A high school team doesn’t win three straight state titles without coming to an understanding of how important it is to play at a high level in the playoffs.
The rest of Class 5A better watch out because that is the type of form Orem is showing once again in 2020.
Although the Tigers had to deal with numerous disruptions during the regular season, Orem looked like a championship-caliber squad in Friday’s building a big lead on its way to a 49-28 5A quarterfinal win over Skyline in Orem.
“Overall we got popped in the mouth on the first drive and that woke them up,” Tiger head coach Gabe Sewell said. “Once we got started, we kept going. They made a run at the end but we tried to get everyone in. When it got close, we had to secure the win.”
The visiting Eagles got off to a good start, scoring a touchdown on a 42-yard pass play on the opening drive of the game. Skyline also got a defensive stop on Orem’s first drive, so it had a chance to build a lead.
But the Tigers came back strong, dominating the rest of the first half and cruising to a 42-7 lead early in the second half.
“I think defensively and offensively we are getting back to Orem playoff football,” Sewell said. “We also got a chance to see what we have with our 2s and 3s because you need everyone at state. Depth is big. We were able to evaluate some things and overall the team is in a good spot.”
Orem used a dominating run game mixed with timely passing to score touchdowns on six straight possessions.
“We got past that first series and then got in to play playoff football,” Tiger senior running back Joe Smith said. “It was time to have some fun.”
Leading the way was Smith, who got into the end zone early with a four-yard run and a one-yard plunge. He also added a 34-yard scoring dash in the fourth quarter to make sure the Eagles didn’t make a wild comeback.
Other Tiger TDs were scored by senior Paxton Skipps (one-yard run), senior Devon Sa’Chisolm (31-yard pass from senior Micah Fe’a), freshman Mack Hixson (six-yard run) and junior Nathan Terrell (five-yard run).
Orem built such a big lead that the clock ran for much of the second half, although Skyline was able to score three touchdowns against the Tiger backups and give it a tiny hope of completing a huge rally.
“We are getting to where we want to be,” Smith said. “We’ve gained a lot. You’re not going to stop Orem Tiger football.”
Sewell said that he still wants his team to show more discipline and avoid mistakes that could be costly in the next two games.
“We’ve got to determine how the game is being called and adjust to it,” Sewell said. “We have to make the least amount of mistakes and control the ball. If we make drives that end in six points and stay playing as well as possible, we’ll be good.”
Smith said he feels like Orem is on track to go all the way to a fourth-straight championship.
“No one else is going for four,” Smith said. “We’re going for the dynasty. We want to leave that to the younger guys.”
Orem advances to face Maple Mountain in the 5A semifinals, which are currently scheduled to take place at Dixie State on Friday, Nov. 13 at 5:30 p.m.