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Idaho 3A High School Football Championship: Diggers Back on Top
After a one year hiatus, Sugar-Salem won its fourth title in five years
Published: 11/21/2022 7:57:39 AM
Brandon Baney
Managing Editor/Broadcaster


Stop me if you've heard this tale before: Sugar-Salem and Homedale, battling for 3A football supremacy, engage in a tight battle that comes down to the end.

The Diggers (10-0) have triumphed in all of these situations over the years, and can now add 2022 to the list.  For Homedale (10-1), it's a jarring case of deja vu, like a never-ending nightmare with no escape in sight.

After suffering a double overtime defeat to Weiser in last year's championship game, Sugar-Salem is back on top of the 3A perch, as they claimed their fourth state championship in the last five years with a 20-15 win over Homedale on Saturday at Middleton High School.  All four of those championship wins came against the Trojans.

The day started ominously enough, as Tate Cutler fumbled the opening kickoff for Sugar-Salem.  Just like that Homedale had the ball at the Diggers' 20-yard line.  

But the Sugar-Salem defense held, forcing a turnover on downs after Homedale's fourth down attempt was stopped.  From there, the Diggers marched 75 yards and scored the game's first points on a 23-yard touchdown connection from Danny Neal to Cach Harris.

Homedale didn't waste any time responding.  Jaxon Dines threw a nine-yard score to Luke Henry to tie the game at 7-7 with 3:50 to play in the opening period.

As quickly as Homedale tied the contest, Sugar-Salem retook the lead just as fast.  Neal found Ty Hirrlinger for a 43-yard touchdown with just three seconds remaining in the first quarter for a 14-7 lead.

From there, the two defenses settled in.  Homedale had a prime opportunity to tie the game up late in the second quarter, but Trenton Fisher fumbled at the Sugar-Salem three-yard line.  The Diggers recovered, and the score remained 14-7 at halftime.

The Trojans finally broke through in the third quarter, as Dines found Danny Lomeli for a 65-yard touchdown.  Homedale then ran a fake extra point attempt, and Dillon Fine threw a pass to Jeffery Layne for the two-point conversion.

Just like that: Homedale 15, Sugar-Salem 14 with 4:26 to play in the third.

The Diggers remained calm, trusted their defense, and eventually broke through when Neal scored on a QB sneak from a yard out with 6:42 to play in the contest.  The Diggers went for two but couldn't convert, leaving the score at 20-15.

Homedale mounted one final drive and drove deep into Sugar-Salem territory.  Facing a 4th-and-2 at the Diggers' 13-yard line, Homedale gave the ball to Fisher.  Fisher met Sugar-Salem's Ammon Lee and Tate Cutler, and the three collided right at the first down marker.  The chain gang came out for a measurement, and it confirmed that Fisher had been stopped inches shy of the first down marker.  Just like that, Homedale had turned the ball over on downs with just under three minutes to play.  The Diggers ran out the clock from there.

CCach Harris earned Player of the Game honors after catching four passes for 54 yards and a touchdown.  Neal completed 12-of-18 passes for 156 yards and two scores, while Ty Hirrlinger caught four passes for 80 yards and a TD.

Fisher rushed for 102 yards for Homedale, while Dines completed 9-of-16 for 142 yards and two scores.

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