1A football: Rich tames Altamont in state semifinal

Prep football • Rich gained 360 yards on the ground in the win.
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Midvale • Opposing teams have found it difficult to stop Altamont running back Kyle Foy this season. That is, all except Rich High.

The Rebels, who limited the fourth-leading rusher in the state to a mere 88 yards on 23 carries, earned a return ticket to the 1A state championship game by defeating Altamont 40-14 in Saturday's state semifinal at Hillcrest High.

"[Foy] usually averages close to 200 yards rushing, so that was the whole key," Rich senior Kaden Thompson said about the Rebels' defensive mindset. "We just had people blitzing and filling every gap. It was important for us to stop him."

Rich (8-3) will face longtime rival Duchesne, which defeated Monticello in the other semifinal, for the 1A championship next week.

With Foy held at bay, the Rebels jumped out to a 14-0 lead on just four offensive plays. Thompson took the first play from scrimmage 71 yards for a touchdown, while Austin Groll connected with Wyatt Muirbrook on a 43-yard score shortly thereafter to help the Rebels assume control early.

"That start was huge because it gets momentum for the rest of the game," Rich coach Ashley Brown said. "We knew that's who [Foy] we needed to stop today. That was our main focal point, making sure he wasn't the kid who beat us."

The Rebels opened a 33-0 lead before Altamont, which had just 80 yards at halftime, gained some momentum. Foy and Alex Mackey both had touchdown runs to pull the Longhorns (5-7) within 33-14 midway through the fourth quarter. However, Thompson's second touchdown run of the game sealed the victory.

Thompson led a stalwart rushing effort for the Rebels with 181 yards on 17 carries. Rich rushed for 360 yards, and Groll threw for 99 yards.

"It's one of the best things I've ever felt," Thompson said. "Our big start was really crucial because it let them know that we're here to play."

Meanwhile, Foy and the Longhorns had trouble moving the ball early. Altamont didn't complete its first pass until the third quarter, and Foy's longest run of the game went for only nine yards. He did, however, complete a 43-yard halfback-option pass to his brother, Rylee, in the fourth quarter.

Earlier this season, Foy managed only 107 yards rushing in a 41-26 loss to Rich. Still, the Longhorns reached the semifinals despite starting the season 0-4 and 1-5, losing their first two games by a combined score of 94-0.

Rich's running game made it difficult for Altamont's defense to catch a breather. The Longhorns suited up just 23 players, many of whom played both ways. Dyson Barker rushed for 74 yards, and Groll added 65 yards on the ground.

The Rebels will turn their attention to two-time defending state champion Duchesne, which carries a 33-game winning streak into the 1A title game. Duchesne has defeated Rich five straight times, including 40-14 earlier this season. Rich's last victory in the series was the 2009 state championship game, 25-0.

"Our kids know we have a big challenge ahead," Brown said. "It's always good to be in the state championship game. That's the main thing. We're just happy to be there. We've got to be able to stop their offense and contain them."

The title game is scheduled for Nov. 10.