A year later, Timpview hopes to return the favor to Lehi.
Last season Timpview beat Lehi in the regular season only to see the Pioneers prevail in the playoff rematch on their way to a 5A state championship.
Lehi has not lost since that game, and rides an 18-game winning streak into Friday’s 5A state championship game against Timpview. That includes a 28-24 come-from-behind win over Timpview back in Week 9 of the regular season.
The T-Birds would love nothing more than to get a bit of revenge in this week’s rematch while also claiming the school’s first state title since 2014 — way back when Britain Covey was giving defenses nightmares.
It would be an impressive accomplishment for first-year head coach Donny Atuaia if he could get the T-Birds over the finish line and end a seven-year drought that includes three state championship game losses.
He knows beating Lehi won’t be easy, but he’s confident the discipline his players have showed all season gives them a good chance on Friday at Rice-Eccles Stadium at 2:30 p.m.
“It’s going to be us doing our jobs, the individual battles, making sure we have the team goal in mind. These guys have done it all season, we just ask them to do it one more game,” said Atuaia.
“Discipline has been a pretty high emphasis for us this season. When we talk about the talent and everything, one you’ve got to buy into our team goals and then be disciplined enough to stay with us.”
Timpview heads into the game with a 10-2 record, with narrow regular-season losses to both 6A finalist Skyridge and Lehi.
Timpview led Lehi 16-7 early in the third quarter in that game, but Lehi’s offense kicked things into gear in the second half to rally for the win.
Lehi’s only had three close games as it marches into the championship game with a 13-0 record, and in all three games it needed a second-half rally to win.
Against Corner Canyon, Lehi was down 17-0 at the half but won 25-24. Against Timpview it was down two scores and prevailed 28-24, and then in the 5A quarterfinals two weeks ago it trailed Box Elder 21-14 with six minutes left in the game but won 28-21.
Lehi didn’t need any of that resiliency in rolling past Stansbury in the semis last week 42-0, a dominant performance that has coach Ed Larson’s team on the doorstep of a repeat state title.
Lehi’s coach expects another close game with Timpview, but isn’t reading too much into the previous game.
“I think we’re both two different teams this time around so in a lot of ways we’re playing them for the first time,” he said.
In that game, Lehi running back Carson Gonzalez was injured on the third play of the game, and naturally it had a big impact on Lehi’s offense with three other players sharing reps.
For Timpview, it had its running QB Quezon Villa taking snaps in that game as he passed for 148 yards but also rushed for 135 more.
Larson anticipates Timpview might utilize its pass-first QB Helaman Casuga more in the championship, Casuga threw for 177 yards and two scores in the semifinals, though he did throw for two interceptions.
Regardless of who is playing QB for Timpview, the foundation for everything it does offensively starts with running back Micah Beckstead. The senior has rushed for 1,829 yards and 15 touchdowns this season, including 188 in last week’s semifinal win over Orem.
In the Lehi game back on Oct. 6, he had 13 carries for 165 yards and a touchdown.
“He does such a good job and their offense line does such a good job getting a push, so we’ve just got to make sure we handle our gaps and make sure our linebackers don’t get lost in the traffic,” said Larson.
For Lehi, Gonzalez has really found his stride in the playoffs with three straight games over 100 yards and five total touchdowns. Running on Timpview has been difficult all season as only one back has gone of 100 yards, and that was Wasatch’s Chris Cook in the quarterfinals in a 63-21 loss.