HIGHLAND — The inclination for most football teams is to downplay any regular season win, but when a particular win comes against Bingham, it's hard to understate the significance. Last Friday saw a struggling Lone Peak team shock the state with a 17-14 win over the Miners, which left many curious as to how exactly it was accomplished.
The Knights took the field versus the Miners with a lot of question marks coming off of a 51-21 blowout loss to rival American Fork the week before. Bingham, meanwhile entered the contest having last lost in 2015 during a state semifinal loss to the Knights.
But as much as a mismatch it would seem going in, Lone Peak coach Bart Brockbank had an inkling his team was prepared to rise to the challenge.
"It was an embarrassing loss to American Fork, but our players decided to really commit themselves in the week leading up to our game against Bingham," Brockbank said. "We spent a lot of time this year experiencing ups and downs due to playing individualistic football than I think we've played as a team. We have a lot of talented players, but last week I think players really bought into coming together to play like a team."
Brockbank credits all his players for refocusing and singled out team leaders like Masen Wake, Michael Daley, Matt Moore, Jacob Mumford, Jared Fotu and Kobe Freeman.
"Those were the guys who were perhaps the most vocal," Brockbank said. "We have some real good leaders and they really worked to bring about a better focus on a team concept."
Better team focus or not, recent history shows even the best teams, playing at their very best, have an extremely tough time when matching up against the Miners.
But Brockbank's players don't shy away from much, including an opponent as formidable as the two-time defending state champions.
"Our players rarely lack confidence. Sometimes it's overconfidence, but no, confidence and having that confidence is never an issue here," Brockbank said. "I don't think they ever go into a game when they don't feel they can compete and win, and that includes a team as tough as Bingham."
What makes Bingham so formidable is largely superior line play and outstanding team discipline, which allows it to feast on just about any mistake made by the opposition and not let up. Mindful of that fact, Brockbank and his staff went about formulating a game plan to keep things close.
"Offensively our goal was to not exactly play cautious, but to be mindful of not giving Bingham any cheap ones," Brockbank said. "Bingham is so good at creating momentum off of turnovers and huge defensive plays. So our philosophy was to not give up bad turnovers on offense and then make Bingham earn long drives, and it worked."
After a scoreless first quarter, Bingham took a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter off a 55-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Peyton Jones to Andrew Wimmer. But from the there the Knights stayed within themselves and scored 17 straight points.
The key points came with a Bingham-like play when Nate Ritchie picked off a pass and returned it 55 yards to give the Knights a 17-7 lead in the fourth quarter.
After the game, Brockbank's players celebrated heartily, although keeping mindful that tough football is still ahead of them.
"They were excited, no question, but I could notice they were still focused on the fact that this isn't all for us. This isn't the ultimate goal," Brockbank said. "So I'm super proud of the fact that they're coming back this week knowing there's another tough opponent this week and will be tough teams the rest of the way."
The Knights take on Westlake this coming Friday before wrapping up the regular season versus Pleasant Grove.