It’s a great feeling. It really is. I’m just so happy for everyone that is involved with the program. It means so much. —Juan Diego quarterback Zachary Hoffman
OGDEN — There is just something about the Juan Diego Catholic High School football program. Under the direction of head coach John Colosimo, the Soaring Eagle have become one of the preeminent football powers in the state.
They proved that in 2015 when they defeated the Morgan Trojans 28-13 in the 3A state title game. They proved it again a year later when they repeated as state champions thanks to a 35-21 victory over Delta.
Saturday afternoon at Weber State’s Stewart Stadium they proved it one more time.
Led by standout senior quarterback Zachary “Zach” Hoffman, the Soaring Eagle defeated the Trojans 45-20 for their third straight state title.
Hoffman finished the game with an impressive stat line, 162 yards passing with a touchdown, 133 yards rushing with three scores and a 76-yard reception.
“(Zach) is an outstanding young man,” said Colosimo.”He is the big-time leader of our team. He’s vocal, works hard and is a good student. He was our MVP.”
Running back Tristan Tonozzi added 127 yards on the ground for the Soaring Eagle, along with a touchdown score. Hunter Easterly found his way into the end zone as well, thanks to 50 rushing yards and a 72-yard touchdown reception.
Defensively, Juan Diego was paced by linebacker Max Butkovich, who led all players with 14 total tackles, two of which went for a loss.
The win becomes the eighth title in 16 years under Colosimo, further evidence, as if any was needed, of the sheer dominance of Juan Diego football.
And yet, for the Soaring Eagle players and their coach this one feels as good as the first.
“It’s a great feeling. It really is,” said Hoffman. “I’m just so happy for everyone that is involved with the program. It means so much.”
“It's been quite a run,’ added Colosimo. “I’m excited for our kids. Every year they rise to the occasion. We had some adversity this year and they battled back every time. This group has been a lot of fun.”
The title game was just that, at least for those sporting blue and silver.
It took all of a minute and two seconds for the Soaring Eagle to score their first touchdown, courtesy of a two-yard run by Hoffman.
Juan Diego's Quinn Brown recovered the ball, setting up the Juan Diego offense for the quick strike.
The Trojans weren’t about to go away that easy, however, and four minutes later found the back of the end zone, thanks to a 10-yard touchdown reception by Jacob Rounkles.
“(The Trojans) are fighters,” said Hoffman. “That is what they do. Respect to them.”
From there on, save for a pair of Morgan touchdowns in each half, it was all Juan Diego.
On the very next drive, Hoffman reeled in his monster reception, on a pass from receiver Dallen Davis. Two plays later the quarterback rumbled over the end line for another Soaring Eagle touchdown.
In the second quarter, Hoffman found his behemoth of a running back, Easterly, wide open up the middle for a 72-yard touchdown.
Tonozzi closed out the half with a 45-yard touchdown run, giving the Soaring Eagles a 31-14 lead at the break.
“We brought out the big guns in the first half,” said Hoffman. “We had a couple of trick plays we had been practicing all week, we used them all in the first half, and it turned out really well for us.”
“There was no reason to hold back,” added Colosimo. “It was the title game.”
The Trojans got as close as 31-20 in the third quarter, on another Rounkles touchdown reception, before Juan Diego pulled away for good.
Hoffman and Easterly both rushed for scores in the final quarter, guiding the Soaring Eagle to victory.
“Me and the other senior captains took the team by the reins and guided us to the state championship,” said Hoffman. “We wanted to do it for each other. We played for each other. They all deserve this.”