Interception. Touchdown. Fourth Down Conversion. Touchdown. That was nearly the entire game, if you can call it a game, Monday in Sugar-Salem’s 6-0 and 6-3 Kansas City Playoff wins over South Fremont and Teton.
The Kansas City playoff format meant each team started from the 40-yard line and was given at least one chance to score in each matchup. If neither team or both teams scored they would each be given another chance to score this time from the 25. But the Diggers didn’t need that contingency plan. They beat both teams in two possessions.
After South Fremont took out Teton, the Cougars faced off with the rival Diggers in the second phase of the Kansas City playoff. South Fremont started with the ball and drove about 30 yards down the field as Peebles connected with his receiver for a long pass.
Plays later, Peebles threw it to the Diggers’ Brigham Lee ending the Cougars’ possession — interception. After a few middling plays, Sugar-Salem quarterback Kyzon Garner hit tight end Brigham Lee for a long touchdown up the seam ending the second phase of the Kansas City Playoff.
“It is what it,” said South Fremont head coach Chad Hill. “You have to make plays to win it and we threw an interception and Sugar made a play. But, we were able to make a play against Teton so we ended up second and we’re in the playoffs and we survived to play another day.
To claim the district crown, the Diggers then had to take on Teton. The Timberwolves took the first possession about 30 yards down the field before the Digger defense held them to force a field goal.
When Sugar-Salem received the ball, Teton shut down their run and the Diggers found themselves in fourth down with seven yards to go. After a Digger timeout, Sugar wide receiver Jonah Schulthies ran about a ten-yard out route and Garner hit him along the sidelines to keep the drive alive.
“We knew that it was a fourth and long situation, which meant they were probably going to be playing a little softer coverage. They were going to try to keep the chains in front of them, obviously, and we just felt like that might be a good opportunity to get one of our playmakers to the sticks. And Kyzon put the ball on the money to Jonah.”
After a couple run plays, Sugar threw the ball once again this time to the corner where Lee reeled it in — touchdown. That score ended the game and gave Sugar-Salem the district title they thought they had lost weeks ago.
“After losing to South, we were a little bit down,” Richins said. “It’s always a goal to win the district championship. We didn’t know that we would still have the opportunity to win the district. So we were kind of preparing them to move in a different direction. With Teton beating South, it opened up that opportunity again. In football you don’t get a redemption opportunity very often.”
Rewinding to the first matchup, South Fremont won 7-0 over Teton. After both the Cougar and Timberwolf defenses held, both teams started on the 25. After South Fremont moved into scoring range with a 25-yard catch by running back Jackson Coverley, Bridger Poulsen took it in on a jet sweep to give the Cougars a lead. On the next possession, Tag Bair forced and Dallin Orme recovered a fumble to seal the deal.
Richins believes that all three teams have earned a playoff berth.
“They’re a good football team,” Richins said of Teton. “They’re fairly highly ranked. They have a winning record. It’s unfortunate that a good team like Teton has to stay home. I wish the state would look at adopting some other opportunities. Teton’s in a heck of a conference. It’s brutal. In my opinion, they’re better than several of the teams who are going to qualify for the tournament. They deserve to be there as much as us or South. For them to have to stay home is kind of heartbreaking for everybody.”
As the district Champions, Sugar-Salem will receive a first-round bye in the state playoffs and therefore will play their first playoff game next week. South Fremont will play American Falls in a state qualifier game this Friday.
“We’re excited [to be back in the playoffs],” Hill said. “3A is very competitive this year. There’s a team that’s way above everybody else. I think the top 10-12 teams are all going to be really competitive. We like chances. We just have to make sure we’re ready to play each week to see what we can do.”
After securing their fourth straight district title, Sugar hopes to make a run at their third-straight state title.
“It’s been a good last few years,” Richins said. “We’ve had some good quality players come through the program. That has kind of set the foundation for these younger guys coming up. It kind of becomes an expectation where no matter if you have 25 seniors or, like this year, you have 10 it doesn’t really matter; it’s about the process, it’s about buying into it and carrying on that tradition.”