COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — What was billed as a matchup of superstar quarterbacks turned into a romp Friday night, as Skyline, Wash., pummeled the Cottonwood Colts 57-25.
Perhaps it was the ESPNU cameras, or the nervousness of being on national television. Maybe it was the later start, the long television timeouts, or the unfamiliar matchup. Whatever the cause, the Colts' just seemed to be out of sync, dropping four passes, fumbling twice and never truly getting untracked. The small mistakes, when pieced together, set Cottonwood up for a rough night against a very good team.
Star quarterback Cooper Bateman threw for 254 yards and ran for two touchdowns, but also threw two interceptions.
Rival star quarterback Max Browne and the Spartans looked as comfortable as if they were back home in Sammamish, Wash. The Southern California commit finished with 387 yards, three touchdowns passing and another on the ground. His supporting cast of Cedric Cooper and Matt Sinatro were frequently able to take short passes and turn them into long plays, using the Cottonwood defense's aggressiveness against itself.
"We came down here on a mission," Skyline coach Matt Taylor said after the game. "Probably every time we stopped in a parking lot, we did some walkthroughs or went through the plays and schemes. We were up until midnight last night watching film. The kids have been very focused."
The Colts' aggressiveness looked to pay off early, as the Colts were able to sack Browne three times in the first quarter, two of those coming from T.J. Fehoko. Consecutive sacks left the Spartans with a missed field goal on their first drive, but they would convert a third-and-16 on the second possession to set up a short touchdown toss from Browne to tight end Peter Stromgren.
Bateman's first pass of the Colts' second possession sailed over his receiver's head and into the arms of Skyline's Cooper, who took it in for a 37-yard touchdown and a quick 15-0 lead after a two-point conversion. After another Colts punt, Skyline needed just two plays to score again. Browne tossed the ball to backup quarterback Nate Gibson on a flare, who then tossed it downfield to a wide open Andrew Giese for a 60-yard score and a rather sudden 22-0 lead.
The Cottonwood defense would again tighten up toward the end of the first quarter, blocking a field goal attempt and forcing a punt, setting the offense up for a touchdown midway through the second to cut the deficit to 22-7. Unfazed, Browne promptly marched the Spartans downfield on a 91-yard drive, finishing it off with a 4-yard draw and a 29-7 lead going into halftime.
After a Cottonwood three-and-out to open the second half, Skyline again required just two plays to score, this time a 73-yard connection between Browne and receiver Nic Sblendorio. The Colts would get on the board again on their ensuing drive on a short Bateman run, cutting the score to 36-14.
But Browne and the Spartans weren't stopping, eventually scoring two touchdowns with backups to eventually put the defending Washington 4A champions into a comfortable, insurmountable lead. Cottonwood would get late scores from Inoke Lotulelei and Gabe Hosea, but were repeatedly matched by Skyline. The Spartans would punch in two fourth quarter scores from backups, eventually bringing the score to a 57-25 final.
The road gets no easier for winless Cottonwood, which invites Bingham into their stadium for homecoming next week. Despite the wide margin of the final score, the 25 points for the Colts is a season high, and both sides of the ball showed flashes of brilliance against a team that has won three of the previous four state championships in Washington's largest division.
Copyright 2017, Deseret News Publishing Company