Energy was the main thing. We had our sideline picking up the energy. Man, that was the one thing we wanted to win was energy; bring the energy and we knew we had this. —Ma'a Notoa
BOUNTIFUL — The state's 5A football teams had better beware of this tough, new kid in town who's pushing people around.
Skyridge High, a second-year 5A school located in Lehi, ran its preseason record to an impressive 4-0 Friday night, as junior running back Ma'a Notoa broke loose for two touchdown bursts and the Falcons' defense stopped a last-ditch Viewmont drive in the final minute to knock off the previously undefeated Vikings 21-17.
"I'm happy for our team; trust me, I'm excited," said an emotional Notoa, whose 69-yard scoring scamper on the third quarter's second play from scrimmage gave Skyridge a 14-7 lead. "I want to see where this game takes us, get back to work on Monday.
"This game is already over. We've got to get back to work next week. We've just got to keep working. We want to reach our peak at the end of the season. The future will come, but we've got to get work done today.
"Energy was the main thing," he said of his team's strong third-quarter showing, when it scored twice to extend its lead to 21-7. "We had our sideline picking up the energy. Man, that was the one thing we wanted to win was energy; bring the energy, and we knew we had this."
Friday's victory wasn't without its anxious moments, however, as Skyridge had to overcome a steady stream of penalty flags all night long. But the Falcons' "D" stood strong after Viewmont drove all the way to the Skyridge 14 in the closing seconds.
After a scoreless first quarter, Viewmont got on the scoreboard early in the second period when Davis Weir hooked up with Jackson Barber on a 45-yard pass play that propelled the Vikings into Skyridge territory.
Skyridge's Garrett Rusick came up with a big interception to stop another Viewmont drive that had gone as deep as the Falcons' 13.
That score stood until halftime and, two plays after the second-half kickoff, Notoa's 69-yard TD run made it 14-7. Then on their next possession, the Falcons went 74 yards in just seven plays, with Notoa again doing the honors, this time from 15 yards away, for a 21-7 lead.
"He really provided a spark," Skyridge coach Jon Lehman said of Notoa. "The O-line was getting off the ball and they were getting some push, and he just did a great job of seeing the lanes. And obviously on the big play he was getting into that second level pretty quickly.
"And he's pretty dynamic when he gets into the open field. He's a great athlete."
Viewmont quickly responded, going 75 yards in just five plays, with Weir hooking up again with Bushey, who took a short pass over the middle and then scooted 61 yards for the score that trimmed the Vikings' deficit to 21-14 midway through the third period.
After Skyridge's fourth-down gamble at its own 43 failed, Viewmont moved all the way to the Falcons' 2 before settling for Pitt's 22-yard field goal that pulled the Vikings within 21-17.
Weir's passes pushed the Vikings within striking distance on their final possession. But they were denied by the Falcons' defense to seal the deal.
"That's what you're looking for in non-region play," Lehman said. "Every team in the state is looking to get tested and see what their guys are made of and see if you can execute against good teams, and Viewmont was a really good team. So I was proud of the way our guys finished.
"In non-region play, it's not as much about your record as it is about learning about your team, figuring out where you need to improve and how you need to grow before you get into region play.
"So it's not so much about 4-0 as it is about our guys believing in the system and just taking a step forward every day," he said. "That's really what it is. It's huge to be able to overcome a little bit of adversity and to be able to close a game late. That's what you want to find out about your team — can you make the plays in those situations? I loved the situation we were in there at the end, and I was proud of our guys."