Tag Archives: Deseret News

Thunder surpass expectations in 2012

Spanish Fork/Desert Hills during the 3A semi final game in Salt Lake City  Thursday, Nov. 8, 2012.  (Submission date: 11/08/2012) (Jeffrey D. Allred)

Written by: Amy Donaldson, Deseret News

The young men in gold and black let the tears flow freely at the heartbreaking end of a magnificent season no one thought they’d have.

Picked to finish fourth in its region, the Desert Hills football team exceeded everyone’s expectations but its own this fall.

“They had a great season — a better season than what most thought,” said first-year had coach Carl Franke after his team lost a 35-28 semifinal game against Spanish Fork on Thursday night. “We fell short of what our goal was, and that was to win the state championship. … But they’ve done a really great job; they’ve bought into the system. This won’t be the last time we’re here.”

The team is young except for a few seniors who provided leadership to the talented group. Senior Ty Rutledgemoved from two years as a receiver to starting quarterback and proved himself to be a smart, skilled offensive leader.

“Ty is just a natural athlete,” said Franke. “I can’t say he’s a quarterback per se; he’s just a competitor and an athlete and that’s why we had him on the field.”

When asked about Rutledge’s role in leading the team to the semifinal game, Franke didn’t hesitate.

“He’s the guy,” he said. “The offensive line did such a great job tonight, but Ty is one of those kids you’ll see on Saturday afternoon and Saturday nights playing for somebody. Hopefully somebody up here notices how tough and how good an athlete he is.”

Rutledge threw for 127 yards and two touchdowns in the loss.

The senior, who is also a star for the baseball and basketball teams, was embracing coaches and teammates after the loss.

“We had a great year,” he said, wiping away tears. “It was fun. … Obviously it wasn’t enough, but you win some, you lose some and life goes on. We’ll wake up tomorrow morning and go through our daily routine. This is going to hurt for a long time.”

Rutledge has no doubt that his coach is right about how his teammates will use the loss to come back stronger and more determined next season.

“We’ll bounce back,” he said. “These are all great young men, and I love every single one of these guys. I want to thank them all so much.”

Franke said that while he’s as disappointed as his players that they didn’t earn that title trophy, he hopes they gained something far more important from their time in his program. His commitment to developing their lives off the field is part of the reason the team had such success this season, he said.

“It starts with belief in family,” he said. “You’ve got to have good foundations. We preach that — we preach family and all the good things that happen. These guys are going to be great young men even after football. So, even though they’re great football players, what we hope for is that they’re just great young men in their communities afterwards. Got great support from our fans. Great coaching staff, and like I said, this won’t be our last time here.”


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Thunder claim region title with win over Cedar

Written by Keric Seegmiller, StGeorgeUtah.com

The only mystery surrounding the game between Desert Hills and Cedar Wednesday night was the seed in which the Thunder would enter the state playoffs.

Ty Rutledge and Co. quickly put any doubt to rest as Desert Hills cruised to a 42-14 victory over the Redmen to claim its first outright Region 9 title in school history. And while getting a trophy to add to the case is always fun, winning the outright region title definitely has perks far greater than a piece of hardware. The region champs also get two consecutive home games should they advance past the first round.

“The result of winning a region championship is the best,” Rutledge said. “Winning a region championship is big mainly because of the two home games.”

Despite only having one win this season, Cedar wasn’t about to go down without a fight. The Redmen took the opening possession and rattled off an 11-play scoring drive capped by an 18-yard scamper by quarterback Easton Weaver.  The Cedar sideline and crowd was pumped, and a little thing called momentum was in its corner.

At least until the ensuing kickoff.

Sophomore running back Bridger Cowdin fielded the kick from Jeff Rogers and never looked back.  Cowdin juked defenders and shook off would-be tacklers before bursting through one final hole for 89 yards and a Desert Hills touchdown. The score was tied at 7-7 before the Redmen had even finished celebrating their touchdown.

“That big return settled us down,” coach Carl Franke said.  “Bridger had a huge game for us tonight. He’s a fantastic athlete and team player. He’s going to be something special.”

But even after the big special teams breakdown, Cedar still had its chances and will remember this game for the could-haves and should-haves.

The Redmen forced a Rutledge interception early in the second quarter and quickly drove to midfield.  However, one play after converting on a third-and-long situation, Cedar gave away the first of four fumbles. The turnovers proved costly as Desert Hills turned each takeaway into a touchdown.

But before putting the visitors away for good, the Thunder gave Cedar one last chance.  Trailing 21-7 early in the third quarter, the Redmen managed to force a Desert Hills fumble for their only takeaway of the game.

Working with a short field, the Redmen marched to the Desert Hills 2-yard line before being turned away by the stingy Thunder defense. The turnover on downs deflated completely the proverbial Cedar balloon and the Thunder blew it open en route to the region clinching victory.

With the win, Desert Hills closes out the regular season with a 6-3 overall record and 5-1 in region play. Cedar finishes the season at 1-8 overall and 1-5 in the region. The Thunder will play at home next Friday, but the time and the opponent are still to be determined.

But no matter the opponent, Franke said they will be ready.

“Our first goal was region championship, and our second goal is state championship,” he said. “But the thing we preach all the time is we take one game at time. We’re not going to worry about if we make it to the semifinals. We’ve got to win next week.”

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Streak halted: Desert Hills beats Hurricane in 3 OTs

Written by , StGeorgeUtah.Com, Desert News

It was a long and strange night at Tigers Stadium, but for Desert Hills, it was all worth it.

Jordan Hokanson caught the winning touchdown pass from Ty Rutledge and the Thunder survived two lightning delays and a determined Hurricane squad to win a 46-38 triple overtime thriller Thursday night.

“I’m exhausted. I don’t even know what to say,” Rutledge said. “When you put everything you have into something, give until you can’t give anymore, and you beat a great team like Hurricane, well it’s the best feeling in the world.”

The game had more story lines than a daytime soap and didn’t conclude until well after 11 p.m. At one point, after a 45-minute halftime delay due to dangerously close lightning, Hurricane and Desert Hills administrators considered postponing the rest of the game. But after a time, Hurricane principal Jody Rich announced the second half would be played “it if it takes all night.” It nearly did.

Up 21-7 during the elongated intermission, the Tigers came out in the second half and seemed to put the game away with an 85-yard touchdown drive. Jared Edwards had most of the yardage on the drive, which took eight plays and nearly four minutes. Edwards 3-yard dive made it 28-7 with 8:13 to go in the third quarter.

“We told the boys (at that point) that they could either be men and show some pride and rise to the challenge or just roll over,” Thunder assistant coach Buck Cowdin said. “We felt embarrassed we hadn’t competed better.”

From that point on, including the three overtimes, Desert Hills outscored the defending state champions 39-10.

“That first drive after they scored in the third quarter was huge,” Rutledge said. “I’m not going to lie, I doubted us before that. But that drive showed us we could do it.”

Indeed, the Thunder went 58 yards on nine plays, converting on a third-and-19 on a pass from Rutledge to Jordan Hokanson of 21 yards, as well as a fourth-and-1 conversion from the 6-yard line on a TD run by Rutledge.

The score made it 28-14 with 3:51 left in the third and gave the DH crowd some hope. After a Hurricane punt, Keenan Wittwer snagged a Rutledge pass away from a defender to make it 28-21 with still a minute left in the third quarter. Five minutes and another Hurricane punt later, Rutledge and Dallin Bristol teamed up – in a bizarre way. Rutledge lunged for the end zone on a scramble, but the ball popped out and rolled into the end zone, where Bristol snatched it up for six points, tying the score at 28-28 with 7:40 left in regulation. Both teams had chances to win before the extra periods, but couldn’t get it done.

Hurricane and Desert Hills both scored TDs in the first overtime and the Tigers Eathan Stratton hit a 37-yard field goal to put Hurricane ahead at 38-35 in the second OT. DH’s Andrew Yergensen matched Stratton’s 3-pointer with a 27-yarder to force the third OT.

The Thunder had the ball first in the third extra period. Rutledge ran it down to the 3-yard line. Three plays later, the Thunder faced fourth down at the 4-yard line. Rutledge, under pressure, rolled to the right, then spotted Hokanson back to the left and threw across his body to get the wide receiver the ball for the go-ahead score.

“I was under pressure and was thinking I would have to break a tackle and try to score,” Rutledge said. “Then I saw Jordan doing jumping jacks over there all alone.”

The TD and a two-pointer gave Desert Hills its winning margin as Hurricane stalled out at the 22-yard line in its possession.

The win puts DH in a position to capture the No. 1 seed from region 9 with a win next week against Cedar. It also hands Hurricane its first loss since 2010, a streak of 20 straight victories.

The Tigers, 7-1 and 4-1, will likely at least tie for a fifth straight region title as they play winless Canyon View next week.

For Desert Hills, 5-3 and 4-1, it is a small measure of revenge for a championship game loss last November.

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Season preview: Young Thunder hope to make noise in 2012

Written by ,  August 16, 2012, StGeorgeUtah.com

Desert Hills electrified Region 9 last year with its tenacity and grit. Riding the coattails of quarterback Porter Harris, running back Mike Needham and receiver Ty Rutledge, the Thunder rode a wave of success to the 3A State Championship, where they fell to Hurricane 21-0.

With Harris and Needham gone, and head coach Jake Nelson stepping down, new head coach Carl Franke must trust in his younger guys to step up and get the job done.

“I think every year it’s a different hump,” Franke said. “There are many humps in the road. Last year we overcame a ton of obstacles just to get to the state game. This year we’re a lot younger, so we’re just going to have to take things one game at a time.”

Even so, Franke feels optimistic the rebuilding process won’t be as problematic as initially expected.

“I think we’re in good shape,” he said. “We don’t have as many seniors as last year when we had over 24. This year we have 14. But the seniors we do have are good quality kids who set the standards for our younger guys.”

One of those seniors is returning star Ty Rutledge, the 6-foot-1, 180-pound versatile receiver who made crucial plays in big games last season. Except this year, Rutledge will play a very different role – quarterback.

“It’ll be nice to have the ball in my hand, read the plays and lead the team,” Rutledge said.

His teammates and coach agree.

“I like him better at quarterback more than anything else,” said running back Bridger Cowdin. “He’s a great passer, athletic and accurate.”

Added Coach Franke: “Ty‘s biggest strengths are in his physicality, his strength and his leadership. The things he does on the field are unmatched by any kid in Region 9. He’s one of the most athletic kids I’ve ever seen.

“He’s a competitor who hates to lose. He wills his team to win. He helped carry us throughout the season (last year). He’s a kid that the others kids will look toward for leadership.”

As for all the talk about Desert Hills lacking experience, running back Brock Johnson simply shrugged it off.

“I’m excited to be out here with the young lineman,” he said. “A lot of people keep saying we’re not going to be very good because we have a lot of young guys. But we’re going to take it to them. We’re young and fast. It’s going to be fun.”

For now, Franke wants to take each game as they come. His goal this season is to simply push his team to work hard and not get caught up in all of the hype.

“Those young guys are going to have to carry us this year,” he said. “We need those young guys to come out and step up and help us out a lot.”

Johnson put it more delicately.

“We just want to come out and hit you in the face and go for the win. Physicality – that’s our goal.”

Quarterback – Ty Rutledge will start at quarterback this year. “Ty is just a great overall athlete,” said Franke. “He has a very strong arm and knows the game really well and has great leadership qualities. The kids should be able to rally behind him.”

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3A football playoffs: Desert Hills survives matchup with Cedar

by Andy Griffin, Deseret News, 11/11/2011

Ty Rutledge hauls in a pass from Nate Brinker and runs it in for a touchdown during the Thunder’s 23-21 win.

“Brinker finished the game with a modest 43 yards passing. But he showed off his arm strength on a cross-field, 33-yard TD pass to Ty Rutledge and he threw a pinpoint scoring pass to Cole Kiser with under five minutes to play that pretty much sealed the win for the Thunder.”

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3A football semifinals: Desert Hills succeed in second shot at Cedar

by James Edward, Deseret News, 11/11/2011

Desert Hills’ Ty Rutledge reacts after making a catch from Nate Brinker and running it in for a touchdown Friday, Nov. 11, 2011 at Hansen Stadium in St. george. The Thunder defeated Cedar in the 3A semifinal game 23-21. Samantha Clemens / The Spectrum

“Before back-up quarterback Nate Brinker hit Ty Rutledge or a 33-yard TD pass and then Cole Kiser for a 10-yard TD strike in the fourth quarter to open up a 23-14 lead, there was a sense around Hansen Stadium that  John Ursua’s big play ability might be the difference.”

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Desert Hills Thunder 2001 Preview

by James Edward, Deseret News 8/4/2011

“Not only is Porter Harris back at quarterback, but Mike Needham and Kevin Webb provide a great 1-2 punch at tailback while junior Ty Rutledge is a very talented receiver. With three returning starters on the offensive line, the skill players should have plenty of time to do their thing.”

Before back-up quarterback Nate Brinker hit Cole Kiser for a 10-yard TD strike in the fourth quarter to open up a 23-14 lead, there was a sense around Hansen Stadium that John Ursua‘s big play ability might be the difference.

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