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Depleted Genesis Shows Mettle in Comeback

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Depleted Genesis Shows Mettle in Comeback

Willie Leota fends off a tackle. Daliny Jones photo.

In a clash of ranked HS club teams in Utah, Genesis defeated a tenacious Salt Lake Valley Rhinos 29-19.

Genesis did so despite losing about a third of their starters due to injury and other issues. Head Coach Eric Nelson was quick to put that out of his players' minds.

“I looked our boys in the eyes and asked them how they were going to respond to this challenge. Were we going to just concede defeat based on our situation or were we going to rally around each other and overcome?”

The match started tentatively with both teams holding strong in defense and not mustering up much offense. Finally Genesis got a few front-foot phases which took them down within the Rhinos' 22. After a few more phases of forward ball, senior flanker Alec Shockley touched it down in the corner.  

For the next 15 minutes they SLV took it to the Genesis defensive lines with a combination of tough forward play and effective backline work.. Their size and speed were on display as they scored in fairly rapid succession and had Genesis on the ropes at 14-5. 

But right before halftime Genesis came roaring back with some excellent runs from several players, especially from junior Lock Easton Cook. Every time Cook touched the ball it did significant damage to the Rhinos' lines and brought Genesis to within scoring distance. Finally junior wing Luke DeDraffenreid put one down under the posts. With the conversion kick good the halftime score was 14-12 for the Rhinos.   

The second half began much like the first half did, with both teams trading possessions. Then the Rhinos were able to find some space to do more damage and scored 15 minutes into the half. The conversion was no good and now the Rhinos were up 19-12. With momentum on their side and a depleted Genesis squad in front of them, the Rhinos were in the driver’s seat.  

“This was the moment I knew that we needed our senior leaders to step up if we were going to have any chance to come back,” said Nelson. And step up they did. After an ill-advised chip kick by the Rhinos deep into Genesis territory, senior fullback Reed Johnson got the ball and scrambled 70 meters down the field. After a recycle and a few quick phases, senior flyhalf Willie Leota punched it in under the posts. The conversion brought the score to level at 19-19. Sensing that the Rhinos were winded and the momentum was shifting, Genesis continued to pour it on for the remainder of the game with tries being added by both Johnson and Leota. What had been a 19-19 deadlock was suddenly a 29-19 Genesis victory.

“I cannot say enough about how proud I am of these boys and what they accomplished with this victory," said Nelson. "They had every excuse to fold today given the absence of so many starters and a variety of other factors. But today they proved their mettle and showed that they will never give up under any circumstances."

Genesis now sets their sights on their most crucial matchup of the season against another national-ranked powerhouse West Valley Warriors on April 17.