Ula Toluta’u bowled over several Woods Cross Wildcats as he stretched his right arm for the white stripe, hoping for another touchdown to add to his growing legacy as an East Leopard running back.
The ball instead came loose.
Toluta’u saw the ball lying in the end zone, out of his reach, until he heard a scream.
His guard, Sione “Baby” Tuikolovatu, pounced, and the offensive lineman went into a craze. His fellow blockers celebrated with him and he sprinted back to the sideline as East coach Brandon Matich smiled, waiting to deliver an emphatic high-five.
“He needs to keep blocking for me,” Toluta’u joked. “That was fun.”
It was the final touchdown of the night for East in its 42-6 romp over the Wildcats. The Leopards moved to 4-0 and, more importantly, got off to a 1-0 start in Region 6.
Senior running back Preston Curtis scored three touchdowns in the win, including a 61-yard run and 84-yard screen pass he turned from nothing into six points.
“I’ll stand by it,” Matich said, “I think Preston Curtis is the best athlete I’ve ever coached.”
Curtis’ shiftiness and speed proved too much for the Woods Cross defense. He kept the East offense chugging in the first half when the Wildcats were keying on Toluta’u early.
But Matich and Co. made sure they’d get their bruising star running back on the scoresheet after halftime. The Leopard coaching staff saw an opportunity to kick an onside kick up 21-0 and took it, and East recovered the ball.
Toluta’u bounced to the outside, broke a few tackles and stiff-armed an opponent on his way to a 59-yard touchdown run on the next play.
“That felt good,” he said.
While the Leopards ran away from Woods Cross early — quarterback Isaac Valles took a 65-yard option read to the end zone on the first offensive play of the game — penalties and fumbles plagued East throughout the night.
But Curtis isn’t worried.
“We can only build off of it,” he said. “We’ve just got to come to work this week, clean up the mistakes and we’ll be OK.”