Leading 39-33 with two minutes left in the game and with the ball near midfield, Sky View had a big decision to make Saturday in the 4A football championship game. Facing fourth-and-1, the Bobcats could either punt the ball back to Pine View, or they could go for it and end the game.
“We wanted to go for it and coach just told me to go out there and get the first down,” said Sky View quarterback Kasen Carlsen. “Our coaches trusted us and we were able to get it done.”
Behind his offensive line, Carlsen got just enough for the first down to give the Bobcats (13-0) the victory and secure the program’s second consecutive state football title.
“It’s an amazing feeling to win it all again. We had a big target on our back this year as the defending champs and give Pine View credit for playing a great game. They are a great team and it came down to the wire. Both sides gave it their all.” — Sky View quarterback Kasen Carlson
“It’s an amazing feeling to win it all again,” said Carlsen. “We had a big target on our back this year as the defending champs and give Pine View credit for playing a great game. They are a great team and it came down to the wire. Both sides gave it their all.”
“Winning the second one (championship) is different, but it’s still awesome,” said Sky View coach Chris Howell. “It’s a different team this year and they played in very different circumstances. I’m just so proud of our kids and finding a way to differently today.”
Coming in, the Bobcat defense was allowing just 11.6 points per game and was coming off a 28-0 shutout over Ridgeline in the 4A semifinals. But in a battle of the top two teams in 4A Saturday afternoon at Dixie State, Sky View needed its offense to lead the way in a 39-33 shootout victory over Pine View (12-2). The win also extended the Bobcats’ winning streak to 25 games.
“Pine View’s offense is explosive and they can score quickly,” said Howell. “We’d go down and score on a five-minute drive, and they would come back and score in 10 seconds. We knew we needed to force turnovers today and our guys responded.”
While Pine View racked up 469 yards of total offense on just 49 plays, the Panthers also had four costly turnovers, including a fumble late in the fourth quarter.
“Sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce your way, but we’re proud of our kids for fighting and never giving up,” Pine View assistant coach Ben Meier said. “For us, it’s not about one game or whether or not we win a state championship. Our boys our already champions for getting to this point and we let them know after the game how proud we were of them.”
Pine View quarterback Brayden Bunnell, who came into Saturday’s game with 39 touchdown passes, continued his prolific season, as the senior completed 17-of-26 passes for 384 yards and four touchdowns.
Bunnell’s favorite targets were senior wide receiver Preston Mann and junior wideout Dominique McKenzie. Mann hauled in six catches for a game-high 151 yards and three touchdowns, while McKenzie had four catches for 134 yards and a touchdown, as well as a rushing touchdown to open the game. Both finished with more than 1,000 yards receiving this year for the Panthers.
Pine View running back Enoch Takau rushed for 81 yards and Ryan Jordan added 25 on the ground for the Panthers in the loss.
Pine View was seeking its first state title (0-7) and made its first state title appearance since 2016. With a loaded roster, the Panthers will have a great shot at ending the streak next year.
- Watch replay: Sky View 39, Pine View 33
Sky View dominated time of possession as the Bobcats had the ball nearly three times as long as Pine View. The Bobcats’ rushing attack got going early and often as Sky View racked up 327 yards on the ground.
Isaac Larsen led the way with 99 yards to go with a touchdown. The senior ripped off a 67-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter as he took the jet sweep and ran down the sideline to give Sky View a 39-27 lead.
“As soon as I got the ball and saw that green grass I knew I was going to score,” said Larsen. “I got great blocks from my teammates and I just hit the hole and wasn’t going to let anything stop me.”
Carlsen rushed for two touchdowns and would have finished the game with 144 rushing yards if he didn’t take a 47-yard loss as time expired on fourth down. The senior did so in order to make sure Pine View didn’t have any time left to have one last shot.
With four consecutive region championships to go with two consecutive state titles, Sky View cemented itself as the top dog in 4A once again.
“We have great coaches, great players and a great culture at Sky View,” said Carlsen. “I love this team and I can’t wait to see what this team does next year.”