Two teams entered the Utah Class 4A State Football Championship with a winning mentality. One also brought a grudge.
That was the one that carried the trophy out of Rice-Eccles Stadium on Friday afternoon.
The Sky View High players practically seethed in their white and blue uniforms as the lined up against Park City. The Bobcats hadn’t forgotten their last, physical meeting with the Miners, when a single point not only blemished their spotless record but cost them a chance to play for a state title for the only time since 1987. So, when they got an opportunity to exact revenge, they seized it.
Quarterback Kason Carlsen ran in for touchdowns of 1, 2 and 3 yards on the Bobcats’ first three possessions and the defense clamped down in securing Sky View its first state championship with a 35-0 victory.
“We were coming full-throttle and we ended up going over top of them,” Falslev said. “It was awesome.”
Carlsen ran for 107 yards and completed 16 of 23 passes for 186 yards and one interception. Mason Falslev added the Bobcats’ two second-half scores on runs of 4 yards each. The senior, who will play basketball for Utah after finishing his church mission, tallied 86 yards on the ground on 14 carries.
On his final score, Falslev slid into the end zone and onto the big, white "U" like a kids sliding on a snowbank.
“That just felt like fresh snow,” he said. “That was so nice. It kind of sealed the game. That was just awesome."
No. 1-seeded Park City (13-1) was undefeated and seeking its first state title, having gone 0-for-5 in its previous attempts. Yet many of the seniors have been playing together since pee-wee football, when they had won four championships, and that combined with their strong season made a breakthrough seem nigh inevitable.
But Sky View (13-1) forced the Miners into 3-and-outs on their first three possessions. When Park City finally entered Bobcats territory — on perhaps its best scoring opportunity — it was ignited by senior Andrew Pederson forcing Carlsen into a fumble that was recovered by junior Zachary Lukrich at Sky View’s 34. The Miners stalled at the 1-yard line, though, until senior Traeson Martindale sacked quarterback Jack Skidmore on third and goal. Falslev came up with an interception to end the drive.
“Those guys aren’t only big, they’re athletic,” Park City coach Josh Montzingo said. “That combination definitely gave us fits.”
Senior running back Dylan Bauer, who is committed to John Hopkins for lacrosse, had 121 yards on 18 carries. Skidmore was 4 of 12 passing for 20 yards with two interceptions. One was snagged by Scout Morris, who leads the state with 10 on the season.
The Bobcats more than made up for their 15-14 quarterfinal loss to the Miners last year. They made up for lost time.
“All the people who have come before us and the teams before, we finally got it done," Falslev said. "This represents how good of a football program we have. And we’re just so happy to get [the championship].”