We expected this to happen. Sure, we're happy for the win and Herriman is a real good team — we just know our work isn't done and we now need to prepare for the next opponent. —Bingham linebacker Lolani Langi
SALT LAKE CITY — High School teams rarely leave the field at Rice-Eccles Stadium quickly following a semifinal win, but Bingham is no ordinary team.
After their 31-7 semifinal win over Herriman on Friday, Bingham players chose not to bask too much in the limelight — preferring to just greet their families and get back on the bus. They weren't surly, by any means, and gladly received the media which caught up to them before they reached the bus for the ride back to South Jordan, but were just ready to move on to the next task at hand.
"We expected this to happen," said Bingham linebacker Lolani Langi. "Sure, we're happy for the win and Herriman is a real good team — we just know our work isn't done and we now need to prepare for the next opponent."
In other words; It was business as usual for the Miners — not only during Friday's game and immediately after, but all throughout last week's practice sessions and the preparation since last year's championship win.
"We're just focused in and just wanted to get our work done," said Bingham defensive back Tanner Merril. "The semifinals is a big game, but it's not what we're aiming for. So this was just another stepping stone."
Merril helped place Bingham's foot on that stepping stone early — returning an interception for a 36-yard touchdown return to set his team off to an early 7-0 lead. It was the first of six interceptions for Bingham on the day, with the Miner offense taking advantage of most opportunities given.
"It was wonderful. We all worked as a team and we earned it. Nothing is given, like (Bingham) coach (John) Lambourne tells us. We have to earn it and we did just that tonight," Langi said. "We had to fight and it paid off. We came through."
Herriman withstood the initial blow and tied things up with a 9-yard touchdown pass from Blake Freeland to Alexander Anderson with 5:17 remaining in the first half, but Bingham responded immediately thereafter. The Miner offense engineered a 10-play, 65-yard touchdown drive, which was topped off by a 16-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Wood to Brayden Cosper, giving the Miners a 14-7 lead at the break.
"We needed to respond," Lambourne said. "Going into halftime with the lead as opposed to being tied — that's a big difference mentally, emotionally and the whole works."
Herriman received the ball to start the second half, but another Merril interception flipped that advantage back Bingham's way, along with many other plays, as Bingham rolled.
Junior running back Braedon Wissler topped off Bingham's scoring with a 34-yard reception and a 7-yard touchdown run, as the Miners were rarely threatened for the game's final 24 minutes.
Along with forcing six turnovers, the Bingham defense also managed to limit Herriman to just 11 yards rushing and 107 yards of total offense. Bingham's offense didn't particularly set the field on fire but did manage 259 yards, led by Wood, who had 56 yards rushing and 120 yards passing.
"As a team, throughout the season, you have to develop guys and you have to develop some weapons," Lambourne said. "We feel we've done that pretty well and we've developed some versatility and it allows us to still do some things while we figure out what our core during the game is going to be."
With the win Bingham marches on to face East in for the 6A championship, a team the Miners beat 48-17 early in the season.
"We're going to be ready," Langi said. "Our goal is a championship and that's been our focus all year long. We've prepared for this and we're going to prepare harder than ever this week."