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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Middle linebacker takes charge over Springville

By Tony Jones

The Salt Lake Tribune

Unless they are named Ray Lewis, middle linebackers don't get much credit.

They don't blitz often. They don't get the glory, and they are often called upon to do nothing but dirty work.

If ever a middle linebacker took over a high school game in the bright lights, however, it's Ofa Latu, who in many ways led Timpview to a 35-6 win over Springville on Friday afternoon and its fourth consecutive Class 4A state championship.

Latu picked off two passes in the Thunderbirds' win, including one which he returned 32 yards for the game-breaking touchdown. And that was not all he accomplished. Latu had eight total tackles, which was second most on the team. He also broke up a pass attempt and forced a fumble.

"This is just a great feeling," Latu said. "I really don't know what to say. The coaches always told me that when you follow the schemes, good things happen, and they were right."

On Friday, Latu led a defense that's been nothing short of phenomenal during the past two weeks.

Against Mountain Crest, in the Class 4A semifinals, the Thunderbirds held an explosive Mustangs offense in check, not allowing Alex Kuresa to take the game as he has so many times before.

On Friday, Timpview's ability to defend was a huge key when its offense repeatedly sputtered in the first half due to penalties and turnovers.

Defensively, the Thunderbirds forced five turnovers, harassed Steven Bate into four interceptions and limited Springville to 249 yards of total offense.

"You have to hand it to the defense," running back Jeremiah Burr said. "They went out and dominated the game. When you have a defense like that, it's easy offensively because it takes so much pressure off us. We knew that we had time to kind of get things together."

tjones@sltrib.com

Middle Man

» Timpview middle linebacker Ofa Latu has two interceptions, and returns one 32 yards for a touchdown.

» Latu also forces a fumble and finishes with eight tackles.

» The Timpview defense forces five Springville turnovers.

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