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Prep football: Cariaga’s 3 TDs, defensive improvement give Roy ‘solid’ win over rival Bonneville

By Patrick Carr - Prep Sports Reporter | Sep 15, 2023
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Bonneville's Isaac Mansaray, bottom right, is piled up by Roy's Ryan Foss (47), Jaxton Scoffield (15) and Cove Rodriguez (11) on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023, in Roy.
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Roy's DaeQwan Snider (4) runs the football against Bonneville on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023, in Roy.
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Bonneville's Tifaga Havili, left, tries to escape Roy's Jake Viers (3) on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023, in Roy.
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Roy's Robert Young, left, races for a touchdown reception as Bonneville's Tavita Afuvai gives chase Friday, Sept. 15, 2023, in Roy.
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Roy quarterback Dru Gardner (16) throws what became a touchdown to Robert Young in a game against Bonneville on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023, in Roy.
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Bonneville's Levi Olsen punts the football against Roy on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023, in Roy.
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Bonneville's Tifaga Havili, right, tries to escape a tackle from Roy's Logan Cella on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023, in Roy.
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Bonneville quarterback Jaxon Johnson (14) breaks out of a tackle from Roy's Maxx Johnson (22) and picks up yards on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023, in Roy.
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Roy High's football team takes the field before a game Friday, Sept. 15, 2023, in Roy.

ROY — Joseph Cariaga III transferred to Roy High from Hawaii last school year and, during the football offseason, put his name in the Royals’ starting quarterback competition.

Dru Gardner won the starting job based on a good year, as well as a year of familiarity with the offensive scheme.

But there’s a reason Cariaga plays as much as he does and why opposing defenses keep a close eye on the Royals’ QB personnel.

He’s shown flashes this year and got some results in the form of three rushing scores and some game-changing runs in Roy’s 27-12 win over Bonneville.

Cariaga’s running may prove to be the ace in the hole the Royals need the rest of the way, and Friday’s three-score game came in a game where they didn’t have starting center Cade Draper, Roy’s best offensive lineman.

“I was just trusting my line, all credit goes to the line really,” Cariaga said. “I had a good feeling of where everyone was gonna be, but I trusted my line and their tracks, pressed playside hole and made something happen.”

After a 61-yard TD pass from Gardner to Robert Young put Roy (4-2, 2-1 Region 5) ahead 7-0, Cariaga scored on a short run, stared down a defender and celebrated by moving his hand across his facemask as if to gesture “zip your lips.”

Bonneville hit back with a 2-yard TD run by Tifaga Havili in the second quarter. Mason Tanner recovered a DaeQwan Snider fumble on the first play of Roy’s next series, only for Roy’s Jake Viers to intercept Lakers quarterback Jaxon Johnson on the very next play.

A flag fest ensued for the rest of the game, but particularly for a stuck-in-the-mud second quarter.

Penalties really hurt Bonneville, Lakers coach Jantz Afuvai said, and it’s something Bonneville will have to address ahead of upcoming rivalry games against Northridge and Clearfield.

“Every week (on offense), we kind of go up and down. It’ll be fun to see — not fun, it’ll be interesting to see what happened on a lot of these penalties,” Afuvai said. “They really are momentum killers.”

Cariaga livened up the game with two runs totaling 55 yards on the Royals’ first second-half series. He scored his second touchdown of the night three plays later for a 21-6 lead.

Bonneville (3-3, 2-1) responded on the next drive with a 70-yard passing TD from Johnson to Bryson Howell.

An unsportsmanlike conduct call backed the extra point up 15 yards and, subsequently, Bonneville missed the kick. That kept the score at a two-possession, 21-12 Roy lead.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Cariaga capped a drive with a 2-yard plunge and his third score of the night.

“We knew (the offensive line) that they had to step up big for tonight. First half was kind of shaky, but we definitely picked up in the second half,” he said.

Cariaga was more or less a known commodity for the Royals. The big question Friday revolved around the defense, which gave up 42 points a week ago, and improved to allow just 12 against the Lakers’ high-potential offense.

They have another difficult task ahead next week against a physical, triple-option Woods Cross team, but for this week, the defense did well.

“We really did have a solid week of practice,” Roy head coach Chris Solomona said. “We finally locked in, we cleaned up everything. We knew we had to make a statement this week.”

After Cariaga’s third score, Cole West intercepted Johnson to end one Lakers’ drive, then the Roy defense held on fourth-and-goal as Bonneville looked for a way back in the game.

The win wasn’t just one against a longtime rival, but it came at a crucial point in the year.

“A lot of guys who played here before know the impact of the Bonneville-Roy game, and for them to come and play the way they did and competed, we knew it was going to be a backyard brawl. I’m glad these guys came out and played a solid four quarters,” Solomona said.

Had the Royals lost, they would’ve had two region losses and been all but mathematically out of the region title race, especially with the way Box Elder’s been thrashing teams.

Subsequently, had the Lakers won, they would’ve been 3-0 in the region and co-piloting the title race. It’s all in play now for both teams.

Connect with reporter Patrick Carr via email at pcarr@standard.net, Twitter @patrickcarr_ and Instagram @standardexaminersports.

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