The Juan Diego Soaring Eagle proved to have a strong initial punch, at least enough to knock off the West High Panthers 24-6.
The Soaring Eagle got things off on the right foot, forcing West to go three-and-out on its first possession, then got rolling on the offensive end. Brian May showed that he is not to be overlooked, taking his team 65 yards in nine plays to jump ahead 7-0.
May showed exceptional awareness and vision, spotting open receivers on the option. Even as he ran through the gaping holes provided by the Juan Diego offensive line, May was able to spot open receivers just before crossing the line of scrimmage.
"We knew we needed to score quick having so many guys playing both sides of the ball, it felt great," he said.
While not having much to show for it, West did much better with the ball its second time around. Junior Tana Afeaki ran with great strength, turning what would have been backfield tackles into gains. West seemed to be moving the ball well, almost getting into Soaring Eagle territory, but a holding penalty negated a 14-yard run by Afeaki, and things turned around after that.
Juan Diego soon picked up where it left off, with May connecting with Zach Kinniger for a 43-yard touchdown.
May wasn't quick to take all the credit however, saying "the offensive line really executed and they did their job, so we were able to do ours."
A West fumble on its first play of the next drive led to a third Juan Diego score, as Tyler Morales, who scored the first touchdown as well, powered eight yards on a sweep, then dove to find the corner of the end zone.
After a 30-yard field goal by Roberto Taddeo, the Panthers trailed 24-0 at halftime.
West came out of the locker room with fire, and brought it all to the field. Quarterback Daniel Wray led the way both with his arm and feet, and eventually found Alex Carr open in the end zone off a play-action rollout. A high snap led to a blocked PAT, leaving the score at 24-6.
While surging several times, including a strong no-huddle drive in the fourth quarter, West was unable to put any more points on the board. Wray had a strong showing with 196 yards and a touchdown.
Both teams had problems all night with penalties, each chalking up 13. A lack of discipline led to a combined 10 personal fouls, and both Tana Afeaki and Foueti Afeaki of West were ejected midway through the second quarter, which proved devastating.
Next week both teams continue in the preseason with the Panthers in Tooele and Juan Diego facing off against Grantsville.