The fact that the only loss the Snow College football team suffered this season was in the national championship game is a testament to what coach Steve Coburn is doing with mostly local athletes.
"I'm proud to build this program with Utah players," he said after the top-ranked Badgers lost the Top of the Mountains Bowl to Butler 56-27 on Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium. "We visit every school in the state to find the best players, and we'll continue to build this program with Utah football players."
Of the 14 Snow players awarded all-conference honors this season, 10 of them are Utah prep athletes. The Western States Football League Defensive MVP was Coleby Clawson, a graduate of North Sanpete High School.
"It's definitely like an all-star team," said Braden Frampton, a freshman who played for Pleasant Grove High. "I'm playing with guys I played against when I was a freshman in high school and they were seniors. They're my heroes."
He points to players like Josh Sharp, a sophomore linebacker from Orangeville, Utah, who played for Emery, as players who are role models to him.
Coburn said a team's record doesn't matter as they look for what the individual can do for the Badgers. Coburn said even with graduation and missions, Snow will likely just reload next season and continue its tradition of winning.
Defensive lineman Tevita Hola, a graduate of Granger High in West Valley City, was named the defensive player of the game. He has already committed to BYU.
"There was nothing very difficult about their offense," said Hola of the Badgers giving up 504 yards of offense to the Grizzlies. Snow came into the game ranked No. 2 in defense, allowing opponents just 12.4 points per game and giving up 47.7 yards on the ground, which was the best in the nation.
"Every down was very difficult," Hola said. "I have to tip my hat to them; they have a good offense and they just played well. I have no regrets. We played as hard as we could."
Frampton said the weather in the first half blinding snow flurries and freezing temperatures was a bit of a factor.
"It was tough to see, and we didn't have any footing," he said smiling. "It was a challenge."
Snow trailed by eight points at the start of the third quarter, but two quick Butler touchdowns gave the Grizzlies the momentum for the rest of the game, although the Badgers did have some big plays as they tried to catch Butler.
"It didn't matter at all to us," Frampton said of the score. "We were just going to fight. We were just going to fight as hard as we could. We didn't give up until it was all over."
Coburn said the team was slightly distracted by the arrest of three players on Wednesday and Thursday, including two starters.
"They were players who could have helped us," the coach said. "It hurt us some, but we had players step up and take their place and do well. We just ran into a good football team today ... But I'm proud our guys just kept playing."
Coburn said despite the disappointment of his players' legal trouble and losing the national championship game, he can't feel too bad about finishing 11-1 this season."I'll take this team of young men any time," said Coburn. "It was an awesome season. They're a great group of young men."