Phoenix • The result was not particularly gratifying, but the journey clearly was a success.
Bingham, driven by a productive group of experienced seniors and back-to-back state titles, tried to reverse the fortunes of the two previous games against out-of-state foes at the end of the season.
But St Frances Academy of Baltimore, a team fueled by speed, power and a swarming defense, was too much Saturday. The Miners ended their season for the third consecutive season with a loss to an out of state opponent, this time a 41-3 decision on the campus of Grand Canyon University.
The difference between Bingham’s measured and methodical approach and St. Frances’ quick-fleet and athletes was evident. Despite running 59 plays to the 44 by St. Frances, the Bingham offense only could generate 198 yards while St. Frances managed 339 yards of total offense with 15 fewer plays.
“We prepared well and wanted to use our kickoff return team to get us going,” Bingham senior Tanner Merrill said. “That didn’t happen, and we just didn’t match up with them.”
St. Frances’ speed and athleticism were evident from the outset. While Brigham was competitive until late in the third period, the swarming, physical St Frances defense prevented any sustained drive.
Bingham grabbed a 3-0 lead when Brandon Lopez drilled a 37-yard field goal with just under six minutes remaining the opening period.
The tide quickly turned.
St. Frances scored on each of its next three possessions, and by the time game MVP Kwincy Hall returned a punt 51 yards for a score midway through the second period, St Frances was out to a 17-3 advantage.
The Miners used a 10-play, 65-yard drive to open the game, but Bingham quarterback Ryan Wood found himself eluding St. Frances’ penetrating, aggressive defense after that drive.
The news got worse for Bingham when it lost Wood to a concussion. The senior, who completed 6 of 12 passes for 39 yards in the first half, did not play after halftime.
“From Day 1 of camp in August, we practice pursuit drills over and over and over,” said St. Frances all-American defensive end Eybai Anoma, who will play at Alabama next fall. “After a while, that became second nature to us. That’s how we play.”
The Miners, who have won back-to-back state titles, did not let the loss diminish the accomplishments of their season.
“Our goal is wining the state champion, and we succeeded,” Miners coach John Lambourne said. “It’s a great honor to be here, but unlike college football where a national championship is declared, we look at winning the state title as our season goal.”
Junior Andrew Wimmer led Bingham with 40 yards on six carries. After Wood went down with the concussion, junior Peyton Jones took over in the second half. He went 6 of 9 for 85 yards and one interception. Senior Brayden Cosper, a BYU signee, led receivers with eighth catches for 94 yards.
ST. FRANCES 41, BINGHAM 3
• The Miners lose their third consecutive game against an out-of-state opponent after winning a state title. They fell to Booker T. Washington (Miami) in 2014 and St. Thomas Aquinas (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) last season.
• Bingham allows 41 consecutive points after scoring the first points of the game.
• Andrew Wimmers leads Bingham with 40 yards on six carries.