5A high school football preview: Riverton at Bingham
Familiar foes facing off, this time in the playoffs
Matt Gade, Deseret News
SOUTH JORDAN — For the first time since Riverton opened its doors in 1999, it didn’t play Bingham in the regular season, thanks to realignment. On Friday, the two will check off another never-have.
The Miners host the Silverwolves at 5 p.m. in the 5A quarterfinals in the first-ever postseason meeting. Bingham is 42-2 on its home turf since 2007, including 15 straight after losing to a Chase Hansen-led Lone Peak squad in 2011.
“It changes everything because the loser isn’t playing anymore,” Bingham coach Dave Peck said. “We’ve never played them being in that situation. We’ve played them and had region title on the line two or three times, but we’ve never played them in a situation of loser goes home. That alone makes it a whole lot different.”
The proximity of the schools has created a rivalry atmosphere despite the relative lack of competition. Bingham has dominated the series between the two with an all-time 12-2 record. The Miners are currently riding a nine-game win streak with an average margin of defeat of 40-12.
“Overdog or underdog, it’s just another opponent for us. We prepared this week the same way,” Riverton coach Mike Miller said. “This is a competitive group; a real fun group to coach. I’m sure the players are talking amongst themselves. I don’t live in the area; obviously I’d like to win because of everything that’s at stake. I’d like to beat them, too.”
For Peck, Riverton-week is always unsettling with his personal history and affiliations.
“I know that for our kids, and for me in particular — we lived in Riverton for 14 years, so I know a lot of people in the community,” Peck said. “My O-coordinator, John Lambourne, lives about two blocks from the high school and his kids go to Riverton. So, whenever we play Riverton I’m always uptight playing that game. Our kids know it, too, and we always seem to play with an edge when we play Riverton.”
If not for six points, it could be a matchup of two undefeated teams. The ‘Wolves (8-2) employ a deceptive, Wing-T offense, and it’s imperative that opposing defenses play disciplined, assignment-football. This might be the deepest backfield Riverton has had in years after running for 4,232 yards and 46 touchdowns with 26 different players recording at least one carry.
“We’ve played against them for all these years and they’re usually going to get one or two big plays on us. It happens every year. They’re going to pop somebody through and it’s just so darn quick that you lose them. The next thing you know they’re already by you,” Peck explained after saying preparing for the Wing-T keeps him up at night. “Defensively we make it tough on them where they have to really work for what they get. We’re not going to panic and pick up one or two touchdowns on us. We know they’re very capable of doing that.”
Peck highlighted his five linebackers that rotate freely throughout the game. Thus far, Nick Heninger, Daniel Langi, Vaka Vehikite, Skyler Olsen and Saia Saltiban have combined for 285 tackles, 13 sacks and five interceptions. If Riverton expects to experience the same success on the ground, its offensive line has to body up the second layer.
“I’m assuming they’re going to try and load up the box and try to put as many people as they can up there to stop the run. Hopefully, if they’re doing that, our play-action pass game is there,” Miller said. “We feel like we’re effective either way, and usually when people have brought people up we’ve thrown the ball over the top of them. I’d imagine that’s what they’ll do. They know what do and they keep doing it. They don’t change up a whole lot or out-scheme. That’s just not their way.”
Riverton statistical breakdown