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Weiser snaps Sugar-Salem's three-year 3A state title run in 2OT as Tom Harrison wins championship No. 11

Brett Spencer dazzles for 226 total yards, Wolverines coach Tom Harrison wins his state-record 11th championship — with his fourth team
3A State Championship - Sugar Salem vs Weiser. Photo Credit - Loren Orr Photography LLC

3A State Championship - Sugar Salem vs Weiser. Photo Credit - Loren Orr Photography LLC

POCATELLO, Idaho — Tom Harrison had seen a lot in his previous 14 state titles games as head coach.

But Friday night was a first.

The legendary coach had never experienced a finals overtime. On Friday night, he went through two.

Weiser ended Sugar-Salem’s three-year reign atop the classification in a thrilling 34-33 double overtime win in the Class 3A State Championship game at Holt Arena to break his own record with an 11th state title — the most in Idaho history.

“Oh, God. It was just stupid nuts,” Harrison said with a laugh. “Stupid nuts. 

“That’s just the way it’s been. Our kids showed a lot of heart and vigor down at the end. We made a play at the (end), and games like this come down to a few plays.”

MORE:3A state championship photo gallery

It’s the fourth different team Harrison has won a championship with. He did it with Raft River (1986), Snake River (1990, 95-96, 98-2002,), Pocatello (2006) and now Weiser, which when Harrison came in 2018, hadn’t had a winning season in seven years. Four seasons later, the Wolverines (12-1) have their first banner in 24 years.

3A State Championship - Sugar Salem vs Weiser. Photo Credit - Loren Orr Photography LLC

Weiser coach Tom Harrison. (Photo by Loren Orr)

“We went from not making the playoffs, being bottom end of the SRV, to in four years winning a state title,” senior quarterback Brett Spencer said. “He totally flipped the program around.”

But all of it also wouldn’t have been possible without Spencer, who made a strong case for 3A Player of the Year. He tallied 226 yards of total offense and three touchdowns.

Two plays late in the game may have cemented him as the best player in program history.

On a fourth-and-goal at the 7-yard line trailing 27-20 in the first overtime, Spencer slipped a tackle from Sugar-Salem’s Garisen Madsen before firing a pass across the middle of the field to his younger brother Brock to send the game to a second overtime.

After Weiser fullback Willy Shirts powered his way in for a 4-yard run and Carson Harris answered by hauling in a 10-yard pass from Daniel Neal, the Diggers decided to go for the win on the ensuing two-point conversion.

Neal dumped it off to Harris, who seemed like he was going to walk in again. Instead, Spencer showed exactly why he has a Division I offer from the University of Idaho, meeting Harris at the 1-yard line, knocking him back just enough to fall inches short of the goal line to end the Wolverines’ long title drought.

“He’s a tremendous football player,” Harrison said. “He’s probably the best football player I’ve ever coached.”

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But Spencer’s late-game heroics would not have been possible without Maddox Stevens.

After Sugar-Salem tied the game on a 1-yard run by Harris with one minute and 43 seconds remaining, the little known junior running back and linebacker, who has mostly played on special teams, burst through and blocked Kyle Brunson’s extra point attempt with his chest to keep the game tied at 20-20.

“That kind of hurt, I’m not going to lie,” Steven said with a smile.

Weiser had multiple chances to win it earlier. 

Senior linebacker Rylee Willet picked off Neal, but then coughed it up on the return and the Diggers’ Kaden Summers jumped on the loose ball to give them new life. Ryndon Olsen then missed a 35-yard field goal with four ticks remaining that sent the game into overtime.