Football season for the Emery Spartans came to an end Friday night on a field in St. George. Emery lost to top-ranked Pine View 48-6 in the first round of the state playoffs.
The final game was another in a series of games the Spartans had to play against top-ranked opponents. In what had to be one of Emery's most difficult schedules, the Spartans faced three teams ranked #1, one ranked #2, and one ranked #4. As a matter of fact, four of those five teams are still in the playoffs, and the only one to lose was a loser to one of the four others.
Emery beat then-#2 Snow Canyon, but fell to #1's Delta, North Sanpete, and Pine View, and also fell to then-#4 Lehi.
The Spartans finished 3-7, their other two wins coming against Canyon View and Carbon.
A sixth team Emery lost to was Uintah, who is also one of the eight remaining teams in the playoffs.
Against Pine View, the Spartans were forced to move lineman Jake Jensen to the fullback position because of injury. In fact, Emery had only three healthy running backs for the game: Jensen, Jason Parrish, and Matt Cornett. Head Coach Jimmy Jones also rotated the quarterbacks with Kent Stilson starting and finishing the game and Garrett Swenson playing the second and third quarters.
Pine View and Emery traded punts to start the game, but on the Panthers' second possession, they put together a 7-play drive that ended in a 1-yard touchdown, giving Pine View a 7-0 lead.
The Spartans failed to get a first down and were forced to punt. The short punt gave the Panthers great field position on Emery's 47. A 35-yard pass and a 12-yard run put Pine View up 14-0.
Emery fumbled the ball at the end of the first quarter and gave the Panthers even better field position on the Spartans' 27.
Three plays later Pine View scored again and went ahead 20-0. They scored on two touchdown drives that took a total of 1:22 to complete.
Emery's troubles continued. After getting a couple of first downs and moving to Pine View's 36, Emery gave up their second turnoverÃ¯Â¿Â½this time an interception.
The Panthers fumbled the ball back to Emery, but the Spartans failed to convert a fourth-down play from Pine View's 23 and the ball went back to the Panthers.
With 1:26 left in the half the Panthers moved 66 yards in seven plays and scored a touchdown with just three seconds left in the half. Emery was in a big hole 27-0.
The second half was worse for Emery. The Spartans gained just 37 yards on 15 rushes while Pine view scored three more times; first on a 34-yard pass, then on drives of 76 and 57 yards.
Emery trailed 48-0 before senior Todd Childs caught his first two passes of the year. The first was for a 34-yard gain to Pine View's 30. The second was a 19-yard touchdown pass thrown by a scrambling, pressured Stilson. The touchdown came with just 17 seconds left in the game, but it denied the Panthers a shutout and gave the Spartans something to cheer about.
There were several good defensive plays by the Spartans, but Emery was unable to control such a potent offense. Chris Wayman recorded two sacks and Brandon Hansen, Seth Powell, the injured Josh Sharp, and RJ Leamaster (aka "The one-armed man") all made big hits and some big stops.
The Spartans finished the season in a disappointing way, but the season shouldn't be considered a disappointment. The Spartans played quality opponents every week and usually made a good showing.
Football is over in Emery County and with it goes the fall. Soon it will be time for the winter and basketball and wrestling. But look back on this season as one of growth and experience for those who competed and for those who cared. Fall will come again and a new Spartan team will strap on their helmets. Life goes on, and so does Spartan football.