It took just one play for the 5A All-Stars to assert their dominance over 4A in the annual Utah High School Football Coaches Association All-Star game that ended abruptly on Saturday night.
The game-changing play came in the first quarter when Layton receiver Matt Putnam caught a middle-screen pass from Kearns quarterback R.J. Tialavea. Putnam appeared to be stopped behind the line of scrimmage. But in a scene that could have come straight out of a corny movie, he reversed his field, picking up key block after key block, and sprinted to a 48-yard touchdown score down the opposite sideline from where he caught the pass.
The play ignited 5A's top players, especially ones from the north, and 5A cruised to a 35-0 victory over 4A at Cottonwood High.
"I caught the ball and went left and saw the three guys and thought, you know, 'Crap,'" Putnam said. "I turned around, figured there was a wall right there and took that wall. I got a nice block by (Jordan receiver) Cody Raymond and it took me right to the end zone."
The 4A stars didn't seem to have much interest in tackling or defending the 5A players following Putnam's score. But there was plenty of trash-talking, shoving and a couple of fights in the game. Two 4A players were ejected for fighting with seven seconds left in the third quarter. No 5A players were ejected from the game.
The officials called the game with 10:03 remaining. Their decision came after Layton fullback Chad Willson was the victim of a late hit by a 4A player, and a second fight started. Hardly anyone at Cottonwood High protested the decision to end the game because of the potential for it to get uglier.
"It was not because of our side," said Alta coach Les Hamilton, who directed the 5A stars. "You did not see one problem with 5A guys, in my opinion. Everything escalated from what the other team was doing."
The fights brought an abrupt end to what had been a spectacular performance by the 5A team. Northridge's Braden Mitchell led 5A to a 21-point outburst in the second quarter, as he threw two touchdown passes to Fremont's Derek Monkres. Mitchell also directed a successful scoring drive that culminated with a 1-yard touchdown run by Skyline's Kalama Molisi.
Putnam also contributed defensively, as he intercepted a pass in the second quarter to set up one of 5A's touchdowns.
Class 5A's defensive MVP was Alta linebacker Jefferson Court. He had three sacks and two interceptions, and returned one of them for a 23-yard touchdown. Bingham defensive lineman Chance Williams contributed on the interception Court returned for a touchdown, as he deflected the ball at the line of scrimmage into the hands of his rival from Alta.
Overall, it was an impressive performance by the 5A players, especially considering that they had only worked together for one week."What a fun group of kids," Hamilton said. "I'm really proud of the 5A guys. Our guys maintained their composure. It was my pleasure to work with them."