After his team’s 37-0 Class 5A semifinal win against Salem Hills on Friday, Timpview coach Andy Stokes told his players that the best thing about the victory wasn’t that the T-Birds were headed to their second straight championship game.

It was that they get to come to practice on Saturday morning in preparation for another week together.

We are a family like that,” Stokes said. “You don’t want the season to end. Obviously the season will end at some point, but you want to be together as much as you can possibly be. COVID is tough. It’s been a tough year for everybody. When you get to be around the family group, that’s the best.”

Timpview’s family is really good at two things: Running the ball and forcing other teams into mistakes. That’s just what the T-Birds did against Salem Hills, which came into the game with a 9-2 record and averaging 31 points.

“We think it’s a three-course game, right?” Stokes said. “We think you’ve got to be phenomenal in all three phases.”

Senior safety Raider Damuni got Timpview (the No. 9 seed) started off on the right foot in Eagle Mountain, as the game was moved to Cedar Hills High School. On Salem Hills’ first possession the T-Birds defense jarred the ball loose from tight end Deven Johnson and Damuni scooped it up, racing 43 yards for a touchdown and a quick 7-0 lead.

“Any time you get a defensive touchdown, it’s a game changer,” Stokes said. “That’s a 14-point swing right there because you’re supposed to score as an offense. I say this every week, that we expect our big-time players to make big-time plays.”

Salem Hills — the No. 4 seed — committed another fatal mistake in the second quarter when a snap went over punter Bruce Butler’s head. He fell on the ball at the 2-yard line. On the next play Targhee Lambson busted into the end zone for a 14-0 Timpview lead.

Just before halftime, Elijah Allen picked off a Jarett Elmer pass and Lance Taylor kicked a 44-yard field goal as time expired for a 17-0 lead.

Salem Hills got the ball to start the second half but Damuni stepped into an interception and set his team up at the Skyhawks 29-yard line. Four plays later, tight end Carson Ryan outfought a defender in the end zone on a 19-yard pass reception for a score and Timpview led 24-0.

Lambson, who rushed 29 times for 139 yards, tacked on his second touchdown early in the fourth quarter and another interception set up a 2-yard touchdown reception for Chaid Allred to end the scoring.

How dominant was Timpview’s defense? The T-Birds held the high-scoring Salem Hills offense without a first down on six second half possessions. The Skyhawks finished with just 130 total yards of offense. Elmer, who threw for 2,948 yards and 32 touchdowns this season, was a miserable 10 of 26 for 78 yards and three interceptions. He was without main target Reed Johnson, who was hurt on the first series of the game, and wasn’t helped out by his receiving crew which had three drops in the first half.

“Our defensive coaching staff came up with phenomenal game plan,” Stokes said. “They spent a ton of time breaking it down and getting ready. And they do a great job of getting that message to the kids.

At the end of the day the kids play the game. They have to be accountable for what we’re asking them to do, and that’s go out on the field and play hard.”

Timpview (7-4) awaits the winner of Friday’s late Orem-Maple Mountain semifinal game. Last year, the T-Birds and Tigers met in the 5A final, with Orem earning a 21-7 victory and a third straight state championship.

“Last year after we lost we said we were going to be back,” Lambson said. “And here we are. We just need to keep our goal in sight.”

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