5A football: Richards' returns lead Alta past Taylorsville
Taylorsville • It took all of 14 seconds for Alta's Mack Richards to turn Taylorsville's dream season into a first-round Class 5A football nightmare.
That's how long it took the Alta senior to take the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown that set the tone for the Hawks' 49-21 victory over the Region 2 champion Warriors on Friday.
Richards and Alta coach Bob Stephens said the team had been working on its kickoff returns in the week before the game, and it didn't take long for that practice to pay off in a big way.
"We picked up our wedge on the kickoff return," said Richards, who also had an 86-yard punt return for a touchdown and caught a 10-yard scoring pass from Chipper Lucero. "It opened up perfect the way we designed it. The punt I just improvised. We've been thinking about it all week with the new kickoff we designed."
Stephens smiled when asked if getting a kickoff return to open a game was a good way to begin.
"We needed to get that ball into Mack's hands, and it turned out to be good for us," he said. "We made some adjustments [on the kickoff return] based on what they did."
Taylorsville, which experienced its first winning season in a decade this year, runs an offense not well designed to come from behind. And the Warriors found themselves down quickly in this one.
Lucero played a great game, finishing with four touchdown passes and seemingly coming up with a big play every time the Hawks needed a first down.
Alta built a 28-0 lead on Richards' kickoff and punt returns, a 5-yard scoring pass from Lucero to Derrick Francisconi and an 8-yard return of a stripped ball by Carter Heslop.
The Warriors, who trailed 34-7 at half, got their only glimmer of hope on the first play from scrimmage in the second half. Quarterback Toa Maumau threw a screen to Tristinn Martinez, who then fired the ball downfield to a streaking Amosa Wong, who completed an 80-yard touchdown play.
But Alta, which improved to 5-5 on the season after finishing fourth in Region 3, was just too dominant.
O The Hawks, the No. 4 seed out of Region 3, upset the top seed from Region 2.
• Alta quarterback Chipper Lucero throws four TDs.