SANDY With only four returning starters, Alta knows it will need some new faces to step up if it is to repeat as 5A football state champions.
Quarterback Ammon Olsen and running back Alex Rivas helped fill that order Friday night.
Combined, the two were involved in five of Alta's six touchdowns as the Hawks defeated Spanish Fork 42-6.
Olsen shook off an early interception to pass for 150 yards and two TDs, both to incumbent starting receiver Parker Webster. Their scoring hookup in the second frame exhibited Olsen's mobility, as he rolled right and threw it across his body to hit Webster over the middle. Webster, who had 114 yards receiving, juked a defender and took it in for the 28-yard TD and a 14-0 Alta lead.
Webster helped set up that score with the play of the night, catching a 42-yard heave by wresting the ball away from Don defender Chase Loftin.
"I thought (Olsen) was fantastic. His first varsity start, he ran É and threw the ball well," said Alta coach Les Hamilton. "Anyone who saw him tonight knows he's one of the elite quarterbacks in the state."
Rivas, last year's JV starter in the backfield, had a breakout game with seven carries for 103 yards and two scores, adding an impressive 57-yard punt return for another TD.
"We've got a lot of players like that this year no-names coming in," said Hamilton of Rivas, whose 10-yard TD gave the Hawks a 21-0 halftime edge.
"He's one of those kids that just keeps getting better," added Alta running backs coach Walt Mason.
Spanish Fork, experienced on offense, aired it out early with quarterback Breck Lewis and a talented receiving corps.
On the Dons' second series, Lewis hit tight end Richard Wilson for 20 yards and then found Loftin for a 26-yard gain. Spanish Fork took it deep into Hawk territory and decided to go for it on fourth and long from the 30. Lewis found Jordunn Mattinson for 20 yards; it was short of the first down, but the Dons showed they were ready to test the Alta defense.
"We feel like we have some kids that we can (stretch the field with)," said Spanish Fork coach Matt Christensen.
In the third quarter, the Dons' only scoring drive saw that passing game click well, as Lewis found Loftin for 22 yards to get it in the red zone. Then on third and 10, Lewis hit Mattinson, who got just inside the pylon for the score.
Spanish Fork adjusted and worked its ground game in the second half. Running back Trevor Randolph had a few good gains to get the Dons in scoring position before they fumbled the ball away.
"Our run game, we're working on that É just trying to get a balance," Christensen said. "If you want to beat one of those top teams, you really have to make some adjustments."
Lewis had 158 yards passing for the Dons, and Wilson contributed with 63 yards receiving.