DELTA — A willingness to fight through adversity and never sulk after losing four straight games to open the season paid off in the form of a region championship for the Delta Rabbits.
With a share of the Region 12 title already locked up, Delta made it an outright title with an impressive 28-0 victory over Juab on Thursday night.
"We knew at the beginning of the year we were going to have a tough schedule, and we had a lot of kids who hadn't played before," said Delta coach Russ Henrie. "But we knew deep down inside and the kids knew deep down inside that we had a decent team. But after four losses, everything starts to look a little scary. But the kids hung in there and they refused to quit."
Now Delta will turn its attention to the 3A state tournament beginning next week.
"The beginning of the year, we put a lot of emphasis on winning the region," said Henrie. "That was one of our goals we can check off, and though we're happy and proud of it, it's not the one we're after."
After picking up its first shutout of the season in dominating fashion Thursday, Delta is more than capable of making some noise in the playoffs as well.
The Rabbits limited Juab to just 140 yards of total offense, finishing with six sacks and four interceptions. Delta's offense turned three of those interceptions into points, as it finished with 313 yards of total offense, with Hadley Myers leading the way with 126 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
None of those interceptions was bigger than Braden Schouten's with 4:35 remaining in the first half.
After Delta marched 77 yards in just six plays to score on the opening drive of the game, neither offense could get much anything going. Field position, however, was gradually swinging Juab's way as it marched into the red zone late in the first half.
Scouten's juggling, acrobatic interception at the 10-yard line put an end to Juab's promising drive, though.
"What a catch he had to make. He's one that we've been waiting for him to start coming on. At the first of the year, he struggled, but he's finally got some confidence, and confidence is everything with these kids," said Henrie.
Delta's offense fed off that confidence in a big way. It responded with a 72-yard scoring drive capped by Myers' 2-yard plunge to increase the lead to 14-0 with 2:13 remaining in the half. The Rabbits weren't done.
Scouten gave his team possession near midfield with another interception, and it capitalized on the short field to open up a 21-0 lead, as quarterback Colin Christensen zig-zagged his way 27 yards for a touchdown on a broken play.
Juab tried to mix things up offensively by changing quarterbacks on the opening drive of the second half. It worked initially, but Delta's defense eventually figured it out and only allowed four first downs the entire second half.
"I'm proud of them tonight; they fought their hearts out," said Henrie. "We have different kids at different times making big plays for us, and our defense is getting a little more stingy and a little more stingy each week."