East repeats: Leopards run away with 4A prep football title by defeating Springville, 48-20 (with video)

First Published      Last Updated Nov 21 2016 10:19 am

4A football » Record-setting offense, big play on special teams lift East over Springville for its second straight state championship.

A championship game is supposed to be the culmination of a season's worth of competition, but for East High School on Friday night, it was more of a prolonged coronation.

The class of the 4A classification from wire to wire both this season and last, East beat Springville 48-20 on Friday for its second straight championship and its 19th straight double-digit win over in-state opponents.

"It feels really good," East coach Brandon Matich said. "I'll tell you what, this season was just incredible, it was like a fairytale. … I can't put it into words; it's just been unbelievable."

Even with backup quarterback Nicolas Harris directing the Leopards' option attack, Springville couldn't slow East's explosive ground game.

On the team's first drive from scrimmage following a failed Springville onside opening kick, running back Jaylen Warren fumbled (it was recovered by East) and the team was whistled for a false start. On third-and-7, Warren atoned with a 41-yard touchdown to open the scoring.

Next came running back Charlie Vincent, who, on a pitch to the outside, went 49 yards virtually untouched for a touchdown, an early lead Matich said was very important.

"This team that we were playing is not a team that likes to play from behind or is used to playing from behind," the coach said. "It was important for us to get a fast start to make them dig themselves out of a hole."

However, untimely East penalties kept the Red Devils hanging around in the first half. Springville quarterback Jantsen Thorpe found wide receiver Bennett Hullinger for a 13-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-7 with 11:51 left until halftime. After Harris answered with a 12-yard scoring run, East couldn't maintain its composure on another nine-play, 86-yard drive that Thorpe capped off with a scoring pass to Seth Mortensen from 14 yards out.

After Warren crashed into his own guard and fumbled on East's 20-yard line, Springville was in business again, but the Leopards' defense held fast and a Sati Tuuhetaufa sack smothered another scoring chance.

On Springville's opening possession of the third quarter, East safety Lachlan Zuchetto blocked a punt and Warren scored from five yards out on the next play to make it 34-13.

Matich said the bookended plays were "huge."

Warren scored once more in the fourth quarter from 30 yards out to put the game out of reach at 41-20, simultaneously becoming the first player in state history to rush for 3,000 yards (3,099) while matching the single-season mark for touchdowns (38). He finished the game with 206 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries.

"I want to give my team the credit; I couldn't have done it without them," Warren said.

Matich called the second title in two seasons "enormous," but said the Leopards want to bask in this championship a little bit before chasing a three-peat.

"Let's enjoy this one," Matich said.


Twitter: @BrennanJSmith



East 48, Springville 20

East scores its 19th straight double-digit win over an in-state opponent to repeat as 4A champions.

» East running back Jaylen Warren becomes the first player in Utah history to rush for 3,000 yards (3,099) and ties the single-season mark for touchdowns (38).

» A fourth-down sack just before halftime and a punt block early in the third quarter help East maintain control and cruise to victory.