OREM — The Herriman football team announced its bid for the 4A state championship loudly with a 49-21 thumping of Orem. Most regard the Mustangs as legitimate contenders for the 4A crown in only their third year and they looked every bit the part on opening night.
Herriman used an unrelenting ground game and timely deep strikes down the field to take the win. Several early miscues by Orem also contributed along with a solid pass defense that limited Orem's wide-open attack to just 205 yards passing.
"I was very pleased with how our team came out and fought," said Herriman coach Larry Wilson. "You never know what kind of team you're going to have until they play and we still might not know — we have a lot of work ahead of us, but yes, I'm very pleased with the start."
It didn't take long for Herriman to get going. On the very first play from scrimmage, quarterback Tueni Lupeamanu hit Canyon Hansen for a 60-yard touchdown.
The Tigers responded — trading blows to tie the game at 14 at the end of the first quarter. Senior quarterback Taylor Camp hit junior receiver Nolan Gray from 14 and 10 yards out respectively for both of Orem's scores.
Camp was hitting on all cylinders early, completing nine of his first 11 passes for 110 yards, before the Mustang defense settled down. From that point Camp missed on his next seven passes and the rout was on.
"We didn't really make any big adjustments as a coaching staff, so much as I felt our guys just settled down," said Wilson about his pass defense. "It's hard to simulate a quarterback who has a quick release like Camp does and those athletic receivers that they have here. They're a very good offense, so it took some time to adjust."
Camp finished the game 18 of 35 for 205 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions.
The game broke open in the second quarter with Herriman taking advantage of good field position and a pulverizing running attack led by senior Francis Bernard. Bernard ran for four touchdowns in the first half with Herriman taking a 34-14 lead into the locker room.
The second half started out much like the first with the Mustangs forcing a fumble on the opening kickoff. Two plays later Lupeamanu hit Connor Johnson with an eight-yard touchdown pass to make the score 40-14 after a failed two-point conversion.
Lupeamanu finished the game with just 5 of 9 passing, but accounted for 149 yards, two touchdowns and that was only the half of it. He also saw a full slate of defensive reps — accounting for a couple of sacks.
"He is maybe the best multiple position player that I've ever been around," said Harris about his starting quarterback. "He's a force to be reckoned with — he just does everything for us and could do even more, but we think we need to give him at least some kind of a rest."
Bernard finished the game with 13 rushes for 112 yards and five touchdowns.
Lupeamanu and Bernard are just two of the players Harris was quick to credit for the win along with his coaching staff.
"We've only been around since January of 2010, but since day one I've had kids and coaches that have given it everything they had," said Wilson. "It's been a huge blessing for me, but this is just one game. Yes, I'm very pleased with the start, but if we don't keep improving and working like we have, then it doesn't mean a whole lot."
Herriman moves to 1-0 on the season and will take on Riverton next Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Orem will take on Pine View at home next Friday.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company