Broncos outlast Layton Christian in game one offensive shootout
by Rhett Sifford
The San Juan High School football team opened the 2023 season against Layton Christian this past Friday, August 11 riding a state-high 25-game winning streak and defending its second-straight 2A state title.
Season-opening games are always unique, with both teams typically spending the first half feeling out largely unknown opponents.
This past weekend it was pretty well known what the Broncos would be bringing. The main question marks surrounded an Eagles squad that had lost a lot of pieces from its 1A state championship run in 2022.
It didn’t take very long to see that not only was Layton Christian prepared for the defending 2A champs, but they also brought a lot of offensive firepower to the game. And it was their first contest on what will serve as their home field this season – the Spence Eccles Sports Complex in Ogden.
Both teams brought tons of offense into the first half. The defenses were exposed and neither offense was stopped for almost the entire first half as they racked up 71 combined points.
San Juan drew first blood with the opening touchdown on a seven-yard run from senior quarterback Parker Snyder just 1:55 into the game. The score was set up by a 53-yard pass from Snyder to Keaton Ivins three plays prior.
But the Eagles were up to the task, answering 2:43 later when senior quarterback Marcus Miles scrambled and hit Elijah Elliss for a 57-yard TD strike.
Miles, who transferred from 6A Farmington High School to begin this season with the Eagles, was impressive and matched up very well with Snyder.
San Juan regained the lead one minute later when senior running back Zack Conway took a pitch and broke free for an impressive 51-yard touchdown run down the left side of the field.
But the Broncos’ point-after try failed and Layton Christian snatched a 14-13 lead with 2:16 left in the first quarter when sophomore running back Trevor Halililo rumbled in from 12 yards out and Timmie Olubisi added the extra point.
That lead was short-lived. The Eagles’ kickoff pinned San Juan deep in their own territory at the five yard line. But on the first play from scrimmage Conway got free again for an 84-yard gain to the LCA 11.
Two plays later Snyder dialed his own number again and scampered into the end zone from the four for his second rushing touchdown of the game. A two-point conversion gave the Broncos a 21-14 lead with 1:09 left in the quarter.
Layton Christian took their time moving down the field but answered again with a 31-yard touchdown pass from Miles to Olubisi 1:10 into the second quarter. Interestingly, Eagles Head Coach Ray Stowers elected to go for two in an attempt to regain the lead.
The attempt failed, and it proved to be a key moment in the game. The Eagles would never lead again, and a fire was lit under the Broncos.
Following a touchback on the Layton Christian kickoff San Juan set up a perfect screen to Conway and he went the distance 80 yards to the house. A two-point conversion increased the Broncos’ lead to 29-20 just 1:27 into the second quarter.
Both defenses continued to search for their first stop of the game. Layton Christian scored with 4:03 left in the half when Miles found Brayden Bott open in the middle of the field, pulling the Eagles back to within two, 29-27.
San Juan answered again with Snyder’s third rushing touchdown of the evening, this time from the one with 2:30 to go in the half. A two-point conversion gave the Broncos their first double-digit lead of the game 37-27.
Then, finally, with 1:15 to go in the half San Juan put together the first defensive stop of the game. Solid coverage by the Broncos’ secondary stymied any throwing options for Miles and the Eagles were forced to punt.
San Juan made the most of the opportunity to seize control of the game. Starting from his own 16, Snyder ran to the right side of the field, drawing a defender and leaving receiver Javin Montella wide open.
Snyder made no mistake with his pass and Montella took it the rest of the way for an 84-yard strike as the Broncos increased their lead to 44-27 with under a minute remaining in the first half.
The San Juan defense got their second stop of the night and second in a row when Brigham Nielson intercepted a pass from Miles at midfield. The half ended with the Broncos still possessing the football.
Both teams’ defenses traded stops to start the second half. With 5:41 left in the third quarter San Juan took over at their own 47. Seven plays and 1:42 later they were in the end zone again when Snyder snuck in from the one for his fourth TD of the game.
Snyder scored his fifth rushing touchdown of the night just over two minutes into the fourth quarter from the three yard line. Layton Christian finally answered for their first touchdown of the second half two minutes later.
Zack Conway scored his second rushing TD of the night with 5:31 to go and, with the Bronco JV in the game, the Eagles added the final score with 5:07 remaining to make the final score 66-43.
It wasn’t a thing of beauty but San Juan opened the year with a sizable win, their 26th in a row. Parker Snyder had a great start, throwing for 324 yards and two touchdowns. His 117 yards rushing and five rushing TDs were equally impressive.
Zack Conway rushed for 212 yards and two TDs and added 112 yards receiving with a touchdown catch. Javin Montella had 81 yards receiving on two catches and one touchdown. Keaton Ivins added three catches for 77 yards.
Following the game San Juan Head Coach Barkley Christensen had praise for his offense but was clearly dissatisfied with the effort of the defense.
The team is working this week to clean it up and bring a more balanced effort in game two. They’re set for their second long road trip to I-15 in as many weeks, to Draper to face Juan Diego Catholic.
The Soaring Eagle, who play in the 3A classification, are coming off a season-opening 35-13 loss to 5A Highland. They will be a handful. Similar to San Juan, Highland has returned some solid veterans.
Though they are a bit younger than the Broncos, the Soaring Eagle returned seven starters in their unique veer offense and five on defense. Four in both groups are juniors.
Junior quarterback Hayden Mezenen threw for a touchdown and ran for another in the loss to Highland this past Friday.
The game kicks off at 7 p.m. this Friday, August 19. Join Redrock 92 Radio and pictureitpalmer.com for the live broadcast starting at 6:30 p.m.