Bingham is still the undisputed king of Utah high school football.
The defending 6A champion Miners proved that again Friday night, walloping mistake-prone East 30-8 at the home of the Leopards in a rematch of last year’s 6A state championship game.
In extending their winning streak against Utah teams to 29 games, the Miners dominated the Leopards with a stingy defense that allowed the home team just 54 yards of offense until East’s final drive.
“It was all crazy,” said Bingham defensive end Lolani Langi. “I felt like today we were more focused and under control. We wanted everything to be perfect. I feel like defensively, we were pretty perfect. It all clicked, other than the [last drive].”
East contributed to the onslaught, coughing up the ball four times and committing a slew of other penalties and costly mistakes.
“Anytime you get turnovers you have some momentum,” Bingham coach John Lambourne said. “Our guys up front, defensively, did a phenomenal job.”
East avoided the shutout by driving 66 yards in the final five minutes and finally got on the scoreboard on quarterback Josh Glad’s 1-yard keeper. Other than that meaningless touchdown, it was all Bingham, all night in a game that didn’t live up to its billing.
“The hype comes from the outside, for the most part,” said Lambourne, whose team pounded defending 4A champion Orem 39-22 last week at Orem. “We have to be grounded in what we are doing. It is just Game Two. We are not going to go home and have a big celebration tonight, I can tell you that much. Trust me, we are grateful for every win that we get. But there is a lot of football left to play.”
Bingham was playing its first game without arguably its best offensive player, senior running back Braedon Wissler, who suffered a knee injury against the Tigers and is lost for the season.
Quarterback Peyton Jones threw touchdown passes to Avi Parikh and Andrew Wimmer and Wimmer added an 8-yard touchdown run.
Those scores came after Bingham’s Jared Greenfield set the tone with an electrifying 60-yard punt return midway through the first quarter. Lambourne was yelling at his players to stay away from the bouncing football before Greenfield scooped it up, made a guy miss, then got a wall of blockers to the end zone.
“Oh, I thought ‘touchdown’ the second I made that first guy miss,” Greenfield said. “I saw my blockers lined up, and I knew I would score.”
Greenfield said that play “got the fire started, and once the fire starts with us, it never stops.”
East committed the first of its four lost fumbles on the next play from scrimmage and Bingham capitalized on the field position three plays later when Jones threw a perfect 14-yard touchdown strike to Parikh.
That was all the offense the Miners needed, because guys such as Langi, Simote Pepa and David Latu made running against Bingham almost impossible.
With Wissler watching from the sidelines, Bingham’s offensive line didn’t play a clean game — a few false starts throttled some drives — but did well enough against East’s massive Apu Ika and company to control the line of scrimmage. Ika blocked a PAT attempt, but then drew a personal foul when he shoved Bingham kicker Collin Smith to the turf.
Lambourne said the Miners will carry on without Wissler, but he will be missed.
“The truth of the matter is some of these things happen,” Lambourne said. “Braedon is a tough kid. I can assure you that he is going to deal with this really well and it won’t be the last football that he plays. We are asking him to be tough in his rehab, tough against adversity, and we have to be tough ourselves.”