Prairie High’s Sam Mager caught a 19-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-goal, but that wasn’t his only momentum-swinging play in the Pirate football team’s 26-6 win against Lost Rivers in the Idaho Class 1A Division I state title game Nov. 22. The senior was also involved in two takeaways and online readers voted him Prep Athlete of the Week.

Mager’s touchdown catch came with 3:23 left in the first half to give the Cottonwood school a two-score lead.

“That touchdown catch, that was huge,” said Prairie coach Ryan Hasselstrom, who’s never seen Mager drop a pass in a game.

“He’s got pretty sure hands,” Hasselstrom said. “You get it anywhere close to him, he’s going to catch it.”

Mager didn’t need to use those hands on his next momentum-swinging play. With under a minute left in the first half and Lost Rivers trying to pull back within a possession, the southern Idaho team coughed the ball up on Prairie’s 15, and Mager was there to fall on it.

With 50 seconds left in the third quarter and Prairie leading by what proved the final difference, a Lost Rivers punt returner misjudged the ball — and Mager was again in the right spot to get the ball.

“He got a good break off the ball,” Hasslstrom said. “He didn’t get blocked much off the line, and the lost Rivers kid thought he could get (the ball) — and it bounced right off the guy’s shoulder and into Sam’s hands.”

Mager being in the right spot on those plays wasn’t a coincidence, Hasselstrom said.

“He’s just smart,” Hasselstrom said. “He doesn’t get beat on routes, knows where he’s supposed to be all the time, and just does a heck of a job.”

Because of Thanksgiving break, there will be Prep Athlete of the Week voting for last week.

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