For the first time since 1997, Morgan High School is playing in the 3A state championship football game following a win against North Sanpete. They will go up against Juan Diego in the championship game on Saturday at Weber State University.
A determined team, unwilling to settle for less than a win, showed up to play in Cedar City against the North Sanpete Hawks and within the first two minutes, they had scored two touchdowns. The Trojans were never behind in the game, which they won 43-22.
“We played hard; we played as a team and never gave up,” junior running back Conley Breshears summarized.
“Our defense really stepped up,” fullback and outside linebacker Justin Fry added. “It feels so good to be headed to state.”
Senior running back Spencer Larsen returned the opening kickoff 95 yards to give the Trojans a 6-0 lead 14 seconds into the game. Morgan then recovered an onside kick to regain possession of the ball and scored four plays later on a seven-yard run by Conley Breshears to go up 13-0 less than two minutes into the game. Dallen Calder’s second PAT attempt was successful.
“We had been practicing the onside kick all week,” Calder shared. “Coach had it planned with the angle of the sun in the stadium and everything. I am happy that we were able to execute it so well.”
Throughout the remainder of the first quarter, neither team was able to sustain a drive until North Sanpete found the end zone after a Morgan personal foul gave them the ball on the 24-yard line.
Early in the second quarter Morgan’s defense stopped North Sanpete with a big quarterback sack and forced a punt. Making the most of their next possession, the Trojans converted a fourth down and one on a one-yard run by Breshears to keep the series alive, but were forced to punt after facing fourth and 13. A fake punt yielded only three yards, and Morgan turned the ball over the North Sanpete on the 46-yard line.
“I think we did a good job against North Sanpete,” senior offensive and defensive lineman Chucko Kane explained. “North Sanpete had the best line in the region and put up a good fight, but we came ready and played well.”
The defense once again limited the Hawks to a four-yard gain and forced another punt. Morgan regained the ball on the North Sanpete 15 and on the second play from scrimmage, Tucker Skinner launched an 84-yard pass to Larsen for the Trojan’s third touchdown. The two-point conversion attempt was stopped short, giving Morgan a 19-7 lead with three minutes remaining in the half.
On the Hawks next series, they turned the ball over on downs after failing to convert a fourth down and three from their own 36-yard line. The Trojans gained control of the ball on the North Sanpete 38. After a three-yard loss and facing second and 13, running back Larsen completed a 28-yard innovative pass play to quarterback Skinner to give Morgan the ball on the 13. Larsen then ran the ball 13 yards for the Trojan’s fourth touchdown, Larsen’s third, with 38 seconds remaining in the half. Calder added his second PAT as Morgan entered the locker room up 26-7.
North Sanpete opened the second half with a strong drive started by a 46-yard run by Spencer Applegarth. Successive runs by Applegarth brought the Hawks to the Morgan 15. On the next play, Morgan’s Austin Francis disrupted the drive and changed the momentum as he intercepted the ball and ran it back 25 yards to midfield. Breshears carried the ball 28 yards on the Trojans’ first play to give them first and 10 from the 11. After a three-yard gain by Larsen, Francis ran the ball in eight yards for the score, bringing Morgan’s lead to 33-7 after the Calder PAT.
The Hawks kept fighting and scored a touchdown on their next series on a 55-yard pass from Lee to Atkinson with a PAT from Taylor Lee.
Morgan ate up almost four minutes of the clock on their next drive, but was unable to capitalize on a big 48 yard pass from Skinner to Larsen and turned the ball over on downs. North Sanpete used short gains to score their final touchdown with almost 11 minutes remaining in the game. Applegarth ran the ball in from the one, and they also converted the two-point attempt to come within 11 at 33-22.
After a series of short yardage carries by Wyatt Ekblad, Francis and Larsen, Skinner was sacked and lost seven yards to bring up a fourth and 11 situation. Kicker Calder got the call and nailed the 47-yard field goal, his longest of the year, lifting Morgan to a 14-point, 36-22 lead.
“This is what you practice for,” Calder shared. “You wait your whole life for moments like this. We were in that golden spot—too close to punt and too far to try to run it. I was hoping for a chance and got the call. As a kicker, it feels good to contribute to the team and maybe change the game a little bit.”
The Hawks threw four incomplete passes and were called for a holding penalty on their next possession. Morgan quickly regained the ball and scored their final touchdown on the night on a six-yard scamper by Breshears for his second TD of the evening. With five minutes remaining in the game, the Trojans were up 43-36.
Morgan’s defense continued to play well through the final horn as Austin Francis recovered a fumble on the Hawks’ next drive and Larsen intercepted Lee on North Sanpete’s final possession. The Trojans regained possession for the last 1:38 and were able to run out the clock as they savored the sweet taste of the impending victory and the knowledge that they had achieved a goal that had eluded Morgan High football teams for 18 years.
Now, the Trojans move onto the 3A State Championship game Saturday at 4 pm at Weber State University.
“We’re very proud of the boys. They are playing well as a team,” MHS Principal Wade Murdock commented. “It is exciting to be back in the finals. You can feel the excitement at the school. When our teams do well, it impacts the school environment and brings the students together.”
Morgan will face Juan Diego, the Trojans’ only region loss this year. The players and coaches are excited for the re-match.
“We’re going to have a really good chance at state,” Kane remarked. “As long as we keep our heads, we’ll do well.”
“The team is ready. We just need to play our game,” Calder expressed.
Conley Breshears added, “We’re going to have to work hard and keep coming together as a team to win.”
When Morgan played the Soaring Eagle in September, they were tied at the half 14-14 and within seven points 28-21 in the fourth quarter. Two long touchdown passes by Juan Diego made the difference in the 35-21 loss. In an interview after the September game, Coach Kovi Christiansen expressed his desire to “get another chance at them [Juan Diego] later in the season”.
Saturday the Trojans will get their second chance at Juan Diego, and Morgan’s first chance at the state since most of the players on the team were born.
Quarterback Skinner concluded, “The most prepared team will win either way. We have to be confident, trusting of each other and fulfill our assignments to succeed. If we were to win the state championship on Saturday, it would be everything we’ve been working for; everything that no one thought we could do!”