Dominant performances from their defenses propelled the Preston and West Side football teams to victory for the second straight week.
The Indians scored a pair of defensive touchdowns, plus a special teams touchdown, in their 49-10 drubbing of Bonneville on Friday night at home. Meanwhile, West Side limited 3A Marsh Valley to 139 yards of total offense en route to a 14-6 triumph over the Eagles at home.
“I’m just really proud of our defense tonight, and they helped to keep us in the game when our offense was struggling,” Preston head coach Eric Thorson said. “... It’s just always great to get a win when you’re a young team, and I’m excited for that. Now we have a week off, and we’ll try to rest up. We’ve got a big stretch ahead of us. These next four or five weeks are some really good teams (awaiting us), so we’ll see if we can grow and meet the challenge.”
Preston (2-1) failed to score any points on two trips inside the red zone in the opening half and was clinging to a 14-10 lead at the break after Bonneville scored on a beautiful 55-yard bomb in the final minute of the second quarter.
However, the Indians outscored the Bees (0-3) 35-0 during the final two quarters to turn a nailbiter into a blowout.
Cole Harris dominated the game for Preston as he blocked a punt and recovered it in the end zone, and forced a pair of fumbles that were both returned to the house. The senior also chipped in offensively with four receptions for 75 yards.
“He’s always going to play hard defensively,” Thorson said of Harris. “He just has such great stamina. He plays both ways almost full-time and we’re pretty excited with what he does. He’s going to give you everything. He’s just one of those ironman-type players.”
Hunter Wright brought back a fumble 60 yards for a score in the third quarter, and Charles Iverson scooped up a Bonneville fumble and scampered 27 yards to the end zone in the fourth quarter. Iverson, who ran for 76 yards on 11 carries, also had TD runs of 1 and 15 yards.
Tait Rawlings had a short touchdown run for Preston and also caught a two-point conversion pass from quarterback Brecker Knapp, who threw for 183 yards.
Rawlings, Iverson and Emery Thorson recorded eight tackles apiece for the Indians, who got seven tackles and an interception from Davon Inglet. Inglet returned his pick 35 yards into the red zone to set up Rawlings’ scoring plunge.
Tyler Lindhardt accounted for Preston’s other touchdown on a spectacular 31-yard grab late in the third quarter. Lindhardt rose above a Bonneville defender and essentially plunked the ball off his shoulder pads.
It was Preston’s homecoming game and home opener.
Meanwhile, West Side (3-0) turned the ball over four times against Marsh Valley (2-2) but was bailed out by its defense, which also came up with four takeaways. As a result, the Pirates were able to extend their winning streak to 13 games.
“Well, it was a good lesson learner of a game for us,” West Side head coach Tyson Moser said. “I think our kids needed a little wake-up call and Marsh Valley definitely gave them that. We made a lot of mistakes tonight and, honestly, it was the worst we’ve played all year. But (our guys) were still able to get the win, so I’ll give them credit for that. And the defense obviously stepped up and played very well, but offensively we’ve got a lot of things we need to fix. Marsh Valley exposed some things, and I guess it’s better that it happened now than two or three weeks from now.”
West Side scored twice in the second quarter and took a 14-0 advantage into the half. First, Cage Brokens burned the Eagles on a 96-yard sprint to paydirt, then Bryler Shurtliff snared a Blaize Brown pass for a 58-yard catch and run to the end zone. Brokens ended up amassing 170 yards on 20 carries, while Brown threw for 159 yards.
A slim chance of a Marsh Valley comeback was terminated by Shurtliff, who intercepted a pass in the waning seconds of the contest. It was the third interception of the game for the athletic 6-foot-4 junior.
“Well, he made some great plays tonight offensively and defensively,” Moser said of Shurtliff. “He’s just a great athlete. ... Like I said, most receivers are smaller than him and he just kind of swallows them up, and anything that’s a jump ball he’s going to go up and get. He’s going to win those battles, so it’s definitely an advantage to have a kid like that.”
Josh Reeder also picked off a pass for the West Side defense, which has given up 12 points in three games.
The 2A Pirates beat a 3A program for the second week in a row.
INDIANS 49, BEES 10
Bonneville 2 8 0 0 — 10
Preston 0 14 21 14 — 49
B — safety.
P — Charles Iverson 1 run (Tait Rawlings pass from Brecker Knapp), 11:25.
P — Cole Haris recover blocked punt in end zone (run failed), 2:06.
B — Casper 55 pass from Perez (2-point pass), :45.
P — Rawlings 2 run (Owen Pierson kick), 8:34.
P — Hunter Wright 60 fumble recovery (Pierson kick).
P — Tyler Lindhardt 31 pass from Knapp (kick good), 1:36.
P — Iverson 15 run (Pierson kick), 13:46.
P — Iverson 27 fumble recovery (Pierson kick), 3:57.
PIRATES 14, EAGLES 6
WS — Cage Brokens 96 run (Jackson Stewart kick), 9:23.
WS — Bryler Shurtliff 58 pass from Blaize Brown (Stewart kick), :18.
MV — Belnap 34 run (kick failed), 3:20.