State 5A Football ChampionsJan 27, 2016 09:23AM ● By Greg James
By Greg James | [email protected]
South Valley - It was the perfect end to an amazing season.The Herriman High School Mustangs finished the 2015 high school football season as 5A state champions. They closed out a playoff run that included avenging two of their three regular season losses. Bringing home the school’s first ever football state championship.
“These kids have never quit all year. They refused to quit and it showed,” Herriman head coach Dustin Pearce said.
The Mustangs defeated Lone Peak 17-10 in the championship game. The season’s final game turned out to be a back-and-forth classic competition.
Herriman’s initial possession ended with a Mustangs 26-yard field goal by Denver Osborne. The teams exchanged punts and with 6:46 remaining in the first half, Jake Jutkins broke off a 41-yard touchdown run and the Mustangs led 10-0.
“At halftime I felt like we needed to finish. Coach had told us all week that they were going to make big plays against us. He wanted to see how we would respond,” junior Noah Vaea said.
Lone Peak was not finished. With 26 seconds remaining in the third quarter, they scored a touchdown and now trailed 10-6.
The Mustangs were forced to punt and the Knights again drove down the field and scored. They led 14-10 at that point with 4:28 left to play. The Mustang victory seemed to be slipping from their hands.
The Mustangs received the ball for the final time with 2:11 remaining. After two failed pass attempts and a seven yard run by quarterback Hayden Reynolds, Vaea caught a 47-yard pass to get the ball down to the Lone Peak 11-yard line.
“It was crazy, a once in a lifetime feeling. Seeing the entire sideline go wild and the fans going crazy was awesome. I am definitely never going to forget that moment,” Vaea said.
The Mustangs’ Kaden Strasters punched in a one-yard touchdown, and with only 22 seconds remaining they had clinched the state football championship.
The Mustangs finished second in Region 4. In the first round of the state playoffs they defeated Brighton 49-17. Jutkins and Strasters combined for 309 yards rushing and two touchdowns in the victory.
They continued their march to the championship by defeating Fremont 42-13 and Sky View 23-7.
The Mustangs state football title was its first. The school opened in 2010. They have qualified for the playoffs every year and have a 45-27 overall record.