PLAIN CITY — Last Thursday at Fremont High, the Wahlquist Junior High football team defeated South Ogden 52-8 to win the Weber district football championship, capping a dominant unbeaten season.
But it meant so much more than a championship trophy for the Wahlquist Eagles. In August, 14-year-old Avya Sparrow, a Wahlquist student, was killed in an accident at Glacier National Park in Montana.
The football team dedicated the season to Sparrow, according to the team's head coach Brent Blanch.
"We just felt like we needed to do something as a team to commemorate her. A lot of the boys on the team were pretty close with her," he said.
The Eagles wore logos of purple sparrows on their helmets, cheered her name after every victory and many players wrote her name on their arms and cleats.
"We felt that wearing a sticker on our helmets of some sparrows flying and her favorite color purple would act as a token of remembrance that she's not forgotten," Blanch said.
Wahlquist took a 24-0 lead in the first quarter against South behind two touchdown passes from Christian Blanch — one to Dahrius Romander and one to Wyatt Cooper — and an interception returned for touchdown by Dahrius Romander.
The Eagles, who forced five turnovers, made the lead 36-8 at halftime with a Romander touchdown run and a Christian Blanch touchdown run.
South Ogden, which fell in last year's title game, scored its lone touchdown in the second quarter on Simi Havili's 21-yard touchdown run.
Christian Blanch scored two rushing touchdowns after halftime to give Wahlquist the final victory margin. He passed for 159 yards with two touchdowns, added the three rushing touchdowns and three 2-point conversions.
The win capped a dominant season for Wahlquist, which saw the Eagles finish 8-0 with a scoring margin of 390-16. South finished 6-2 with both losses coming to Wahlquist.
After the championship game, the Eagles celebrated with the trophy at midfield and chanted "Ayva."
"It was just neat to see the kids put other people ahead of themselves, put the team first and reach the goal of playing for her," Brent Blanch said.
"It almost seemed like kind of the glue that held the season together as the kids went."