POCATELLO — If there’s one symbol of Sugar-Salem High School’s 35-0 win Friday over Marsh Valley at Holt Arena, it’s safety Dylan Pope.
Pope and the Diggers played a complete game to advance in the 3A state playoff.
Pope had an impact all over the field: 37 yards receiving, 11 yards rushing, two pass deflections and a blocked punt for a touchdown.
The Diggers played a complete game on all three sides of ball, too, giving them their second win over the Eagles this season. Sugar-Salem previously beat Marsh Valley 13-7 in week four.
“It’s amazing to be able to play another game and hopefully we can bring it out next week and the next,” Pope said.
Diggers’ coach Tyler Richins called Pope a “utility” player for the 7-2 Diggers, who will play Fruitland in the quarterfinal round.
“We can put him anywhere on the football field and he’s going to be successful,” Richins said of Pope.
Sugar-Salem controlled throughout, holding Marsh Valley’s struggling offense to just 103 total yards. Marsh Valley averaged just two yards per play as the Diggers produced four sacks and allowed the Eagles into the red zone only once.
Marsh Valley coach Doug Armstrong said stalled drives were a problem for his team this season.
The closest the Eagles got to scoring was a 15-play, 7:20-minute drive that ended on a turnover on downs well into the Diggers’ own territory.
“It’s not the first time that’s happened this year,” Armstrong said. “We’ve had issues with our drives before this year.”
The Diggers had a winding, failed drive of their own — a 13-play drive to start the game — that ended in no points. But Sugar-Salem turned around and caused a three-and-out, ending with Pope’s blocked punt with two minutes left in the first.
After Pope’s blocked punt, Sugar-Salem scored on back-to-back offensive drives in the second quarter. One touchdown drive included a 66-yard run by sophomore Hadley Miller early in the second quarter.
“We just saw what we’re capable of for four quarters of football,” Richins said. “We got some things to clean up and it’s hard to play a complete game … I think it was pretty balanced overall and that’s what were looking for and we know that’s what we’re going to need in order to be successful.”
Two sophomores led the Diggers on offense: quarterback Tanner Harris finished with 121 passing yards and two touchdowns on nine completions. Miller led all on the ground with 74 yards rushing on four carries.
Harris filled in for starter Hayden Crapo, who sat out with a back injury.
The game did end on a slightly controversial note, though: Sugar-Salem threw a 17-yard touchdown with just 26 seconds left in regulation. Marsh Valley then took a knee on the final play of the game.
When asked about the final possession Richins said: “No reason (to throw late). For us it’s an experience. Even when we sub, we’re still playing football. We don’t look to run the score up or do anything like that, but I’m trying to get my young kids some experience.”
Marsh Valley finishes its season 3-6.
SUGAR-SALEM 35, MARSH VALLEY 0
Sugar-Salem 7 14 0 14 — 35
Marsh Valley 0 0 0 0 — 0
Sugar-Salem — Dylan Pope blocked punt returned for a touchdown (Luke Terry PAT good) 2:47
SS — Hadley Miller 66-yard run (Terry PAT good) 11:50
SS — Chandler Pincock 21-yard pass from Tanner Harris (Terry PAT good) 9:51
SS — Jacob Christensen 16-yard pass from Harris (Terry PAT good) 5:29
SS — Ethan Warner 17-yard pass from Simeon Rydalch (Terry PAT good) 0:26
Passing — Sugar-Salem: Tanner Harris 9-15-121-2-0, Simeon Rydalch 2-2-36-1. Marsh Valley: Damon Kelly 1-8-13-0-1.
Rushing — Sugar-Salem: Tanner Harris 11-54, Kyle Ostermiller 8-20, Hadley Miller 4-74-1, Dylan Pope 3-11. Marsh Valley: Payton Campbell 22-82, Caden May 8-18, Aaron Marshall 3-21-0-1.
Receiving — Sugar-Salem: Jacob Christensen 4-64-1, Dylan Pope 3-37, Ethan Warner 1-20-1. Marsh Valley: Cobey Moore 1-13.