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4A high school football takeaways: Defending champion Sky View looks the part, while contenders like Ridgeline, Snow Canyon and Stansbury emerge

SHARE 4A high school football takeaways: Defending champion Sky View looks the part, while contenders like Ridgeline, Snow Canyon and Stansbury emerge

FILE: Action in the 4A state championship football game between Sky View and Park City at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, Nov. 22, 2019. The Bobcats have started the 2020 season the same way they ended the last one — winning. Sky View is one of three remaining undefeated teams in 4A, thanks to an impressive 4-0 slate.

Steve Griffin, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Sixteen straight.

The Sky View Bobcats have now won 16 consecutive games going back to last season, the first state-title winning season in program history.

The Bobcats’ dominance gets even more impressive the further back you go, too. Including the 2018 season, Sky View has won 27 of its last 29 games. Go back to 2017 and that number is 38 wins in their last 41 tries.

The Bobcats have simply been a powerhouse in recent years and that hasn’t changed much at all this season.

At 4-0, with wins over Stansbury, Bonneville, Highland (Idaho) and, most recently, Madison (Idaho), Sky View is one of only three remaining unbeaten teams in the 4A classification.

The latest win, a 54-13 triumph (box score) over the Bobcats of Madison, wasn’t perfect by any means, per Sky View head coach Chris Howell. At least not by recent Sky View standards.

Howell singled out a “mediocre” second quarter, particularly on defense, though the Bobcats’ offense lacked efficiency as well.

“We had a very mediocre second quarter,” Howell said. ‘We gave up some yards between the 20s, but we stiffened up in the red zone and were able to get three interceptions, one an unbelievable catch by Evan Hall.”

When the Bobcats turned it around, as they inevitably did, they cruised to yet another convincing victory, powered by standout performances from running back Walter Collins (who rushed for two 3rd quarter touchdowns, including a 53-yarder) and Truman Moser (who rushed for a 44-yard score).

“In the third quarter we played much better,” said Howell. “We were very efficient on offense and created a number of big plays. We were able to play a lot of kids in the third quarter and all of the fourth.”

And they continued to look the part of defending state champs.

Contenders to Sky View’s crown have begun to emerge, however, chief among them being Snow Canyon in Region 9, Stansbury in Region 10 and Ridgeline in Region 11.

All three teams were victorious Friday night, and impressive in their own ways.

The Warriors, the highest ranked 4A team, aside from Sky View, soundly defeated previously unbeaten Canyon View 49-14 (box score).

Snow Canyon quarterback Landon Frei was a standout, accounting for four touchdowns, and the Warriors were dominant from start to finish, outscoring the Falcons 35-7 in the first half, 14-7 in the second half.

It was the first home game of the season for Snow Canyon, which played at Cyprus and Morgan to start the year, and a welcome one at that.

“We were glad to get to play at home this week,” Warriors head coach Mike Esplin said. “Our team played hard and continued to come more together as a unit. We have leaders that get better each week in setting the high standard for what we expect at Snow Canyon. We played with passion and played together. It was a good team win.”

But their eyes are ever on the next game.

“Excited to begin preparing for Hurricane,” Esplin said.

Stansbury started the season with a close loss to Sky View, a contest that saw the Stallions rally in impressive fashion in the second half, only to fall agonizingly short in the end.

Since then, however, Stansbury has done nothing but win, the latest victory being a 56-21 (box score) toppling of Cedar Valley to open region play.

The Stallions started slow, something that has become somewhat of a trend for them, before erupting for 56 unanswered points.

Quarterback Kru Huxford was the standout, as he threw for six touchdowns and rushed for another. Nate Bushnell added a rushing score, while Cayden Clark and Pae Tia each had two touchdown receptions.

“Pretty slow start,” Stansbury head coach Eric Alder said. “We found ourselves down 0-14 in the first quarter. But, we bounced back in the second quarter with 35 points and went on to score 56 unanswered points for a convincing win.”

Ridgeline continued its winning ways as well — Sky View, Snow Canyon and Ridgeline are the only undefeated teams left in 4A — with a second consecutive win over a 5A opponent.

Last week it was Farmington, and Friday night it was Woods Cross.

The RiverHawks defeated the Wildcats 24-7 (box score), powered, in part, by quarterback Kaden Cox and BYU commit Jovesa Damuni. The duo connected for a pair of touchdown passes, one for 20 yards, the other for 42 yards. The Ridgeline defense was also impressive most of the night, holding the Wildcats scoreless through the first three quarters.

“I thought our kids played extremely hard and physical against a very good team in Woods Cross,” Ridgeline head coach Travis Cox said. “Their defense was very good and in order for us to score we had to put together long scoring drives. I also thought defensively we played well and were able to get them behind the chains most of the night.”

The list of title contenders doesn’t end there.

Cases can be made for many teams still, including traditional Region 9 powers Dixie and Pine View, both of whom were victorious Friday.

The Flyers struggled through a difficult non-conference slate through the first three weeks of the season, suffering losses to Springville, Roy and Mountain View, but opened region play with a 35-6 win (box score) over Hurricane.

Quarterback Bronson Barben rushed for two touchdowns and threw for two more to lead the way to a much needed victory.

“Our kids have been working hard,” Dixie head coach Blaine Monkres said. “We had a great week of practice. I was happy to see it pay off with a win last night.”

Pine View, meanwhile, improved to 3-1 on the year with a 49-20 win (box score) over Desert Hills.

The game was close early on, but the Panthers broke things wide open in the second quarter, outscoring the Thunder 21-7.

Quarterback Brayden Bunnell finished with for 234 yards passing and four touchdowns, receiver Preston Mann being his favorite target (Mann caught five passes for 75 yards).

It was the play of those in the trenches, though, that made the biggest difference, per Pine View head coach Ray Hosner.

“I was super proud tonight of our offensive line, led by Brennan Shawm,” he said. “I feel we won the game in the trenches and that’s always a good thing.”

Hosner added that his team is starting to come together — “They are starting to care about each other,” he said — and with Pine View’s only loss this season coming in a tight one against Ridgeline, the Panthers have high hopes for the year.

“I hope we get to keep playing,” Hosner said.

Watch replay: Pine View 49, Desert Hills 20

In other Region 9 action, Cedar City improved to 3-1 with a 37-7 win (box score) over Crimson Cliffs.

Defense and special teams led the way for the Reds, with Braxton Torres providing the highlights. Torres had both a pick six and and kick return for a touchdown in the win.

“We played well defensively,” Cedar City head coach Josh Bennett said. “Our defense had three interceptions, one returned for a touchdown. I was proud of our special teams. Torres returned a touchdown on a kick return and Edgar Hernandez kicked a 31-yard field goal.”

The 3-1 start to the year is the best for the Reds since 2016, when they also began the year with three wins to just one defeat.

Like those in Region 9, Region 10 teams also began region play Friday. Mountain View, Park City and Tooele all came away with victories.

The Bruins traveled to Ogden, where they defeated the previously unbeaten Tigers 31-21 (box score).

Quarterback Kaden Kunz was excellent in the victory and finished with three rushing touchdowns and one passing touchdown. The Mountain View defense, meanwhile, limited what had previously been a dynamic Ogden attack to only seven points through the opening three quarters.

“Our boys played well tonight,” Mountain View head coach Tyler Anderson said. “Defense was able to shut their run game down and offense was able to move the ball.”

It wasn’t all perfect, as Anderson noted too many turnovers committed by his side, but he was happy with the end result.

“We are glad to be 1-0 in region,” Anderson said.

Watch replay: Mountain View 31, Ogden 21

Park City defeated Uintah 41-21 (box score), buoyed by the play of Seth Warner, who rushed for a pair of touchdowns. Carson Tabaracci and Chase Beyer each threw for a Park City touchdown as well, while the Miners’ defense held the Utes to only seven points through three quarters.

As for Tooele, the Buffaloes picked up their first win of the season, a 35-6 win (box score) over Ben Lomond.

After a slow start, the Buffaloes outscored the Scots 27-0 in the second half to pull away.

“I’m proud of my kids,” Tooele head coach Andru Jones said. “We started off slow, but made great adjustments and were able to get things rolling.”

Injuries had proved debilitating to Tooele in the early weeks of the season, but most were back in action Friday, to the Buffaloes benefit.

“We had a lot of injuries in the preseason,” said Jones. “Most of my kids came back for region play so it took some time to get them going. It was nice to get that first win.”

Arguably the most meaningful win of the night belonged to Bear River. The Bears defeated rival Box Elder 26-22 (box score), in incredible late game fashion no less. Bear River scored a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns to rally past the Bees, and both scores came on fourth down.

Kace Jones rushed for a 63-yard touchdown to pull the Bears within striking distance, and Cael Wilcox rushed for the game-winning score on a 36-yard run with just over three minutes remaining in the game.

It was the 100th edition of the Golden Spike rivalry and the game won’t be forgotten by anyone associated with either school any time soon.

“The boys, all the boys on both sides deserved to play tonight,” Bear River head coach Chris Wise said. “Every down is a blessing and I feel like both teams sold out and really had nothing left in the tank. I told the team this is something that can never be disputed or taken away. They won the 100th Golden Spike game, in the year of COVID. Amazing.”

Watch replay: Bear River 26, Box Elder 22

In other 4A action, Mountain Crest fell to Bonneville 42-14 (box score), while Logan fell short against Highland (Idaho) 41-27 (box score).

Watch replay: Highland, Idaho 41, Logan 27