Herriman High School's football team found ways to win this past season, and made the postseason for the second time in the two-year existence of the school.
On Saturday afternoon, with a team composed almost exclusively of football players, the Mustangs went a step farther.
A win over Trybe at the University of Utah gave Herriman the high school rugby state championship, its first-ever team title. The final was 12-12 3-1 on conversion kicks, which became needed after two fruitless overtime sessions. And even though rugby is still just a club sport in Utah, that doesn't much matter to the Mustangs, their coaches or their fan base.
"To us, it counts," Herriman head coach Jeff Wilson said. "We'll definitely take it. This means so much to us. We knew that Trybe was a tough team and such a great program. It was going to take a great effort to beat them, and we came out and played hard. We didn't play perfectly today, but we competed perfectly today."
With the victory, the Mustangs can now legitimately consider themselves part of the best program in the state. They found themselves angry when Trybe and United Rugby were invited to last weekend's national tournament, while the Mustangs stayed home.
Herriman felt jilted because, despite beating both programs during the regular season, the team wasn't allowed to compete for the national title, as for the first time in its history, the tournament's participants were invited before the season began.
This weekend, however, brought Herriman a measure of revenge, as the Mustangs defeated both programs on consecutive days. If nothing else other than the right to raise the championship trophy the two victories offered validation for Herriman, and bragging rights for the next year as well.
"We had to stay calm, and we were able to do that," said Gabe Ruflin. "We watched as they were invited, and we had to stay home. But we haven't been a team that long, and we knew what we had on our team. We thought we had a chance to really play well, and we were able to do that."
The Mustangs were dominant this season, finishing the year unbeaten with 11 straight wins. True to form, they imposed their will on Trybe for much of the match, leading almost throughout. Still, Trybe, formerly Highland, proved to be resilient. It took a 12-7 lead before Herriman scored with time running out. Overtime was forced with the subsequent missed conversion.
"These kids really fought," Wilson said. "They never quit, even when things didn't look so good. I have a ton of respect for what they accomplished this season."
Storylines Herriman claims the crown
R Herriman finishes the season 11-0.
The Mustangs win their first team state title in school history.
Herriman wins 3-1 in conversion kicks.