Tag Archives: Desert Hills High School Football

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 clinch Region 9 crown in rout

Written by Jeff Ames, The Spectrum

No one expected Desert Hills to hoist the Region 9 trophy at season’s end. Instead, all eyes focused on defending state champion Hurricane and flashy, speedy offensive-minded Dixie.

Yet after routing Cedar 42-14 Wednesday night, the Thunder stood at midfield holding the coveted region crown.

The win gave Desert Hills a 5-1 record on the season, which put them in a tie with Hurricane. Thanks to last week’s 46-38 triple-overtime victory over the Tigers, however, the Thunder claimed the top spot.

“I’ve said it from the get-go,” Thunder coach Carl Franke said. “Most people expected us to finish fourth at best. But I knew the type of kids I had. They believe in each other and believe in this family.”

Desert Hills will host its first ever home playoff game next week against either Payson or Delta. Quarterback Ty Rutledge has played a large role in making this so.

The senior, who was reintroduced to the quarterback position following a prolonged absence from under center, completed 8-of-13 passes for two touchdowns and 222 yards. He also had two turnovers, including a red zone interception, but managed to overcome those obstacles en route to the win.

“He’s MVP of the region,” Franke said. “I don’t care what anybody says. He wants others to succeed. Sometimes he gets down on himself if he doesn’t produce and I have to tell him to settle down. But he wants his team to succeed. He doesn’t care about himself.”

The game looked like it might provide some genuine excitement in the first quarter. Cedar tore through the Thunder defense and capped off a six-minute drive with a touchdown that gave the Redmen an early 7-0 lead.

“Cedar came out in a double tight,” Franke said. “They kind of surprised us with that. We had to make some adjustments, and (defensive coordinator) Nick Hansen did a good job making those changes.”

With the home crowd slightly aghast, Desert Hills took the field looking to make some noise. Right on cue, sophomore Bridger Cowdin collected the ensuing kickoff and burned Cedar’s defense with a 90-yard touchdown return that shifted the momentum back to the home team.

“Since Monday I said I wanted a kickoff return,” Cowdin said. “I even wrote it down five times. Tonight, I saw a hole and my blockers gave me some room. I couldn’t have done anything without them.”

From that point on, the Thunder maintained control on both sides of the ball. After Sil Bundy recovered a fumble — his first of two recoveries on the night — Rutledge and Cowdin took over Desert Hills’ run game and scored with 5:27 to go in the half off a quarterback sneak on the 1.

Later, with the half winding down, Rutledge scrambled to evade Cedar’s defense, and managed to hurl a long pass to the end zone into the waiting arms of Keenan Wittwer.

The Thunder entered halftime leading 28-7.

The onslaught didn’t abate in the second half. Rutledge single-handedly drove the length of the field and dished off to Jordan Hokanson for an easy 11-yard touchdown.

Desert Hills’ defense also wanted a peace of the pie and rushed Cedar quarterback Morgan Garrett, forcing him to fumble the snap. Defensive end Gabriel Sewell collected the loose ball and rumbled 40 yards to make it 42-7.

Garrett collected himself enough to throw a 65-yard touchdown pass to receiver Mike Hourigan, but it was too little too late for the Redmen, who exit the season with just one victory.

“They have a great program,” Franke said of Cedar. “I have a lot of respect for them.”

When the final horn sounded, Desert Hills’ student body stormed the field and celebrated with the Region 9 champions.

“No one expected us to win,” Rutledge said. “Those same people will probably say we won’t win our next game too. We’re the underdogs the rest of the way.”

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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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Thunder-ous charge


Desert Hills erases deficit, ends Hurricane win streak.

by John Renshaw, The Spectrum

The last time Desert Hills and Hurricane met on the football field, they were competing for the 2011 state championship in the elements. The Tigers got the upper hand then, but on Thursday night with similar conditions, the Thunder struck back.

Down by 21 in the third quarter, Desert Hills reeled off three unanswered touchdowns. After going back and forth in the first and second overtime, the Thunder finally got the upper hand. Quarterback Ty Rutledge rolled right, drew the defense too him, and threw cross-field to a wide-open Jordan Hokanson, who was waving his arms like a wild man in the middle of the end zone. His 4-yard touchdown catch — and ensuing two-point conversion — gave Desert Hills an impressive 46-38 triple overtime win over Region 9 rival Hurricane at Tiger Stadium.

The outcome snapped the Tigers 20-game winning streak.

“The key to stopping the Tigers is playing at the same level they are on. They are extremely disciplined and every single player on that team puts forth 110-percent effort each and every play,” said linebacker Travis LaGrone, who finished with six tackles. “We definitely remember last year. Ty Rutledge, Josh Anderson, myself and the rest of the people who were there expressed our emotions from that game to the underclassmen that weren’t there at practice all week long.”

The game was delayed by lightning twice, which combined for about 90 minutes. Overall, the game lasted four hours and 10 minutes.

Although the weather did put a damper on the field, it didn’t take away from the spirit off of it.

Hurricane honored two unique individuals — teacher Mary Janice Richmond, who is battling a debilitating illness — and former football standout Brian Scott, who is battling leukemia. The Tigers had fans dress in orange shirts (Orange Out) and teamed with local businesses to help raise funds for the two honorees and others.

Back on the field, both teams entered the anticipated matchup with plenty at stake.

Tigers coach Chris Homer said this could be the biggest game of the season for both programs, adding the playoff implications are huge, determining playoff matchups and home or road games.

Hurricane (4-1 region, 7-1 overall) could’ve clinched at least a share of the Region 9 title, and increased its winning streak to 21 games, ranking as the 14th longest in state history. Yet it wasn’t meant to be.

On their final drive in triple overtime, backup quarterback Adlai Elison — who replaced an injured Zach Prince in the second half — put his team in position to succeed. However, two drops downfield ultimately halted their drive, and secured the Thunder’s victory.

Ty Rutledge proved to be a dangerous threat after the first half.

The Desert Hills (4-1, 5-3) quarterback made big throws downfield, jet-like runs up-field, and leadership qualities of a veteran. In one of the loudest stadiums in the state, Rutledge led his team on multiple key drives to keep the Thunder’s pursuit of the Tigers in reach. He finished with 218 yards on 14-of-28 passing with three touchdowns and one interception. On top of that, Rutledge tacked on another 89 yards and two touchdowns rushing.

“Ty is a fierce competitor that makes so many things happen for them,” Homer said. “I think it’s amazing how good he has become in less than one year on the varsity level at quarterback. He can beat you on the ground and in the air.”

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Thunder make statement with blowout of Snow Canyon

Written by: Andy Griffen, StGeorgeUtah.com

It was supposed to be a nail-biter between two teams hoping to contend for a region title. It was supposed to be a close game with playoff ramifications. It was supposed to be a lot of things. What it was, was a statement game by a determined Desert Hills Thunder squad.

DH whipped Snow Canyon 42-0 Friday night in front of an appreciative Homecoming crowd and staked a claim as one of the best teams in the region and perhaps the state.

“We played Thunder football,” quarterback Ty Rutledge said. “We played hard, hit hard and and didn’t give up. And we finally put together four quarters.”

In all truthfulness, the Thunder only needed two quarters to turn this one into a rout. With Snow Canyon’s offense being dominated by the Thunder front, Rutledge and sophomore stud running back Bridger Cowdin had plenty of opportunities to make things happen.

The pair combined for a huge night behind a spirited Desert Hills offensive line. But even without their help, the DH defense was plenty good. In fact, the Thunder D scored two touchdowns of its own.

With the score 7-0 early in the second quarter, Sil Bundy and Gabe Sewell went hard after Snow Canyon quarterback Mason Smith. Smith launched a pass, but it was stuffed by Bundy at the line. Bundy tipped the airborne ball another time before it landed in Sewell’s hands. The big sophomore cradled it and danced untouched the 25 yards into the end zone with Bundy as his escort.

It’s certainly a good night when the head coach doesn’t know who to give the game ball to.

“The offensive line,” Carl Franke said. “But the defense got the shutout. And Ty made some great decisions tonight. Bridger ran hard. It was just a great team win.”

The defense set up another score just before halftime. On one of Snow Canyon’s deepest penetrations of the game, the Warriors got to the Thunder 38-yard line with 45 seconds left in the half. With Desert Hills already ahead 21-0, the Warriors were desperately trying to get on the board before halftime. But Smith pass sailed high and Rutledge, playing free safety, easily picked off the errant throw. The senior then criss-crossed the field in an exhilarating return that covered 72 yards and ended when he was forced out of bounds at the Snow Canyon 8-yard line. On the next play, Rutledge found Josh Anderson in the corner of the end zone for an easy six points. That made it 28-0 with just seconds left in the second quarter.

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Rutledge carries DH over Panthers

Written by: Paul Delos Santos, The Spectrum

It became awfully apparent early that Desert Hills had a little more offensive flexibility than its crosstown rival.

The Thunder used a healthy balance of running and passing to their advantage, racking up 420 yards of total offense (196 passing, 224 rushing) as part of a 28-7 victory over Pine View on Friday at Thunder Stadium.

“We have the athletes and we play as a team,” Desert Hills coach Carl Franke said. “We wore them down with the passing game a little bit, and ran them out of the gym so to speak.

“When they’re believing in what they’re doing, they do amazing things.”

The win improves Desert Hills to 3-1 overall and 2-0 in Region 9 play. The Panthers dropped to 2-3 and 0-2 in region play.

Quarterback Ty Rutledge, once again, was a complete package. He went 9-for-18 passing for 196 yards with two touchdowns. He also beat the Panthers with his legs, rushing for 156 yards on 16 carries, including an 80-yard scamper to cap his 352-yard day.

“I’ve been saying it all year, and nobody believes me when I’m saying it, ‘Ty Rutlege is the best athlete in Region 9,’” Franke said. “He could be one of the best athletes in the state. Nobody believes me until they see him play.”

Rutledge, who celebrated his 18th birthday on Friday, admitted he couldn’t sleep the night before, adding that the game against Pine View always brings out the best in his team.

“We match up OK with them. They’re bigger than us, but we use our speed to the best of our abilities,” Rutledge said. “The win feels great.”

While Rutledge’s numbers are impressive on paper, it was two big plays that contributed to his big night.

In the second quarter, Rutledge found Brad Wulfenstein (three catches, 100 yards) for a 77-yard touchdown, which was his second passing touchdown of the night.

Then with the Thunder firmly in control late in the fourth with a 21-7 lead, Rutledge ran to the left side of the field, got a great block from Keenan Wittwer, setting him free for an 80-yard score.

“That last run was all on the line, and Keenan Wittwer made two huge blocks to spring me free,” Rutledge said. “It was fun.”

Pine View’s workhorse back Prentiss Miller played the role again against the Thunder. He carried the ball 29 times for 142 yards with a touchdown. But outside of his 46-yard scoring scamper, Miller had to work for all of his yardage against a stout effort from the Desert Hills

“We had to shut him down,” Rutledge said of Miller. “We focused on our keys. We were told to stop by our d-coordinator, and that’s what we did.”

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