Despite a season low in pass attempts and a mediocre run game, Sky View rode a dominant defensive effort to a 28-0 win over Ridgeline on a cold Friday night in the 5A semifinals.
The win gives the Bobcats the right to play in the 4A state championship game.
“We’re ecstatic. We’re frozen ecstatic,” Sky View head coach Chris Howell said, joking about the inhospitable conditions. “I’m so proud of our kids and their ability to overcome some adversity. This is not an ideal situation in any way, shape or form, but I’m proud of our kids for the way they came out and fought and scrapped and battled.”
The two teams met once previously this season, with Sky View winning 17-14 at Ridgeline. The Bobcats went on to finish the regular season undefeated and capture the Region 11 crown and the top seed in the 4A playoff bracket.
Sky View had the beginnings of a quick start Friday, marching 71 yards in 13 plays, with Isaac Larsen capping the drive off with a touchdown on a 2-yard fly sweep. It fit what Howell wanted to see from his team in the early minutes of the game.
“That was one of the things we talked about is trying to get a fast start and get a lead early,” Howell said.
The fast start never fully materialized though, as the Bobcats didn’t score another point the entire first half.
“Points were hard to come by a little bit,” Larsen said. “We started off a little lazy, which is not ideal, but we got it back in the second half.”
- Watch replay: Sky View 28, Ridgeline 0
Ridgeline had several promising first-half drives, but its offense took a huge blow when quarterback Kaden Cox got knocked out of the game. With just over four minutes left in the second quarter, Cox scrambled out of the pocket and ran headlong into a Bobcat defensive back.
Right after he went down, it was clear the junior was in pain, and he had to be helped off the field, unable to put weight on his right leg.
Without Cox, the Riverhawks’ offensive attack floundered. Wide receiver Evan Webb played most of the remaining snaps at quarterback, with a few snaps of Jackson Olsen mixed in. Cox had gone 7 of 8 passing for 94 yards, but the two reserves combined to complete just 4 of 12 passes for 45 yards and an interception thrown by Webb.
“Once Kaden went out, it was just a matter of stopping the run,” Howell said.
Even with that cursed luck, the Riverhawks nearly tied the game up at halftime. On a drive that started with less than 40 seconds on the clock, Webb connected with Jovesa Damuni on a 44-yard pass that put Ridgeline on the Bobcats 18-yard line. From there, the Riverhawks took four shots at the end zone but were unable to convert.
Sky View cemented its lead with 21 second-half points, though saying the offense picked up would be inaccurate. Two of the Bobcats’ touchdowns were on drives that started inside the Ridgeline 30-yard line. A blocked punt set them up on the 16-yard line, and a failed desperation fourth-down attempt gave Sky View the ball on the 12.
Bobcats quarterback Kasen Carlsen had a hand in all three second-half touchdowns, tossing a 41-yard TD to Trey Nyman and an 11-yard strike to Larsen. Carlsen ran it in himself from 3 yards for what was the final touchdown of the game.
Sky View will look to capture its second straight 4A title next Saturday and cap off an undefeated season when it faces Region 9 champion Pine View.