The running game was difficult to stop as the Star Valley Braves rolled up over 400 rushing yards en route to the school’s first football state championship since 1996.
After needing a last-minute drive and a last-second field goal to defeat the Green River Wolves on October 9 in Sweetwater County, Star Valley led 31-0 to start the fourth quarter behind a ground game led by Kellen Hansen, Collin McGinley and Hunter Jacobson.
A quartet of senior linemen, Samuel Semadeni, Denton White, Dillon Ortman and Max Gardner, combined with junior McCabe Smith to help plow the road as the offensive line imposed their will in the first half with over 270 rushing yards.
Hansen finished with 179 yards and a touchdown while McGinley rushed for 137 yards and caught a 38-yard touchdown pass from senior Reese Hiibel. Jacobson finished with 73 yards as well. All three running backs will return next season for the title defense.
The Wolves scored a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns and tried to cut into the deficit but ran out of time and were thwarted by two interceptions by Chris Erickson. Bailey Johnson led the team with seven tackles while Hayden Erickson had six. Gardner finished with five.
Star Valley had seen their last six trips to the 3A title game come up short by six points or less. The football program went 10-1 on the season, the program’s first 10-win season since 1967. The team’s only loss was a 14-7 decision against the Jackson Broncs. This year’s championship also shared a unique bond with Star Valley’s first ever team championship, the 1961 football title under Coach Lew Monsen. After going 2-7 in 1960, the Braves won the 1961 title. The 2015 team won the title after the team went 2-7 in 2014.
• See the November 19, 2015 edition of the Star Valley Independent for in-depth coverage of the championship as well as a commemorative poster.
Game Notes: Reese Hiibel’s touchdown to McGinley gave him 18 for the season, a new SVHS single-season record. Hiibel finished his career with 3,195 passing yards and 35 passing touchdowns, both are school records…Hansen finished the season with 1,244 rushing yards, placing him 5th on the school’s single-season list…Kyler Battleson finished his career with 19 career touchdowns putting him in a fifth-place tie on the school record list with Curt Stock (’68-’70), Allen Lainhart (’81-’82) and Ryan Brough (’12)…The Braves running game finished the season with 35 rushing touchdowns and almost 4,200 yards…Chris Erickson finished the season with six interceptions, tying him with Roger Cazier (’65), Andy Johnson (’01), Jon Scherbel (’08) and Kohl Battleson (’12).