This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2010, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
The Highland High football team has two vehicles that alternate in its backfield, lining up directly behind center and quarterback as fullback in the triple option offense.
One of those vehicles, Toi Taufa, is similar to a barreling 18-wheel semi-truck with its break lines cut: It's moving straight forward, fast and destructively, until a sufficient roadblock is amassed by the defense to bring it down.
The other vehicle, Sione Houma, resembles a muscle car: It gains momentum as it accelerates, but with handling capable of diverting contact and racing to the end zone.
Taufa and Houma each damage defenses with their different styles.
"I think it messes [defenses] up," Taufa said of the two fullbacks' conflicting running styles. "It messes with their mind a little bit and they never know who's going to get the ball and if [the ball carrier's] going to juke or not."
Taufa is a ball control offensive luxury. When he takes the play on the dive, it's almost always going to be worth 3 yards, and nearly just as often 5 or more. He's a bucking bull and defenders are hapless rodeo clowns getting in the way. Eventually Taufa is roped and tied, but it's only until the next carry and it's only after he's created a cushy second-down-and-4-yards-to-go for the Rams.
Highland coach Brody Benson knew what he had in Taufa coming into the season after the senior racked up more than 1,200 rushing yards last year. But as Taufa has struggled with stomach illness the past few weeks of the season, with doctors unable to figure out the cause, Houma has been able to spell his running mate.
Houma has a "little more shake" to him than Taufa, says Benson. He has power, but also has the speed and agility to turn a short gain into a game-changing touchdown while Taufa is practically guaranteed to score when receiving a handoff from 4 yards in. Houma, a junior, ripped off more than 100 yards against Box Elder in the opening round of the playoffs while Taufa saved himself for defensive duties.
That's the way it has gone for Highland this season: if Taufa is either burdened by his work as a defensive lineman or by illness, it's Houma's chance to shine and he's done so. Taufa doesn't expect his sickness to continue to slow him down.
"I feeling better, healthier," Taufa said. "I'm just kind of learning how to deal with it."
If Taufa does return to full strength, Benson is going to have the enviable conundrum of choosing which player gets the carries. As of yet, other forces have dictated which is in the game.
The fullback dive is essential to Highland's offense, moving the chains and chewing up game clock. Having two players who can do it effectively has been instrumental to the Rams' success this season.
Highland depends on two fullbacks, Toi Taufa and Sione Houma, to fuel its triple option offense.
As Taufa has dealt with health concerns, Houma has stepped in to provide the production Taufa vacated.
Taufa is a power back who rumbles for key yards while Houma is more capable of a big play. Game of the Week: East at Mountain Crest football, Friday at 4 p.m. Conflicting offensive styles meet in the second round of the playoffs. East and its triple option pulled the upset in the first round, although the Leopards entered the postseason in a surprisingly low seed. The Mustangs are trying to accomplish that elusive state title with a spread offense anchored for the final season by quarterback Alex Kuresa.
Player of the Week: Jason Cook, East football. Jason who? He's contributed to East's success throughout the season, but exploded for three touchdowns in a breakout performance in an opening round playoff win over Westlake. After returning a punt 68-yards for a touchdown, Cook rushed for two more scores, including a 75-yard run.
Big Number: 7, number of points scored by West against Riverton. After averaging 30.5 points per game throughout the regular season, the Panthers were held to a season low in the opening round of the playoffs. Despite 291 rushing yards from the duo of Tipe Vaisagano and Eric Takenaka, West was ousted from the postseason.