In three years as the head coach at Alta, Les Hamilton hasn't lost very often. Anyone could forgive him for feeling a bit jinxed by the Bingham Miners, who have beaten the Hawks four consecutive times. It'd be hard to blame him if he had nightmares of last season's loss in the 5A state championship game or even the 23-20 loss in Week 2.
Friday night's victory officially removed the Bingham monkey from his shoulders. The victory was the first over the Miners in Hamilton's career.
"A lot of these kids were here last year, and they felt that pain (when the Miners won the state title)," Hamilton said. "For us to get over that hurdle is huge for us."
Star running back Sausan Shakerin had felt the pressure building up as well. The senior was banged up during this season's match-up and was unable to make a major difference in the contest. Though the injuries still lingered through the 10-game winning streak that ensued, it was all worth it to get another shot at Bingham.
"We've played these guys for three years, and it's like they're our brothers, but you still get in fights with your brothers," Shakerin said. "To beat them was amazing. It's a great feeling."
The senior scored three early touchdowns and finished with 98 yards on 26 carries. But the story of the night was the Hawks' defense, which did their best to keep Sam Langi and the Miners in check.
Cornerback Brantley Dunn, who contributed by breaking up two passes that could've been huge plays for the Miners, knew that it would be on his unit's shoulders to win the game.
"We worked hard this week, spent a lot of time watching film. We showed them we could finally stop them," Dunn said. "You can't explain it. It's just a storybook ending. We finally got over the hump that we call Bingham."
A win Friday night would've been crushing for Hamilton, but the Hawks were able to hold off a second-half surge to advance to their second consecutive championship. Amidfan elation that could rival that of winning a state title, Hamilton was quick to point out there is still one game to play.
"Our goal all year long was to win a state championship. It feels great to get by Bingham, but the state championship is next week, not tonight."