Tom Smart, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — When the Bingham football team defeated Lone Peak, 48-13, in the 5A semifinals at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Friday evening, it wasn't the first time the two school had met.
In the third week of the season, the Miners and the Knights traveled together to play a couple of top Colorado teams. It was there, in an unfamiliar location playing unfamiliar teams, that the Bingham and Lone Peak players were each other's greatest fans.
"They played right before us and our kids were there rooting for them," Bingham head coach Dave Peck said Friday of the Knights' 48-10 September victory over Mullen, Colo.
When the Miners followed with a narrow 24-21 overtime win over Valor Christian, Colo., Lone Peak cheered, too.
"When it came down to overtime and we were playing Valor Christian — they're nationally ranked; they're undefeated — and I think (the Knights were) the loudest people in that stadium," Peck said. "They were down in the end zone, every one of the Lone Peak kids and the coaches. Man, they were in to it."
The coach added that the bond formed during those September games has left a link between the two teams that faced each other Friday in the 5A final four.
"Ever since (the Colorado trip), you could see there was a lot of respect between our kids," Peck said. "Even after the game a couple of their kids came up and talked to us. We have nothing but respect for their program."
That sentiment extends to the Knights' senior quarterback, Baron Gajkowski.
"I think Baron is one of the classiest, best quarterbacks I've seen in a long time," Peck said. "I always say that a great leader inspires people around them to be better than they ever thought they could. I think that's what he does."
So when the former Region 4 foes were pitted against each other in the semifinals, the Miners had both motivation — Lone Peak had defeated Bingham during league play during each of the past two seasons — and a friendly rivalry.
"The past two years we've lost to them, we came in with good motivation," said Bingham quarterback Kyle Gearig. "I think it all had to do with our history with Lone Peak."
Sarah Thomas earned a degree in Mathematics from the University of Utah and is currently pursuing an MBA at Westminster College. She has been covering sports for the Deseret News since 2008.