The Lone Peak football program was sanctioned by the Utah High School Activities Association just before the last game of the regular season. The Knights did lose four games on the actual field and one of those was to Skyridge, 22-21. Lone Peak avenged that defeat by crushing Skyridge 30-6 in the second round of the 6A playoffs Friday afternoon.
Lone Peak was led by the sparkling play of Keegan Nitta and Nate Ritchie, whose play on both special teams and defense keyed the Knight victory.
Early in the first quarter Nitta blocked a Skyridge punt which ended up bounding out of the back of the end zone for a safety.
In the second quarter, Nitta secured an interception after teammate Connor Finlayson deflected the pass at the line of scrimmage. Nitta caught the ball just before it hit the ground on the 10-yard line and then rambled down the sidelines 80 yards before being caught by Skyridge defenders.
Chase Comer would score on the next play to give the Knights a 16-0 lead.
Sandwiched in between Nitta’s heroics was a 11-yard touchdown reception by Shawn Wood from Luke Romney.
Nitta had a sense of humor, as did his teammates and coaches, when he was caught just before reaching paydirt.
“I looked at the end zone, and it was so far away,” Nitta said.
Ritchie’s all-around play was also too much for the Falcons. Ritchie starred in all three phases of the game.
On special teams, Ritchie had two punt returns for over 50 yards, had a punt over 50 yards, punted the ball with his left foot to escape the Falcon rush, and successfully kicked four extra points.
On defense, he was all over the place from his free safety position with numerous pass break-ups.
Ritchie plays sparingly on offense but was used in the wildcat formation and scored on a 1-yard run in the third quarter. And he was the decoy on a fourth-quarter score when Zach White dashed in from 11 yards to cap the Knight scoring.
“He’s (Ritchie) the best all-around player in the state,” stated Lone Peak head coach Bart Brockbank. “He does everything.”
Skyridge got on the board in the final stanza when Emmett Call carried it from 2 yards out to trim Lone Peak’s lead at the time to 23-6. But any hope for a Falcon miracle comeback came to an end with unsuccessful 2-point conversion and onside kick.
Things got chippy between the northern Utah County rivals toward the end of the game, so much so that the officials stopped the game to conference with both head coaches at midfield.
Lone Peak’s defense was stellar led by the likes of Nitta, Ritchie, Finlayson, Jared Fotu, Maxx Oborn, Tiki Mili, Luke Durfey, Justin Ostler and Cade Walker.
“We’re best when our defense leads out, and they led out tonight and stayed strong the entire time. That’s just who we are this year,” Brockbank said.
In regards to the stark difference between this game and the one played four weeks ago won by Skyridge, Brockbank said being more loose was the key.
“Last time, we came into the game not wanting to lose as opposed coming into win. We came into this game to win with the idea we’re going to play our hearts out, we’re going to play loose win, lose or draw,” said the Knight head coach.
Because Lone Peak (3-9) was seeded 20th in the RPI after the sanctions, the Knights will have to go on the road once more to take on No. 5 seed Kearns (9-2), a 31-14 winner over No 12 seed Hunter. Game time is set for 6 p.m. Friday. With the loss, Skyridge finished its season with a 7-3 overall record.