For those who haven't taken notice yet, it's probably time to acknowledge that Pine View is a legitimate team, and its undefeated record isn't a fluke.
The Panthers trounced Region 5 champion Sky View 55-24 in the nightcap at Rice-Eccles Stadium Thursday, capitalizing on several big plays and punching their ticket into the 4A championship game next weekend against Timpview.
"We're just going to go out and do what we do; we're going to roll the dice and see what happens," said Pine View coach Todd Shaw. "We're extremely happy to be here, but this group believes."
It's hard not to believe after the performance Pine View turned in against Sky View. Of its nine touchdowns, one was a 95-yard interception return and another was a 94-yard kickoff return. Tailback Travis Tait was responsible for three other scores on ground, while quarterback Nick Marinko threw for three scores.
The big plays were the difference, particularly in a game in which both teams finished with around 400 yards of total offense.
After a Ben Brooksy field goal put Sky View ahead 9-7 early in the second quarter, Riley Dias returned the ensuing kickoff 94 yards to put Pine View ahead for good at 13-9 after a missed extra point.
Sky View had a chance to whittle away at Pine View's 20-9 lead with a first and goal in the waning seconds of the first half, but Pine View's Justin Ence picked off a pass and raced the other way putting the Panthers comfortably in front 27-9 at the break.
"Coach (Greg) Croshaw has brought a mentality we're going to attack more defensively," said Shaw. "We're a good defensive football team, more so than we've been in the past. We've got some speed and that allows us to do some different things."
Heaton tipped the pass that led to Ence's big interception, and he also believes that the foundation for Thursday's win was laid a year ago when Pine View lost in the 3A quarterfinals.
"As soon as we lost that last game last season every single one of us was in the weight room the next Monday," said Heaton. "We knew right then and there that we were going to make sure it never happened again."
Pine View hasn't lost since, either.
The second half was much of the same as Pine View opened up a 48-9 lead as Marinko led the team on three third-quarter scoring drives.
Shaw was pleased to see his team finish off some drives, which wasn't the case in last week's 13-10 win over Bountiful.
"We were nervous last week, we really were. Our execution in the red zone last week was not good, or the game might've been different," said Shaw.Marinko finished with 172 passing yards, while Tait finished with 142 rushing yards.