Sugar-Salem lost 34-33 in double overtime to Weiser after coming up a half yard short on a two-point conversion that would have won them the game.
Weiser went up 13-0 in the first half before the Diggers began to rally. Jonah Schulthies scored on a 19-yard touchdown catch to bring the score to 13-7 before Weiser pushed it back to a two-score game in the third quarter.
Quarterback Danny Neal hit Cooper Porter for 15-yard touchdown pass with a second left on the third quarter clock. Cooper Butikofer stepped in front of a Weiser receiver on the ensuing possession.
The Diggers drove down the field 31 yards in six plays tying the score at 20 before a blocked extra point prevented the Diggers from taking the lead with 1:43 on the clock.
Weiser drove into field goal range but missed the 30-plus yard field goal with four seconds left on the clock.
Both teams scored from the designated 10-yard spot in overtime. In double overtime, the Diggers answered Weiser’s touchdown with a touchdown of their own. Down one they elected to go for two.
Neal play-action faked and drifted to his right before riffling the ball to Carson Harris whom a Weiser defender slammed him to the ground inside the one.
After the game Diggers head coach, Tyler Richins consoled his team.
“I just told them I was proud of them for the way they battled,” Richins said. “I’m proud of them for the season that they’ve had. The way they battled through adversity starting out 0-2 and earning a chance at a state championship. It’s been a pleasure to coach them.”
Richins felt proud of how his team cut the deficit after getting down early.
“It’s what we’ve shown all year,” Richins said. “It shows who they are as athletes and kids. It shows their character and how they’ve been raised to never quit. To never accept defeat. To battle no matter what and never give up. I don’t think they ever gave up at all. They kept battling to the very end.”
The Diggers outgained Weiser 339 to 287.
“I think what makes them mostly tough is they are just really good offensively and defensively,” Richins said of Weiser. “They run the ball then they put you in difficult situations with their play-action game. They’re very well coached and they have a lot of great senior leadership. They came in with that same mentality that our kids did—that they weren’t going to quit or lay down. They wanted it just as much as we did. They’re a great team and they did everything they needed to to win tonight.”
Carson Harris led the Diggers with 160 rushing yards, two catches for 23 yards and three total touchdowns.
Neal went 15 of 22 for 147 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. Cooper Butikofer caught four passes for 53 yards and Jonah Schulthies caught three passes for 28 yards.
With the loss the Diggers title streak ends at three. Winning four consecutive championships in football has always been a difficult mountain to climb. Only one football team has won four consecutive titles (Mackey) since 1980 according to the Idaho High School Activities associations website.
Winning is difficult in itself. To be consistent takes a group of people that believe in themselves. That believe in the purpose. That believe in what they can achieve. And they invest in the process to get better and push themselves. They do things that normal people wouldn’t do. They give up nights out with their friends, family vacations. They give up early-morning staying in bed. They give most things up to be great.”
Only a handful of losses and three championships provide evidence of what the Diggers accomplished even though it ended in heartbreak.
“For us to be consistently successful, it’s a credit to these kids and their investment in the program and believing that we’re telling them is going to make them great,” Richins said. “I think that’s what made us successful these last few years.”