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Houston Reynolds (6-2, 295 pounds) and Eathyn Manumaleuna (6-1, 270 pounds) saw double-duty on Friday, playing both defensive and offensive line for the Thunderbirds.
Timpview High School head coach Louis Wong and offensive coordinator Chad Van Orden used running back Jackson Owen (188 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns) as the Thunderbirds’ main weapon. The two future Cougar linemen acted as human road graders for Owens. The trio paved the way to a 21-12 Timpview victory.
“I’m excited,” said Reynolds with a grin from ear to ear. “We’re state champions and that’s just going through my mind over and over. It kind of doesn’t seem real, and I’ve got chills and my head is kind of fuzzy.”
“I never would have expected this to happen,” said an excited Manumaleuna. “I’ve never gone this far. I had so many butterflies in my stomach, and I was so nervous but excited at the same time. I’m glad we came up with the win.”
Coming from the state of Alaska where football is not quite as competitive, Manumaleuna never thought that by transferring down to Utah that he would earn a state title.
“I never expected to be a state champion,” said Manumaleuna. “I just thought I was going to be a benchwarmer, but I’m really glad I moved down here and the coaches have really treated me well.”
The win over Highland makes Reynolds a two-time state champion at Timpview. Both he and Manumaleuna plan to savor the experience for a while and then turn their thoughts to the future.
“This is my second one,” Reynolds said with a smile. “I’ll just hang out with my buddies and we’ll just show off our rings for awhile. Then I’ll probably prepare for my mission. Right now I’m kind of debating on whether I leave right after school or play a year than leave. I have some opportunities to play if I stay, so it’s really tempting but I don’t know yet.
“If I stayed and played for BYU next year, the defensive line coach [Steve Kaufusi] came up to me and said there’s a very real possibility that I will start for him, and I would play for him if I stayed a year,” Reynolds said. “So that’s playing on defense for a year. Then he said when I come back home I can do what ever I want. I can stay on defense or move to offense but I don’t know so we’ll see.”
“I’m going to enjoy the win and focus on school,” chuckled Manumaleuna. “I’m really behind because I was focused on this game, but now I can be relieved and let it go and focus on my studies.
“I’m going to work hard. I’m excited and I can’t wait until next year—BYU all the way. They’ve got the talent and they’ve got the heart, and just like all season they’ve been dominating and killing their way through.”
On the opposite side of the field playing defensive end and tight end for the Highland Rams during Friday’s state title game was another BYU commit, 6-foot-6, 235-pound Braden Brown. As a defender, Brown showed why BYU and Oregon both offered the two-sport star a scholarship. His mobility and quickness suited him well on the football field much like it does on the basketball court, and although Highland lost the game Brown was involved in many plays on both side of the ball.
“He’s a good player,” said Reynolds. “Just looking at him, he’s really tall and a very athletic kid. I think when you play against someone like that you can just see it in their demeanor, their face, and they know what their doing. They’re poised and calm but are very aggressive and play physical. It’s just that their not all crazy but they can play at that level but be calm, and I can tell that just by playing against him that he’s like that and will be a great player.”
Manumaleuna echoed Reynolds comments.
“He’s a really good player and has really good sportsmanship,” said Manumaleuna. “I really like him and can’t wait to play with him at BYU. I just told him that I can’t wait to see him up at the ‘Y’ and be able to play with him.”
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