HS football: Highland slows down high-scoring Mountain View to reach state championship game
POCATELLO — Highland celebrated on its sideline as Mountain View huddled up for the final time Friday.
The Rams formed groups, sharing high-fives and hugs before Mountain View could put an end to the game. The Mavericks ran their final play, and the Rams’ celebration spilled onto the field. Highland beat Mountain View 28-18 in the 5A state semifinals at Holt Arena, sending the defending state champion Rams to Nov. 17′s title game at Albertsons Stadium against Rocky Mountain. It will be the Rams’ 19th state title game in the IHSAA era.
“This feels great, going back-to-back,” Highland quarterback Kobe Tracy said. “Couldn’t do it without Gino, and all the staff.”
Highland (10-1) outscored the Mavericks 21-6 in the first half to build a cushion and held off a late push from Mountain View to earn a spot in the championship game.
Mountain View (8-3) cut Highland’s lead to 28-18 with 1 minute, 8 seconds left in the third quarter on a 45-yard pass from quarterback Noah Bryant to Kaden Chan.
But the Mavericks sputtered their wheels on their final three possessions. The team turned the ball over on downs after Highland fumbled at its own 42-yard line, went three-and-out and ended the game 12 yards from the end zone.
The Mavericks’ 18 points were the second-fewest the team scored this season. The squad came in averaging 43.3 points per game, including two consecutive games of 50 points or more.
“The Boise schools don’t really think of us on this side of the state,” Highland linebacker Dylan Jester said. “We have something to prove to them, because they think they are the best. We have a chip on our shoulder.”
Highland held the Mavericks’ high-scoring offense in-check with ball control. The Rams scored touchdowns on their first four possessions of the game, with each scoring drive lasting at least seven plays.
The Rams also drained 6:27 off the clock during their final possession, which ended after the team turned the ball over on downs with 1:07 remaining in the fourth and a 28-18 lead. The Rams’ final drive featured four first downs, and eight touches for 48 yards for running back Landon Demuzio, helping the Rams squander any chance of a letdown.
“They are an offensive machine,” Mountain View coach Judd Benedick said. “They are so efficient.
“There were conversations on the headphones about how we couldn’t get a stop. It seemed like they were a step ahead.”
Highland’s Carter Fellows came up with the Rams’ lone turnover of the game. The cornerback intercepted Bryant on second-and-goal from the 10-yard line with 4:41 remaining in the second quarter.
Highland responded with a nine-play, 80-yard drive that was capped with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Tracy to Jesus Garcia, putting Highland ahead 21-6 with 53 seconds remaining until halftime.
Mountain View scored on its first two drives of the second half, but Highland’s defense stood tall and blanked the Mavericks the rest of the way. Mountain View has been held under 20 points four times in its last 22 games.
“It was a great effort from everybody,” Jester said. “Everyone, the coaches, second-stringers. Everyone did their role the whole time.”
Demuzio finished the game with 23 carries for 146 yards and one touchdown, his sixth consecutive game with at least 100 yards rushing. The senior also caught six passes for 57 yards and a 10-yard touchdown reception that put Highland ahead 28-12 with 2:34 left in the third quarter, capping an 11-play, 70-yard drive.
Tracy didn’t light up the scoreboard, but the senior quarterback was surgical, completing 19 of 26 passes for 174 yards and one touchdown. Tracy had three incompletions on 11 second-half passes.
“He was awesome,” Highland coach Gino Mariani said. “Kobe is really coming into his own. He is making reads. He is incredible.”
The Rams take their momentum to the state title game and face the Grizzlies, who beat Coeur d’Alene 42-14 at home Friday. Highland beat Rocky Mountain 26-3 in the 2017 state semifinals.
“We have to finish next Saturday,” Jester said. “State is the goal.”
- Before Friday’s kickoff, Mountain View players ripped down banners made by Highland’s cheerleaders that were tacked along the wall on the Mavericks’ sideline. The posters were eventually dragged off the sideline.
“I didn’t know until afterwards. ... No comment,” Benedick said. “I don’t worry about that stuff. We certainly don’t want to be classless. That is not who we are.”
Highland’s reaction to Mountain View tearing down the Rams’ banners before the game, plus Highland talks about advancing to 5A state title game for second straight season. #idprepspic.twitter.com/DyA2XTSMkw — Jeff Papworth (@JeffPapworth) November 10, 2018
- Highland plays the 5A state championship game at Boise’s Albertsons Stadium because the Idaho High School Activities Association has a rule regarding the state championship game being held at the same location two years in a row. The IHSAA’s original announcement regarding site location said a title game involving a team from the East (Highland) and West (Rocky Mountain) would be played at Holt Arena, but last year’s 5A state title between Highland and Coeur d’Alene was also at Holt Arena. This year’s 5A state championship begins at 10 a.m. Nov. 17. The reason for the venue change was first reported by Idahosports.com’s Matt Harris.