After beating Rich 54-0, Layton Christian already has most wins since 2017
LAYTON — Before the football season started at Layton Christian Academy, head coach Ray Stowers said he was unsure if the Eagles would play home games at their scenic home stadium because of drought and sprinkler issues.
The sprinklers got fixed and the brown field recovered some green color to it. The occasional monsoon rains that pelted Utah this summer also helped, paving the way for the maroon monsoon the Eagles have become in 2021.
After Friday’s 54-0 win over Rich High, in which the second half was played with a running clock, the Eagles moved to 4-2 overall and 1-0 in the 1A North region.
Ilai Tagidugu scored two first-half touchdowns, starting the scoring with a long TD run in the first quarter and also running back the second-half kickoff for a touchdown.
Malik Johnson, a junior safety and receiver, intercepted his seventh pass of the season and then caught a long TD pass from quarterback Zoram Petelo to make the lead 12-0 in the first quarter.
Manu Vaitaki stepped in front of a screen pass on Rich’s ensuing drive, picked it off and jogged in for a 20-yard touchdown.
Vaitaki then ran for a 21-yard TD on the Eagles’ next drive before Johnson caught a 74-yard touchdown pass for a 34-0 halftime lead.
It wasn’t all as perfect as the score implies on Friday. LCA had several penalties and had a player ejected in the second half.
“You know what, a win’s always great,” LCA coach Ray Stowers said. “I’m happy for the kids, but, you know, still a lot of mistakes, a lot of penalties that are costing us, and I just want to see our guys clean it up.”
LCA was somewhat of a question mark before the season as the revolving-door Eagles were starting with their fourth different head coach, Stowers, in as many seasons.
But Stowers has so far been the guy that’s been able to turn the program around. The Eagles — they suited up 22 players Friday — already have the same number of wins this year (4) as in the previous two seasons combined.
Running back Jessaia Giatras-Moala came into the game leading the state in rushing yards (805), according to MaxPreps.
Even in LCA’s “worst” loss of the year, 14-0 at South Summit in a game arranged two days before it happened, Giatras-Moala ran 20 times for 124 yards and a score.
“From Pop Warner all the way up to the pros, I credit the O-line. Whenever it comes down to running block, it’s all about the guys up front in the trenches. I’m happy for Jessaia and his ability to run that football, but I gotta give the credit to our O-line coach Travis Brower and our O-line,” Stowers said.
Giatras-Moala scored on a long TD run in the third quarter to make Friday’s contest 47-0. Then he scored on an 85-yard scamper, untouched up the right side of the line, at the start of the fourth quarter for a 54-0 lead.
The Eagles are sitting in a competitive spot right as region play hits a higher gear these next 2-3 weeks. That’s more than they’ve been able to say at this point of the season the last few years.