Draper • Winning region championships isn't easy, but Juan Diego's football team has carried on a tradition that has now lasted a decade.
The Soaring Eagle captured their 10th consecutive region championship, and 36th straight region victory in the process, with a 30-7 win over visiting Judge Memorial on Thursday. The outcome also marked Juan Diego's first undefeated regular season (10-0) since 2008 and its fourth overall.
"It's always been a goal that before we win state we've got to win region," senior linebacker Dakota Cox said. "It's a tough road, so we have to focus on region first. At our school, the upperclassmen try to teach the newcomers our traditions, how to play football and everything they need to know."
That recipe has bred success year after year. The Soaring Eagle, who last lost a region game in 2005 to North Sanpete, led 13-0 at halftime. Cole Nelson returned the second-half kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown.
Aiming for its third shutout of the year, Juan Diego surrendered its lone points on Kaden Elliss' 34-yard touchdown pass with one minute remaining to play. Still, the Soaring Eagle have outscored opponents 369-81 this season.
"It gets easier, but it's not less work," Juan Diego coach John Colosimo said of his team's region success. "You still prepare the same way, but when you're a little bit experienced, it comes a little easier. Successful programs are doing the same thing year after year. It becomes second nature to them."
Juan Diego, the No. 1 seed from Region 10, will open the 3A playoffs Oct. 26 against Region 11 No. 4 seed Grantsville, which finished 6-4 overall.
Chase Williams got things started against Judge by scoring on a 49-yard gallop on Juan Diego's first play from scrimmage. Nick Markosian added a 12-yard touchdown run and later connected with Jesse Springer for another score.
Meanwhile, the Soaring Eagle defense was stout throughout the game, especially in the first quarter. Judge Memorial managed only 206 yards the entire game, including 4 yards in the first quarter. Juan Diego (5-0 region) made 11 tackles for losses in the game, harassing Elliss from every angle imaginable.
"It would have been nice to have that goose egg, but you take one play off and they'll score on you," said Cox, who led the defensive effort. "Judge played a great game, and we had to come out and play just as hard as we could."
Andrew Montoya's 32-yard field goal made it 30-0 midway through the fourth quarter before Judge Memorial (3-2, 5-5) put together its lone scoring drive. Williams rushed for 114 yards, and Markosian ran for 39 yards and threw for 93.
After losing to Spanish Fork in the 3A quarterfinals last season, Juan Diego is hungry for a chance at redemption.
"I've been using that as motivation," Colosimo said. "I still have a bad taste in my mouth from that game. Every team is tough from here on out. We were not as focused as we needed to be tonight, but we'll get better."