McCae Hillstead, defense propel Skyridge football past American Fork
How good was Skyridge junior quarterback during Wednesday’s Region 4 battle at American Fork?
“I thought McCae Hillstead was as sharp as he can possibly be,” Falcon head coach Jon Lehman said. “Run game, pass game, just really being comfortable and in control, even down to the end and just managing clock situations, I thought he was really sharp tonight. I’m really proud of him.”
While Hillstead was facilitating a big offensive showing with three rushing TDs and two passing scores, the Skyridge defense also limited the dangerous Caveman attack.
“Defensively, I really love how we just held in their high powered offense with a lot of playmakers,” Lehman said. “We made the right plays when it counted.”
That combination of offensive and defensive success proved to be enough to allow Skyridge to head back to Lehi with a 42-22 win and a share of the Region 4 title.
“We went in really strong and we had a really good game plan,” Hillstead said. “We played American Fork before and so we know the things that they do. I think everybody was really locked in during the week. We had a really short week which translates to either really good execution or bad execution. For us this week, since we were so focused, it translated really well. I just think there was really good execution from everyone and everyone did a great job.”
The Falcons were in a precarious situation early in the game as the home team stopped Skyridge on a fourth-down-and-short attempt on their first drive, then roared back down the field for a Caveman touchdown and two-point conversion to go up 8-0.
“That was really a key point in the game when we went down the field and they get a stop on fourth down and they go down the field almost immediately and score,” Lehman said. “I just love that next drive when we just marched back down. McCae made an amazing play to run for 40 yards and a score. That just sparked us back into it and settled us down. We went out and got a three-and-out on the next defensive drive and really just settled back into the game.”
Hillstead said he was confident that his guys weren’t going to let an early setback be an issue.
“When we get started like that, we don’t get down,” Hillstead said. “We don’t get down when we have our pitfalls and mistakes. We stay up and we did that the whole time. On the sideline everyone was keeping great energy.”
Skyridge would score 28 unanswered points to seize control of the game.
American Fork refused to give up and even though the Cavemen had a number of key players get hurt, they kept battling.
Halfway through the fourth quarter, the home team narrowed the gap to 35-22 and got the ball back after a defensive stop.
A touchdown drive for American Fork at that point would’ve put some pressure on the Falcons but the Skyridge defense forced a turnover on downs and then Falcon senior running back Jeter Fenton put the game away with a 30-yard touchdown run.
The Falcon victory along with victories by Lone Peak and Corner Canyon meant there was a three-way tie atop the league standings. The focus for Skyridge, however, is on reaching their next goals in the postseason.
“This is the end of the regular season and we’ll go on to the next one,” Lehman said. “Region 4 wins are always great and we’re really proud of our guys. Now we will turn our focus on to the next game.”
That will likely be in a couple of weeks in the second round of the 6A playoffs. The bracket for the state tournament will be released on Saturday.
Wednesday night scoreboard
Skyridge 42, American Fork 22
Lone Peak 42, Westlake 7
Corner Canyon 56, Pleasant Grove 8
Cedar Valley 42, Hillcrest 6
Stansbury 49, Timpanogos 14
Payson 28, Mountain View 16
Lehi 38, Orem 17
Timpview 49, Jordan 20
Spanish Fork 36, Woods Cross 0
Maple Mountain 30, Mountain Crest 7