Sugar-Salem’s football team totaled Teton 42-0 in their first conference game of the season in Driggs Friday.
“It’s a relief to get a win any time you come up here to Driggs,” said Sugar-Salem head coach Tyler Richins. “It’s just a tough environment. Good kids. Good coaching. We’re just happy to get out of here with a win.”
Sugar came into the game after a bye last week but with many players working the spud harvest it was hardly a week off.
“Two weeks without having a game and being harvest you just never quite know how things are going to go,” Richins said. “I’m just proud of these kids staying after it— working in the spuds then they come in and get a lift in before practice and then practice from 10 to midnight. It’s just a huge credit to them. It’s part of the culture of our program and what we’re trying to build here. These kids love football, they’re putting in a lot of work and it’s paying off.”
Sugar quarterback Tanner Harris hit McKay Schulthies on a 19-yard pass for the first touchdown of the game with a little over four minutes on the clock. Sugar scored again when Harris hit Hadley Miller for a 31-yard touchdown with 21 seconds in the first quarter.
The Diggers didn’t score in the second quarter but scored three times in the third quarter. Browning Bennion two in from 10 and 15 yards out then Sam Parkinson ran one in from seven yards out.
Bennion also scored a defensive touchdown with 44 seconds left in the game when he intercepted Teton quarterback Dusty Hess and returned it 30 yards for the score. Bennion’s pick-six was one of three in interceptions for the Diggers. Bennion picked off a pass earlier in the game from his linebacker position and defensive back Braden Kirk had the other interception.
“I don’t know what the statistics are but if you can score on special teams or have a defensive touchdown your odds of winning a football game go up drastically,” Richins said. “For us to capitalize on some of their mistakes is huge. We coach kids up all week in film and just try to put them in the right position and the right place to make a play and try to capitalize on their mistakes so when (the other team) make(s) mistakes we just want to be in the right position to make those turnovers happen.”
Sugar’s special teams were also special Friday. Crew Clark returned two punts for an average of 31.5 yards. His long return went for 46 yards.
“Crew Clark, man, he’s electrifying on the punt return,” Richins said “There were two or three punts where he just took it and flipped the field. He has the ability to make great plays and he’s tough to tackle. He’s quick and fast and they punt the ball to him and then he just works the field. There’s a few of those series’ we just had short fields.”
Sugar outgained Teton 226 to 150. Harris went 6/7 passing the ball for 89 yards. Bennion and Miller each ran for 44 yards and Sam Parkinson ran for 33 yards.
In a conference with only two other teams beating Teton is huge for Sugar’s chances of winning the conference.
“I feel like we’re just getting one step closer to where we want to be and our goal of winning district again and continue on to try to get that state championship again,” Richins said.
The Diggers will face off with South Fremont in St. Anthony next Friday in their rivalry game.
“Oh man, we’ll have another fight on our hands,” Richins said. “It’s always a battle there. There’s a good rivalry there and I think a healthy one. I think there’s mutual respect there. Kids and coaches respect each other. We obviously respect what they’re doing. Chad does a great job there with his team. They’re going to come play us hard. These situations are not easy because they’re all ‘do or die’ — these conference games are real tough. We’re excited to get a chance to play them again and we’re up to the task and we’ll prepare for them like we do everyone else.”