HERRIMAN — Ryan Shaddix, the former coach of the Richfield football team, said in jest with minutes remaining in the Wildcats game against Canyon View Saturday, “I’m glad I fired myself!”

Shaddix and the rest of the Richfield coaching staff delivered on a goal years in the making as the No. 1 Wildcats punched their ticket to their first state championship game in 35 years with a convincing win over No. 4 Canyon View, 35-18 on Saturday in the 3A semifinals.

Wildcats senior quarterback Reggie Hafen attacked the Canyon View defense for a season-high 272 passing yards on 16 of 23 throwing with two touchdowns and no turnovers.

“A lot of credit to Cort Moon and Kai Thomas and all my receivers going up and making it easy,” Hafen said. “It’s been a fun ride. We got one more.”

On the other side of the ball, the Wildcats’ vaunted pass defense delivered an absolute spectacle of a game in holding down Canyon View’s air attack for a second time this season as defensive backs Slate Reitz and Tanner Pollack combined for four interceptions, the first of which Reitz returned for a 21-yard pick-six in the first quarter.

“Coach Chet White (Richfield’s defensive coordinator), I’ve said this multiple times, is the best defensive coordinator in the state,” Richfield coach Eric Thorson said.

“I’m just amazed when I sit down and go over his schemes. He makes schemes where the kids don’t have to think. They can just go play and be successful.”

Related
High school football: 6A/5A/4A/3A/2A/1A state tournament scores and schedules

Richfield found itself trailing for only the third time this entire season when Falcons QB Jaxon Jensen launched a bomb to senior receiver Deegan Davies, who collected the jump ball over two defenders and took it 53 yards for the game’s first TD.

Richfield had not trailed in a game since Week 6 of the regular season.

On Canyon View’s next possession, however, the defense did what the offense hadn’t yet as Reitz nabbed his eventual defensive score.

“We know we have the best D,” Reitz said. “I feel like I gave up that first touchdown, so I had to make it up.”

From there, the game swayed in Richfield’s favor as Hafen found Moon in the second quarter for a 27-yard strike to the end zone via a sideline go route. Hafen then performed a jump pass, again to Moon, for a successful 2-point conversion.

An Asher Slack field goal pulled Canyon View closer as the half ended, but Richfield held the lead, 14-10.

The Wildcats purely owned the second half as Hafen and the receiving corps turned up the heat, but they began the half with a clock-burning six-minute drive of 16 plays and 78 yards that ended in a 1-yard TD run by running back Beck Giblette.

Giblette finished the contest with 11 carries for just 25 yards but with two TDs.

On Richfield’s next offensive drive, Hafen found Gage Yardley over the top of the defense, and he streaked for 62 yards before getting caught from behind. Giblette scored his second TD on the next play, and the Wildcats led, 28-10.

Canyon View’s offense made multiple attempts to push the ball downfield, but Richfield’s dominant secondary turned the desperation into turnovers as Pollock and Reitz ended numerous drives with interceptions.

Richfield’s season has reset numerous benchmarks of its program history, but the most important one is that the Wildcats are getting the opportunity to play for it all, a dream not realized in multiple generations.

“We get to maximize the amount of time we get to play football,” Thorson said, “and that’s always great.”