SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – The Skyridge Falcons did not let the suspension of head coach Justin Hemm become a distraction in their 6A semifinal game against American Fork.
The Falcons raced out to a big lead and held off the Cavemen, 34-21, and will defend its 6A state title.
“Our head coach couldn’t be here right now,” said Skyridge wide receiver La’a Kalama, who had three touchdown catches. “They made a mistake and he’s getting all this hate for no reason. The truth is he took the fall for us so we could be here, and we just had to do it for him.”
The Falcons opened the scoring in the first quarter when Jackson Stevens found Trent Call in the corner of the end zone from 15 yards out to give Skyridge a 7-0 lead.
With 45 seconds left in the half, Stevens then hooked up with Kalama from 20 yards out to give the Falcons a two touchdown lead.
American Fork then made a big mistake on its next possession, as Dylan Story got picked off by Tavian Edwards, who returned it down to the 13 yard line.
On the next play, Stevens hits Kalama again, as Skyridge scored two touchdowns in less than a minute to give the Falcons a commanding 21-0 lead at the half.
Skyridge extended its lead to 27-0 when Stevens hooked up with Kalama for a third touchdown. Dylan Story threw two touchdowns to Landon Payne and Cade Wilkinson to cut the deficit to 13.
But the Falcons put it away with Stevens’ fifth TD of the game to Jack Burke. The Falcons said they dedicated the game to Coach Hemms.
“Once Coach Hemm went out, we kind of had a chip on our shoulder,” Stevens said. “We kind of felt a little bit wronged, but Coach Gleaves did a great job all week.”
“[Hemm] has set a culture for this team that the boys just responded to today,” said interim head coach Gleaves, who is also the team’s defensive coordinator. “That’s what its all about. These guys came out and performed.”
Skyridge will take on Corner Canyon in the 6A championship game next week. The Chargers made quick work of defending 5A champion Lehi in the second semifinal of the day, 63-24.
Bryton Brady scored a school-record seven touchdowns for the Chargers, who took a 21-0 first quarter lead and never looked back.
Brady rushed for three touchdowns in the quarter, including a 48-yarder to give the Chargers a commanding lead.
Brady then took a screen pass from Isaac Wilson and rumbled 25 yards for his fourth touchdown of the half to give the Chargers a 28-0 lead.
Brady added a 73-yard touchdown catch and a 31-yard TD reception to cap his incredible day. Brady ended up with 267 total yards and seven scores.
“It’s unbelievable,” Brady said. “The feeling is unreal. I can’t explain it enough.”
Wilson completed 20 of 27 passes for 428 yards and four touchdowns, to go along with 122 yards rushing.
“The offensive line killed it,” Wilson said. “I’m going to give it all to them. They personally had eight touchdowns, Bryton Brady got into the end zone seven times.”
“They have so much that they haven’t tapped into yet.” said head coach Eric Kjar. “At times they’re there and they’re doing a really good job. Today they just executed all the way around.”
Jett Niu threw touchdown passes to Ezaiah Mama and Grayston Brousseau for the Pioneers.
Rylan Quintana and Crew Staley had interceptions for the Chargers.
Corner Canyon and Skyridge will play for the 6A title Friday, November 17 at 2:30 p.m.
In the 4A semifinals, Crimson Cliffs held off Ridgeline, 31-24, to advance to its second straight state title game. The Mustangs will face Green Canyon in the championship game next Friday.
McCord Christiansen rushed for 161 yards and two touchdowns for the Mustangs.