American Fork wasn’t satisfied with Thursday’s blowout loss to Lone Peak in the 5A semifinals, but considering how close it came to missing the playoffs entirely, there was an acceptable silver lining.
American Fork tied for fourth in Region 4, and needed to beat defending 5A champion Herriman in a play-in game simply to qualify for the playoffs.
It narrowly did that, rallying in the fourth quarter to beat Herriman, and then backed it up with playoff wins over Roy and Syracuse to advance to the 5A semifinals for the second time in three years.
“We want the playoffs to be a consistent thing for us, and then success in the playoffs. So three years in a row getting there, two out of the three years making it back up here, we’re just continuing to build on that,” said American Fork coach Aaron Behm.
“Very proud of what these guys had to do to get back here. They wanted to get back here very bad and it showed in those first two playoff games.”
Against Lone Peak, though, not much went right for the Cavemen. They moved the ball fine racking up 406 yards of total offense, but a variety of turnovers and mistakes were simply too much to overcome.
In the first half alone, American Fork had a punt blocked — which Lone Peak returned for touchdowns — and then had a fumble and interception inside its own 25-yardline. The Knights turned both turnovers into points building a insurmountable 38-13 halftime lead.
“When you get to the semifinals those are just too hard to overcome against the teams that make it up here,” said Behm.
Late in the game with the outcome well in hand, American Fork threw another interception, with Ammon Hannemann returning this one 65 yards for a touchdown.
“Lone Peak played great football today and we had a tough time getting stops, and turned the ball over, and when you do that a team as good as Lone Peak’s gonna score 66 points on you. They’re very good,” said Behm.
American Fork believed it could keep the game closer.
When these region foes met back in Week 7 Lone Peak won 27-7, but it scored two of its touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including a 20-yard pick six to put the game away.
That defeat was the first in a stretch of three of four losses to end region play that put American Fork in jeopardy of missing the playoffs. It recovered in time to make a playoff push the past couple of weeks, but ran into buzz saw against Lone Peak.
Deseret News prep editor and Real Salt Lake beat writer. EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org