High school football: Corner Canyon, Skyridge meet in 6A championship

Skyridge coach Jon Lehman said the reason winning a championship in football is so hard is because so many different things have to align properly.

“You’ve got to have breaks through the course of a 15-week season, you’ve got to stay consistent and you’ve got to have great talent, and you’ve got to continue to grow each week and you’ve got to have a ton of mental toughness. It all kind of has to come together,” he said.

For Skyridge, all of those things have never come together at once, with the school still chasing that elusive first state championship. It’s a trend Lehman’s team hopes to break this Friday against top seed Corner Canyon in the 6A state championship at Rice-Eccles Stadium at 11 a.m.

Corner Canyon edged Skyridge 21-17 in a region game back in September, a turnover-plagued game in which the defenses largely dominated.

For the Chargers, they’re hoping to climb back to the top of the 6A mountain after a streak of three straight state championships was derailed last season by Lone Peak.

Conversely, even though Skyridge has never won a state title in the seven-year history of the program, there’s no denying it’s been one of the most dominant programs in the state over that stretch.

Over the past six years, Skyridge is tied with Beaver for the second most wins in the state (63), second only to Corner Canyon’s 74.

Sky View is fourth with 60, Juab and Morgan are tied for fifth with 59, Lehi and Orem tied for seventh with 57, Bingham is ninth with 56 and Duchesne 10th with 55.

The gut punch for Skyridge is that every other team in the top 10 for wins over the past six season has won at least one state championship.

So when Lehman says it’s hard to win a championship, he knows better than anyone about great season after great season with no hardware to show for it.

If Friday’s showdown follows the script of the previous meeting, turnovers will be huge storyline.

Corner Canyon turned it over four times in that game, but still prevailed thanks to a pair of fourth-quarter interceptions by Owen Borg.

Borg came up huge again in the Chargers’ semifinal win over Farmington with a blocked punt and then ensuing scoop-and-score that helped push the game out of reach.

His timely plays helped Corner Canyon overcome a four-turnover performance just like against Skyridge.

“The turnover battle is always huge but I think it’s really big in this game,” said Corner Canyon coach Eric Kjar. “They have a pretty opportunistic defense that creates a lot of panic and pressure on your offense than can cause mistakes, and then they have athletes all over the place on that defensive side that can make you pay if you do make some.”

Skyridge’s defense is absolutely loaded with talent that will be playing on Saturdays, and it shows with 32 interceptions and 11 fumble recoveries this season.

Smith Snowden’s 95-yard interception return for touchdown in the first quarter of last week’s semifinal win over Bingham is a perfect example of why Skyridge’s defense is just as dangerous when on the field as the offense.

“I think takeaways are really critical on both sides,” said Lehman.

In that previous matchup, Skyridge was playing without three-year starting QB McCae Hillstead, a Utah State commit who missed seven weeks of the season with a high ankle sprain that he had surgery on.

Backup QB Trent Call led the Falcons to a 5-1 record during his stint at starter, but that was just his second game leading the way and he hadn’t quite settled into his comfort zone yet and was a bit mistake prone late in the game.

Hillstead’s presence in the rematch is a huge X-factor for Skyridge. In his two playoff performances since returning he’s thrown for 486 yards, six touchdowns and one interception. His counterpart for Corner Canyon, Isaac Wilson, has thrown for 448 yards, four touchdowns and five interceptions over the same stretch of games.

With loads of talent on both sides of the ball for both teams, big plays and turnovers likely will be the talking point after the game just as it was in semifinal wins for both teams.

“Both good offenses, both good defenses, not a ton of weaknesses on the field,” said Lehman.


Corner Canyon’s Drew Patterson is swarmed by teammates after scoring a touchdown during game against Skyridge on Sept. 23, 2022. The two teams will meet again this Friday at Rice-Eccles Stadium in the 6A championship game.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

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