HERRIMAN—Despite being the defending champions, perhaps no one believed the Green Canyon Wolves belonged here except…well…the Green Canyon Wolves.

Even when the Wolves struggled through the regular season before finally scrapping their way back to .500 with a win just before the playoffs started, head coach Troy Oldham dared to keep believing.

Turns out he was right after all.

A stellar defensive performance and some otherworldly tenacity carried No. 6 Green Canyon back to the promised land as the Wolves knocked off neighborhood rival and No. 1 Sky View, 8-7 on Friday, and returned to the 4A summit with its second straight state championship.

“We were going to get to this point going through the same teams whether we were a No. 3 seed or a No. 6 seed,” Oldham said. “I’ve always known these guys had what it took. It just took us a while to final get it.”

Even against the clear-cut favorite in the 4A bracket, Green Canyon was in the driver’s seat for all but the first few minutes of the game Friday.

The Bobcats got the first goal of the game courtesy of senior Joshua Moe at the 10:50 mark of the first quarter, but Wolves senior attacker Conner Dockery answered the attack with a vengeance on the other end, going on a personal, unassisted 2-0 run, launching in both goals from about the same spot on the left side to take a 2-1 lead at the 5:59 mark.

After that point, the Wolves never trailed again.

“We came for the playoffs, and that’s what matters,” Dockery said. ‘It felt good to have our best lacrosse in the toughest moments. It’s what matters most.”

Take away the context of it being a repeat for Green Canyon, and the Wolves’ run to the title as a No. 6 seed is the most deserving of being called a “Cinderella” in Utah’s three-year history of sanctioning lacrosse, as no team lower than a No. 4 seed had previously won the state championship.

“Our coaches all year were always saying, ‘We’re gonna win that state championship,’” Dockery said. “(Whether we) lose a game by 20 or win by 10, we knew we were going to be here.”

The relatively lower score wasn’t indicative of just how well both offenses executed. For both Green Canyon and Sky View, getting to the goal wasn’t the hard part; it was getting past the two goalkeepers, the Wolves’ Peyton Johnson and the Bobcats’ Jake Spackman, as each of them commanded the net with spectacular intensity.

The Bobcats continued to challenge the Wolves even while playing uphill. They tied up the game twice in the third quarter, the second of which came by way of the two-score rally within 30 seconds of the final minute of the third.

Sky View expected to have all the momentum going into the final frame, but Green Canyon senior attacker Tucker Sampson had other plans.

Charging in on his own, he buried a go-ahead goal with just two seconds left to keep the Wolves in the lead.

After another Green Canyon goal, the Bobcats drew within one with a goal from senior Sean Tempest, but the Wolves shored up the defense over the final three minutes and ran out the clock for the win.

A mere three miles separate the two schools in the northern part of Cache Valley, and the typical setup of having the opposing fanbases sit across the stadium from each other was voided in this game as the two fanbases, many of whom are likely friends or even related to each other, sat side-by-side on the south side of the stadium to cheer on their kids.

“Our youth programs play together; a lot of us have been teammates since we were (little) kids,” Dockery said of Sky View.

“We’ve known each other since we were six, seven years old. It’s like playing against your brother. There’s no bad blood.”

Just two combined goals in the past two seasons have decided the 4A championship, both of them for the Wolves, and both against Sky View.

It may be the slimmest of margins, but the Wolves are still the top dogs.