Timpview junior quarterback Britain Covey worked his way to the sideline, through the entanglement of eager reporters to the mob of waiting teammates.
Once there, the crowd’s chant began, softly at first, then picking up in volume and intensity.
“Covey, Covey, Covey,” they yelled. It stopped only once he acknowledged them with a wave of his hand.
Moments later, after a celebratory Haka dance, the Thunderbirds hoisted Covey onto their shoulders. He lifted the trophy into the sky. The chant started again.
An electric performance from Covey and a defense that clamped down in the second half earned Timpview its second straight Class 4A state title with a 33-28 win over East on Friday at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Beating the previously undefeated Leopards wasn’t easy. After the game, Covey acknowledged that, recalling the speech former Thunderbird champions had given the team the night before the game.
“They said, ‘There’s going to be adversity, but you’ve just got to forget about that and play through it,’” said Covey, who finished with 273 yards and two touchdowns through the air and 85 yards on the ground. “And that’s the definition of this team.”
The Thunderbirds found their adversity. East quarterback Isaac Valles spun from a defender and found 67 yards of green in front of him midway through the first quarter. The Leopards led 13-0 in a blink.
Late in the half, Covey’s interception — the lone blemish on his day — took likely points off the board and gave East’s offense life. But two minutes later, after an East punt, the Thunderbird offense rumbled to a five-play, 72-yard touchdown drive, bringing them to within four points at the half.
“I wasn’t even worried,” Covey said about the deficit. “I felt confident. I knew at some point we’d come around.”
The second half belonged to Timpview’s defense.
After giving up 303 yards rushing in the first half — 140 to running back Preston Curtis, who repeatedly got outside the defense and busted off big plays — the defense stiffened. East’s explosive offense had just 78 yards and a single field goal the rest of the way,
“At halftime, we had to communicate,” Thunderbird defensive end Isaiah Nacua said. “We knew we were getting hit outside a lot, and they were running on us. So we just communicated what we needed to do.”
The offense did its part, too. It scored two second-half touchdowns, the last coming with 3 minutes left in the game on a Covey scamper that put Timpview on top for good.
The ensuing Leopard drive — their final chance — was stuffed on fourth-and-6 when defensive end Gabe Reid bursted off the edge and sacked Valles. After the sack, Reid sprinted to his teammates on the sideline. They rushed out to meet him. The celebration began.
“We were the kings last year, and we’re still on the throne,” Nacua said. “We’re sitting on it again.”
O Timpview quarterback Britain Covey throws for 273 yards and two TDs. He also rushes for 85 yards and two TDs in the second half to lead the Thunderbirds to their second straight 4A title.
• East jumps out to a 13-0 lead in the first quarter but manages just 78 yards and a field goal in the second half.