It’s a wrap, the 2020 sports year in reviewJan 18, 2021 03:57PM ● By Greg James
Boston Farmer threw nine touchdowns this season. (Greg James/City Journals)
By Greg James | [email protected]
The 2020 sports year has been filled with cancelations, postponements and unforgettable individual performances. As 2021 begins, here is a look back on the year that was.
West Jordan and Copper Hills high schools had success on the basketball court.
The West Jordan boys team won eight straight games in the month. The streak propelled the Jaguars to an undefeated region record and a 10th seed in the state tournament. They advanced to the state quarterfinals where they lost to Fremont 77-54. Logan Prince was the team's leading scorer averaging nearly13 points per game.
The girls team struggled through January but closed it out with a 59-28 win over Cyprus. April Aguado and Sanaa Filiaga each pitched in 10 points in the victory.
The Copper Hills boys team went 8-2 in Region 3. Kylan Shorts shorts set a new school record with 12 assists in the Jan 17th contest against West High.
“It makes me feel good that my teammates knocked down all of the shots,” Shorts said.
The girls advanced to the state semifinals and lost to Bingham 47-38. Eleyana Tafisi was the team’s leading scorer with 13.7 points per game.
The Utah Girls Tackle Football League sent 22 players to Orlando, Florida, to participate in a halftime exhibition at the National Football League’s Pro Bowl. The game included Copper Hill’s McKell Collotzi and West Jordan’s Laura Goetz. The NBC broadcasters at the time said it was “a treat to watch” and “demonstrated that girls can play football.” Later this fall, Vanderbilt’s Sarah Fuller became the first girl to play in a power-five conference collegiate football game.
The Azurettes placed fourth at the state drill team competition, breaking a streak of seven straight championships. The team welcomed its new coach, Kylie Erickson, with a top-five state finish.
Jaden Fowers of Copper Hills placed third in the state wrestling championship at 132 pounds. He finished the season with a 45-8 record and 25 pins.
The Utah Jazz game against the Oklahoma City Thunder was postponed after Donnovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19, and the NBA suspended the remainder of the season. Two days later, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert declared a state of emergency and closed in-person school. The Utah High School Activities Association paused all interscholastic sporting activities.
Many parents petitioned officials to start the seasons again with #letthemplay initiative.
The National Hockey League and Major League Baseball followed suit and paused their seasons as the NBA had. The NCAA cancelled its men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.
The Salt Lake City Stars stood atop the NBA G-League Western Conference standings when the season was paused. They had a 30-12 record and had managed the most wins in team history. The club was poised to appear in the playoffs for the second straight season. In June, when the season was cancelled, head coach Martin Schiller was named Western Conference Coach of the Year. Bart Taylor was named Executive of the Year, and Jarell Brantley earned a spot on the league’s All-Rookie team.
The Utah High School Activities Association officially canceled the spring sports season after a monthlong hiatus. After parent protests, it reaffirmed the decision in May. Several spring sports teams played only a few games before the season was canceled.
National sporting events were cancelled or postponed. The Indianapolis 500 and Kentucky Derby, normally held in May, were postponed until later in the year.
Makaiya (MK) Gomez from Copper Hills was named Utah Gatorade Softball Player of the Year. She was a three-time All-State player. In the abbreviated 2020 season, she batted .632 and had two home runs.
Austin Klinger breaks a 22-year-old West Jordan High track record. His time of 1 minute 51.11 seconds broke the school record in the boys 800 meters established by Rob Erickson.
“I really thought I would get my name on the board eventually,” Klinger said.
MLB, NHL and NBA seasons restart in varying manners. The NBA chose to play its games in a “bubble” in Orlando, Florida.
Former Olympic speed skater and SLCC baseball player Eddy Alvarez made his major league debut for the Miami Marlins. He collected his first hit four days later against the Mets.
The Pac-12 conference cancelled all fall sports amid the pandemic. It later reversed its decision. The University of Utah had its first two football games cancelled.
“I want to share my love of wrestling with the girls that are starting out on this team,” she said.
Copper Hills hosts one of the first football games in the COVID era. It defeated Taylorsville 32-6. Tommy Peake started his first game at quarterback and ran for two touchdowns. The Grizzlies advanced into the second round of the state playoffs before losing to American Fork 52-0.
“Wins and losses will come,” Grizzlies head coach Corey Dodds said. “We are at the point with this team that if we take an ‘L,’ it had better be an ‘L’ that was fought for and not given.”
Copper Hills placed three players on the first team All-Region team: Kailer Laufiso, Noah Kaio and Kaden Bybee.
The Jaguars football team defeated Hunter, Cyprus and Taylorsville this season. Quarterback Boston Farmer threw for nine touchdowns and over 1,300 yards.
The Utah Jazz were eliminated from the NBA playoffs with a game-seven loss to the Denver Nuggets, 80-78. The Jazz led the Nuggets three games to one before eventually falling. They finished the year sixth in the Western Conference with a 44-28 record.
Brigham Young University kicked off its football season with a 55-3 victory over Navy. The Cougars were ranked as high as 13th by the College football playoff committee and quarterback Zack Wilson has received recognition as a possible Heisman Trophy candidate.
The Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA championship over the Miami Heat four games to two. Giannis AntetoKounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks was named the league’s most valuable player.
The Los Angeles Dodgers won the World Series four games to two over the Tampa Bay Rays. Dodgers third-baseman Justin Turner was removed mid-game of the final because of a positive COVID test. After the game, he returned to the field for pictures and the trophy presentation, causing extreme concern over his unwillingness to shelter away from his teammates.
The Copper Hills girls volleyball team lost to Lone Peak in the 6A volleyball finals 25-18, 20-25, 25-18, 25-23. Asiah Sopo’aga was named 6A most valuable player.
“Getting to a 6A final again and the things we have accomplished makes this by far the best season.” Grizzly head coach Silver Fonua said. “I am happy and proud of what we have done and how we have represented Copper Hills. If anything, I am grateful that we were able to finish the season. I am proud and happy that the Utah High School Association and Jordan School District did their best and kept fighting to keep sports going.”
Herbert again paused all high school athletics for two weeks. Winter sports tryouts were pushed back to Nov. 24.
High School basketball tips off the season starting the sports cycle all over again.