Kragthorpe: Bingham's Nichols proves his value in 5A triumph (with video)
In the middle of his Bingham High School career, when Scott Nichols was searching for the fun in football, he received some good advice from former teammate Hayden Weichers: "Don't get tackled."
Brighton's defense eventually tackled Nichols after 26 of his 27 carries in Friday's Class 5A state championship game, but he went to the ground quite unwillingly, that's for sure.
Nichols led the Miners to a 38-13 victory at Rice-Eccles Stadium, showing remarkable ability to gain yards after being hit.
"Isn't he amazing? Not very often does the first guy bring him down," Bingham coach Dave Peck said. "He just keeps going and going."
The Bengals, who had trouble stopping Nichols in a 38-27 loss in early October, rediscovered his relentless nature. Brighton's Isaac Vance once grabbed the tail of Nichols' jersey and was pulled for several yards. Sage Nelson thought he had tackled Nichols, only to have Nichols roll on top of him, get up and run for a first down.
Bingham's program has reached the stage where there's usually a precedent for every great showing in a state title game. That's just partly true in Nichols' case.
Unless somebody can cite an epic performance from the 1940s, no Miner running back ever had done what he did Friday. Nichols finished with 165 yards and a touchdown on the ground, in addition to catching a 51-yard touchdown pass.
Nobody in the modern era of Bingham's four championships in eight seasons could match those numbers, partly because the Miners' previous offenses were more diversified than Friday's model.
Yet on that opening possession of the third quarter, Nichols evoked memories of Harvey Langi in 2009. Langi personally produced a touchdown drive that helped the Miners rally for a 35-24 victory over Davis, finishing with 120 yards.
Against Brighton, the Miners were leading 21-13 at halftime, but they were wobbling somewhat after the Bengals rallied in the second quarter and Bingham quarterback Kyle Gearig was injured. Nichols responded in a big way. On the 18-play, 62-yard drive that lasted nine minutes and ended with a field goal, he gained 48 yards on eight carries. Four of those runs resulted in third-down conversions.
Working behind Bingham's line of Justen Nuffer, Aaron Amaama, Riley Culley, Noa Taeatafa and Austin Bunkall, Nichols followed with a 19-yard touchdown run on Bingham's next possession, and the Miners were in command to stay.
In the second half, "I was going to give it everything I've got," Nichols said. "I didn't care if I was lying on the field at the end."
Actually, Nichols looked as if he could have kept running and breaking tackles all night, even with a heavy workload. Peck considers the 5-foot-10, 177-pound Nichols one of the hardest-working players he's coached in 30 years.
"I'm shocked right now that he doesn't have any [scholarship] offers," Peck said, "but I can't imagine that there's not a college out there that wouldn't want to have that kid."
After two seasons without a title, Peck believes the 2013 Miners brought the program "back into that elite status."
Nichols had help, but this Bingham team couldn't have achieved that label without him.