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

Published November 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.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

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

R 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.






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