Every time we get into the playoffs, we get a little anxious, and it shows. In the second half, the defense stepped it up and we got control of the game. It feels good to have this one done. —Mike Miller, Riverton coach
RIVERTON — It’s not a good idea to turn your back on this year’s Riverton football team.
Despite playing the backup role to their longtime rival — Bingham — for many years and now having to battle for respect with the neighbor on the other side — Herriman — the Silverwolves have quietly had one of their best seasons in school history.
On Friday night, Paden Cayias and Cameron Christiansen each scored two touchdowns and had nearly 100 yards apiece as Riverton bounced Northridge 31-14 in the first round of the 5A state playoffs.
The win marked only the second time the Silverwolves have moved past the first round, despite being a playoff entrant virtually every year. Riverton led just 15-14 at halftime but made all of the game’s big plays after that.
“Every time we get into the playoffs, we get a little anxious, and it shows,” said Riverton coach Mike Miller. “In the second half, the defense stepped it up and we got control of the game. It feels good to have this one done.”
The win improved Riverton’s record to 8-2 and set up another matchup against Bingham, which hadn’t been invited to be part of the Silverwolves’ non-region schedule this year, even though the schools are less than four miles apart. Riverton hasn’t beaten the Miners since 2002.
“They’re our next game that’s it,” Miller said. “We take ‘em one at a time.”
For a while, it wasn’t certain that would happen. Riverton never trailed, but also couldn’t shake the Knights, the third-place team from Region 1.
Northridge cashed in after Marcello Martinez recovered a Riverton fumble at the 10-yard line in the first quarter, and then Jaylen Dyson’s interception led to another score just before halftime that cut the Silverwolves’ margin to 15-14.
Northridge, though, couldn’t come up with any big plays after that.
Riverton took the second-half kickoff and moved swiftly downfield for a touchdown. Then, kicker Brady Slack made up for missing an earlier PAT by booming a 40-yard field goal that gave the Silverwolves a 24-14 lead.
The Silverwolves had the momentum, and only added to it when Jaden Hirschi blocked a Northridge field-goal attempt that could have cut the margin to just one score.
Riverton put the game away when Cayias scored on a 7-yard run with 1:43 left.
Northridge’s bright points had to be the play of junior Dayan Lake, who rushed for 117 yards on 10 carries, caught seven passes for 77 yards and scored both of the Knights’ touchdowns. Junior quarterback Ben Jackson passed for 174 yards but was intercepted four times.
Bruce Smith grew up in Boise, Idaho, and is a longtime newspaper sports writer. He writes primarily high-school sports articles for the Deseret News.