BELT — Fairview ended its 2023 8-Man football season the way it started it: by beating Belt.
The Warriors, who defeated Belt 21-20 in the season opener for both teams in August, outlasted the Huskies for a 40-28 win in the 8-Man state championship Saturday. It's Fairview's first title since 2019.
"It feels amazing. We've been working really hard for this and we deserve it. Our team has been good and we've been persistent for a while. Hard work pays off," said Fairview's Tyler Loan.
Jeff Tjelde, Loan and Brock Schlothauer each scored two touchdowns for the Warriors, who overcame a third-quarter deficit to win the second title in program history.
"I just knew that our team could pull it together. We were going to keep going until the end," said Tjelde. "We were getting flustered at some points, but we just knew if we kept fighting and working we would end up on top."
Tjelde scored both of his touchdowns in the first half, giving Fairview a 7-0 lead in the first quarter and then tying the game at 14 just before halftime. Sandwiched between Tjelde's two TDs were two Reese Paulson touchdowns for Belt. Paulson then gave the Huskies a 22-14 lead early in the third quarter.
But Fairview scored the game's next three touchdowns to take control. Loan and Schlothauer scored on long touchdown runs to give the Warriors a 26-22 advantage going to the fourth quarter, and Loan added another score in the fourth to push the lead to 33-22.
After an Ethan Triplett touchdown brought Belt back within 33-28, Schlothauer iced Fairview's win with another long touchdown run. When asked what was going through his mind before his last touchdown, he told MTN he was thinking "just hold onto the ball and run really fast."
The Warriors finish the season with a 12-0 record, while Belt, the 2022 state champion, finishes 8-2, with both losses coming to Fairview.
"We'll have fun on the bus, probably sing some Disney songs," said Fairview head coach Derek Gackle. "Hosting it would have been great, too, but this is six extra hours that we get to hang out together, and I'm just so proud of them because this a great group to hang out with."