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Alta football just shy of state title game

Dec 02, 2016 03:10PM ● Published by Billy Swartzfager

Alta and Highland competing in a playoff game earlier this season. (Alta High School Football)

Gallery: Alta football just shy of state title game [3 Images] Click any image to expand.

By Billy Swartzfager | billy@mycityjournals.com


Alta High School’s football team had a fantastic 2016 season. The Hawks only lost one game, their last, on the road and uncharacteristically to Corner Canyon. The team finished the regular season 9-1, which was good enough to finish first in region 7, earning Alta a top seed to begin the postseason.

The team’s only loss came the final night of the regular season, a non-typical Wednesday night game against region foe, Corner Canyon. The Hawks, who according to head coach Manti Teo have been bitten by the injury bug, allowed 48 points while only scoring 42. Alta didn’t allow 30 points to be scored against them until they played Skyridge, another region matchup. The Hawks won that game, on Sept. 29, by three points, but allowed 56 points. With injuries and some ineligibility issues, some younger players had to step up to help the struggling defense.

“They have done what they needed to in order to win games,” the coach said. “The defense is holding them just enough to allow the offense to win.”

Alta’s offense hasn’t scored less than 30 points all year; in fact, they scored more than 50 on four separate occasions during the regular season, including an amazing 70 against Timpanogos on Oct. 13. The Hawks finished the regular season having scored an average of 50 points per game.

“Our offense has put up really big numbers all year long,” Teo said.

The offense has been led by senior running back Josh Davis, who averaged over 200 yards per game and amassed 2X touchdowns through the 2016 season. Junior quarterback Will Dana has also been lights out for Alta. Dana threw 34 touchdowns as opposed to two interceptions through the season. He threw for close to 3,000 regular season yards as well, averaging over 270 per game. All-around threat Zach Engstrom, a junior, who was second on the team in rushing behind Davis and led the squad in receiving, also contributed to the potent Hawks’ high-scoring offense. Engtrom finished the regular season with 15 total touchdowns, five on the ground and 10 through the air.

All of that offensive success has carried over to the postseason. Alta began the state tournament against Wasatch in the opening round on Oct. 28. Alta won handedly, 49-7. That game consisted of 305 yards and two touchdowns from Dana, 277 yards and three touchdowns from Davis and another 108 yards of total offense from Engstrom. The defense also played very well, keeping Wasatch to 185 total yards and only one touchdown.

Alta played Highland next on Nov. 4. The Hawks won again, 58-48. Dana threw four touchdowns, connecting with Engstrom on two of them. Davis rushed for 151 yards and a score, while Dana also ran one in. Alta’s defense gave up 397 yards on the ground to Highland, who had two players go for over 100 yards each. But, the offense came through.

“We are doing what we need to do to win. We are always excited to get an opportunity to play another week,” Teo said.

Alta headed to the University of Utah on Nov. 11 for the 2016 semifinal round, where they faced Springville. Alta lost to a tough opponent, 42-14. The Hawks struggled to get the ball moving while on offense. Davis was kept to 95 yards on the ground while Alta gave Springville rushers 401. The 14 points the Hawks were able to muster fell far short of what they needed, but they had an incredible run and the team saw more success this year than last. Teo has the Hawks moving in the right direction, and next season is only nine months away.   

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