High school football: Giles' rushing, strong defense send Woods Cross into 4A semifinals
And as for reaching the 4A semis, Gunther said he was "Oh, so stoked. This has been our team goal. Everyone said we weren't gonna make the playoffs. We were unranked before the season, but we've proved everyone wrong and we're going to Rice-Eccles. We were definitely the underdogs to everyone else, but we knew we could make it."
The Woods Cross defense, which starts nine juniors, feasted on a fumbled punt by the Skyhawks at the Salem Hills 17 to help set up Giles' first touchdown, while Sam Parson picked off a Salem Hills pass in the third period, and Xequille Harry and Mason Newton each came up with fourth-quarter interceptions that stopped Skyhawk drives.
"Our defense sets the tone for us and it's a special group," Spencer said. "It starts with the front. They know that if they do their job for three or four seconds that either the (opposing) quarterback's going to be sacked, hurried or thrown off balance or something. So they know that when a team is looking to throw the ball, they're gonna have opportunities because our front six get so much pressure.
"And that was the name of the game today — get pressure on the quarterback with a creative five-man, four-man rush, and then drop people into coverage and cut off those passing lanes. And we did it."
The lone score for Salem Hills (8-4) came on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Chad Peterson to Gunnar Gustin to tie it up 7-7 in the second quarter, but the Woods Cross defense came up with four interceptions that grounded the Skyhawks' offense the rest of the way.
"We thrive around our defense and today, credit to Salem Hills," Spencer said. "They battled; that was as physical a team as we've played in a long time. We thought Box Elder was going to be a physical team last week, and they were, but that's the kind of game we thought it was gonna be. This was not the kind of game we anticipated today, so credit to them in their game plan, their coaches and their players.
"Our offense, we challenged them to physically do the job to grind the clock and keep it out of (Salem Hills') hands so that they wouldn't be able to throw it down the field as much.
"We stubbed our toes in two drives that we needed to finish off, and then it wouldn't have been so close," Spencer said. "But I'm proud of the whole team because it was a really, really strong team effort."