Mud bowl can’t slow down Bronco football team as they beat Delta in homecoming game

by Rhett Sifford
Sports Editor
Folks in San Juan County never complain when it rains. This past Friday night, right in the middle of a bunch of homecoming football games in the Four Corners area, it did just that.
And, at least in Blanding where the Delta Rabbits were trying to spoil the San Juan Broncos’ homecoming party, it poured rain, creating the first mud bowl on the San Juan High School football field in recent memory.
The conditions led to a lightning-delayed start to the game, and when it did get started, it wasn’t a normal game. Gone was any semblance of a passing attack – from either team, but especially San Juan since passing is the team’s bread and butter.
The Broncos adjusted well, however, and running back Zack Conway was there for his team when they needed him. The junior was unreal early in the game, carrying the ball 14 times for 103 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter alone.
Maybe the biggest story of the homecoming game was the return of senior wide receiver Collin Baker, who saw his first on-field action of the year since suffering an injury before the start of the season.
Once the passing game began to heat up for the host Broncos, Baker was quarterback Parker Snyder’s main target. He ultimately caught five passes for 73 yards and two TDs.
His first touchdown catch, which came with 1:43 left in the first quarter, put the Broncos up by two touchdowns and was ultimately the winning score of the game.
And he wasn’t afraid to lay the wood on defense either – pretty impressive for a kid who broke his collar bone just a few weeks ago.
It was definitely a weird first half. Those two first-quarter TDs, which made the score 12-0 after failed two-point tries, stood through the start of the second half before the Broncos finally began to open it up after the rain left the area.
It began to look much more like the 2A defending champs that folks have come to expect as San Juan scored four touchdowns in the third quarter to increase their lead to 39-0 and earn a running clock for the remainder of the game.
The Broncos weren’t done though. Even as underclassmen began to see some action in the game, the team continued to find ways to score.
Fifteen seconds into the fourth quarter, Brigham Nielson scooped up a Delta fumble on the Rabbit eight yard line and ran it into the end zone.
The craziest play of the game occurred with 1:21 left in the game when sophomore Dyami Whaley also scored on a fumble recovery, but it could have easily been ruled a punt return since Delta quarterback Cam Skeem kicked the ball right into Whaley’s hands after he lost control of it.
The second-craziest play of the game was the 85-yard kick return for a touchdown by Cameron Curtis on the ensuing kick that gave Delta their only points of the game. They added a successful two-point try to make the final 58-8.
Following the win, San Juan head coach Barkley Christensen said, “We’re proud of how our kids handled the conditions and came away with a big region win.”
One thing the coaches weren’t proud of, however, were the penalties in the game. San Juan was called for 105 yards of penalties, many of which were personal fouls.
That won’t fly in games against tougher opponents, specifically in the postseason, and Coach Christensen said he’s determined to work it out of the players’ systems.
The Broncos obviously did a lot right in the win though. What can you say about Parker Snyder, who just continues to get it done? He added 236 passing yards to his season total, which is now 2,302 and seventh-most in the nation.
He threw for three more touchdowns in the win and he’s averaging almost four passing TDs per game. And he ran for 43 yards in the mud bowl.
It’s really a toss-up between Conway and Baker for player of the game though. Baker’s circumstances are impressive for sure, and the team gets a huge boost with his return.
But Conway really carried the team when conditions were brutal in the first half. Not only did he rush for 153 yards and two TDs on the night, he was also the second-leading receiver behind Baker with 72 yards on three catches and another touchdown.
Three Broncos – Jake Ivins, Brigham Nielson, and Dyami Whaley – scored the first touchdowns of their varsity career in the win. Wide receiver Garrett Young came on to run the ball and scored the first rushing TD of his career.
With the win, San Juan’s state-leading 20th in a row, the team moves to 8-0 on the year but they remain #2 in the 2A RPI standings behind South Summit.
Mercifully there’s a little bit of logic remaining with the human element as the Deseret News still has the Broncos ranked #1 and most likely will for the duration of the season barring a loss.
San Juan will get their toughest remaining challenge in the regular season this Friday, October 7 when the Beaver Beavers come to town looking to upset the defending champs.
Of course, the Broncos snapped the Beavers’ 34-game winning streak last season and went on to defeat them in the 2A state championship game also.
Since opening this season 0-3 the Beavers have won five straight. You can be sure there will be some players and coaches looking for revenge on the SJHS football field.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. this Friday and as always you can catch the game live on Redrock 92 and starting at 6:30.

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