Jace Doman had a thought in his head as he lined up for a fourth-quarter drive.
The senior wide receiver from Skyridge had seen how each senior class before him got to this point, but couldn’t break through. He watched in 2020 as Skyridge lost in the state title game. He watched again in 2021 when the Falcons lost in the state semifinals. All those seniors won plenty of games — some of the most in the state, in fact — but they weren’t able to lift the trophy at the end.
So with that in his mind, and the ball on the 11-yard line, Doman weaved around two Corner Canyon defenders until he found open grass in the end zone. He looked up and saw the ball coming toward his stomach. He bobbled it slightly, but caught it.
The catch gave Skyridge a lasting 17-7 lead and delivered the school its first state football championship.
“We always had the potential,” Doman said. “But we have never finished. We haven’t been able to finish. Our whole goal coming up was just to finish the game. And we did. I’m really proud of these guys.”
And to do it against Corner Canyon, a team that had won two state titles and been to another as Skyridge was knocking on the door, only added to the storyline.
The Falcons essentially shut down one of the most high-powered offenses in the state. Corner Canyon quarterback Isaac Wilson was held to 184 yards passing with one touchdown and one interception. After a score on the opening drive, Skyridge stopped Corner Canyon in the red zone twice and forced five turnovers on downs.
None was bigger than a stop with under five minutes to play. Corner Canyon had the ball inside the 10-yard line only down 10. Coach Eric Kjar elected to go for it rather than kick a field goal, but Wilson was stopped short on a run and the game was effectively over.
“Unbelievable with the fourth-down success and red-zone success,” Skyridge coach Jon Lehman said.
Wilson also ran for 110 yards, but was held to just 36 yards in the second half. It was a defensive performance anchored by senior Sione Westover, who sprained his MCL on the first drive of the game. He elected to stay in the game after putting a brace on it.
For the first time since 2015, Corner Canyon was held to seven points during an in-state game.
“There are a lot of heroes in this game,” Lehman said. “But you can’t leave [Westover] out of that. We were ready to shut him down. But he said no. He played the last three quarters and it was unbelievably gutsy. He is the heart and soul of this defense.”
On offense, Skyridge was paced by Utah State commit McCae Hillstead, who finished with 182 yards passing and two touchdowns. His ankle injury, which he had surgery earlier in the season to come back for the playoffs, limited his normal running ability to just 36 yards.
“This morning he woke up and said, ‘This doesn’t feel very good,’” Lehman said. “We talked in our walkthrough of, ‘Do we go with him?’ But he said he was playing.”
With Hillstead’s rushing limited, Tate Walker finished with 20 carries for 48 yards. La’akea Kalama also picked up the receiving duties with 10 catches for 71 yards.
After the game, Lehman talked about the future of the program now that it had gotten over the hump. There was relief in his voice, knowing that as he steps down as head coach he will leave with seniors who don’t need another opportunity.
For the first time in years, there is a happy finality to the season.
“It has been a fun ride for me to be a part of,” Lehman said. “... I think we are in the middle of the mountain. I think [the next staff] can take this to a whole other level.”