Storylines galore in Skyline's 22-14 victory over Highland in Friday's 4A state prep football championship at Rice Stadium:
- The revenge factor. In near-identical fashion, the 12-1 Eagles avenged their sole loss of the season, a 21-14 loss to the Rams. "Yeah, it's kinda a rivalry," said Skyline lineman Aaron Hansen.- A couple of ordinary Joes. The two starting quarterbacks share the same first name and the No. 4 on their jerseys - Skyline's Joe Dupaix and Highland's Joe Sheffield. Sheffield scored both Ram touchdowns and was the game's offensive leader (116 yards rushing, 60 passing), but Dupaix guided the winning Eagles and did a late-game number on defense by halting the two final Highland possessions with interceptions.
- "The Battle of the 'Bone" mirror-like matchup. Both teams run a wishbone offense borrowed from the Air Force Academy in the early 1980s by Roger Dupaix, then head coach at Highland. Dupaix took the offensive schemes along with him when he became Skyline's coach in 1986, with former Ram assistant Tom Kingsford also keeping the 'bone as he took over at Highland. "It's fun to run, but when it comes back at you, it kinda hurts," said Joe Dupaix, the coach's QB son.
- A state championship - finally - for the elder Dupaix. The year after he left Highland, the Rams won the 1986 4A crown. And in 1987, Skyline was leading Orem, only to lose 28-27 on a last-minute Tiger touchdown pass. "It's going to make my whole winter," said the Skyline coach. "I'm really going to enjoy this one."
- A game of inches. The Rams failed by the smallest fraction of an inch on a fourth-quarter, fourth-down play, costing Highland possession and late-game momentum (see related story).
- A two-point try. A two-point PAT reverse by Cliff Doman, giving Skyline the lead for good at 15-14 late in the third quarter. "We saw it at the 3A state tournament five or six years ago - I can't even remember the team that ran it," said Roger Dupaix. "Highland knew we had it - we've used it against them several times over the years. We just had to get one point on them, and we knew that they had a big rush on the kick."
There are the storylines in capsule form. And now a quick scoring summary of the Eagles' 4A championship effort.
Skyline scored on its first possession, a typical wishobone-like drive of 80 yards in 11 plays - except that Joe Dupaix picked up 43 yards on 3-of-3 passing (he finished with 5-of-7 passing for 51 yards, with no aerial TDs and one interception). Trent Whitney scored from 1 yard out, with Branden Jones' point-after kick giving the Eagles a 7-0 lead with 6:45 left in the first period.
The two teams traded interceptions - a pick by Doman followed soon by an interception by Highland's Taylor Scalley.
Highland scored on its next possession, with Sheffield gaining all but 10 yards during the Ram's nine-play, 63-yard drive. Sheffield scored on a 6-yard run, with Mark Dahl's PAT kick evening the score at 7-all with 9:32 left in the half.
Until intermission, the only real threat to change the score was a 54-yard attempted field goal by Skyline's Brian Alba, but that fell harmlessly short as time expired.
Highland marched at ease in its first possession of the second half, from the Ram 3-yard line to the Eagle 3, but a fumble dashed any scoring hopes for the moment. The Highland defense kept Skyline deep in its own territory, and a short Eagle punt gave the Rams the ball on the Skyline 34.
Again, Sheffield led Highland to the end zone, scoring from the 1 some half a dozen plays later. With Dahl's second PAT, the Rams owned a 14-7 lead with 4:20 left in the third.
Skyline countered immediately, going basic with the wishbone with up-the-middle runs by Whitney and Matt Hansen. That set up an outside pitch from Dupaix to Hansen, who split a pair of blockers and swept left for a 16-yard TD with :33 left in the quarter.
The Eagles lined up for an apparent point-after kick that would tie the score at 14-14, with Dupaix holding for Jones. But - follow the ball - Dupaix flipped the snap to Doman, the junior receiver who was circling around going from left to right and dashed across the end zone for the 15-14 advantage.
Highland moved from its 20 to the Skyline 27, when Sheffield came up shot on a fourth-and-two play - so short that officials used an index card to measure the space between the chain marker and the ball.
Skyline took over and was forced to punt, but Jones booted a 43-yarder to the Ram 14, with less than four minutes to play. Dupaix picked off a Sheffield pass and returned it 22 yards to the Ram 7, with Jake Marshall carrying twice en route to an insurance touchdown of four yards. Jones' PAT made for the final 22-14 score.
Highland had one last possession, needing to go 77 yards in a minute's time for a touchdown and two-point conversion to force overtime. But Dupaix nabbed his second interception as time expired, preserving the Eagles' title triumph.