CEDAR CITY — One thing remains true about the Beaver High School football team: No matter their classification, the Beavers keep winning.
Beaver senior Kultur Matheson runs in the 1A state football championship game, Cedar City, Utah, Nov. 11, 2023 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News
Beaver’s complete effort on offense and defense led to a 28-6 win over Enterprise Saturday afternoon, seizing the 1A state championship at Eccles Coliseum on the campus of Southern Utah University
“Enterprise is a really good team. I was really pleased with the way our kids came out,” Beaver head coach Jon Marshall told St. George News after the game.
“We drove down and scored the first series, set the tone,” Marshall added. “Our defense played phenomenal.”
Indeed the Beavers’ opening possession was a model of efficiency. The old-school running game Marshall employs is a masterclass in simplicity.
Senior Tavyn Hollingshead moved the ball on two runs, slicing through the Wolves’ line and ripping off chunks of yards.
Quarterback Bodie Wheatley passed wide to Baylor Blackburn, another chunk. Next, Wheatley plunged a QB keeper into the heart of the Enterprise defense.
At times Beaver’s offense looked like a classic Wing-T, other times it was a veer-type running attack featuring multiple running backs in motion, trapping and pulling linemen and precise quarterback play.
The Beavers (12-1 overall) sustained their opening drive with another Hollingshead run, and then Tate Gale took a pitch and outflanked the Wolves’ defenders.
Beaver senior Baylor Blackburn (11) defends the goal line the 1A state football championship game, Cedar City, Utah, Nov. 11, 2023 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News
Even the breaks went their way as the Beavers fumbled the next snap, but Hollingshead alertly collected the pill and ran it to the 8-yard line, first and goal.
Marshall called two more runs, then a false start set the Beavers back to third and goal at the 6-yard line.
Wheatley rolled out and found senior Kutlur Matheson for a 6-yard touchdown pass and Beaver had indeed set the tone.
Ten plays, almost half of the first quarter gone and a 7-0 lead that Beaver never surrendered.
“It feels great right now. I don’t know any other way to explain it, it just feels great,” Matheson said.
One of 15 seniors on Beaver’s roster, Matheson and some of his teammates have played seven championship games in a row, going back to peewee ball.
“We got the best program, the best coaching staff and the best kids there, through the state,” Matheson said. “Best coaching staff I ever played for.”
Matheson said he didn’t know why the players call Marshall “Big Bad Jon.”
Calamity struck Enterprise (11-2) when a bad snap was recovered by Beaver’s Gage Raddon.
Hollingshead ripped off a burst to the Wolves’ 2-yard line, then took the next handoff, lowered his head, and barreled into the house for a 14-0 Beaver advantage with 25 seconds left in the first quarter.
Hollingshead finished as Beaver’s leading rusher, posting 97 yards on 17 carries.
Beaver quarterback Bodie Wheatley (left) looks to pass in the 1A state football championship game, Cedar City, Utah, Nov. 11, 2023 | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News
“We have studs up at the front, pulling around full speed, just killing kids in the line. I can just read their blocks and whatever I see I can go off that,” Hollingshead said. “We just keep doing it and we do it perfect. We’ve done it forever.”
Beaver put the game away in the third quarter, taking a 21-0 lead after Matheson recovered a fumble to get the ball back.
Wheatley dropped a 34-yard touchdown dime to Hollingshead and the Beavers were in full command of their destiny.
Enterprise quarterback Ryker Phillips put up a valiant effort in defeat, finishing a third-quarter touchdown drive with a 6-yard QB keeper that brought the tally to 21-6 in Beaver’s favor.
The Wolves were playing in their first state title game since 2005.
Beaver erased all doubt with a touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, ending with a 6-yard scoring run by Deegan Blackner that provided the final margin.
The 1A state championship is Beaver’s 14th overall. They’ve won a state championship in three of the last five years, although two of them were 2A crowns.
Beaver went to the 2A state title game four years in a row, losing the last two before moving down to 1A before this season started.
“I don’t care what classification we’re in, our goal is to be the best team we can be to get to this game and give ourselves a chance to win,” Marshall said. “Our kids played like champions today.”
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