Two weeks ago, the Zion Lions faced the Wasatch Revolution for the Rocky Mountain Football League Championship for the fourth consecutive year. This year, however, was a different result as the Lions finally pulled out the win, 21-17.
“It was huge,” Lions head coach Dale Stott told Developmental Football USA. “It was something we’ve been chasing for a number of years. We’ve been in the finals the last four years in a row, so to get over that hurdle was a huge boost. It validates all of our hard work. It’s great to achieve a goal that we set, that we’ve worked towards.”
The Lions went into halftime on the short end of a defensive battle, trailing 3-0. Then, after the half, they scored the game’s first touchdown to lead 7-3. Both teams battled back and forth in a game that had six lead changes, almost seven.
“It came down to the wire,” Stott said. “It was a great game – a seesaw battle for sure.”
Former Texas A&M Aggie Misi Tupe threw a touchdown pass with 2:18 left in the game to put the Lions up 21-17, but the Revolution battled back and fought their way deep into Zion territory in the final minute of the game. Zion’s defense rose to the occasion and intercepted a pass to seal the win and etch their name onto their first RMFL Trophy.
Tupe, who starts at middle linebacker and fills in a situational quarterback role, also rushed for a touchdown in the championship.
“He just came in at quarterback for a couple of series, but he came in and made big plays,” Stott said.
Normally, it’s Diarra Fields behind center lighting things up for the Lions. Fields finished the season with 16 touchdowns to just four interceptions.
“He’s not much of a runner, so that’s why we brought in the other quarterback, to give us a little help in the running game – and he threw a touchdown pass as well,” Stott said. “Diarra did a great job all year for us. He was good.”
Those two were joined in the backfield by running back Prentiss Miller, who was one of the league’s leading rushers, averaging eight yards per carry.
“He’s a great zone back, and a great lead blocker,” Stott said. “Our offensive line was so good, it’s hard to single one guy out. I would say behind the offensive line and Prentiss, we led the league in rushing.”
Defensively, the Lions had the luxury of former UNLV standout and NFL nose guard Isaako Aaitui doing a whole lot more than just plugging up the middle.
“Middle linebacker Taris Schramm was the leading tackler in the league and Isaako was the second,” Stott said. “That’s unusual for a defensive lineman to be that high up there. It’s not what you would expect.”
Now knowing how it feels to hoist the RMFL trophy, the Lions are already looking forward to next year, where they hope to build a collection of hardware.
“We look to reload and repeat again next year,” Stott said. “We have a few guys retiring, but we have the bulk of the team returning and we look to add a few new guys as well and make another run at this.”