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Hard hits turn blue and white into black and blue tussle

By TERRY WILLIS, Sun Advocate sports reporter
RICHARD SHAW, Sun Advocate publisher

One of the stories of the night was sacks and opposing players in the backfield. Here Brandon Branch gets hit from behind by a white player. By the end of the game the offensive lines on both teams were getting better.

The opening kickoff of the annual blue and white game may have begun the contest as a whimper, only going a few yards, but by the fourth quarter, the two intersquad teams that were battling for the win made it into a real bruiser.

Coach JP Salisbury was eager to let the team get out and play on Saturday. It could be seen in his demeanor. And for the assistant coaches running the sidelines and the players for each team it was more than just Dino brother against Dino brother, it was about winning.

It was time for the squad to move beyond the 7 on 7 games they have competed in all summer and play full out. And that is what they did.

Salisbury wanted both the squads to come out more aggressive and be more competitive that they have been able to during the summer scrimmages. He was pleased with what he saw.

In a civil war like this one, some Dino was bound to lose, and on this night the blue team was the better one outscoring their white partners across the field 21-7.

To make the game a true head to head competitive experience for his team, the coaches held a draft to pick players for their respective squads. The results were pretty evenly matched teams.

The white team put points on the board first as a fumble turned into a score and the extra point sailed across the goal post, making it 7-0 for the paler team.

But then Brandon Branch, the blue quarterback ran one down the sideline for a score and it was all tied up at the half.

Running back Matt Salas takes the ball down the field for some yardage.

The score remained 7-7 until the fourth quarter when the blue team took the ball into the end zone again making the score and putting on the extra point.

Later in the quarter the white team stuffed the ball in, but it was called back.

The blue teams scored one more time and that was it for the night.

But other than for the players this game wasn't about beating the other team, it was about showing the stuff that Carbon football is made of. And the opening game and early season jitters were evident. At first there were a lot of missed assignments and both offensive lines often let too many of the opposing players in the backfield, but that did improve as the game went on.

The game became so intense that at one point a player hit another player long after the whistle which garnered his team an unsportsman like conduct penalty from the officials.

In fact all the team officials got a good workout with their arms, throwing out flags, play after play. At times the field looked like it was littered with yellow birthday ribbons.

But in the end it was a good beginning in a new chapter of Carbon football. Salisbury and his coaches know it will be a long hard road, but already fans could see this was not a coaching staff to be messed with.

Before the game began Salisbury went to both squads and told them "You don't talk to the officials, except to say yes sir and no sir, even in this game. We are going to be a class act."

And for the most part the kids showed that they wanted just that.

Salisbury acknowledges that rebuilding the team is as much mental as physical. He needs the whole team to be willing to take risks and put it all on the line. He felt he saw that beginning to show in this game, as he praised kids for taking chances and told them when they weren't being aggressive enough.

Coach Jeff Jorgensen was up in the booth running the clock for the game. He commented to Salisbury that he could hear the hits from up where he was sitting. He felt like it was the hardest hitting Carbon team he has seen in some time.

There were probably some pretty sore boys getting out of bed on Sunday morning, but the game did show that real football was being played on the Carbon field once again.

If they continue to play like they came out on Saturday, the team will strike fear in the hearts of their opponents, and hopefully also put some wins in the proper column too.

Next up for the team is the annual endowment game. This game is awarded to schools that are willing to give half of their gate proceeds to the Utah High School Activity program endowment fund. Carbon will go head to head with the American Leadership Charter School team on Friday at home.

The American Leadership Academy is located in Spanish Fork and as a K-12 school has about 1100 students. However, the large bulk of those are in the lower grades so the school will compete in the 2A classification this year playing teams like Juab and Manti.

This is the oppositions first year playing football, but Salisbury expects them to be a tough team.

As a charter school, they can recruit players from anywhere and some at the school have been bragging that they have acquired some top rate players from other schools. It will be a good test for the new look Carbon team.

Game time begins is at 7 p.m. Friday night.

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