July 3, 2013
Sting players dominate league’s All-Star game
By Sean Hales
The Brigham Sting semi-professional football team may have fallen short of winning the Rocky Mountain Football League title in their inaugural season, but they certainly made some noise in the league by winning their division and garnering post-season honors.
Last week, eight players played in the RMFL All-Star game and Sting coach James Eyre was selected to coach the All-Star Utah/Montana squad. Sting players scored the Utah All-Star’s two touchdowns as Utah went on to win the game, 14-12. Running back Jesse Balls ran for one touchdown and quarterback Brad Thurber connected with Mike Cook from 25 yards out for another score.
Other players who were named to the All-Star team were: Mike Norton (OL), Cole Williamson (C), Justin Dominguez (WR), Braden Rusch (DE), and Tony Belford (ML).
“Our players dominated the All-Star Game,” said Eyre.
Belford was also honored at the league’s Defensive Player of the Year.
“He had stats in everything,” said Eyre. “He’s a very intense player.” Still, Eyre said, the award came as something of a shock.
Belford had the second-highest number of tackles in the league, a number of tackles for loss, two interceptions, four forced fumbles and several fumble recoveries, in addition to being the Sting’s defensive leader.
Eyre added that given everything—the team’s success despite it being their inaugural season, the number of players selected to the All-Star game, Belford’s Player of the Year Award, and the number of players who have already contacted the Sting interested in playing for a high-caliber team—the Sting should not be overlooked next year.
“It’s amazing how well we did,” Eyre said.
June 19, 2013
Brigham Sting eliminated in one point loss to Bulldawgs
Magic Valley Bulldawgs 37
By Sean Hales
In close contests, games are often decided by one key moment; a mistake or play that turns the tide, steals momentum or seals a narrow victory.
Such is not the case in the Brigham Sting’s 36-37 loss to Idaho’s Magic Valley Bulldawgs in the first round of the Rocky Mountain Football League’s playoffs last Saturday.
“I can go back and I can find about 20 things that could have made a difference,” said head coach James Eyre before listing some of the most obvious mistakes.
The first on his list was a fumble with just under two minutes left in the game. The Sting had the lead, 36-30, and the ball, and were marching toward victory when an exchange on a hand-off went bad and gave the Bulldawgs the ball at about their own 20-yard line.
“They [the Bulldawgs] weren’t stopping us,” said Eyre. “We just had to run it out and it was over.”
But even the fumble wasn’t completely to blame. Twice the Sting forced the Bulldawgs to convert on fourth down, which they did both times. One conversion came on a 4th-and-15 when the Sting missed bringing down the ball carrier after a short pass and allowed Magic Valley to get the first down.
With one second left on the clock, the Bulldawgs were just inside the red zone and connected on a pass to the corner of the end zone.
“It was one of those ones where the quarterback throws it up and hopes,” said Eyre.
The Bulldawgs made the extra point to win the game.
There was also the missed field goal; the blown coverage on a pass with just three minutes left in the game that allowed the Bulldawgs to get within six of the Sting, 30-36; or the interception in the second half that the Sting turned right back over on the interception return.
“We just shot ourselves in the foot,” said Eyre.
The two teams both put up a little more than 400 yards of total offense, but it was not a constant back-and-forth battle.
“We dominated the first half,” said Eyre.
The Sting went up 13-0 in the first quarter off a 61-yard run by Shay Kaleikini and a 15-yard pass from Brad Thurber to Mike Cook. and were up 16-6 with just 20 seconds left in the first half when Thurber hit Justin Dominguez for an 80-yard pass that went for a touchdown and a 22-6 lead going into the locker room.
“We thought that [touchdown] would totally take them out of it,” Eyre said.
The teams played a back-and-forth second half where, for the most part, the Sting maintained their advantage until, with about five minutes left in the game, the Sting intercepted a pass to set up a 4-yard touchdown run by Kaleikini to give Brigham City a 14-point lead, 36-22.
However, “They [the Bulldawgs] just never gave up,” said Eyre.
Thurber was 9-for-20 for 207 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Dominguez finished with four receptions for 120 yards.
Kaleikini put up 87 yards on the ground on nine carries, and Dave Williams put up 78 yards on 19 rushing attempts.
The Sting were not necessarily slouches on defense, despite the high-scoring loss.
Peters and Greg Williams each had two interceptions, and the defense combined for seven tackles for loss, three of which were sacks by Tanner Smith, Carson Meyers and Andrew Augustus.
June 12, 2013
Sting defense comes out on top to claim Utah/Nevada Division title
Next up: June 15, 6pm, vs. Magic Valley Bulldawgs
In their first year, the Brigham Sting football team of the Rocky Mountain Football League are the 2013 Utah/Nevada Division champions after winning a closely-contested defensive battle with the Utah Cobras last Saturday, 14-13.
With only four minutes left in the game, the Cobras had both the ball and the 13-7 lead.
But Sting defensive tackle Adam Pixton made a big tackle on first down and batted down a third-down pass attempt to force a punt, that was downed at the Cobra’s 45-yard line.
The Sting took advantage of the short field and took seven plays to move down the field and put the ball in the end zone off a 13-yard run by Jesse Balls, who went untouched right through the middle. Logan Hull made the extra-point kick and the Sting took the lead, 14-13, with two minutes remaining.
The Cobras made a run at the Sting in the final two minutes, but a solid defensive effort forced a 52-yard field goal attempt that missed.
The Sting opened the game in a manner that might have put doubt into the hearts of the Cobras’ fans.
Starting at the 31-yard line, the Sting drove the length of the field in 10 plays, highlighted by the solid running of Dave Williams, who had 50 yards on four carries in the series, including one run for 35 yards.
Sting quarterback Brad Thurber capped off the drive with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Justin Dominguez.
After that, however, the Cobras buckled down defensively and kept the Sting off the scoreboard until the final few minutes of the game.
The Brigham City defense was able to win a couple of important victories by forcing the Cobras to settle for field goals on promising drives that ended in the red zone.
On the first such possession, Sting linebacker Brett Roholt recorded an important sack on third down to stop the Cobra’s drive.
On the second possession, late in the second half, the Sting helped the Cobras down the field with two encroachment penalties and a pass interference call. But again, facing adversity the Sting stepped up; linebacker Tony Belford made important tackles on first and second downs to force a third-down pass that was knocked down by safety Greg Williams to force another field goal.
The Cobras took the lead early in the second half, using just seven plays to move down the field and put up seven on the board to take a 13-6 lead.
At that point, both teams’ defenses buckled down and neither offense was able to get much going until the Sting’s fateful fourth-quarter drive that eventually won the game.
The Sting did have an opportunity prior to the game-winning drive, when the Cobras muffed a punt and the ball was recovered by safety Dale Nichols inside the red zone. But on third down, Thurber’s pass was intercepted in the end zone for a Cobra touchback.
The Sting’s running back duo of Balls and Dave Williams ran for 101 yards on 22 combined carries. Williams put up 56 yards on 11 carries, and Balls put up 45 yards on 11 carries with a touchdown. Thurber added another 52 yards on seven carries to the Sting’s rushing total.
As quarterback, Thurber passed for 106 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Dominguez was his most effective receiver with three catches for 45 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, Roholt had two sacks and Carson Myers and Belford each had one.
Both teams entered the game with 6-1 records, with the Cobra’s sole loss coming from the Sting.
With the win the Sting secured the second seed in the RMFL playoffs and will host the Magic Valley Bulldawgs out of Idaho. The Bulldawgs, with a 6-2 record, have averaged 27.4 points per game this year, including a gaudy 86-0 win in their final game against the Gem State Guardians.
In the Bulldawgs’ two losses, they were only able to score three points, which bodes well for a stalwart Sting defense that has only allowed an average of 8.4 points. The Sting’s offense has averaged 20.7 points and 287 yards per game.
The first round of the playoffs will be played Saturday, June 15, at Box Elder High School. Kickoff is at 6 p.m.
May 15, 2013
Brigham City Sting offense unstoppable, defense impenetrable in 27-0 win over Elko
Elko Warriors 0
Next up: May 18 vs. Uintah Oilers
The Brigham Sting’s football game against the Elko Warriors last Saturday was of little or no contest to the Sting, who dominated the game both offensively and defensively, racking up 310 offensive yards and scoring 27 unanswered points.
Sting head coach James Eyre credited the team’s defense with the win and said they have been solid throughout the year and they keep getting better.
Not only did the Sting defense hold the Warriors scoreless, they ensured their opponent stayed out of the red zone altogether and held them to only 87 total offensive yards.
On the other side of the ball, the Sting, though only converting once for nine attempts on third down, converted four for four on fourth down attempts for 100 percent efficiency in both fourth downs and goal-to-go.
Running back Jesse Balls made the first strike midway through the second quarter, breaking loose for a 30 yard touchdown run. Balls contributed 41 yards to the Sting’s cause while Dave Williams added another 42 yards to the Sting’s 99-yard rushing total.
Through the air, quarterback Brad Thurber completed 12 of 22 passes for 204 yards and connected with wide receiver Mike Cook for two touchdowns. Cook checked out after a 188-yard game.
Penalties were still a factor in the game, though not nearly as costly as last week against the Utah Cobras. The Sting committed eight penalties costing them 80 yards.
With the win, the Brigham Sting extended their division record to 4-1 and claimed the first place spot in the Utah Division following a decisive win over the Elko Warriors, 1-4.
Next week the Sting will meet the Uintah Basin Oilers at 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 18, at Davis High School’s field as part of the regular season Stars and Stripes weekend where the Rocky Mountain Football League has partnered with the National Collegiate Athletic Association to give their officials field time and training on the field at a high level of play.
“It’s a big game for us,” said Eyre. “If we win, we’ll be in the driver’s seat in the division for sure.”
May 8, 2013
Sting beat undefeated Utah Cobras, 31-21
Running back Jesse Balls hurdles a defender on his way to scoring the final touchdown of the game. The touchdown helped the Sting separate themselves from their opponents after the Cobras narrowed an 17-point deficit to three points
Right out of the gate the Brigham Sting laid into the previously undefeated Utah Cobras in the Sting’s first home game of the season, tying the Sting with the Uintah Basin Oilers for first place in the Utah/Nevada Division of the Rocky Mountain Football League.
Sting quarterback Brad Thurber, enjoying protection from the offensive line throughout the game, completed seven of 11 passes for 158 yards through the air, two touchdowns and an interception while the team’s rushing corps pounded the ball for 197 yards and three touchdowns.
“We’re a first year team but we have a lot of experienced players and we’ve just had to get it together and get everyone on the same playbook,” said head coach James Eyre.
Taking advantage of an opening fumble by the Cobras following the kickoff, the Sting racked up a 0-18 lead early in the second quarter, scoring three touchdowns but missing two extra points and a two point conversion attempt.
“We ran over them from the very beginning,” said Eyre.
The first touchdown of the game came by way of a 25-yard delivery from Thurber over the shoulder of wide receiver Mike Lee in the front of the end zone.
The Sting dominated the first half, including limiting the Cobras to just 26 yards in the first quarter, while the Brigham City offense put up 24 points.
The Cobras couldn’t get anything going against an effective Sting Defense, and a six-play drive in the first quarter resulted in a missed 47-yard field goal attempt.
On the Sting’s following possession, Thurber again connected with Lee for a 60-yard pass down the left sideline, positioning his team for an easy touchdown punched into the end zone by running back Dave Williams.
A Sting first quarter drive carried into the second quarter and culminated with another Thurber touchdown pass, this time to wide receiver Justin Dominguez for the 20-yard score.
Eating up the clock with a nine play drive late in the second quarter, the Cobras run game took the ball into the end zone on a nine yard run, kicking the extra point for seven points.
On the very next drive, Thurber ran into the end zone for a go-ahead touchdown on a first and goal and another failed two point conversion attempt set the score at 7-24 going into half-time.
But the first half was only the beginning of the battle plagued by penalties and a couple of costly turnovers which squandered the Sting’s lead in the second half. Reminiscent of any given Oakland Raider contest, the Sting had 18 penalties which cost them 155 yards while the Cobras, who hail from Spanish Fork, garnered 13 penalties for 120 yards.
“Our penalties were obviously costly and, if it weren’t for the penalty yardage, we may have held the Cobras to fewer points and maintained our lead through the end of the game,” said Eyre.
Two back-to-back Cobra scoring drives followed and by the beginning of the fourth quarter the Sting had allowed them to within three points.
Following a Cobra touchdown, with the score 21-24, the Sting, on the very next drive, ran for another touchdown, this time a nine yard run by running back Jesse Balls. Making up for the Sting’s point after woes, defensive back Carlos Rosales came out and kicked the Sting’s only extra point of the game.
The Sting will battle the visiting Elko Warriors at the Box Elder High School football field on Saturday, May 11, at 6 p.m. Gates open at 5 p.m.
May 1, 2013
Sting ready for first home game Saturday
Fresh off of their bye week which followed a convincing 17-7 win over the Davis Vipers, the Brigham Sting have their sights set on the visiting Utah Cobras for the Sting’s first home game of the season this Saturday.
The Sting currently sit in third place in their division but with a win at home against the Cobras the team would find themselves in a three-way tie with the Uintah Basin Oilers and the Utah Cobras. Through the Rocky Mountain Football League’s tie-breaking protocol, the Sting would catapult into the first place position in the Utah Division.
Head coach James Eyre said the trick to pulling out a win on Saturday will be to contain Cobras quarterback Jordan Wager who holds an 88.5 passer rating and has thrown seven touchdowns and only one interception this year.
“He’s young, athletic and looks to keep the play alive,” said Eyre. “He’s their biggest threat and we just have to contain him.”
The Sting’s defense will look to do just that while, on the offensive side of the ball, Brad Thurber hopes to get the ball downfield and put points on the board.
“It won’t be easy—it’ll be an intense game—but we can beat them,” said Eyre.
The Brigham Sting will be donating 10 percent of their proceeds from their first ever home game to service organizations in the county and will offer free admission to the game for all active and veteran members of the United States Armed Forces, law enforcement officers as well as fire and emergency medical personnel.
Kickoff will be at 6 p.m. at Box Elder High School on Saturday, May 4.
April 24, 2013
Everything goes right for Sting in win
Uintah Oilers 7
Next up: May 4 vs. Uintah Cobras
Brigham Sting heads into their bye week with a 17-7 win over the Davis Vipers last Saturday, bringing their division record to 2-1, as predicted by head coach James Eyre.
“Almost everything went right this week,” said Eyre. “We were able to move the ball effectively both in the air and on the ground.”
Offensively, the Sting’s running game combined for 111 yards with Jesse Balls rushing for 35 yards on four carries including a 32-yard run for a touchdown. Balls, who played high school ball at Northridge and one year with the Davis Vipers, broke three tackles to take the ball into the end zone.
The Sting’s offensive effectiveness extended through the air with quarterback Brad Thurber completing nearly 53 percent—nine of 17—pass attempts for 164 yards and a passer rating of 81.5.
On the defensive side of the ball, linebackers Tony Belford and Randy Bushnell combined for 17.5 tackles, helping to hold the Vipers to only one touchdown.
The Sting defense picked the Vipers for three interceptions, returning them for 56 yards.
Eyre said the win was an overall team effort from both the offense and the defense as well as from special teams whose contributions continually ensured great field position and a 48-yard field goal kicked by Logan Hull.
With this next Saturday off, the Sting will be preparing for their first home game of the season against the Utah Cobras who are currently 2-0. The Cobras will do battle with the Elko Warriors this Saturday. The Sting and Cobras will face off at Box Elder High School on Saturday, May 4, at 6 p.m. The Sting will donate 10 percent of their earnings to local law enforcement and emergency services.
April 17, 2013
‘Rough’ game marked by turnovers, stagnant offense
Uintah Oilers 6
Next up: April 20 @ Davis Vipers
Brigham Sting linebacker Randy Bushnell dives to recover a loose ball last Saturday. The Sting fell to the Uintah Basin Oilers, 6-0, in a game marred by six combined turnovers.
Courtesy Kane Bertola
The Brigham Sting fell to the Uintah Basin Oilers 6-0 in a defensive battle marked by turnovers and penalties on both sides of the ball, leaving the teams with a record of 1-1 after the second game of the season for each.
“We couldn’t punch it in,” said Sting head coach James Eyre. “It was a rough game.”
The Oilers touchdown—the only score of the game for either team—came before halftime and followed a Sting fumble at the 20-yard line. Oilers quarterback Jake Ihde threw for the 18-yard touchdown to Travis Maxfield.
Sting linebacker Tony Belford blocked the PAT.
But it was more than defense that contained both teams’ quarterbacks. Eyre said that wind was terrible and prevented either team from connecting through the air for much positive yardage.
The Sting held Ihde to just eight completions of 24 attempts for 73 yards and two interceptions with Steve Peters and Justin Hugie each picking Ihde off.
Sting quarterback Brad Thurber completed only five of 13 for a total of only 50 yards by air.
Adding to the Sting’s woes, two of the team’s highest contributing running backs were not on the field. Dave Williams was out of town and Mike Messinger was on the sideline with a sprained MCL.
Attempting to pick up the pieces, the Sting’s running game produced less than 100 yards.
Looking ahead, Eyre is anxious to take on the Davis Vipers. Eyre is confident the Sting can advance their record to 2-1.
April 10, 2013
Defense solid, offense stagnant as Brigham Sting notch first division win
Next up: April 13 @ Uintah Oilers
Justin Dominguez waits for the snap in a game against the Elko Warriors last Saturday, which the Brigham Sting won, 14-6. Dominguez caught three passes for 100 yards and a touchdown in the game, and was the high point of a stagnant offensive effort.
By Sean Hales
Thanks to four quarters of solid defense, the Brigham Sting’s two first-half scores held up as the semi-pro football team earned their first division win of the year last Saturday over the Elko Warriors, 14-6.
“I would give our defense an A, if I was grading it,” said head coach James Eyre.
The Sting held the Warriors to just 85 total offensive yards, allowed just five first downs and didn’t allow an offensive touchdown. The Warriors’ only score came from special teams when they returned the second-half kickoff.
“They [Elko] couldn’t even move the ball.” Eyre said.
Much of the Sting’s defensive success stemmed from the defensive line, who played their part in the team’s 11 tackles for loss, including six sacks. Braden Rusch had four tackles-for-loss, three of which were sacks.
“Our defensive line is awesome, they really get in the back field a lot,” said Eyre about the squad which averages 6-feet 4-inches tall and 260 pounds.
It was the Sting’s defense that set up the offense with a short field in the second quarter. The Warrior’s quarterback was being pressured by Rusch when he decided to dump the ball off. Sting defensive tackle Dan Augustus intercepted the ball at the Warrior’s 25-yard line.
Two plays later, Sting quarterback Brad Thurber hit receiver Justin Dominguez from 20 yards out for the touchdown. Dominguez led the Sting’s offense with three catches for 100 yards and a score. Seventy of Dominguez’s yards came from one pass from Flash Gordon.
Generally, however, the offense struggled to find a rhythm. Turnovers (one interception and two fumbles) and dropped passes kept the Sting from finding the end zone.
“Our running game was pretty adequate,” Eyre said, adding, “We had a lot of dropped balls...we could have really gone up on those guys but we let them hang in it.” The Sting put up 114 rushing yards and 139 passing yards in the game. Running backs Mike Messinger, Christian Kasyan and Dave Williams put up 38, 34 and 32 yards, respectively.
The Sting’s first score came in the first quarter and was the only sustained drive by either team in the game. The team chipped away a few yards at a time as they moved down the field, culminating in an 8-yard touchdown run by Williams.
The Sting will travel to Vernal Saturday to play the Uintah Basin Oilers.
The Oilers lost their first division contest last week against the Cobras out of Salt Lake City, 26-10, but Eyre said they’re a dangerous team that can’t be overlooked.
The Oilers’ quarterback was the team’s leading rusher last year and helped his team to a division title.
“We have to contain their quarterback,” Eyre said, adding later, “I’m pretty confident our D-line can contain him.”