Teams don’t usually need extra motivation to get hyped for a state tournament semifinal game — the occasion is motivation enough — but Ridgeline and Sky View are getting it anyway this Friday in the 4A semifinals
Undefeated and defending state champion Sky View beat Ridgeline on a last-second field goal back in September, an intense game where emotions were running high on both sidelines.
No. 4 Ridgeline (9-1) at No. 1 Sky View (11-0)
4A state tournament semifinal
Friday, 3 p.m.
Parry’s Power Guide: Sky View by 6
All-time series: Sky View leads 4-0
Coach vs. coach: Sky View’s Chris Howell leads Ridgeline’s Travis Cox, 1-0
Last meeting: Sept. 18 (Week 6) — Sky View won 17-14
That intensity will be amplified even more with a berth in the 4A state championship up for grabs.
“This is one of those games that regardless of who the opponent is, you know your kids will be ready to play, but this just adds one more element to it. We’re definitely excited to play Ridgeline again this week,” said Sky View coach Chris Howell, who was Ridgeline’s coach for the first two years the school opened in 2017 and 2018.
Last year’s Ridgeline coach, Travis Van Leeuwen, is on Sky View’s coaching staff as well which adds to the intrigue of the showdown.
Sky View is making its fourth state semifinal appearance in the past six years, while Ridgeline is making its first.
Sky View steamrolled Cedar City 35-7 in the quarterfinals, while Ridgeline scored the game-winning touchdown with seven seconds remaining to hold off Park City’s big second half rally.
“Really proud of this group. They’ve been pretty resilient, very coachable,” said first-year Ridgeline coach Travis Cox. “We’re just excited to keep playing and excited to get another chance at a team that beat us earlier.”
In the previous meeting between the teams Ridgeline moved the ball more effectively, but Sky View’s big plays were the difference. The only points of the first half came on a 61-yard blocked kick return for touchdown.
In five games this year Sky View has scored either a defensive or special teams touchdown, a big reason why Cox believes the Bobcats are so dangerous.
“They really thrive on big plays and making the other teams make a mistake,” said Cox. “They can score in bunches.”
Sky View ranks first in 4A in scoring defense, while Ridgeline ranks fourth. Both teams also have explosive offenses that average 38-plus points per game.
Howell hopes it’s another low-scoring, defensive game this Friday because that will mean his team is effectively slowing down a Ridgeline offense that has been scoring almost at will over the past month and a half.
“They’ve put up a ton of points and they’re super explosive on offense and they create a ton of challenges for us defensively,” said Howell, who said he always believed these teams would meet up again after the very competitive first meeting.
“We felt like after that game that we would see them again in the playoffs. We felt they were far and away the best team we played this year.”
Sky View heads into the semifinals a 23-game winning streak, and Kasen Carlsen has been the signal-caller for nearly every one of those victories. His experience at quarterback is a great luxury for the Bobcats as they look to follow up with last year’s first-ever football state championship with another one this year.
Ridgeline statistical breakdown
Ridgeline player to watch
Kaden Cox, QB
Scoring offense: 40.8 ppg (4th in 4A)
Scoring defense: 20.1 ppg (4th in 4A)
Passing leader: Kaden Cox (190-273, 69.6%, 2,663 yards, 29 TDs)
Rushing leaders: Noah White (136 carries, 872 yards, 6 TDs)
Receiving leaders: Jovesa Damuni (38 rec., 703 yards, 7 TDs), Strat Simmons (43 rec., 607 yards, 8 TDs)
Tackles leaders: Jaden Harris (60 tackles), Jaxen Hollingsworth (41 tackles)
Sack leaders: Jaxen Hollingsworth, Carter Murdock (3 sacks)
Interception leaders: Strat Simmons, Evan Webb (3 INTs)
Sky View statistical breakdown
Sky View player to watch
Hunter Lewis, LB
Scoring offense: 38.0 ppg (5th in 4A)
Scoring defense: 12.6 ppg (1st in 4A)
Passing leader: Kasen Carlsen (137-224, 61.2%, 2,172 yards, 22 TDs, 5 INTs)
Rushing leaders: Walter Collins (132 carries, 862 yards, 14 TDs), Kasen Carlsen (100 carries, 450 yards, 8 TDs)
Receiving leaders: Isaac Larsen (23 rec., 554 yards, 4 TDs), Sam Thatcher (25 rec., 406 yards, 5 TDs)
Tackles leaders: Hunter Lewis (121 tackles), Walter Collins (65 tackles)
Sack leaders: Hunter Lewis (5 sacks), Luke Radford (4 sacks)
Interception leaders: Isaac Larsen (4 INTs)
Felt’s Facts for Ridgeline High School
All-time record: 31-24 (5 years)
Region championships: 0
Playoff appearances: 4
All-time playoff record: 5-3
State championships: 0
State championship record: 0-0
Felt’s Facts for Sky View High School
All-time record: 305-257-8 (57 years)
Region championships: 11 (1969, 1972, 1979 co, 1982, 2006, 2007 co, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020)
Playoff appearances: 29
All-time playoff record: 21-27
State championships: 1
State championship record: 1-1