WEST VALLEY CITY — You never write off Skyline except at your peril.
Left for dead after dropping their final four regular-season games, the Eagles are back where they always are — in the semifinals of the state football playoffs.
Skyline got there by dispatching No. 3 Hunter 28-7 in convincing fashion Friday afternoon. The Eagles capitalized on five Hunter turnovers and assorted mistakes and also utilized a superb team effort to reach the final four of the Class 5A state tournament.
"It's a team win," said quarterback Matt Marshall. "There's no individuals that stuck out. It's our team, and we knew we had to go in as a team.
"They have some great players, but we knew we had to step up as a team to take them down, gang-tackling and all that."
The Eagles will play in the semifinals at 1:30 p.m. next Friday at Rice-Eccles Stadium. It's the 12th straight time Skyline has advanced to the final four.
"Wonderful," coach Roger Dupaix said of making it back to the semifinals. "It's wonderful. I'm so proud of the kids."
Skyline only notched two first downs during the first half but found itself leading 14-7 at halftime. With the Wolverines attempting to mount a comeback in the second half, the Eagles capitalized on several Hunter mistakes and began moving the ball themselves en route to the win.
Behind the rushing of Chris Laloni and a bruising offensive line, Hunter had advanced all the way to Skyline's 15-yard line midway through the third quarter and looked set to tie the game at 14-14.
Instead, Christian Shingleton pounced on a Hunter fumble, and Marshall took control of the offense going the other way. Ten plays and 80 yards later, Marshall punched in from 1 yard to give Skyline a 21-7 advantage.
It was a similar story when Skyline scored again late in the fourth quarter.
After Reggie Franco recovered another Wolverine fumble, the Eagles advanced the ball 60 yards on 11 plays, setting up a 1-yard touchdown scamper by sophomore running back Kalama Molisi.
At 5-foot-7, 180-pounds, Molisi was smaller than most of Hunter's defenders, but that didn't prevent him from taking on, and beating, those defenders during the course of the game.
In fact, after getting roughed up during the early stages of the contest, Skyline seemingly matched Hunter physically shot-for-shot.
"They weighed 20 or 30 more pounds than us," said Marshall, "but it's amazing what heart does. We knew we were smaller, but we knew we could be just as physical as they were."
After star running back Soni Sotele scored a 12-yard touchdown for Hunter on the opening possession of the game, Molisi struck back for the Eagles two possessions later. From 42 yards out, he caught a screen pass from Marshall and weaved through several defenders en route to the end zone.
Molisi was outstanding out of the backfield, catching four passes for 133 yards.
James Johansen notched Skyline's other score in the first half, and 80-yard rush which started with a handoff straight up the middle. Johansen led the Eagles' rushing attack with 103 yards.
Skyline looked lost during the latter stages of the regular season, but they're back to doing the things that have made the Eagles great over the last decade.
"The losses were tough," said Marshall, "but in all the losses we shot ourselves in the foot. We got together and decided we had to play with heart and that's what we've definitely been doing."