The Phoenix defense steals the show in a playoff road victory
Last year at the Phoenix lost in the quarterfinals to the Skyridge Falcons 52-7. The Phoenix’s determination to not have the same results this year as they soundly defeated region 4 power American Fork. The Phoenix defense held the Cavemen without a touchdown and only a late field goal. The defense was led by Luke Hansen’s standout performance with two interceptions and seven total tackles. Hansen made plays all over the field and was key in the Phoenix moving on to the state semifinals.
Phoenix’s Offensive line controls Cavemen’s defense in the first half
The Phoenix took the opening kickoff and showed the game would be decided in the trenches by opening with an18 play drive. A missed field goal ended the opening drive, but a tone was set by the Phoenix offense. The Phoenix offensive line of seniors Brandon Arveseth, Kainoa Jones, Cole Kasparian, Toby Tolentino, and junior Mason Kartchner controlled the Cavemen defensive line the entire game. Running back, sophomore Travis Hoopes ran through the Cavemen’s defense for a total of 30 carries and 106 yards, and two touchdowns. Hoopes took over as starting running back when a starter, now coach Boston Reinhold was lost to injury. The Phoenix held a slim 6-0 lead at halftime.
The Defense shuts down Caveman’s offense
The Phoenix scored the third quarter’s first touchdown on a 20-yard pass from Easton Wight to receiver Adam Stucki. The second half saw the Cavemen offense struggle to move the ball. The Phoenix’s defense attacked and played aggressive football from the start to blank the Cavemen for three quarters. A late 35-yard field goal by the Cavemen Noah Anderson kept the game from being a shutout. In addition to Hansen’s performance edge rusher, Jed Judkins put his mark in the victory. Judkins led with 2 sacks and blocked a Cavemen punt to keep field position in favor of the Phoenix.
Leading the Phoenix in tackles this game was senior middle linebacker Cole Noble with 9 total tackles. The Cavemen had no success passing because of junior safety Dayton Runyon, and senior cornerbacks Jaxson Eastman, Zach Quinton, and Adam Stucki. Runyan had an impressive interception in the second half, his seventh interception of the year.
What they said
“We were all playing for each other,” said Hansen. “That was a major part of our win, we did our jobs every down and never second-guessed the guys next to us.” ” I have so much trust in our defense and love playing with these guys so much,” said Hansen. “It feels great to finally play at Rice-Eccles.” “This has been our goal all year,” said Hansen. “Can’t wait to play another game with this team.”
“We came into the game with a great game plan,” said Runyan. ” And being able to execute our game plan and responsibilities was huge.” “It feels great to make it Rice-Eccles,” said Runyan. ” We have been working towards this all year.” “I’m proud of all my teammates, said Runyan,” “I wouldn’t rather be ballin’ with any other guys.”
The Phoenix received a great effort from Luke Christiansen, Ethan Briggs, and Rocky Salmon on defense. Dante Coates contributed with three catches to keep a balanced offense for the Phoenix. All everything player Mitch Nielsen’s 57-yard catch and run set up a touchdown. Nielsen also had a highlight play of leaping over a Caveman defender to keep a drive going. Nielsen, the emotional leader of the team, played inspired on offense and defense to keep the Cavemen down. Wight was efficient with his passes and running. Wight passed for 180 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions and kept drives going with his runs. Wide receiver Ben Stucki led with six catches in the game.
The Phoenix’s next game is against the Corner Canyon Charges in the 6A semifinals at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Nov. 10
photo courtesy Kim McFadden IG: @kmacphotographyy of Farmington’s Luke Hansen interception return
more photos by Kim McFadden at https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fo/2e9lr4ycr8fc9ahi07dnr/h?dl=0&rlkey=wvgpjtlms773bt11fnsxjyywr