SALT LAKE CITY — The Judge Memorial Catholic High School Bulldogs battled snow on the field along with the Manti High School Templars Nov. 16 at Weber State University’s Stewart Stadium to win the UHSAA 3A Football State Championship title.
It was Judge Memorial’s first state title in football since 1983. The final score was 36-22.
"This was a great game; it was a fun game," said James Cordova, Judge Memorial head football coach. "It was a pretty quiet first half for both teams, but Manti scored right before the half and took some momentum into the locker room with them."
The halftime score was 14-7, Manti. In the locker room, the Bulldogs focused on their purpose and reestablished what they wanted to do to produce in the second half, Cordova said.
"We came out and they had cleared the field completely of snow," said Cordova. "We knew that we were big and fast, so we used that to the best of our advantage and we were able to score four times in the second half and get things going. It was a tale of two different halves."
Going into the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs were down 22-20. Then they rallied. Judge’s defense forced a pair of turnovers and Michael Kearns and Henry Garcia each scored touchdowns to capture the title.
Also scoring for the Bulldogs during the game were Mark Barnett, Max Barnett, Andrew Matthews and Braden Pelly.
Watching the game from the sidelines was nerve-wracking, said Judge Memorial sophomore Xiaxfan Gui, a defensive end.
"It was really intense with the snow; nobody could pass the ball in the first half because it was so slippery," he said. "It was really exciting for the seniors because it was the last time they would dress in their pads."
"It was a fun and exciting season even though we struggled at the start of the season losing our first two games," Cordova said. "I had all of the team members write down their goals and put them in a box so no one else knew each other’s goals. From that point forward, we didn’t lose; we went on an 11-game winning streak."
The players "played as a team, won as a team and grew closer, more dedicated and committed as a team," he added. "They care about each other and the message we tried to convey is [that] this is about all of them; no one individual outweighed any other individual on this team."
The championship win for Judge Memorial was also a family affair of sorts for Judge Memorial’s coach, James Cordova. His brother, Anthony Cordova, was the quarterback for the school’s 1983 state championship team – the last to take the title before this year.
Also, Gilbert Cordova and James Cordova are the only father-son pair in Utah to win state football titles at the same school, with the school being both of their alma maters.
Gilbert Cordova won the state football title for Judge Memorial in 1970, 1972 and 1973.