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For athletes who compete in winter high school sports like basketball, wrestling and swimming, the last few weeks have been a time of uncertainty and anxiety.

\"We were just trying to figure out if we were going to get a season, hoping to get one,\" Springville head boys basketball coach Justin Snell said in a phone interview Monday. \"You've got boys coming into your classroom every day, asking what you've heard when I hadn't heard anything.\"

But, thanks to new guidelines from the state of Utah, it appears that the season is about to get underway.

Utah governor Gary Herbert announced the latest State Public Health Order with regards to temporary statewide COVID-19 restrictions on Monday, which included directives on athletics.

Next Monday, all participants in high school activities, including coaches and staff, will be required to get tested for COVID-19 every other week. Anyone who receives a positive test result will not be able to participate until they have completed an isolation period.

The Utah High School Activities Association followed that announcement by releasing a statement explaining how high school sports would resume.

\"In light of today's Public Health Order announcement from Governor Herbert, the UHSAA will resume winter sports practices and tryouts on Tuesday, November 24,\" the UHSAA statement said. \"Additionally, the Association will work with member schools, the Governor's Office and the State Department of Health to ensure the necessary testing resources are available to member schools to begin competition on Thursday, Dec. 3 for all sports with the exception of wrestling, which will begin on Dec. 11 to accommodate for the delayed start to mandated hydration testing.\"

Snell said the news that the season will move forward was a huge relief.

\"I think everybody's excited, even though it's gonna be weird and unusual,\" Snell said. \"I think the kids are just excited to play. They're willing to do whatever they have to in order to play.\"

The Red Devils are the defending 5A state champs but lost eight seniors from the 2019-20 title team. That means the preparation limitations forced by the COVID-19 pandemic have put Springville \u2014 as well as most other teams \u2014 in a spot where there are still a lot of unknowns.

\"Talk about the one time we definitely want a summer and then we don't get one,\" Snell said. \"We lost all eight kids from last year and have to figure out how we're going to play. But I think the boys have worked really hard. We were able to sneak in some games in the fall, which was nice to hopefully help us figure out what the right direction is.\"

Snell said that while games will be allowed on Dec. 3, Springville has moved its season-opener to Dec. 7 to be able to get a few more practices in.

He also said the team isn't going to waste any time and will hold tryouts at Springville High starting at 5 a.m. on Tuesday.

He said the main message to the Red Devil players is to lean on each other during these times of uncertainty.

\"They're playing for each other,\" Snell said. \"We tell them to not do anything dumb that's going to prevent this group of guys from playing a game. They need to just play, regardless of how the season looks, whether there are fans or no fans,, whether we have to skip a week or whatever might happen. They've just got to stick together.\"

In addition to the high school athletics guidelines, the new public health order will also require that participants in club sports and recreation leagues be checked for symptoms and asked whether they have had exposure to COVID-19 in the past two weeks.

Connor Richards contributed to this story.

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On the surface, a matchup between the BYU and Washington football teams this weekend appears to be a no-brainer.

The Cougars, ranked No. 8 in the nation, would love to face a team from a Power 5 conference to show just how good they are.

The Huskies had their rivalry game with Washington State canceled because of COVID-19 issues and currently have just four games on their 2020 slate.

Two teams wanting a game, two teams that are reasonably close geographically, two teams with big asperations ... why not play?

But in a year as bizarre as 2020, nothing is that simple.

\"Sources\" referenced by a couple of national college football reporters tell two slightly different stories about what happened.

Bruce Feldman, a reporter for the Athletic, tweeted Sunday from his @BruceFeldmanCFB accound: \"SOURCES: #BYU turned down the opportunity to play #Washington this coming weekend. UDub had reached out yesterday but was told BYU wanted to wait until after the CFP rankings Tuesday to gauge their place. 'It's off the table.'\"

\n
\n

SOURCES: #BYU turned down the opportunity to play #Washington this coming weekend. UDub had reached out yesterday but was told BYU wanted to wait until after the CFP rankings Tuesday to gauge their place. \"It's off the table.\"

\n\u2014 Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) November 23, 2020
\n

Later on Sunday Pete Thamel of Yahoo! Sports tweeted from his @PeteThamel Twitter account: \"Source: Some context on the potential BYU-Washington game. BYU is interested in playing, but only if they can lock in a contract immediately. They are concerned that Pac-12 will make UW play Utah on Sunday if ASU can't play. 'If we can get a game locked in, we want to play.'\"

\n
\n

Source: Some context on the potential BYU-Washington game. BYU is interested in playing, but only if they can lock in a contract immediately. They are concerned that Pac-12 will make UW play Utah on Sunday if ASU can't play. \"If we can get a game locked in, we want to play.\"

\n\u2014 Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) November 23, 2020
\n

BYU director of athletics Tom Holmoe released a statement Monday that didn't directly address the situation with Washington but did give a broad overview of where the Cougars are at.

\u201cWe remain open to exploring to add football games, and have been throughout the season,\u201d Holmoe said in a statement. \u201cIn that exploration process there are a variety of factors that need to be considered, including location, prep time for the game, the chances of the game being played, the testing protocols that are in place and what the game would do for our resume.

\u201cAt this point of the season, having played nine games and being nationally ranked, we are involved in discussions for possible matchups with other teams, on common open dates, for the benefit of both teams.\u201d

\n
\n

A statement from Tom Holmoe. pic.twitter.com/NgDp1WrJoK

\n\u2014 BYU FOOTBALL (@BYUfootball) November 23, 2020
\n\n

Here is the reality from both sides:

BYU

The Cougars are facing a rare $20 million athletic department budget shortfall. Holmoe posted a video on the @BYUCougars Twitter account on Nov. 20 about the need for donations to help overcome the budgetary issues.

\n
\n

Cougar Nation, we NEED you!!
\n
\nDonate \u27a1\ufe0f https://t.co/LjW7fiDHRo#GoCougs pic.twitter.com/nhk2RozBUd

\n\u2014 BYU Cougars (@BYUCougars) November 21, 2020
\n\n

That means that all the logistics and expenses \u2014 which aren't trivial for a football team \u2014 that would come into play if the Cougars prepared to travel to Seattle might end up being wasted if the game is canceled.\u00a0

Can anyone really blame Holmoe for wanting a guarantee the game will be played?

Washington

The Huskies, on the other hand, can't obey Pac-12 pandemic rules and still give BYU a guarantee that the game will be played.

According to the conference, non-conference games can only be played under the following conditions:

Washington therefore has to be open to play a conference game instead this weekend (quite likely against Utah, which is slated to play an Arizona State team that has had COVID-19 issues) and thus cannot lock in to a game against BYU.

Other national commentators weighed in on Monday with the general consensus being that both BYU and Washington have to add meat to their schedules to have any shot at making the College Football Playoff.

In this week's Forde-Yard Dash column, Sports Illustrated's Pat Forde discussed the Washington situation but also lobbied for the Cougars to set up a game with No. 7-ranked Cincinnati.

\"The Bearcats and Cougars both have an open date Dec. 5, and the winner would have the kind of victory it needs to make a better case for making the playoff,\" Forde wrote. \"It obviously means someone would also lose, but the risk is worth the reward.\"

The college football soap opera continues to evolve on a daily basis during the 2020 season and the only guarantee is that a lot will likely change before the season ends.

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Here\u2019s what\u2019s going on inside Darnell\u2019s head.

How is the fan base of the No. 8 football team in all the land doing a few days before Thanksgiving? Feeling grateful?

Any team, anywhere, any time

The North Alabama game on Saturday went pretty much as expected.

I was more interested in the post-game, where BYU coach Kalani Sitake basically threw down the gauntlet when he said, \u201cThere is a lot of talk about our schedule. I just want to remind everyone that we were the only ones committed to playing football in the West, in August. So if you are going to assume anything, you should probably assume that we want to get games. And Tom (Holmoe) is not a hard guy to get a hold of.\u201d

Washington got ahold of Holmoe, apparently on Saturday, to try and schedule a game next week. BYU was obviously a little bit wary of the Pac 12 non-conference stipulations which include the option to cancel as late as Thursday if another Pac-12 team\u2019s schedule opened up.

Let\u2019s face it: The Pac-12 requirements for a nonconference game are ridiculous and Holmoe was wise to fight for the Cougars\u2019 best interests. BYU is ranked No. 8 in the country and Washington is unranked. Who has the leverage here? It\u2019s just another example of P5 bias and arrogance.

Holmoe is likely waiting for Tuesday\u2019s NCAA playoffs rankings to be released before he commits to anything. But I could definitely see a game scheduled for Dec. 5. Getting the right matchup is tricky and it\u2019s why Holmoe gets paid the big bucks.

I also think Sitake and the players want to play more games. I think they want to play a high-profile opponent and prove they are good enough to take on anyone.

It\u2019s a complicated college football world right now, isn\u2019t it?

I feel you

Sometimes, I try to put myself in the other guy\u2019s shoes.

The driver who (may have) accidently cut me off. The parent attempting to calm a child having a meltdown at the grocery store. The speaker obviously nervous at the pulpit.

I covered the 6A football finals on Friday out in Cedar Valley High School (student motto: We\u2019re almost in Nevada!) and thought about what was going through the minds of the Lone Peak players after losing 45-7 to Jaxson Dart and Corner Canyon.

On Saturday, I tried to put myself in the shoes of the North Alabama players, looking up at the scoreboard after the game and seeing \u201c66-14\u201d in favor of No. 8 BYU.

In one way or another, we\u2019ve all been there.

We\u2019ve all been routed, so to speak, at some time in our lives. Where we\u2019ve been completely overwhelmed, despite our best efforts. Gone into a situation where we know we have very little chance of success, but hitched up our pants, re-tied our shoelaces and tried anyway.

It\u2019s not fun. Or as Lone Peak coach Bart Brockbank aptly put it, \u201cIt tastes like crap right now.\u201d

Yeah, that about covers it.

But you survive. You move on. You don\u2019t give up.

Spitting rhymes

Got a laugh this week out of this tweet from @JosephKahn.

\u201cWhy are all rappers a \u201cBaby\u201d now? What happened to being a \u201cDoctor?\u201d The education system has failed.\u201d

Glorious day

I was sad for the BYU football fans who didn\u2019t get a chance to come to LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday. It was gorgeous for a November game: Mid-40s, no wind, no rain or snow. Many of us have been to November BYU games in the past and wondered if the next ice age was upon us.

An empty college football stadium on a Saturday just seems wrong.

I will say that fans in the south end zone and the west side of the stadium might have been a bit chilly later in the afternoon, though.

Tip it off

The BYU men\u2019s basketball season begins on Wednesday against Westminster and the Cougars have two more games this week as well against New Orleans on Thursday and Utah Valley on Saturday.

I\u2019m always fascinated about how a team comes together and settles into roles. Last year\u2019s BYU team had three alpha scorers \u2014 Yoeli Childs, T.J. Haws and Jake Toolson. Others such as Dalton Nixon, Alex Barcello, Zac Seljaas, Kolby Lee and Connor Harding seemed to be satisfied to rebound, play defense and win. They weren\u2019t concerned about how many points they scored.

Mark Pope likes to call it \u201cagenda-less basketball\u201d and it\u2019s not easy to sell to athletes these days.

This year the depth is such that player\u2019s roles could change from game to game. Barcello could lead the team in scoring one night, and the next night he could be shutting down the opponent\u2019s best scorer. Matt Haarms could have a double-double one game, then block four shots to turn the tide in another.

That\u2019s one

Former BYU quarterback Taysom Hill led the New Orleans Saints to a 24-9 victory against the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday in his first career start. It was the first win for a BYU quarterback in the NFL since Max Hall for the Cardinals in 2010.

Hill was 18 of 23 for 233 yards passing while rushing for 51 yards and two touchdowns. He also had a 59-yard touchdown pass called back because of a holding penalty.

I will always maintain that if Hill had stayed healthy during his time in Provo he would be held in the same high regard as Danny Ainge, Jimmer Fredette, Steve Young, etc. The way BYU fans were loving him on social media after Sunday\u2019s win maybe means they do anyway.

Sin City hoops

The BYU women\u2019s basketball team also gets started this week with two games at the South Point Shootout in Las Vegas. The Cougars were scheduled to play LSU and Tennessee-Martin but now are slated to play LSU and Washington. The Shootout website shows BYU playing LSU and New Mexico.

Whoever the Cougars play, this might be Jeff Judkins\u2019 deepest team ever. With the return of Shaylee Gonzales from injury, it also might be his best.

Sign them up

Speaking of Childs and Toolson, their professional careers took another big step this weekend.

Childs has signed a free agent deal with the Wizards, while Toolson will begin his career in the Utah Jazz organization.

Here\u2019s the thing about Yoeli: He isn\u2019t afraid of a challenge. As he made his transition from high school to college, he attacked the hard work it would take to become an elite player and added new aspects to his game each season. I expect that to continue.

As for Toolson, BYU may not have ever had a better long-range shooter not named \u201cJimmer.\u201d His exploits in practice shooting drills are legendary among his teammates and he took that unlimited range and accuracy to new height last season. He was one of the top 3-point shooters at the NBA G League Elite Camp Combine Endurance drill. In it, a player shoots for five consecutive minutes at game speed. Toolson tied with former Saint Mary\u2019s star Jordan Ford at 78%.

Enjoy life

I wrote a feature this summer on BYU freshman forward Caleb Lohner, leading with the fact that he marches to the beat in his own head.

Want proof? He recently posted a YouTube video which showed him water skiing, jumping over an ATV to dunk a basketball and lying down on the ground while a friend jumped over him on a motorcycle.

Then Lohner leaped from a moving speedboat into the lake because his Lakers hat blew off his head and he didn\u2019t want to lose it.

You do you, Caleb.

Think about it

You know, it takes longer to say \u201cWWW\u201d than it does to say \u201cWorld Wide Web.\u201d

That\u2019s all for now, but for this: We\u2019re used to seeing a lot of negativity and gloom on social media, but the last few days have been pretty amazing. Russell M. Nelson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, prompted a takeover of social media by asking folks to post what they were grateful for this Thanksgiving season. My Twitter, Instagram and Facebook timelines have been flooded with post after post of gratitude and hope.

Thanks to my friends, neighbors and associates for the inspiring words.

Mask up, have a great Thanksgiving and remember to count your blessings, not your problems. You\u2019ll be glad you did.

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If BYU head football coach Kalani Sitake was driven by accolades, there is no way he would\u2019ve pulled Cougar junior quarterback Zach Wilson at halftime of Saturday\u2019s 66-14 win over North Alabama at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo.

While Wilson had played pretty well (10-of-16, 212 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions), it wasn\u2019t the type of stat line that would really impress voters for the Heisman Trophy award.

Someone thinking about numbers would likely have been tempted to get Wilson at least one more series to tack on 40 or 50 more yards to his tally and perhaps add another TD.

But, as all BYU fans know, that isn\u2019t what Sitake is about.

\u201cThere are some guys who are still brand new on the offense, defense and special teams that we\u2019re trying to get past the uncomfortable moment and allow them to play fast,\u201d Sitake said after the game Saturday evening. \u201cWe saw a little bit of that this game, but it\u2019s OK. I\u2019ve mentioned before that we\u2019re gonna sacrifice some stats in order to get our guys some valuable experience which will add to our depth.\u201d

He does enjoy seeing Wilson make big plays, like his excellently placed touchdown passes to freshman tight end Isaac Rex and junior wide receiver Neil Pau\u2019u as well as his side-arm toss on a screen pass to running back Kavika Fonua for another score.

\u201cFrom every position, I enjoy seeing those guys when it goes well, but I\u2019ve seen him do that a lot in practice,\u201d Sitake said. \u201cI was always just really pleased with what Zach is doing as a quarterback of our team. You see the coaching that he\u2019s getting from Aaron Roderick, and then you see the carryover that it has, the effect that it has.\u201d

But with BYU having dominated many of its games and having big leads in the second half, the Cougars have been able to give a lot of players opportunities to get on the field.

In the game against the Lions, Sitake said a number of players showed some ability when they got their time on the field.

\u201cMalik Moore stands out,\u201d Sitake said. \u201cHe made some plays and probably should\u2019ve had another pick. We saw some defensive linemen get in there and play again. Kavika Fonua played some running back and Miles Davis did a great job coming in and running the ball. I\u2019m really pleased with a lot of the things our guys are doing overall.\u201d

While BYU is scheduled to have three weeks off until its next game, Cougar junior center James Empey said the goal is to be ready to go whenever the time comes.

\u201cWe want to play as much as we can,\u201d Empey said. \u201cWe\u2019re going to get after it this week, and these next few weeks and do our best to be ready for that next game. We\u2019re going to be the best we can be. We got a bunch of guys that enjoy the grind and enjoy getting better, and that\u2019s really what our focus has been this last little bit. We\u2019re ready to play anybody, any day. Whether we\u2019ll have three weeks before our next game, I don\u2019t know, but we\u2019re just going to hit it, and start working, and keep grinding for that next game, and just keep our rhythm going.\u201d

Topping the 60-point mark

With a 26-yard touchdown run by Miles Davis in the fourth quarter, BYU topped the 60-point mark for the first time in 2020.

It was also the highest point total for a Cougar team under head coach Kalani Sitake and is the most points scored by a BYU team since the Cougars beat Wagner 70-6 in 2015.

The Cougars have scored 50-plus points four times this season, including in the last two contests (51-17 at Boise State on Nov. 6).

Zach attack

Cougar junior quarterback Zach Wilson only played two quarters but still put together some nice numbers.

He threw four touchdown passes for the fourth time this season and for the fifth of his career. His 26 touchdown passes are the second most in the FBS behind Florida\u2019s Kyle Trask.

Wilson has been responsible for 34 touchdowns this season, the most by a BYU quarterback since 2009 (Max Hall, 35).

He also had 33 rushing yards, which all came on one play. It was his longest rush of the season. Wilson did not play in the second half.

Extra points

BYU lost the coin toss and North Alabama elected to get the ball. The Cougars have won the toss in five of their nine games this season. North Alabama punted on the first drive of the game, while BYU did the same on the first drive of the second half ... Zach Wilson was the Cougar representative for the coin toss ... BYU flag bearers were Chris Wilcox (U.S. flag), and Sione Finau and Hank Tuipulotu (team flags) ... the official attendance at LaVell Edwards Stadium was 936.

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The question heading into Saturday's game at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo was whether the No. 8-ranked and undefeated BYU football team could avoid letting up against winless FCS visitor North Alabama.

The Cougar answer came in the form of scoring touchdowns on every first half possession and building a 42-7 lead at the break.

Yeah, this squad wasn't playing around.

BYU steamrolled to the 66-14 win over the Lions, winning its ninth straight game and keeping itself firmly in the national conversation by taking care of business.

\"I'm glad we got the win,\" Cougar head coach Kalani Sitake said. \"We had a lot of the guys get in the game and play some reps. We felt like we got a lot of good experience for a lot of our guys on the team. Obviously we had some mistakes but I thought we were able to correct them and play cleaner in the second half. I appreciate the effort our guys showed, the excitement and level of competition. They were ready to play and had fun doing it.\"

Cougar junior running back Tyler Allgeier said this team performed how it anticipated it would perform, without any signs of overconfidence or lapses in focus.

\"Honestly this was as expected for us,\" Allgeier said. \"We had to have our minds right for whatever team we play. We have to do our thing in practice and then just ball out during the game.\"

The BYU offense was led by its two junior stars. Allgeier had 141 yards and two touchdowns on just 13 carries, while junior quarterback Zach Wilson was 10-of-16 for 212 yards and four touchdowns. all in the first half.

\"It's always a great feeling but all the credit goes to the big guys and the receivers,\" Allgeier said. \"All my success goes to them. That was the offensive game right there.\"

The Cougars set the tone early, getting a defensive stop and then a big 50-yard pass play from Wilson to junior wide receiver Gunner Romney on their first offensive play.

BYU would march in and scored on a 2-yard TD pass from Wilson to freshman tight end Isaac Rex and the Cougars were off and running.

The team couldn't have asked for a whole lot more from its starting offense as BYU scored touchdowns on all six first-half possessions (two TD catches by Rex, two TD runs by Allgeier, a TD catch by Neil Pau'u and a TD catch by Kavika Fonua).

\"That's having fun with your friends,\" Cougar junior offensive lineman James Empey said. \"That's playing football and executing at a high level, regardless of who you are playing. That's really what we've been trying to do. Man, that was a blast.\"\u00a0

The BYU offense wasn't quite as efficient in the second half as the team got just about everyone onto the field, but it still scored three touchdowns (two by freshman running back Miles Davis and another by Fonua) and a 53-yard field goal.

The home team ended up with a balanced approach on the offensive side of the ball, totaling 555 yards on 278 rushing and 277 passing.

The Cougar defense wasn't quite as successful, especially when it came to slowing the North Alabama pass game. BYU surrendered 305 yards through the air and gave up 14 points.

\"We can improve on a lot of things,\" Sitake said. \"We got a lot of bodies in there but getting off the field is really important. I felt like we gave up too many first downs. The effort was there and we created some turnovers, but we have to be better against the pass. When you can stop the run and not let teams be balanced, I think you are going to be OK. Overall I'm happy with the performance but they had some big plays. We're always going to look at it and try to improve.\"

Part of that was the miscues that sometimes happen when players with less experience get on the field, although junior defensive back Malik Moore (who had an interception) said the goal is to reduce those significantly.

\"It felt good to be out there again with my boys,\" Moore said. \"This was a great game for everyone to show the coaches what they can do, that there is no drop-off when next year comes around.\"

Overall, the Cougars expressed a lot of appreciation for getting to be able to play another game in this most bizarre of college football seasons.

\"Thank you to North Alabama for sticking to the schedule and being here,\" Sitake said. \"I'm thankful they were able to play this game here in Provo. It was fun to be on the field with them and we wish them the best of luck in what they are doing in 2021.\"

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The question heading into Saturday\u2019s college football game between No. 8-ranked BYU and FCS-foe North Alabama wasn\u2019t whether the Cougars would be favored.

It was how much BYU would be expected to win by.

The answer came as the Cougars were made nearly seven-touchdown favorites as they prepared to host the winless Lions.

But don\u2019t expect BYU players and coaches to think North Alabama is going to come in to LaVell Edwards Stadium and just meekly wait to get beaten.

\u201cPart of our preparation is respecting your opponents,\u201d Cougar head coach Kalani Sitake said. \u201cI see some of the things that Chris Willis is doing as a head coach. I know they are 0-3 but if you watch the film like I have on all three phases, he prepares his guys the right way. He\u2019s had some great mentors and there is a lot of pride in them showing their best. They\u2019ve been competitive. If you watch them, they haven\u2019t given up more than 28 points in a game. They are well-coached with good schemes. They have to have all of our attention. We have to be at our best.\u201d

That has been the message Sitake has repeated throughout the season, emphasizing the objective for his program to improve each and every week, regardless of the opponent.

The main goal, of course, is to keep winning football games. That can get more challenging, however, as the stakes go up.

\u201cI think it\u2019s obvious that when you\u2019re undefeated you want to stay undefeated,\u201d Grimes said. \u201cWe don\u2019t talk about that a whole lot with our guys but I have talked a little bit about teams that I have been on where we were really playing for something late in the year. When you\u2019re undefeated every week the game means a little bit more.\u201d

Grimes said he has referenced the 2010 Auburn team that won the national championship, saying that team had players on it that were driven to keep the momentum even as the pressure increased.

\u201cThey were willing to pay the price, work hard that week and earn the right to play well so that they could hang on to that hope of being in a great position at the end of the year,\u201d Grimes said. \u201cI have talked about that a little bit maybe on a Monday, where we\u2019re where we\u2019re kind of talking about where we are as a team and what just happened in the previous game. But then we quickly move on and the only thing that matters is the game at hand that week.

\u201cWe just talked about playing a one-week season where we are 0-0 right now in our minds because all that matters is how we play this week. Yeah, I think we are playing for something a little bit more \u2014 but the way you get to that something more is by playing great this week.\u201d

BYU junior running back Tyler Allgeier expects the North Alabama to come in with nothing to lose and excited to stun the country.

\u201cRight now we are 8-0 so we have a bounty on our head,\u201d Allgeier said. \u201cEveryone wants to beat us. They can come in with a bang. Yeah, we might be the favorite but they are the aggressors right now because we have that bounty on our head. We have to have the mindset of respecting every opponent we face and winning this week. That\u2019s probably the most important thing that we have to have.\u201d

Although the Lions don\u2019t have any victories in their COVID-19 pandemic-shortened season, Cougar defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki said that this is a team that is very capable of turning that around.

\u201cWe\u2019ve got a really good offense, a really good defense and we\u2019re playing an FCS team hasn\u2019t won,\u201d Tuiaki said. \u201cThen you throw on the film and offenses are always innovative in the way they move the ball and create problems for you. This team is no different from any of the other teams when it comes to that. We\u2019ve got to make sure that our schemes are sound, that we\u2019re not giving up anything cheap and dominating up front like we have been.\u201d

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The BYU Marching Band of 2020 has turned in their instruments, sashes and shakos.

Due to the COVID-19 virus, the Power of the Wasatch was only able to play in two Cougar home football games this season \u2013 Texas State on Oct. 24 and Western Kentucky on Oct. 31. About a week ago, band director Fred McInnis found out that his group wouldn\u2019t be able to play in Saturday\u2019s game against North Alabama. Since BYU students will only be taking online classes after Thanksgiving, the band isn\u2019t going to be allowed to play for the San Diego State game on Dec. 5 either.

If BYU is selected for a New Year\u2019s Six bowl game, the band may be reunited to play one more time but these days, who really knows?

Playing a college football game without fans is unusual. Playing without a marching band?

Ridiculous.

The pageantry of college football sets it apart from the professional game. The atmosphere created by the BYU Marching Band on fall Saturdays is special and unique, from their pregame to the halftime show to the \u201cHey, Hey, Baby!\u201d song. To stay safe and socially distanced, the members of the band were seated six feet apart to the very top of the stadium in the southeast corner, some performers hundreds of feet away from the drum majors directing them.

Band members showed up on Thursday at LaVell Edwards Stadium to turn in their gear, say their goodbyes and reminisce about the craziness of 2020.

There are 225 band and color guard members, all on scholarship. Due to their diligence in following their own strict coronavirus protocols \u2013 a system that was copied by other organizations on campus because of its success \u2013 only seven band members ended up contracting COVID-19 this season.

A \u201cshako,\u201d by the way, is a traditional marching band cap.

It\u2019s their story, so we\u2019ll let them tell the rest of it.

Fred McInnis (aka Brother Mac), Director of Athletics Bands at BYU since 2008

\u201cI knew that the band kids were really strong. Most of the kids in the band are upper level achievers and presidential scholars. I knew they were smart but I didn\u2019t know how adaptable they were. Not only were they adaptable but they were able to take a challenge and succeed at it. The stuff we did on the field was not on the same caliber since COVID has limited how much time we get to rehearse, but the end product has been on par with previous years.

\u201cThis is kind of churchy, but President Nelson said \u2018This is the new normal.\u2019 And if this is the new normal, I think the future is going to be really good. But I\u2019m ready for it to get normal because I\u2019m tired of it being new.\u201d

Amanda Schroath, a senior from Boise and saxophone section leader

\u201cNot being able to play in the stadium for the first three home games was heartbreaking because we\u2019d already worked on shows for each one. When we recognized we wouldn\u2019t be able to perform those pieces, it was a little bit sad but not the end of hope. We know that Brother Mac loves the band so much he\u2019d do anything he could to give us an opportunity to perform.

\u201cIt\u2019s been a memorable season. We put in a lot of work, played a lot of music together and accomplished all of our goals. Even if we don\u2019t get to play in a bowl game we\u2019re still happy with how the season went.\u201d

Caleb Hodson, senior drum major from Houston

\u201cWe only got one rehearsal in the stadium where we were all spread out. We had to come up with different configurations of where the conductors were, who the band should be listening, who needs to be ahead of the beat and who needs to be behind the beat so that we stayed together.

\u201cAs a team, we took the initiative to get to know all the members of the band. It was so difficult because of COVID, but I feel like I know more band members than in any other year.\u201d

Benjamin Updike, a freshman clarinet player from San Antonio who will be a drum major next year

\u201cI wasn\u2019t even planning on being in the marching band. I went on a mission to Tacoma, Washington and came home three months early in June due to COVID. My sister Annie was in the band. She called me one P (Preparation) Day and said, \u2018You should do this. Try out.\u2019 I did and it\u2019s been awesome.

\u201cBrother Mac always uses the word, \u2018fluidity.\u2019 It was a good life lesson that we learned to be fluid, to be ready to change as circumstances shifted. The band did a really good job of that this year.

Sara Johnson, senior drum major from Farmington

\u201cAs the drum majors we started planning in January of last year. Once COVID hit our plans changed but we continued to meet every week even though we were in different parts of the country. One thing that has been amazing for me is the connection we have as drum majors. We worked really hard to be unified in our conducting and communicate well with the band. We\u2019re not just drum majors but we\u2019re good friends.

\u201cThe first game we played in the stadium, there was so much energy in the band and in the stadium, even though it wasn\u2019t full. Trying that for the very first time, performing live and never having played in that setting before, it was really cool to see how much the band worked together and we had a great performance.\u201d

Alexandra Dewey, a senior piccolo player from Houston and this year\u2019s band president

\u201cBeing in the band is a big time commitment. We rehearse Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 4:10 p.m. until 6. We have game days on Saturdays. We usually have a week of band camp before the semester starts but we didn\u2019t get to do that this year. The leadership usually has a couple of days of training before school starts as well.

\u201cTo finally get into the stadium, it just has a different feel than rehearsal. When you set foot into the stadium, there is just a buzz. You can feel the energy and you come to life a little bit more. The opportunity to perform after so much uncertainty was remarkable. We had a fantastic halftime performance with Alex Boye and the crowd loved it. Staff members from the other team were on the sideline and they told us they loved it too. There is so much satisfaction seeing the work that we\u2019d done all summer had paid off.\u201d

Emmy Ferderber, junior drum major from Homewood, Alabama

\u201cEven with just 6,000 fans it was still a thrill. There is really something exhilarating about being in the stadium and performing for a live audience. That\u2019s one of my favorite parts of marching band, feeling like we can influence the energy of game day. We\u2019re not on the field playing football but we can help get the crowd excited. We can respond to what\u2019s happening on the field by the songs we decide to play and by our cheering. Being able to represent the school in that way was really exciting. When they called on us to perform, we were ready.\u201d

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At halftime of Friday\u2019s 5A state football championship game between Orem and Timpview at Cedar Valley High in Eagle Mountain \u2014 by far the biggest, most intense game of the season \u2014 Tiger head coach Gabe Sewell had a message for his team.

Relax.

\u201cWe went inside at halftime and said, \u2018take a deep breath ... relax,\u2019\u201d Sewell said. \u201cThen it was let\u2019s go. Let\u2019s finish this fight. And they did.\u201d

Orem came out after the break and marched 79 yards in eight plays, scoring on a two-yard run by senior Paxton Skipps to break a 6-6 tie.

The Tigers would never trail again, scoring two more second-half touchdowns and holding off a late Timpview rally to get the 26-13 victory and secure the fourth straight state title for Orem.

\u201cTimpview has great players,\u201d Tiger senior offensive lineman Kingsley Suamataia said. \u201cI\u2019ve known those boys for awhile now. It was a heck of a game. I had great time balling out with my brothers this last time before I leave. I\u2019m speechless. There are no words to describe how it feels. I\u2019m just so happy.\u201d

Skipps said the Orem knew it could play better than it did in the first half.

\u201cThis is something we prepared for this whole year,\u201d Skipps said. \u201cOur plan was to stop the run first and when we did that, they had to pass. They got a couple but our defense could\u2019ve kept stopping them.\u201d

After the initial Tiger scoring drive, the Thunderbird title hopes were dealt a devastating blow.

Timpview senior defensive lineman Logan Fano got carried away in the moment and drew his second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty of the game (he had been flagged for throwing the ball in the air after a blocked kick in the first half), resulting in him being disqualified for the remainder of the game.

\u201cYou take your best defensive player out of the game and all of sudden they start moving the ball up and down the field,\u201d Thunderbird head coach Andy Stokes said. \u201cIt\u2019s no surprise. You\u2019ve got to play the game the way the referees want you to play it.\u201d

Orem added a seven-yard touchdown run by senior running back Joe Smith after an interception by junior cornerback Jaxon Beckstrom set the Tigers up with good field position.

The Tigers then added a final TD when junior Kolton Brown-Dye weaved his way for a 23-yard scoring run early in the fourth quarter.

With the Orem defense setting the tone by keeping Timpview in check, the lead proved to be insurmountable.

\u201cWe are lucky to have this defense, lucky to be a part of this team,\u201d Tiger senior quarterback Micah Fe\u2019a said. \u201cWe were blessed to have the defense step it up. They led the team for us.\u201d

Even though Timpview was without Fano and had lost dynamic senior running back Targhee Lambson in an injury earlier in the game, the T\u2019Birds refused to surrender quietly and tried to mount a huge comeback.

\u201cThe kids played for four quarters,\u201d Stokes said. \u201cThey will always battle. We had two chances at the end of the game to make it happen but we couldn\u2019t put it through. They fought the entire way.\u201d

Timpview narrowed the gap with a beautiful 14-yard pass from junior quarterback Liu Aumavae to senior Ammon Key in the corner of the end zone.

The Thunderbirds then got a defensive stop and marched back down the field, but got stopped inside the Orem 10-yard line and turned the ball over on downs.

Timpview got one more chance to rally when the Tigers bobbled an exchange on the next play, but the Orem defense rose to the challenge and kept Timpview out of the end zone on four consecutive plays.

\u201cI was emotional on the sideline,\u201d Skipps said. \u201cWhen they stopped them on that fourth down, I started crying. It was crazy. That was beautiful. It was such a statement.\u201d

Sewell couldn\u2019t keep the pride and emotion from his voice as he talked about that final goal-line stand.

\u201cThat goal-line stand still has me going,\u201d Sewell said. \u201cThere were a lot of times I would look at my defensive coordinator and say, \u2018hey, we good? Can we go for this?\u2019 And he said, \u2018let\u2019s ride it. It\u2019s now or nothing.\u2019 When we needed to make a stop, we did.\u201d

Although Skipps was also dinged up and wasn\u2019t on the field for the final sequence, he still was a huge difference-maker for Orem. He was second on the team with 10 tackles, while also scoring two touchdowns.

His first score was a 36-yard run on third-and-1 play where he broke through the line and outraced the Timpview defense to the end zone.

\u201cIt was beautiful,\u201d Skipps said with a grin. \u201cI\u2019ve never scored a touchdown like that before. I couldn\u2019t have done it without the blocks of my offensive lineman and my fullback.\u201d

That touchdown tied the game, since the Thunderbirds got on the board first on a 37-yard pass from Aumavae to Key.

In the end, however, Orem was able to make the plays it needed to on both sides of the ball to secure the victory.

Stokes said even though things didn\u2019t go how he wanted, he was pleased with what his team accomplished in 2020.

\u201cI\u2019m proud of the kids,\u201d Stokes said. \u201cI hope they can take this experience and be better at life. Most people aren\u2019t playing football this year, so we are grateful to be here. We are grateful for the kids, the seniors. They got us here. To be able to be with them as long as we could, that\u2019s something we have to be grateful for.\u201d

The Tigers got to be the ones to once again raise the 5A state title trophy.

\u201cI feel joy and happiness for the kids,\u201d Sewell said. \u201cIt\u2019s all about them. They are the ones on the field. Our job as coaches is to funnel the energy in the right way so that they overcome things. They did that today. They were able to finish the game strong.\u201d

Fe\u2019a added: \u201cAll the boys were happy. We are blessed, all of us. I\u2019m blessed to be with these boys and win our fourth title. I\u2019m just blessed.\u201d

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The Corner Canyon Chargers won their third straight state championship on Friday afternoon, finishing the 2020 season undefeated (14-0) and running their winning streak to 42 games with a 45-7 win against Lone Peak in the Class 6A title game at Cedar Valley High School. The Knights defense appeared well equipped to slow down Corner Canyon and its record-setting quarterback, Jaxson Dart. 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Crown \u2018em.

The Corner Canyon Chargers won their third straight state championship on Friday afternoon, finishing the 2020 season undefeated (14-0) and running their winning streak to 42 games with a 45-7 win against Lone Peak in the Class 6A title game at Cedar Valley High School.

The Knights defense appeared well equipped to slow down Corner Canyon and its record-setting quarterback, Jaxson Dart. The two teams met during Region 4 play and Lone Peak led at halftime before falling 35-25.

Instead, the Chargers scored on their first three possessions in the title game and never gave Lone Peak a glimmer of hope for a comeback.

\u201cCorner Canyon is a great team,\u201d Knights coach Bart Brockbank said. \u201cWe had to be at our best today and we weren\u2019t. We struggled right from the start both offensively and defensively. Hats off to Corner Canyon. They showed up and played and they took it.\u201d

Dart \u2013 who finished with 333 passing yards and four touchdowns to go along with 115 yards on the ground and another score \u2013 led the Chargers to a 21-0 first quarter lead. The first two drives for Corner Canyon went 10 plays, 77 yards and nine plays, 84 yards for touchdowns and were met with little resistance.

\u201cI think that first drive really hurt us, them coming down and scoring fast like that,\u201d Lone Peak junior linebacker Luke Durfey said. \u201cA couple of players started hanging their head and that turned into more and more for them.\u201d

A wild shotgun snap was recovered by the Chargers\u2019 Micah Wilson at the Lone Peak 20-yard line late in the first quarter. Moments later, Dylan Carlson banged in from the 1-yard line for a 21-0 Corner Canyon lead.

At the end of the first quarter, the Chargers had outgained the Knights 169 yards to minus-22.

\u201cWe tried to get the guys up,\u201d Brockbank said. \u201cWe had some of our own mistakes early that didn\u2019t help the cause. I felt like we kind of ducked our heads and that\u2019s not like this team. They haven\u2019t been that way this year, but we got punched in the face and hung our heads.\u201d

A 15-yard scoring pass from Dart to Talmage Handley in the second quarter made it 28-0 for Corner Canyon. As the half wound down, Lone Peak got a break with a Britton Berry interception on a tipped ball. The Knights set up on the Chargers 25-yard line but a miscommunication between Luke Romney and his receiver resulted in an easy interception for Corner Canyon\u2019s Charlie Eberling.

The Chargers drove from their own 1-yard line to the Lone Peak 7 in the two-minute drill, where Cody Christensen nailed a 24-yard field goal as time expired for a commanding 31-0 lead.

In the first half, Corner Canyon ran off 49 plays and 20 first downs, compared to 24 plays and four first downs for Lone Peak.

Dart \u2013 who finished the season with a state-record 67 touchdown passes \u2013 added two more scoring tosses and Corner Canyon took a 45-0 lead with 3:39 to play in the third quarter.

Romney connected with Weston Covey on a 5-yard touchdown pass with 5:59 to play to get Lone Peak on the board.

Lone Peak (12-2) finished with just 139 total yards \u2013 66 coming on their final drive \u2013 and committed three turnovers.

\u201cI told the kids after the game that this tastes like crap right now and will for a while,\u201d Brockbank said. \u201cA 12-2 season is nothing to shake your head at. I told the boys how proud I was because of everything we went through this year with COVID. They really rose to the challenge.\u201d

Durfey added: \u201cI will remember that we always gave it our all. We put our hearts into it. We formed brotherhoods that will last a lifetime. I\u2019m grateful for that and grateful we could play a full season this year.\u201d

"}, {"id":"657266a4-7352-5dcb-9a15-50a04994bcec","type":"article","starttime":"1605821400","starttime_iso8601":"2020-11-19T14:30:00-07:00","priority":50,"sections":[{"men":"sports/college/byu/basketball/men"}],"flags":{"editors_pick":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"Cougars sign Wasatch Academy star from Mali","url":"http://www.heraldextra.com/sports/college/byu/basketball/men/article_657266a4-7352-5dcb-9a15-50a04994bcec.html","permalink":"https://www.heraldextra.com/sports/college/byu/basketball/men/cougars-sign-wasatch-academy-star-from-mali/article_657266a4-7352-5dcb-9a15-50a04994bcec.html","canonical":"https://www.heraldextra.com/sports/college/byu/basketball/men/cougars-sign-wasatch-academy-star-from-mali/article_657266a4-7352-5dcb-9a15-50a04994bcec.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":2,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"By Darnell Dickson\nDaily Herald","prologue":"BYU men\u2019s basketball coach Mark Pope and his staff are spanning the globe when it comes to recruiting. On Thursday, the Cougars announced the signing of Fousseyni Traore, a 6-foot-7, 235-pound forward originally from Mali in West Africa, for 2021. Last season, Traore averaged 9.2 points and 5.6 rebounds for Wasatch Academy. The private school in Mount Pleasant plays an independent schedule against some of the top teams in the country. One of Traore\u2019s teammates, Caleb Lohner, is a freshman on the BYU roster this winter. Another former Tiger, Richie Saunders, signed with the Cougars last season before leaving on a church mission.","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["fousseyni traore","sport","basketball","byu","game","league","mark pope","cougar","matt haarms"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{"label":"BYU Basketball"},"presentation":null,"images":[{"id":"e407b85b-ce0c-57e3-906a-e9356a852ddb","description":"","byline":"BYU Courtesy Photo","hireswidth":1440,"hiresheight":810,"hiresurl":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/heraldextra.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/e/40/e407b85b-ce0c-57e3-906a-e9356a852ddb/5fb6e2af014e9.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1440","height":"810","url":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/heraldextra.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/e/40/e407b85b-ce0c-57e3-906a-e9356a852ddb/5fb6e2aee8292.image.jpg?resize=1440%2C810"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"56","url":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/heraldextra.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/e/40/e407b85b-ce0c-57e3-906a-e9356a852ddb/5fb6e2aee8292.image.jpg?resize=100%2C56"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"169","url":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/heraldextra.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/e/40/e407b85b-ce0c-57e3-906a-e9356a852ddb/5fb6e2aee8292.image.jpg?resize=300%2C169"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"576","url":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/heraldextra.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/e/40/e407b85b-ce0c-57e3-906a-e9356a852ddb/5fb6e2aee8292.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C576"}}},{"id":"f7065d9e-4b92-5f53-b1d9-06487fe7e733","description":"Brigham Young University head coach Mark Pope watches as a play unfolds during a game between the BYU Cougars and the Nevada Wolf Pack on Tuesday, Dec.10, 2019, at the Marriott Center in Provo. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald","byline":"Isaac Hale Daily Herald","hireswidth":3000,"hiresheight":1868,"hiresurl":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/heraldextra.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/70/f7065d9e-4b92-5f53-b1d9-06487fe7e733/5df0714b5035a.hires.jpg","presentation":null,"versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1824","height":"1136","url":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/heraldextra.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/70/f7065d9e-4b92-5f53-b1d9-06487fe7e733/5fb735e377575.image.jpg?resize=1824%2C1136"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"62","url":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/heraldextra.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/70/f7065d9e-4b92-5f53-b1d9-06487fe7e733/5fb735e377575.image.jpg?resize=100%2C62"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"187","url":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/heraldextra.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/70/f7065d9e-4b92-5f53-b1d9-06487fe7e733/5fb735e377575.image.jpg?resize=300%2C187"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"638","url":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/heraldextra.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/70/f7065d9e-4b92-5f53-b1d9-06487fe7e733/5fb735e377575.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C638"}}}],"revision":8,"commentID":"657266a4-7352-5dcb-9a15-50a04994bcec","body":"

BYU men\u2019s basketball coach Mark Pope and his staff are spanning the globe when it comes to recruiting.

On Thursday, the Cougars announced the signing of Fousseyni Traore, a 6-foot-7, 235-pound forward originally from Mali in West Africa, for 2021.

Last season, Traore averaged 9.2 points and 5.6 rebounds for Wasatch Academy. The private school in Mount Pleasant plays an independent schedule against some of the top teams in the country. One of Traore\u2019s teammates, Caleb Lohner, is a freshman on the BYU roster this winter. Another former Tiger, Richie Saunders, signed with the Cougars last season before leaving on a church mission.

\u201cFousseyni Traore is one the kindest, most big hearted and faithful people you will ever meet,\u201d BYU coach Mark Pope said. \u201cHe is a big bodied, barrel chested, incredibly explosive power forward, who proved this summer that he is also effective off the bounce and from behind the three-point line. We are so blessed as a team and a staff to welcome this great young man to our program. He is going to be an extraordinary representative of his family, his home country of Mali, the university and Cougar Nation.\u201d

Traore, who has a 7-1 wingspan, played for the Utah Mountain Stars (Jimmer Elite) AAU team this summer. He also had interest from Seton Hall, Utah State and Dixie State. Traore was a member of the Mali National Team before coming to the United States two years ago.

\u201cI can\u2019t wait to play for Coach Pope,\u201d Traore said. \u201cEvery time I speak with him he has so much energy and passion and makes me feel amazing as a player and a person. He really believes in me and I\u2019m looking forward to playing for him at BYU.\u201d

The Cougars have two international players on the 2020-21 roster: Purdue transfer Matt Haarms (Netherlands) and junior college transfer Gideon George (Nigeria).

Traore helped Wasatch Academy to a combined 53-6 record over two seasons and back-to-back invitations to the GEICO High School Basketball National Tournament. During the 2019-20 season, the Tigers wrapped up the regular season with a 27-2 record and a No. 2 national ranking in the Ball is Life FAB 50. Wasatch Academy\u2019s potential run at a GEICO national title ended when the tournament organizers canceled the event due to the pandemic.

According to the Wasatch Academy website, Traore speaks three languages. His favorite movie is \u201cMission Impossible\u201d and he has taken up ceramics and fishing.

\u201cWorking hard in all aspects of his game and playing with a high level of confidence, Fouss has made exceptional gains since last season,\u201d said Tigers head coach Dave Evans. \u201cIn addition to finishing around the rim as well as any player we\u2019ve ever had, he can also skillfully shoot the ball from the outside and protect the rim on defense.\u201d

In West Coast Conference news, the league announced on Thursday 16 games which will be telecast on the ESPN family of networks. BYU contests at Pepperdine (Dec. 31), at Saint Mary\u2019s (Jan. 14), at San Francisco (Jan. 16), home against Pepperdine (Jan. 23), at Gonzaga (Feb. 6), at home against Saint Mary\u2019s (Feb. 11) and at home against Gonzaga (Feb. 27) will all be on ESPN, with times to be announced at a later date.

ESPN will also air two quarterfinal games, both semifinals and the final of the WCC Tournament from Las Vegas in March.

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