The first half could hardly have been more different than the second in Springville’s 45-17 blowout victory over Skyline Friday.
Both Springville and Skyline entered the matchup brimming with confidence after winning big in the first week of the 2022 season, with the Red Devils defeating Dixie and the Eagles topping Juan Diego.
Friday night was quite different from Week 1 for the Eagles. The game was more reminiscent of a year ago, when Springville and Skyline met in Salt Lake City on a cold, rainy Thursday night and the Red Devils took care of business, defeating the Eagles by 28 points.
Friday was not as cold or wet, but it was just as one-sided as the schools’ 2021 meeting, ending in the same result.
But that was not how things started.
An early Springville turnover put a short field in front of the Skyline offense, leading to an Eagles’ touchdown and the Red Devils’ first deficit of the young season.
Springville would turn the ball over two more times before the end of the half, allowing Skyline to tie the game at 17 on a Zane Cooper 29-yard field goal as the second quarter came to an end.
That was when first-year Springville head coach Dave Valeti rallied his troops.
“We came out a little flat,” Valeti said. “It took a rough first half for us to settle in and play, but I’m really proud of the boys. We challenged them at halftime, and they came out and got it done.”
Valeti’s nephew Tevita Valeti responded to his uncle’s challenge in the second half, proving to be unstoppable. After breaking free for one touchdown through the first two quarters, the junior running back quadrupled his touchdown total with two more on the ground and one through the air after the half.
When asked what the Red Devils’ head coach had to say in the locker room, the younger Valeti said, “He said ‘Wake up! … Start hammin’!,’ and that’s exactly what we did. I love our coaches.”
Tevita Valeti seemed to get stronger as the game wore on, breaking through tackles and picking up extra yards on nearly every rush.
“He’s a different kind of back,” the coach said of his nephew. “You can do everything right and have your guy (ready) to tackle him. (But) it’s a tough task, especially over four quarters. We feel like he fits our offense well and he runs it well.”
Behind Valeti’s running, Springville wore Skyline down, outscoring the Eagles 28-0 in the second half as the Red Devils’ defense was just as impressive as its offense.
Springville’s coach was proud of his defense.
“As a defensive guy, I was a little frustrated at half because we blew a few coverages early,” coach Valeti said. “We got after it in the second half.”
The Red Devils turned what was initially a close game into a route as a challenge from their coach proved to be the difference.
Both Springville and Skyline play on the road next week. The Red Devils travel to Bountiful to face the Redhawks while the Eagles head to Idaho for a game against Post Falls.