A year later, Orem is still two touchdowns better than Timpview and still the best 5A football team in Utah.
In Friday’s highly anticipated championship rematch with rival Timpview, Orem flexed its muscles after halftime, scoring three straight touchdowns during one stretch to pull away for the 26-13 victory and a fourth straight state championship.
Orem becomes the fourth program to win four consecutive titles, and next year it will have a chance to tie the state record with a fifth straight title.
“Playing in this legacy is honestly a blessing to everyone in here, even if you don’t and don’t get any playing time to know you’re a part of this,” said Orem standout Paxton Skipps, who made major contributions on both sides of the ball, all while playing with a torn groin muscle.
That torn groin muscle eventually forced him to the bench for good late in the fourth quarter as Orem’s defense tried to hold off Timpview’s rally attempt.
Even without Orem’s second-leading tackler on the field, the Tigers still stuffed Timpview on four straight running plays near the goal line with under two minutes remaining to seal the win. Skipps wasn’t able to storm the field with his teammates after the victory formation kneel down, but not long after teammates Kade Brown, Jayden Ahyou and Joe Smith ran to him on the bench and carried him to the celebration in the end zone.
Skipps scored Orem’s first two touchdowns, recorded 10 tackles and also grabbed an interception all while playing with the groin injury he sustained two weeks ago.
“In my head I said pain is temporary, the end result is more important,” said Skipps.
While Skipps rushed for two scores, Smith added 94 yards and a touchdown, with Kolton Brown-Dye adding a 23-yard TD run in the fourth quarter to cap the scoring for Orem.
It was exactly the type of balanced performance Orem interim coach Gabe Sewell figured his team would need against a very strong Timpview defense.
“We don’t have those turn ’em on turn ’em off type of guys, we’ve got a very good collaborative effort team and everybody knew their role and played their part,” said Sewell.
At times it was a very sloppy championship game, plagued by 30 total penalties for 261 yards and then six total turnovers.
Neither offense could get much going in the first half, with the score level 6-6 at the break.
Timpview scored first on a blown coverage in Orem’s secondary, with Liu Aumavae throwing a 37-yard TD pass to Ammon Key for the 6-0 lead late in the first quarter.
The T-Birds tried to catch Orem by surprise with an onside kick, but they were whistled for kick-catch interference and conceded great field position. Three plays later, Skipps raced in in from 36-yards out to the tie the score.
- Watch replay: Orem 26, Timpview 13
Despite the close game, Skipps said none of his teammates or coaches were worried at the half because everyone knew they played poorly through the first two quarters.
In the second half, Orem’s run defense in particular changed the entire complexion of the game. After holding Timpview in check the first half with just 48 rushing yards, Orem stymied Timpview’s bread-and-butter running game to just 7 yards in the second half.
That concerted effort forced Timpview to the air in difficult wind conditions, which made throwing the deep ball nearly impossible for both teams.
“We did our best to make them one-dimensional. I don’t know if they really wanted to throw the ball that much, but we stopped the running game and they had to go to the air,” said Sewell.
Orem went ahead for good on the opening drive of the second half with Skipps scoring on a 2-yard run after several big runs from Smith.
At the 4:11 mark of the third quarter it was Smith’s turn to power into the end zone on a 6-yard burst giving his team the 20-6 lead. The short field position was set up by a Skipps’ interception.
Brown-Dye’s touchdown at the 8:30 mark in the fourth stretched the lead to 26-6.
Timpview made a late flurry to climb back into the game, with Aumavae connecting with Key again on a fourth-down completion in the corner of the end zone, trimming the deficit to 26-13 with 5:07 remaining.
Over those final five minutes, twice Timpview had the ball inside Orem’s 5-yard line to try and make it a one-possession game, but Orem got fourth-down stops each time.
The final defensive stand on four straight runs near the goal line exemplified why Orem has celebrated four straight titles — it’s consistently the most physical team in 5A. Timpview hoped to be able to match that on Friday, but it could only do so for a half.