game live.
This will be the second time Snow and Butler have faced each other. In the 2005 Top of the Mountains Bowl, Snow defeated the Grizzlies 17-14.
This will also be only the second time that Snow has played for a national championship. The first time was in 1985, and Snow won. Incidentally, director White played on that 1985 team.
Snow is led by Steve Coburn, who in two seasons as head coach has garnered a 22-1 record. Prior to his becoming head coach, Coburn was the defensive coordinator who engineered a defense that is the envy of the NJCAA.
The Badgers hold second place in both offensive and defensive team statistics. Offensively the team averages 457 yards per game (245 rushing and 212 passing). Defensively Snow allows an average of 155 yards.
Butler Community College, located in El Dorado, Kan., boasts the NJCAA's longest winning streak 14 games reaching back to last season.
Grizzly head coach Troy Morrell was awarded coach of the year from the Jayhawk Conference, which the Grizzlies won for the seventh time in 10 years this year.
Butler's defense is ranked seventh in the NJCAA, holding opponents to an average 226 yards per game. Its offense is led by the third-rated running back in the NJCAA, Beau Johnson, who racked up 1,546 and 15 touchdowns this season.
Butler has played in seven NJCAA championship games and has won four of them. The most recent was in 2003.
The game will be played at noon. Tickets are available by calling the Snow College athletic office at 435-283-7020, or by visiting the bowl's Web site, www.topofthemountainsbowl.com.
Game-day tickets will be available at the Rice-Eccles ticket office one hour before the game.