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Taylorsville Journal

Cougars win second straight region championship

Oct 22, 2018 05:01PM ● By Jana Klopsch

Senior Isaiah Afatasi (No. 5) has recorded eight touchdowns this season and has several college programs interested in his ability. (Greg James/City Journals)

By Greg James |  gregj@mycityjournals.com 

The Kearns High School football team had plenty of holes to fill coming into the season, but it picked up right where it left off.

“We have definitely had our growing pains and bumps in the road,” Cougars head coach Matt Rickards said. “It seems like we still need to keep working and improving.”

The Cougars defeated Hunter 52-30 to secure their second straight Region 2 championship. The game was tied at halftime, but several halftime adjustments helped catapult the Cougars to the victory.

“The Hunter game was probably the best performance we have had all season,” Rickards said. “It was a tight game at halftime. It came down to our guys trusting themselves and trusting the process we have put them through at practice. They executed the technique, and the results showed.”

Quarterback Dakota Lynde threw for 254 yards and two touchdowns and ran for two more against the Wolverines. He has passed the ball for 1,249 yards and eight touchdowns on the season (at press deadline).

“Dakota has played really well,” Rickards said. “We had great options with two great quarterbacks. He has been very effective and run our offense well. We had two good options going into the year. We wanted to get both of them on the field to help us as our best players. We moved Tucson (Vaenuku) to tight end, and he has caught some big passes.” 

Isaiah Afatasi leads the team with 750 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. Kalux Manuo is second with 250 yards and three touchdowns. 

“I don’t think any of our players have exceeded my expectations,” Rickards said. “I knew they could do what I was asking. Our receiving corps has done a good job, and I am impressed with what they have done this season.”

Afatasi, Mario Zamaora, Jeff Basa and Jack Kelly lead the team in receptions. The Cougars have six players with double-digit pass receptions. Afatasi has five interceptions to lead the team on defense.

“I think our defense has put us in position to have the ball and make plays on offense,” Rickards said.

The Cougars’ defense leads Region 2 in points allowed with only 57. Their opponents have averaged only 19 points per game.

“Audrick (Afatasi) has made a big difference on defense,” Rickards said. “I think they are great kids, and I think this has been one of the best midterms we have ever had grade wise, and that is good for a coach.”

The Cougars were undefeated in Region 2 and qualified for the state playoffs, which are scheduled to begin Oct. 26. Kearns will host its first game against Northridge from Region 1.

“The work the kids have put in shows,” Rickards said. “The improvement on the field shows what they have been doing in practice. We are looking forward to having a big run in the playoffs.”

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