Both Kaufusi and Crichton did not suit up and play due to injuries, but junior safety recruit Chris Badger did.
"The win is so hard to explain," said Badger. "I went through this last year, but last year we kind of blew them out. This year it's more meaningful because we had to really pull together as a team. The pivotal point in the game was in the second half after our defense gave up that long run touchdown by Isi Sofele. You have to give Sofele some credit. He's a stud, but we came together on the sidelines and felt we were still the best defense in the state. We said we needed to go back out there and stop them and we did. [Cottonwood] didn't score after that."
"Our defense stepped up in the second half and it was amazing," said Craig Bills. "We had a gut check there but came out and took on the challenge. That's three [state championships] in a row, but this game was hard fought and was the best win of them all. It's the best feeling I ever had in my life."
"It was a perfect way for me to go out as a senior," said Timpview offensive lineman Xavier Su'afilo.
BYU commit Craig Bills once again asserted his authority on the field from his safety spot. Bills intercepted a pass and ran it back for what would have been a touchdown if not for a block in the back penalty. BYU fans around the country will welcome Bills' talents in the future.
"My plans are to go to BYU and try and make a difference there," said Bills. "I'm going to go up there and work my tail off. I know it's a whole different level up there, so I have to prepare myself mentally and physically. I'm going to play a year because my birthday is not until March, so between now and then I'm going to get bigger, stronger, faster and smarter. I need to get [BYU's] playbook and just start studying."
"It's strange to think that was my last game with Craig, unless if I go to BYU," said Badger.
Su'afilo has been making the rounds, and was at Utah last Saturday to watch BYU play the Utes at Rice Eccles Stadium.
"I had an official visit to LSU two weeks ago," said Su'afilo. "It was awesome and I had to ask myself the hard questions, things like depth and how I fit in and my major, things like that. I have to ask myself those questions anywhere I go. So, I got an official visit to Utah [last Saturday] and then BYU later."
BYU running back prospect Levi Te'o, who is cousins with Malosi, Shiloah and Manti Te'o, had an outstanding state championship game and scored the first three touchdowns. Levi also finished the game with 110 yards in the passing game in what was an all-around great performance.
"It was such a good game and we played hard and they played hard right to the very end," said Levi. "I don't want to take all of the credit. The line blocked for me and helped me. The defense fought, fought and fought, and finally they stopped them. Then it was our turn to finish the game, which we did. I've been with these boys since my sophomore year and we've only lost one game. I just love this team with all of my heart."
Although Levi takes a humble approach to his success, deflecting any credit that may justifiably be given to him, his teammates are quick sing his praises.
"Oh, Levi Te'o is one of the best people I know in every way," said Badger. "He's one of the best football players I know and one of the best people I know, and he came through for us big-time."
"The dude is just a stud," said Bills about Levi. "I know [Cottonwood] has one of the best backs in the state, but he showed them that we do also. [Levi] was just amazing and he's going to do great things."
So now that Levi is a senior state champion, what's next?
"Oh, I don't know," said Te'o with a smile. "Just go to church and do my thing. Right now I'm just planning on serving my mission. You have to serve the Lord before I do anything else. I'll know what I'm going to do by the time I get back."
As for Badger, his plans are to get right back to work in preparation for his senior year.
"Last year I had two interceptions in our state championship," Badger said. "The next morning I was in the weight room maxing out in my squat, so that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to hit the weight room now that the season is over to get ready for next year. I plan on working on my speed and strength to get ready for next year. We lose a lot of great players from this team. We lose Craig [Bills], which really sucks because we've been playing together for so long, but the core of our team is still here."