by Tad Barton
Twenty-five years ago this football season, something special happened.
The year was 1989 and San Juan won its first of six state championships.
Those Broncos went undefeated, a perfect 11-0, beating the Hurricane Tigers 34-16 in the championship game.
What they left behind from that season was bigger than a state title. They left a legacy and created a football culture and tradition that has been passed down from one Bronco team to the next for the past 25 years.
This past Friday night, the 1989 Broncos reunited at San Juan High to be honored for their achievements. In addition to seeing old friend and teammates, San Juan’s first football state champs were treated to quite a show by the 2014 Bronco team.
As San Juan faced off against the North Sevier Wolves, they dominated all three phases of the game, scoring on offense, defense and special teams, and racking up a 40-point lead by half time.
The Junior Varsity continued to play well as they took over in the second half, scoring two more times and keeping their opponents out of the end zone to secure a 53-0 victory.
It only took 53 seconds for the Broncos to find the end zone the first time. San Juan’s defense caused and recovered a fumble on North Sevier’s first possession.
On the Broncos’ first play from scrimmage, Payton Palmer hooked up with Bronz Eldredge from 24 yards out. Aaron Mitchell added the PAT and San Juan led 7-0.
After a three and out by the Wolves, the Broncos marched the ball down the field. This time, the drive was capped off with a two-yard run by Kavika Su’eSu’e. The point after was tacked on by Chase Palmer to push the score to 14-0 for the Broncos.
San Juan’s next score came just three plays into North Sevier’s next drive when Eldredge stripped the ball from the Wolves’ running back and returned it 33 yards to pay dirt. Chase Palmer’s point after attempt was no good, making the score 20-0.
After another three and out by North Sevier, San Juan took over on their own 20-yard line. Five plays later, Max Morley took a shovel pass from Payton Palmer from 47 yards out and turned it into the Broncos’ final score of the first quarter. After Mitchell’s missed PAT, San Juan led 26-0.
San Juan would score twice more in the second quarter. Trason Jack rumbled across the goal line on an 18-yard run. The second score came on a 30-yard scamper by Nathan Nielson. Mitchell booted both extra points through the uprights and the score at the half was San Juan 40, North Sevier 0.
The second half started off with a bang when Brittain Bowring fielded the opening kick-off and returned it 90 yards for the touchdown. The point after by Mitchell was good, giving San Juan a 47-0 lead.
The final score of the game came in the fourth quarter, when Mason Bethea scored on a 14-yard run. Mitchell missed the PAT making the final score 53-0.
Offensively the Broncos amassed 428 yards of offense, 259 yards on the ground and 169 yards through the air. Leading the Broncos rushing attack is Jack, with 53 yards and a touchdown on seven carries.
Eldredge is right behind him, finishing with 45 yards on four attempts. He is followed by Su’eSu’e, with seven carries for 40 yards and a score.
Nielson added 39 yards on two carries and one score, Jordan Blake had 38 yards on four attempts. Bethea ran the ball three times for 22 yards and a touchdown. Morley and Payton Palmer rounded out the ground attack, with 12 and 10 yards, respectively.
San Juan’s aerial assault was led by Payton Palmer, who hooked up withsix Bronco receivers going 11 of 14 for 169 yards and two touchdowns.
Morley reeled in two passes for 53 yards and a touchdown, while Grant Laws and Eldredge both snagged three passes for 44 and 40 yards, respectively, with one of Eldredge’s receptions going for a score.
Jack had one grab for 16 yards, Jon Lewis had one for 12 yards and Kesian Barton caught one pass for four yards.
Due to the lopsided score, most starters on the Bronco defense didn’t see the field in the second half. This led to 22 different Broncos recording tackles in the game.
Defensively, San Juan was led by Jack and Su’eSu’e, who finished with six tackles each. Chase Palmer had five stops and a fumble recovery. He was followed by Laws and Eldredge with four. Eldredge also had two force fumbles, one which he returned for a score.
Jay McDonald, Jon Lewis, and Aaron Mitchell all tallied three tackles in the game. Jordan Blake, Easton Lee and Holden Smith each recorded two stop. Jaxon Lee, Nathan Nielson, Braxton Brown, Tanner Desrosiers, Adrian Bitsinnie, Peter Shumway, Payton Palmer and DiQuan Lopez each had one tackle. Palmer also forced a fumble and Lopez had an interception.
Homecoming hits San Juan High this week. Festivities kicked off Monday, September 15 with the Mr. San Juan Pageant. On Wednesday night is the Powder Puff football game starting at 7 p.m.
On Thursday night there will be a Tailgate Party in the south parking lot of San Juan High School at 6 p.m. Friday afternoon is the Homecoming Parade, and then at 7 p.m., the Broncos will host the Rams of Parowan.