For one half of football, the thousands of Cedar Valley fans who packed into the stadium in Eagle Mountain for the first home game in school history had plenty of reason to hope to see their Aviators get their first-ever victory.
Then visiting Spanish Fork Dons put together a dominant third quarter, however, and pulled away.
The Dons took advantage of a number of miscues by Cedar Valley to score four touchdowns in the decisive 12 minutes after halftime, turning a 7-7 tie at the break into an impressive 42-14 win.
“We challenged them at halftime and when you get help, good things happen,” Spanish Fork head coach Preston Parrish said. “They came out in their first home game on fire and they are going to be a good program. This was a ‘grow-up’ moment for us.”
It was the Don defense and special teams that came up big as the Spanish Fork offense only had to cover a total of 75 yards on their four TD drives.
The Dons forced a fumble but the field position for the other three touchdowns were set up by bad snaps in Aviator punting situations.
“We went in at halftime thinking we had a shot,” Cedar Valley head coach Weston Zabriskie said. “In the second half, though, we lost our composure. We had a few things go against us and the wheels came off. Our effort and attitude are things we as a coaching staff need to fix.”
The Spanish Fork offense did what it needed to do as it turned the opportunities into touchdowns. Don quarterback Kaden Holt finished with four touchdown passes, two of which went to receiver/kicker Cade Olsen (who also made all six extra-point kicks).
“I think we surprised ourselves early with how well we’ve played,” Parrish said. “We’ve had some adversity but we’ve battled. Special teams was huge for us and we made some good things happen.”
The first half was a different story as the defenses on both sides stood tall.
Spanish Fork got its only score of the first 24 minutes of play when Holt got the ball to Olsen, who broke a tackle and went 20 yards to the end zone.
But the Aviators responded later in the second quarter, putting together a 74-yard drive that was capped by a 16-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jaxson Hooley to receiver Jaxson Dastrup.
Other than those possessions, however, the defenses made life difficult for the opposing offenses, consistently making plays in the backfield.
“Our defense was phenomenal,” Parrish said. “We preach swarming to the ball and for the most part we did that. That was fun to watch.”
Even though his team didn’t get the win it wanted, Zabriskie said he saw some good things.
“There were a lot of positives and high points,” Zabriskie said. “Penalties have been killing us as we’ve had some big plays called back. That’s something we need to work on but the kids are learning.”
He lauded the support of the community and the atmosphere the fans created for his boys.
“It’s fun starting new traditions and getting things going,” Zabriskie said. “We have to find ways to improve but also to enjoy what is going on. The school is excited and we want to build on that. We are still new but we hope that these players will be able to come back in 20 years and say, ‘I started that tradition.’”
Spanish Fork (1-1) next faces Cyprus on Aug. 30, while Cedar Valley (0-2) will look for its first win when it plays at Murray on the same evening.
Both games are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.