Lehi football heads to 5A finals after rout in battle of unbeatens (2024)

Lehi’s Blake Jenkins (26) defends Stansbury quarterback Ezra Harris during a 5A state football semifinal game at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, November 11, 2022.
Lehi’s Maka Havea (17) celebrates scoring a touchdown with teammate Fernando Ruelas during a 5A state football semifinal game against Stansbury at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, November 11, 2022.
Lehi’s Nate Shepherd (47) kicks an extra point during a 5A state football semifinal game against Stansbury at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, November 11, 2022.

Lehi’s Kadiyon Sweat (21) races down the field after an interception against Stansbury in a 5A state football semifinal game at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, November 11, 2022.
Lehi’s Stockton Cram leaps for the football during a 5A state semifinal game against Stansbury at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, November 11, 2022.
Lehi’s TJ Roberts (16) and Boston Fabrizio wait for the ball to settle on a punt during a 5A state semifinal game against Stansbury at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Friday, November 11, 2022.

Lehi’s Carson Gonzalez (28) runs away from Stansbury defender Mason Maxwell during a 5A state semifinal game at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, November 11, 2022.
Lehi coach Ed Larson (left) talks to an official during a 5A state football semifinal game against Stansbury at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, November 11, 2022.
Lehi defenders Hema Katoa (35) and Parker Sorensen (44) take down Stansbury quarterback Ezra Harris while Kadiyon Sweat moves in during a 5A state football semifinal at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, November 11, 2022.

Lehi quarterback Jackson Brousseau looks for an open receiver during a 5A state football semifinal game against Stansbury at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Friday, November 11, 2022.
Lehi fans react to a play on the field during a 5A state football semifinal game against Stansbury at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Friday, November 11, 2022.
Lehi’s Maka Havea (17) makes a catch against Stansbury during a 5A state football semifinal game at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, November 11, 2022.

Lehi football heads to 5A finals after rout in battle of unbeatens (13)

Darnell Dickson/Daily Herald

Lehi's Blake Jenkins (26) defends Stansbury quarterback Ezra Harris during a 5A state football semifinal game at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, November 11, 2022.

Lehi and Stansbury met in the 2021 5A semifinals with the Pioneers getting the 28-14 win. Since that game, neither Lehi nor the Stallions had lost heading into Friday’s semifinal rematch at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.

The Pioneers — who beat Springville for the 2021 5A title — and Stansbury each were 12-0 coming into Friday but only one would be able to keep the zero in the loss column.

Lehi was clearly the most battle tested, as the Pioneers have wins over the 6A No. 1 seed Corner Canyon (on the road), the 5A No. 2 seed Timpview (in Lehi) and the 6A No. 7 seed Davis (in Lehi). By contrast, Stansbury’s best win was over 4A No. 4 seed Ridgeline.

Would that make a difference on the field?

Well, the Pioneers emphatically showed that they were the better team as they forced four Stallion turnovers and tallied 35 points in the first half on their way to a dominating 42-0 win over Stansbury.

Lehi football heads to 5A finals after rout in battle of unbeatens (14)

Darnell Dickson/Daily Herald

Lehi's Maka Havea (17) celebrates scoring a touchdown with teammate Fernando Ruelas during a 5A state football semifinal game against Stansbury at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, November 11, 2022.

“It’s pretty sweet,” Lehi head coach Ed Larson said. “I felt before the game started that the matchup was going to be our defense versus their offense. I thought our defense came out and played the way they’re supposed to and did a great job of controlling a really explosive offense. Hats off to my defensive staff and Jared Harward, my defensive coordinator. They did a good job of scouting Stansbury and putting our kids in the right positions for what they did. I think we ended up taking away what they did best.”

Pioneer senior safety Kadiyon Sweat said Lehi came ready to play.

“It was a great game and took a lot of preparation,” Sweat said. “Last week we didn’t have our best game. We weren’t quite firing on all cylinders. This week we really locked it in. Our Monday practice was one of our best practices we’ve had this year. Every single one of our guys was held accountable and we all watched film and studied real hard. I feel like it paid off come game time.”

Sweat set the tone for the contest on the very first play from scrimmage.

Stansbury got the ball to start the game after a Pioneer kickoff into the end zone and aggressively asttacked, throwing a deep pass down the middle. Sweat was in the right place, coming over from his safety spot to haul in an interception.

Lehi football heads to 5A finals after rout in battle of unbeatens (15)

Darnell Dickson/Daily Herald

Lehi's Nate Shepherd (47) kicks an extra point during a 5A state football semifinal game against Stansbury at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, November 11, 2022.

It would be the first of two picks in the first quarter for the Lehi star, who at that point had twice as many catches as the entire Stallion offense.

“I was just kind of doing what I’m supposed to do,” Sweat said. “Then it’ll come. It always does. I’ve been very fortunate in that way and I keep doing what I’m doing. I love this game more than anything. It’s a blessing and it’s a dream come true.”

Larson said Sweat makes big plays on the field but his impact on the team goes far beyond what is visible from the stands.

“Boy, his leadership is crucial for us,” Larson said. “His playmaking is right up there with it but I think what a lot of people don’t see is what happens during the week. What are they like in the weight room? What are they like on the practice field? He’s just tremendous that way.”

Lehi wasn’t able to turn Sweat’s first interception into points but scored touchdowns on four of its next five possessions.

Lehi football heads to 5A finals after rout in battle of unbeatens (16)

Darnell Dickson/Daily Herald

Lehi's Kadiyon Sweat (21) races down the field after an interception against Stansbury in a 5A state football semifinal game at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, November 11, 2022.

The Pioneers got an 18-yard scoring run from senior running back Carson Gonzalez, a 1-yard plunge from Sweat, a 25-yard pass from senior quarterback Jackson Brousseau to senior tight end Makafefie Havea and a 3-yard pass from Brousseau to Gonzalez.

Lehi also recovered two fumbles, including a devastating Stansbury bobble inside its own 10-yard line in the final minute of the half that resulted in a second Brousseau-Havea TD strike, this one from nine yards out.

The Pioneers would cap the scoring early in the fourth quarter on a 2-yard pass from Brousseau to sophom*ore wide receiver Mays Madsen.

“Our defense played well to start the game and that gave us a lot of opportunities,” Brousseau said. “The offense just found the end zone and did our job. Once you get a lead, you just got to keep playing well, and so that’s what we did.”

The Lehi defense came in having already tallied six shutouts and kept the Stallions (who averaged 51-.4 points per game prior to the semifinal) to just 128 yards of total offense.

Lehi football heads to 5A finals after rout in battle of unbeatens (17)

Darnell Dickson/Daily Herald

Lehi's Stockton Cram leaps for the football during a 5A state semifinal game against Stansbury at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, November 11, 2022.

Larson said the key for the Pioneers is just what Sweat alluded to: Put kids in the correct spots and then have them do what they are supposed to do.

“You’ve got to have a defensive staff that puts the kids in the right positions,” Larson said. “Then you get kids in the right position and they make the plays. That’s what’s happened all year. They’re just making plays for us and it’s just outstanding to watch. We can say what we want as coaches but players make plays.”

The win sent Lehi back to the 5A title game and a chance to defend their 2021 title.

“It means a lot (to get back to the championship),” Havea said. “We just had a lot of pressure. A lot of people believe in us around Lehi and it’s a lot of pressure already being there last year with having a lot of returners. We really just did our jobs. We have great coaches and our quarterback is amazing. The coaches put us in the right spots.”

Brousseau was quick to point out that the success in the finals last fall is now ancient history.

Lehi football heads to 5A finals after rout in battle of unbeatens (18)

Darnell Dickson/Daily Herald

Lehi's TJ Roberts (16) and Boston Fabrizio wait for the ball to settle on a punt during a 5A state semifinal game against Stansbury at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Friday, November 11, 2022.

“That was last year,” he said. “It is what it is. We won last year but this is a brand-new team so it doesn’t really matter what happened last year. We’ve just got to play our game, do our thing and make plays. Then whatever happens, happens.”

The Pioneers will face a team it defeated earlier in the year in either Timpview or Orem. Timpview gave Lehi a great game before falling 28-24. Now both sides will be playing for much higher stakes.

The 5A championship game is scheduled to take place at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, Nov. 18 at 2:30 p.m. MT.

Lehi football heads to 5A finals after rout in battle of unbeatens (19)

Lehi's Carson Gonzalez (28) runs away from Stansbury defender Mason Maxwell during a 5A state semifinal game at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, November 11, 2022.

Lehi football heads to 5A finals after rout in battle of unbeatens (20)

Lehi coach Ed Larson (left) talks to an official during a 5A state football semifinal game against Stansbury at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, November 11, 2022.

Lehi football heads to 5A finals after rout in battle of unbeatens (21)

Lehi defenders Hema Katoa (35) and Parker Sorensen (44) take down Stansbury quarterback Ezra Harris while Kadiyon Sweat moves in during a 5A state football semifinal at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, November 11, 2022.

Lehi football heads to 5A finals after rout in battle of unbeatens (22)

Lehi quarterback Jackson Brousseau looks for an open receiver during a 5A state football semifinal game against Stansbury at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Friday, November 11, 2022.

Lehi football heads to 5A finals after rout in battle of unbeatens (23)

Lehi fans react to a play on the field during a 5A state football semifinal game against Stansbury at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Friday, November 11, 2022.

Lehi football heads to 5A finals after rout in battle of unbeatens (24)

Lehi's Maka Havea (17) makes a catch against Stansbury during a 5A state football semifinal game at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, November 11, 2022.

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Lehi football heads to 5A finals after rout in battle of unbeatens (2024)
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