3A football: Judge earns shot at title by ousting Juab
Cedar City • When James Cordova was hired to lead his alma mater in 2003, as he recounts, nobody wanted the job.
Judge Memorial offered the job to five others before hiring Cordova, a legacy of Bulldog lore.
His father, Gil, led the program to three state titles in the early 1970s. His brother was a star quarterback at the school.
"I've tended the fire, and where I could, I've stoked it," Cordova said.
Ten years after his hire, Judge Memorial is back where it has wanted to be. After defeating Juab 41-20 in the Class 3A semifinal Friday evening at Southern Utah University, the Bulldogs will play for a title. It's been 30 years since Judge last hoisted a state crown in 1983.
Now the Bulldogs are four quarters away from snapping the skid. Having not lost a game since Aug. 30 a 41-14 loss to 4A state semifinalist Woods Cross Â Judge has rolled off 10 straight victories, and Friday was no different.
"We went into those first couple of games without an identity," Cordova said. "We were playing with hope. Now these kids know who they are and they believe in themselves."
In Friday's victory over the Wasps, Judge did what it has during its streak: Dominated the trenches and ran the ball with Michael Kearns, Kaden Elliss, Mark Barnett, Max Barnett and Henry Garcia.
Kearns had two touchdown runs and an interception, and Elliss accounted for two touchdowns of his own. Mark Barnett added another.
"I've always had complaints that we're bigger than everyone else," Cordova said, "but we aren't bigger. I'm just developing players. We're a deep team this year, and it pays off."
The only thing standing in the way of the Bulldogs' 11th consecutive win is their final opponent, either Morgan or Manti, both of whom Judge topped in the last two weeks of the regular season.
So who would Cordova prefer to see?
"They're both mad at us right now," he said. "You never like to play a good team twice."
Judge 41, Juab 20
O The Bulldogs win their 10th straight game to earn a place in the 3A championship game.
• Judge's Kaden Elliss rushes for two TDs.