You may be a believer in creating your own luck, or you might believe that your luck is inevitable. Either way, there’s no doubt that luck plays into any competition.
Juab High School is one of the most consistent schools for sports in 3A. We are incredibly well-rounded and confident in sports such as football and basketball to teams such as debate and choir. Flying high and proud at the north side of our gym are countless region banners, showcasing umpteen successes.
But, lacking towards the west side of the gym are only 16 state banners.
How can a school that is so dominant in region play always come up short on the state level?
Many students and athletes attending the high school call it Juab’s “state curse.”
First, we’d have to look at what this so-called “curse” actually is. Many athletes and students explain it as being a continuous string of bad luck, many just “wanting to catch a break.” This continuing time of bad luck has thus been nicknamed, Juab’s “state curse.”
Whether or not you believe in a streak of bad luck, there’s some reasoning behind these beliefs.
In 2006, the Juab Wasps boys basketball team played against South Sevier for the state championship. The Wasps were down 48-45 near the end of the game, and missed a deep shot with the ball ricocheting off the backboard. One of the Juab players caught it, and successfully shot the ball, which appeared to go in before the buzzer.
If the official would’ve counted the shot the teams would’ve tied at 48. Thus, sending them into overtime, and battling for the state title.
Coach Shane Blackett, who was a senior and player at the time, says, “We will put it this way. If there was instant replay, they would have had to watch it a few times to see if it was good or not.”
The last state title Juab has won was in 2010 for the speech and debate program.
Especially this year, Juab has made a name for itself often dominating in all sports.
Our football program showed tremendous success this year. 4 players were named to the All-State first team, two players were second team, and three had honorable mentions. On top of that we had one of the best, if not the best, offensive lines in the state.
After a spirited win against perhaps our biggest rivals this year, the Grantsville Cowboys, the Juab Wasps travelled down to SUU, with the biggest fan section Juab has ever seen, to play in the semi-finals against Judge Memorial.
Junior player Jake Hatfield, says, “I think that if Nick hadn’t broken his arm, it would’ve been a better game.”
Literally minutes into the game, on our second possession of the ball, Juab’s own superstar quarterback Nick Robins was tackled, and broke his arm bad enough, that he was quickly taken to the hospital.
The quarterback from the past season, senior Jeff Rowley, stepped up somewhat heroically for the Wasps.
Standout player, Dedric Davidson says, “Jeff did very well being put in a tough position where he hadn’t repped quarterback that season. He and everyone else gave it all they had despite the crucial injury to Nick.”
Senior Brandon Morgan added on, “For him (Rowley) to be able to come into a game with little practice at that position and give the performance he did, he did a great job. We couldn’t have asked for better effort.”
Without Robins though, who averaged 2097 passing yards and 30 touchdowns with 61% completions making him #1 in 3A and #4 in the whole state, the Wasps weren’t able to execute as well as they had in the past.
This was perhaps the start of this year’s “bad luck.”
Davidson says, “I do have no doubt in my mind that Juab could have won that game if Nick had remained healthy, because that was our perfect formula throughout the season, and I also believe that the winner of Judge and Juab would later win the state championship.”
Judge Memorial did go on to win the state championship.
Perhaps another glaring example of the so-called “curse” was at the play-in game for boys basketball this year, played at Juan Diego Catholic High School.
At the end of the third quarter of the low scoring, but very defensive ballgame, the score was 26-23 with the Soaring Eagles slightly ahead. With literally one second left in the quarter, Dillon Douglas dribbled twice, and shot from half court to make the buzzer shot as time expired, tying the Wasps with the Soaring Eagles at 26.
Juab soon scored again, seeming as if they’d close out the game in what would’ve been a thrilling victory. The Wasps led for the majority of the fourth quarter, until about 12 seconds left in the ballgame.
Then, the Soaring Eagles, with 22 seconds remaining, shot at the top of the key and swished a 3-pointer. Juan Diego shot once more, and we had the chance to tie it back up but with only one second in the game. Jeff Rowley shot it, barely missing, and Chance Carlton got the rebound and shot successfully, but time had expired.
Standout junior player, Dillon Douglas, says, “I promise the curse will be broken next year! But this year was fun, and I could think of anyone else to play with. I won’t believe in the curse after next year.”
Perhaps the most recent example of this ongoing unlucky streak was at state debate this year.
2010 was the first year Juab entered 3A, and the last year since we’ve won a state title. That last title earned was in speech and debate, where Juab thumped Juan Diego 103-79 to take home the trophy.
In the four years since, Juan Diego has always edged slightly past Juab, and this year, it was only by three points, perhaps making the sting that much worse, since Juab had been ahead and neck-to-neck with Juan Diego for the duration of the tournament.
The debate team is one the most successful program/team in the school, dominating every tournament they go to. They brought home another consecutive region trophy (the number is literally unknown, but is thought to be in the high teens).
Even though the debate team came up slightly short at the state tournament they don’t consider their rankings bad. They consider themselves lucky for the whole year even if that luck didn’t carry over fully into the state tournament.
Debate President Cameron Welburn, says, “I think everyone always had bad luck, but we can’t blame taking second on luck. We all gave it our best and did really well, but so did Juan Diego. We started this year in pieces, and with our excellent coach, we picked it up.”
But, even presented with all of these coincidences, coaches shake their heads at the “state curse”.
Coach Jeff Wallace, who’s been coaching for Juab for 25 years, and who is also the varsity coach for the girls basketball team, says, “I don’t believe in the curse. I believe in our circumstances. We are a small 3A school who have many students who are multi-athletes, not allowing them to focus yearly on a program to allow it to excel like even the larger 3A schools. We are talented, but our location and size make it difficult. We have to travel far down south or north to be able to compete in tournaments like all the other teams do, and that’s tough to do.”
Coach Blackett, coach of freshman basketball and football, agrees, “I don’t believe in curses necessarily. Since 1997, we have played in four basketball titles, two football titles, and two baseball titles. We have had opportunities, more than other schools, we just haven’t capitalized. I think you create your own luck through hard work. We were a few breaks away from winning championships.”
But, you can’t help but feel a little bitter as you walk away from games such as the football semifinals, or the boys basketball play-in game. It’s quite obvious as you watch those games our athletes are evenly matched with the other team, and in many instances standout from the other team.
Nick Robins says, “Personally, I think the curse is real. For some reason, things in the past haven’t gone right for Juab. We are all working hard to change that!”
Whether or not this “curse” is real, or even if you believe in it, it has been obvious that our sports have been beyond dominating this year, even if we haven’t walked away with a state trophy.
Along with the sports mentioned above Juab has been strong, consistently. This was the first year since 2010 that volleyball has been to the state tournament. Golf did a great job as well, placing 8th. After a region title, the drill team placed sixth in state, placing third with Character. Our cross country team showed dominance at both region and state. Girls basketball made it into the state tournament, the first time since 2012. Wrestling placed second at state, bringing home three individual state champions.
Now, the spring sports will be in full force, and it’ll be exciting to see what they can accomplish on both a region and state level.
As new teams step up and fight for titles next year, hopefully they’ll be able to break the “curse”, and bring home what we haven’t been able to: a shiny state trophy with “Juab” proudly engraved.