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West Valley City Journal

Football tradition runs wild at Hunter

Oct 31, 2016 04:46PM ● By Greg James

Hunter senior Ty Carlson (#42) is surrounded by his teammates after scoring a touchdown. (Mei Sorenson/Hunter yearbook staff)

By Greg James | [email protected]

West Valley, Utah - The tradition established on the football field at Hunter High School has deep roots set in a running game and winning against its region opponents.

“This team is special. They are starting to believe in themselves and in each other and are coming together. They are doing great things,” said Wolverines head football coach Scott Henderson. “Hunter tradition is smash mouth football and that is what we do. We run the ball just like Hunter always has.”

A counter running game has been the trademark offense for the Wolverines since the school opened in 1990. The Wolverines have also never missed the playoffs since their inaugural season. This season the playoff appearance hinges on the team’s final regular season game at home against Syracuse Oct. 19 (after press deadline).

The running game of the Wolverines accounts for 79 percent of the team’s total offense this season. Entering the final week the Wolverines have amassed 2,124 yards on the ground. The bulk of those yards have come from its two star running backs, senior Ty Carlson and junior Pailate Makakona.

In a must-win contest Oct. 13 at home against Davis; Hunter took over after a shanked Davis punt near midfield. Carlson had exited the game with an injured shoulder, but Makakona carried the team down into scoring territory. He took the ball on the 11-yard line, cut through the left side of his offensive line and stretched the ball towards the end zone. His touchdown secured a 31-7 victory for the Wolverines and put them one step closer to a state playoff appearance.

“The kids responded. We had good practices this week and did what we always do to prepare. We were just able to overcome our mistakes,” Henderson said.

Carlson has 892 yards on 158 carries with 10 touchdowns. He injured his shoulder in the 31-7 win over Davis Oct. 13. Makakona has 117 carries 845 yards and 8 touchdowns. 

“It is all about smash mouth football. We know we need to come out as a team and not make mistakes,” Makakona said.

When the Wolverines have more than 275 yards rushing in a game they have a record of 4-1. Henderson is not shy about their game plan.

“We have done what we need to do. We just really need to finish games. We have shot ourselves in the foot several times,” Henderson said.

The Wolverines started the season 1-3. The team’s arch nemesis was turnovers. In the first four games they threw eight interceptions and had four fumbles.  Since that time they are 3-2 and only committed three turnovers (two interceptions and a fumble).

The offensive line of Lorenzo Fauatea, Omen Moea’i, Lisiate Tauteoli, Tusi Saafi and Dylon Hill has learned to work together and Henderson said they are very important to the running game success.

“I love the brotherhood we have. I know my teammates have my back. Our season has been pretty good. I know we can improve on our mistakes and get better,” Carlson said. “We live the tradition and play for all of the kids that came before us. They put a lot of hard work in practice and in the games before we came along. We need to play for them. We talk about the 2003 state championship team. The tradition motivates us to want to be the next Hunter state championship team.”

At press time six teams in Region 2 stand tied with 3-2 records; Layton, Syracuse, Davis, Hunter, Granger and Viewmont. In the final week (Oct. 19) the six face off in three games. The three winners will be tied for the first seed and the three losing teams will be tied for fourth. Only four of the six will advance to the state playoffs.

The 5A state playoffs are scheduled to begin Oct. 28-29 and the finals are to be held Nov. 18 at Rice Eccles Field at the University of Utah.