Football takes home back-to-back state titles

Reds end season undefeated after battling Brush in the championship

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Emily Hogsett, News Editor

In 2000, Eaton’s football program won their first-ever State Championship. 20 years later, the Reds added another title to the books. On Saturday, Nov. 27, the Reds made history becoming the first-ever back-to-back football State Champions on Saturday. Eaton battled Brush for a tight game, which ended in the Reds’ victory of 26-14.

The Reds dominated in the regular season to be undefeated and ranked number one in 2A football. Eaton battled Kent Denver and University in the playoffs, bringing them to the State Championship to play number seven ranked Brush.

At halftime, the Reds and the Beetdiggers were tied at 7-7. Coming out for the second half, the Reds were ready to leave their mark and make history. In the third quarter, the Reds were behind 14-13. Eaton’s win came down to the fourth quarter when they gained momentum and scored 13 unanswered points against the Beetdiggers.

Ethan Florez (22) made two touchdowns for the Reds followed by Ryder True (23) and Ryan Dirksen (22) with one each. Florez’s first touchdown was made in the first quarter off of a five-yard run to score Eaton’s first touchdown.

Head Coach Zac Lemon said, “I am really proud of them living up to the expectation. We started out as number one, the expectation was that we would be number one all season, and really it was that if we didn’t win a championship it would be kind of disappointing, so that made it hard. It made it a very challenging season, and I am pleased with how the guys overcame that expectation and lived up to the expectation.”

At the end of the night, the Reds celebrated their back-to-back victory with each other, family, and fans. Florez was then crowned MVP of the game and given the game ball.

Florez said, “I was not expecting to get the game ball. There were so many things going through my mind – happiness and knowing that it is all over. That was my last high school game of playing football with the team that I love. It was both happy and sad.” 

Florez gained 70 rushing yards and made nine total tackles for the Reds during their battle against the Beetdiggers. Over the entirety of the game, Florez took ownership of 12 points for the Reds. 

Dirksen gained the most yardage for the Reds with 103 rushing yards, followed by Florez’s rushing yardage. His tackle was made in the third quarter with a 42-yard run. 

True and Dirksen led the Reds in tackles followed by Florez’s nine tackles and Morgan Tribbett (23) with seven.

Brogan Barr (22) made an interception for the Reds in the first quarter and ran the ball for eight yards.

To celebrate their victory, the football team was welcomed back into town with a police escort followed by fireworks with fans lining the streets of Eaton.

“It was amazing seeing fireworks go off and the whole town there celebrating,” said Dirksen. He said his favorite memory from the season was “the locker room after the state game when everyone was dancing. Even the coaches joined in and started dancing.” 

Walker Martin (23) led the Reds in seasonal stats with 1335 passing yards. Dirksen leads the Reds in rushing yards with 954 yards followed by Florez with 953 yards. 

Defensively, Dirksen leads the Reds with 113 tackles, followed by True with 112, and Florez with 91. Dirksen also leads the Reds with sacks for a total of 13.5 followed by Morgan Tribbett (23) with 9.5 sacks. 

The All State football game will be held on June 10. Representing the Reds will be Florez, Dirksen, and kicker Jose Lopez (22).

Eaton football was invited to attend the Denver Broncos vs. the Detroit Lions game at Empower field on Dec. 12. All the champion teams from across the state were able to attend the game and were recognized throughout the game. 

For the graduating seniors, Lemon said he hopes “C.R.E.D.I.T. still sticks no matter what – everything you do that applies. So, I hope the lessons from football just makes them more productive citizens, help them in their further education, further careers, future families, and all of the above.”

C.R.E.D.I.T. stands for Commitment, Respect, Effort, Discipline, Integrity, and Toughness. Through their back-to-back State Championships, the Reds have used and exemplified this acronym perfectly.