EMMETT — Rich Hargitt speaks like an evangelist. He talks with a forceful tone that grabs your attention like a shooting star. He praises God, gives the glory to the man upstairs for his success. He admits his faults but doesn’t dwell on them. And he has no problem tipping his red Emmett High hat to another side that earned his respect.
On that last point, Century coach Travis Hobson gives his counterpart over at Emmett a run for his money. Both men are immaculate at making the other side out to be the Soviet hockey team of 1980, unfathomably-talented groups that, surely, they are heavy underdogs against.
Oddly, it’s commonplace in the football business to have to coaches who both feel, every week, that they are the underdog, even in the absence of the all-knowing Las Vegas lines for high school games.
On Friday, the back-and-forth affair didn’t make that any easier to sort out.
After Century (7-4) took an early lead, Emmett stormed back, put the ball in the hands of its dual-threat junior quarterback, Caden Young, and came away 27-22 victory in the 4A state semifinal. Next week, the Huskies (10-2) will face Skyline for the state title while Century takes home a third-place trophy for the first time since 2015.
Emmett, though, will be without its kitchen sink, which is now probably leaking water over its already damp field.
“We threw every personnel grouping, every junk, every tag, every throw, every route. My God almighty,” Hargitt said. “We pulled out the kitchen sink, threw the screws that bolted it to the foundation and the dirt under the house. We threw everything at those cats.”
“They did,” Hobson said. “I don’t know if it’s that we didn’t see it coming, but it’s the matter of being able to stop it.”
Well, they could … for about 23 minutes.
Century led 16-7 with just over a minute left in the first half. Points seemed like a long shot for an Emmett team that had thrown the ball less than five times all half. Perhaps that’s when the dirt was dug out and the kitchen sink was being dismantled.
Young took position in a formation the Huskies use quite often. He takes the snap, fakes a handoff as he’s running backward — head away from the defense — then spins the other way and darts up the middle. Really, it’s an option play that feels as foreign as a UFO. So, with his team needing momentum, Young showed off his arm, firing passes of 28 and 20 yards before capping off the drive with a 12-yard score to Jack Maxwell.
“Once we started throwing it, they weren’t ready for that,” Young said, “because we hadn’t shown we could throw too well this season. Once we could spread them out and keep running — we kind of took them out after that.”
“The difference between 16-7 and 16-14 is a completely different narrative,” Hargitt said. “I went into the locker room and our kids are like, ‘We’re a second-half team. We’re going to win the game.’”
And they did.
Young threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Tanner Wilkerson in the third quarter, which gave Emmett its first lead of the game. In the fourth quarter, he saw space up the middle and sprinted into the end zone from 61 yards out to make it a two-score game. On the night, Young completed half of his 16 passes for 121 yards but carried it 20 times for a game-high 143 yards.
Century had chances but Emmett’s defense closed the hatches, picking off Century quarterback McKean Romreill twice in the second half, helping send the Huskies to the state final for the first time in Hargitt’s three-year tenure.
“I don’t think this was McKean or anything,” said junior receiver Bruin Fleischmann, who led the Diamondbacks’ receivers with 5 catches for 42 yards and three touchdowns. “They were obviously ready for our pass game. I heard them on the field like, ‘We watch film. Tell me what the next play going to be.’”
Fleischmann had the fortune of walking off the field Friday knowing it wouldn’t be his last time playing football for Century. Maybe that makes his answer more understandable. But as his breath became visible and he whisked away the brown locks that had fallen over his face, he gave affirmation to a great season, stealing a Hobson adage that it’s always a good year when you put a trophy in the case.
It’s a nice memento, for sure. But does it really constitute a great season? Does the very image of the piece of third-place hardware send chills down the spines of every Century player and coach at the mere thought of what could have been?
“I think we left everything we had out there, I really do,” Hobson said. “I don’t know that we played bad, but I don’t know that I’ll watch that film.”
If he does, shutting it off just before the first half had ended will let him sleep peacefully at night. Watching on may cause some angst, some nightmares of Young and interceptions alike, some trepidation about throwing it deep with less than two minutes to play and half a field to conquer, some admiration for his offensive line and, more so for the defense of Emmett, namely 6-foot-5 linebacker Axel Sanchez, who filled holes like Flex Seal and had a first-quarter interception.
And, most importantly, he’ll see that, even if he thought his squad was heavy underdogs, most of the spectators were blind to it.
EMMETT 27, CENTURY 22
E 7 7 7 6 — 27
C 7 9 0 6 — 22
C — Bruin Fleischmann 9-yard reception from McKean Romriell (Brayden Stouse extra point good), 8:58
E — Westyn Smith 7-yard run (Ryan Solis extra point good), 4:17
C — Brayden Stouse 20-yard field good, 9:17
C — Bruin Fleischmann 7-yard reception from McKean Romriell (Brayden Stouse extra point attempt no good), 1:22
E — Jack Maxwell 12-yard reception from Caden Young (Ryan Solis extra point good), 0:22
E — Tanner Wilkerson 6-yard reception from Caden Young (Ryan Solis extra point good), 4:23
E — Caden Young 61-yard run (Ryan Solis extra point attempt no good), 11:45
C — Bruin Fleischmann 6-yard reception from McKean Romriell (2-point conversion no good), 4:30
PASSING: E — Caden Young 8-16-121-2-0 … C — McKean Romriell 8-15-99-3-3.
RUSHING: E — Caden Young 20-143-1, Westyn Smith 17-82-1 … C — Easton Millward 16-82, Zac Snow 15-108, Kyler Hillman 7-16.
RECEIVING: E — Tanner Wilkerson 4-80-1, Westyn Smith 1-22, Caseyn Pearson 1-20, Jack Maxwell 1-12-1, Curtis Johnson 1-7 … C — Bruin Fleischmann 5-42-3, Jovan Sowell 2-35, Zac Snow 1-22, Emmett Holt 1-0.