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Photo by Megan Monson

Matt Anderson and Casey Slaughter

The Bingham Miners football team repeated as state champions with a 20-3 victory over American Fork at Rice Eccles Stadium. The win marked Bingham’s fifth state championship in nine years.

Both defenses came out strong as the score was 3-0 at the end of the first quarter, thanks to a Chayden Johnston field goal. Johnston got a chance to kick at his soon-to-be home field, as he is committed to kick for the University of Utah.

Bingham’s defense continued its dominance in the second quarter, getting key stops on third downs and forcing punts. The Miners allowed just 78 yards on the ground, after American Fork rushed for 239 yards in the semifinal game against Brighton.

Bingham’s Cameron Smith rushed for 191 yards in the game including a six yard touchdown run with 7:16 left in the half. The senior running back finished with 1382 yards on the season.

American Fork still couldn’t get anything going on offense, and went three and out midway through the second quarter. The punt was returned for a touchdown by Bingham senior Kade Cloward, but the touchdown was called back because of an illegal block. On the ensuing set of downs, Smith fumbled, giving the ball back to the Cavemen with under five minutes in the first half.

American Fork responded on offense as they finally put together a drive before halftime. The Cavemen were inside the 20 yard line and completed a pass to receiver Nate Heaps. Heaps was stretching towards the goal line when Bingham defensive back Simote Lokotui jarred the ball loose. The ball rolled through the end zone and out of bounds, resulting in a touchback for Bingham. The score remained 10-0 at halftime.

“I saw my opportunity and I just took it,” Lokotui said. “All of our coaches’ calls were on point and we made big plays,” he said. The Miners came out of halftime and continued their defensive dominance, forcing another punt. After a long drive led by quarterback Ben Boelter, Bingham led 17-0 after another touchdown run by Smith. American Fork immediately responded with their first points of the game on a 34 yard field goal, making the score 17-3 at the end of the third quarter.

Bingham came out on their next drive getting stopped on third down, facing a crucial fourth down on the American Fork 38 yard line. Johnston lined up to punt, but the snap was taken by senior Mikey Green, who hit Cloward on a fly route for the first down. The play led to another Johnston field goal, making the score 20-3.

“I tell our kids all the time, to go win a state championship; you got to be willing to go take some chances,” head coach Dave Peck said about the fake punt. He mentioned the team had been working on that play since July.

American Fork had its chances to claw back but they were hindered by turnovers. The Cavemen were driving when senior cornerback Chase Messervy picked off a pass on second down. The Cavemen also turned the ball over later in the fourth on a fumble that was recovered by senior linebacker Daniel Langi.

When asked about the possibility of a three-peat next year, Peck responded adamantly. “I’m not even going to think about that right now,” he said. “It’s been 31 years of this, and I’m proud of the program we’ve built.”