SALT LAKE CITY — All season long, the Bingham offensive line has had one rule regarding senior running back Scott Nichols.
“Give him a crease,” said offensive line coach Keith Chatelain, “and he’s going to break it.”
The O-line met its goal, and the whole Bingham squad benefitted, capping a perfect season with a 38-13 victory over Brighton in the 5A championship game Friday afternoon.
“They competed from play one to the very last,” Chatelain said. “They knew what their job was and they did it. They proved over and over again that they can get it done.”
The role of Chatelain’s crew became especially crucial when, near the end of the first half, Bingham starting quarterback Kyle Gearig was injured tackling Sione Heimuli-Lund of Brighton on an interception return.
Gearig never returned, and the Bingham offense shifted strategy.
“We went into halftime and just broke it down as, ‘Hey, can you get the job done better than you’ve ever done before? And if you can, we’re going to walk away with a state championship,’” Chatelain said. “The guys responded yes, and obviously the first two drives (of the second half) they really did.”
The Miners, who received the ball to start the third quarter, opened the half on a nine-minute, 18-play scoring drive that culminated in a Chayden Johnston field goal. Kade Jensen, who took over signal-calling responsibilities, attempted just one pass on the drive, which fell incomplete, and ran the ball five times while Nichols had the other 12 plays for 60 yards.
Brighton had the ball for two plays before turning it back over with a fumble, and Bingham held the ensuing possession for 5:35 en route to a 19-yard Nichols touchdown.
“I think he’s the best running back I’ve ever seen,” said Bingham center Riley Culley. “He’s not the biggest and he’s not the most talkative. He’s a real quiet kid, but you put him on a football field, he can do anything you ask him to.”
From behind the strong offensive line, Nichols sparked the Miners, totaling 165 yards — 95 of them in the second half — and two touchdowns on 27 carries. Jensen finished with 21 yards on 12 carries, and Bingham had 17 points in the second half.
“They told us, ‘We haven’t passed with (Jensen) as much, so it’s on us,” Culley said of the halftime talk. “’It’s on us to blow it up and run the ball all over them, and take care of it up front.’ I knew that our second string could step up and I knew that us, as a team, could take care of it.”
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.
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