Finally, Brighton defensive end Mufi Hunt slowed down.
After spending most of Friday afternoon in a hurry, chasing his former Jordan teammates, Hunt lingered on the Rice-Eccles Stadium field. He started at the end of the postgame handshake line and walked slowly, hugging several of the Beetdiggers and exchanging greetings along the way.
Few students in Utah ever have enjoyed a high school experience quite like Hunt's, and it just keeps getting better. Having appeared briefly in Jordan's victory over Syracuse for the Class 5A state championship last November, Hunt starred in Brighton's 44-20 defeat of the Beetdiggers and will return for next Friday's title game.
And then he'll play basketball for the Waterford School in Sandy, his academic home. The Utah High School Activities Association's co-op rule makes his dual affiliation possible, because Waterford lacks a football program, and Hunt moved from Jordan to Brighton for his junior season.
Twice in the past month, he's been instrumental in holding down a prolific offense featuring players he knows well. The Bengals limited Jordan to a total of 41 points in a regular-season win and the semifinal victory, with Hunt making seven tackles (including two for losses) Friday.
"He's had a fantastic year for us," said Brighton coach Ryan Bullett. "He's an athletic kid that can run to the football, so I've had a lot of fun coaching him."
In last year's semifinals, former Jordan quarterback Baron Gajkowski played for Lone Peak in a losing effort against his old team. Hunt's reunion with the Beetdiggers was more favorable.
"Oh, man, it was crazy, because every single one of those guys on the team are my brothers," Hunt said. "It was just fun out there nothing against each other, just playing football on a Friday night."
Brighton's defense was overwhelming in the first half, holding a Jordan offense led by star quarterback Austin Kafentzis to 72 total yards while taking a 23-7 lead. Kafentzis kept battling and Jordan scored two late touchdowns, but the Bengals made three fourth-down stops in the second half and stayed comfortably ahead.
The Beetdiggers had scored 56 and 62 points in their first two playoff games this month, after racking up all kinds of numbers on their way to the 2012 championship. Brighton seems to have the answers, though.
"Is there any specific, one thing we're doing? There's not," Bullett said. "Our kids are just playing hard. We're trying to keep them in front of us, keep them out of the end zone."
The Bengals mostly succeeded, as linebacker Sage Nelson made eight tackles and Osa Masina added seven. Simi Fehoko intercepted his fourth pass in two games against Jordan.
The Brighton offense's effectiveness definitely helped the defense thanks largely to Masina. He's being recruited by major schools as a defensive player, but he rushed for 201 yards and three touchdowns.
So label this a collaborative effort. "One team, one mind, one heart," Hunt said. "We weren't really worried about any of the public things or what was in the newspaper, we just wanted to come out and play our best football."