5A football teams, be warned: Skyline is officially back. The Eagles continued their late-season momentum with a methodical 35-19 home victory over Brighton Friday night.
Quarterback Lanny Papanikolas ran for 55 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Eagles, who have won four in a row heading into next week's playoffs.
"We told the team we needed to make Brighton play catch-up if we could, and we did," Skyline head coach Roger Dupaix said. "Our offensive line really got off the ball and did a nice job for us. We're still a work in progress, but I'm proud of our offense, defense and special teams."
Kalama Molisi ran for 92 yards and had several long kick returns for Skyline (6-4, 4-1 in Region 2), which likely will face Riverton to open the playoffs.
The Eagles capitalized on Brighton mistakes in the first half, jumping out to a 21-0 lead. Papanikolas, Brown and Weixler all scored on short runs that capped drives on which Molisi ate up large chunks of yards.
Brighton had their chances in the first half, but mistakes kept them from capitalizing. A first and 10 at the Skyline 26 turned into a missed 49-yard field-goal attempt thanks to penalties. Tommy Thornberg was later picked off by Cruz Edgington at the goal line.
The Bengals corrected those mistakes on their first drive to begin the second half, riding Mike Hanna into the red zone before Thornberg was able to find Ayers in the end zone from eight yards out.
Whatever hope the seven points gave them was dashed on the ensuing kickoff when Molisi sprinted past the Bengals for a 75-yard return to the Brighton 20. Two plays later Papanikolas reached the end zone on an option keeper to increase the Eagles' lead, 28-7.
Brighton earned two more scores, but their defense was unable to keep Skyline from draining the clock.
"Our option was working again, and our line was blowing them back," Papanikolas said. "We're way ready for anything now. The whole team is coming together and we're ready to rock and roll."
Hanna, playing his final high school game, did everything in his power to keep Brighton in the game. The senior ran for 78 yards and a touchdown, returned a kick 71 yards in the first half and piled up double-digit tackles on defense. Playing with injuries, his teammates had to force him off the field to take a rest at one point in the third quarter.
Skyline has won nine of the last 10 against Brighton, which ends the season with a 2-8 (1-4) record.