Nothing could stop Salem Hills head football coach Jeff Higginson from beaming as his team posted a 21-0 shutout of Wasatch Thursday night.
Now the Skyhawks (7-1. 3-1) will square off against Maple Mountain (6-2, 3-1) next week for a piece of the region title. And though Wasatch left Salem with a loss, the Wasps (6-2, 3-1) still also have a shot for its own piece of the region title when they visit Springville (4-4, 3-1).
“We got a shot at a region championship Wednesday night here,” Higginson said. “We get it at home against a really good team (Maple Mountain). We’ve never won a region championship here. We talk about it all the time about having that shot.”
The winner of these two games will share the region title though Springville does own a head-to-head win over Salem Hills. Meanwhile, Maple Mountain beat Springville head-to-head and if Salem Hills and Wasatch both win, thanks to tonight’s victory over the Wasps, Salem Hills can make that claim as Region 8 champions.
Defense carried the day and Higginson was quick to praise the work of both his defensive coaching staff and his players.
“I can’t tell you enough of how proud I am of our defensive staff and our players,” the Skyhawk head coach said. “They prepared so well.”
Holding down Wasatch is no easy task as the Wasps have scored over 40 points in three of its games including going for 49 against Salem Hills’ next opponent, Maple Mountain.
But this type of defense has been a staple for Salem Hills, who had to rely on that side of the ball to hold off Provo last Thursday. And during the year, Salem Hills has held five of its eight opponents to 10 points or less.
Kobe Carter, Easton Cook, Landon Pollard, Isaiah Jones, Willy Leota, Grant Barney, Zaylun Fenn, Johnny Draper, Austin Hallows, Reed Johnson, Devin Johnson and Clay Lyman made up much of the defense that posted the impressive shutout.
Carter had an interception while Lyman ended the game emphatically with back-to-back sacks that pushed back the Wasps more than 35 yards.
“It’s fitting the game ended that way because it was such a defensive game and we did it against the No. 1 team in the league” Higginson said. “It’s a big deal. I’m proud of the guys.”
Hallows and Johnson also did some good work offensively as quarterback Jarret Elmer tossed three touchdown passes, one to Hallows and a pair of second-half connections to Johnson. Meanwhile Bruce Butler successfully kicked all three extra points..
Though for much of the night Salem Hills’ offense struggled, it did enough to win the game which didn’t go unnoticed by Higginson.
“The offensive coaches did a great job, Coach (Scott) Brumfield and his staff,” Higginson said. “I’m one very fortunate coach.”
Higginson also singled out the play of his quarterback.
“When he (Elmer) plays the way he can play, he’s as good as anyone,” Higginson said. “He did what he had to do. There was a little rust in the first half, but in the second half he came back, settled in and he hit some of those plays and passes.”
The final stanza had its own interesting moment as the Wasatch coaching staff and a member of the chain gang had a verbal altercation that lasted several minutes. It finally culminated with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty on the Wasp coaching staff while the member of the chain crew was asked to give up his duty and go to the other side of the field.