If defense wins championships, it is no wonder Alta is hoisting the 5A trophy. The Alta defense dominated to produce a 19-7 win over Layton and give the school its first state title since 1988.
Leading up to Friday's title game, the hype had been about the defenses. Layton fans professed to having the top unit in the state while Alta's boosters claimed otherwise.
"We had a goal tonight to prove we were the better defense," said defensive back Brantley Dunn. "The talk all week was how they only gave up 10 points and we gave up 14, so we wanted to show them we were the best defense out there."
Alta proved it.
The numbers alone were staggering. The Hawks held Layton to minus-9 yards rushing on 21 carries, the fifth best number in championship history and tops since 1972. Alta had four sacks for minus-35 yards, and added eight tackles-for-loss for minus-45 yards.
"We closed our ears to what people had said about the two defenses and just went out and did what we had to do," said Boo Anderson. "We all did our jobs and the end result is we are the champs."
Alta held Layton to 153 total yards and only 42 plays on offense.
"I have never seen anything like it, a defense that flies around and makes plays like this," said Hawks coach Les Hamilton. "I know that is a big, big statement, but to get through the season that we had, with the level of competition and to have the success that we did. Ron Halbert, our defensive coordinator and those guys on defense have been our anchor all year long."
Things could not have started much worse for Alta. The Lancers LaVaughn Jackson fielded the opening kickoff at the 3-yard line and took off down the right sideline. He raced 97 yards and gave Layton the early lead.
"We didn't really panic," said linebacker Jefferson Court. "We knew the offense was going to score, so we knew if we shut them out the rest of the way we would be fine."
The Hawks game plan to beat Layton was simple. "Get the ball to Shak(Sausan Shakerin) 30 times, and play great defense," said Hamilton.
Done. And done.
Alta gave its star the ball 29 times. He carried it 28 times for 119 yards and a touchdown, and caught one pass for 36 yards. His constant pounding the football for 3-, 4- and 5-yard gashes was instrumental in Alta's two first half scores. Ryan Rosenvall scored on a 3-yard run on the first play of the second quarter, and Shakerin scored on a 3-yard run of his own with 3:17 left in the half. Alta led 12-7 at the break thanks to two missed extra points.
The defense continued its dominance in the second half. The high-pressure attack from that side of the ball had the Lancers rattled.
"We blitz all the time," said defensive lineman Derek Keller. "We blitz to stop the run, and we blitz to disrupt the offense. We blitz to pressure the quarterback and tonight, our blitzes worked."
With the way the Alta defense was playing, Parker Walbeck pretty much iced the game with a 40-yard touchdown catch on a shovel-pass with just over nine minutes remaining boosting the lead to 19-7.
"The blocking was amazing and all I had to do was run to daylight," Walbeck said. "I saw that hole and I thought, 'If I get there, we are champs, baby.'"He got there. And the Hawks are the champs.