PLAIN CITY — The Weber-Fremont football game is more than a rivalry.
It is also an open invitation for unmitigated chaos.
Last year’s Thursday night, televised Weber-Fremont collision was suspended in the fourth quarter and completed the following afternoon because of lightning that accompanied a biblical deluge.
The 2019 edition of the game finished on Thursday and not Friday, but only after a lack of light caused a delay.
Thursday night’s Weber-Fremont game, televised again, was postponed for 1 hour and 1 minute when the lights went off in the first quarter.
With this string of bad luck on televised Thursday night games, Weber and Fremont perhaps might want to go back to Friday night meetings, or even Friday afternoon to prevent against light failure.
Either way, the Warriors weathered weirdness for the second-straight year and beat the Silverwolves, holding a 27-points-per-game offense to just seven in a 17-7 win that only slightly narrows the Region 1 championship field.
“I guess you’ve got to expect something kind of crazy with this,” Weber head coach Jayson Anderson said.
Weber (5-2, 4-1 Region 1) quarterback Kohl Hogan launched a perfectly placed, 84-yard touchdown pass to Cannon DeVries midway through the first quarter to give the Warriors a 7-0 lead.
Hogan completed just two passes in the first half. Both went for touchdowns.
After the delay, Hogan scrambled to the left and found Ryan Hansen open in the end zone across the field for a 33-yard touchdown.
Weber took a 14-0 lead into halftime on the back of the two touchdowns, plus this sequence of drives from the Silverwolves’ offense: punt, punt, punt, punt, turnover on downs, punt, punt.
The Warriors dialed up the pressure and hardly gave Fremont (3-4, 3-2) quarterback Mitch Stratford time or space to throw.
“On the film, all the other teams didn’t get that much pressure, so that was our gameplan: put a lot of pressure on them, put No. 12, the quarterback, in a bind,” Weber sophomore Aisea Moa said.
Kadin Groom sacked Stratford twice, Weber defenders hit Stratford several other times and made four additional tackles-for-loss in the running game.
Even then, Stratford completed 23 passes, with nine going to Brandon Baray for 145 yards and nine more going to Jaxon Whitney for 117 yards.
“I tell the guys all the time there’s usually five plays in a football game that are going to determine the outcome and you never know when those five plays are gonna come, you’ve just got to be able to make those five plays,” Anderson said.
Two of those aforementioned plays were the two touchdown passes.
The other two were likely an interception downfield by safety Niko Pluim, where he wrestled the ball away from a Fremont receiver, and a fumble recovery on the goal line by Pluim when Fremont was about to score.
Perhaps the biggest play was the 30-yard field goal by Luke Johnson with 10:47 left in the game. That made it 17-0 and a three-possession contest, further narrowing Fremont’s comeback odds.
Moises Martinez rushed for a 1-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 17-7.
Fremont stopped Weber on the next drive and took the ball inside Weber’s 5, but Braeden Hart broke up a sure touchdown pass intended for Whitney on fourth down and the Warriors kneeled the ball to secure the win.
“Going into the third quarter with zero points (allowed) really set the tone and made sure that they didn’t get anything on us,” Pluim said. “We knew their threats and we made sure that we (played) over the top of them and the takeaways helped a lot, too.”
So, back to the lights. In the middle of a play in the first quarter, the lights went dark.
Up to that point, the lights on the southwest light pole weren’t on, so Fremont officials were trying to fix that, inadvertently causing an outage of some sort that left the field, and the actual high school, dark.
The problem, according to FHS principal Michele Parry, stemmed from a faulty ballast in the southwest light pole.
When the top bank of lights on the southwest pole began to turn on late in the first quarter, it apparently caused all the other lights on the field and in the school to go out.
The lights went out at 7:28 p.m. They turned back on at 8:04 p.m. and went back out again five minutes later.
They were on for good at 8:29 p.m. with 3:41 left in the first quarter, but school officials opted to leave the southwest light pole off because it was what was causing the power problems.
“On the sideline we kept our energy up. We chilled out, though, honestly you don’t know what to do in that situation because you don’t expect it, but we had the energy,” Pluim said.
Following the restart, teams played on the north half of the field. When a team would cross midfield going south, the referees would flip the field and have the teams switch sides so that they didn’t have to play in the dark half of the field.
In a postgame interview following the television broadcasters’ trophy presentation, Anderson was talking about the light delay when defensive coordinator Billy Pluim came over to hug him.
The two exchanged congratulatory words, to which Anderson replied about the rivalry game, “It’s always gotta be crazy.”