Offense wins hearts … wins fans … wins scoreboards … wins highlights on the 10 o’clock news.
It’s a fact of sports.
Defense wins championships.
That’s a fact of coaching.
It’s an old adage, one old-school coaches still throw around because there’s truth to it.
Defense won the day Friday afternoon for the Roy High Royals, who put an eyebrow-raising beatdown on Corner Canyon, 39-0, in the State 4-A semifinals at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
That first number, the 39? That’s pretty impressive. It sort of jumps off the page, doesn’t it?
But the last number, the 0? Oh man, that’s downright amazing.
And it should be.
The Royals, who’re heading to their first state title game since 1981, looked terrific Friday. They made a number of big plays on either side of the ball but especially on offense, where they had scoring plays of 72 and 42 yards, plus several more big-yardage plays that set up touchdowns.
The Royals played fast and executed well. At times it was like watching a pinball game as they just bounced around all over the field.
But here’s the deal: the way Roy’s defense played, the offense only needed a single score. One measly touchdown … a field goal, even.
Shoot, the Royals could’ve won, 2-0, with a dang safety.
Granted, it wouldn’t have looked as cool up there on the scoreboard and it darn sure wouldn’t have lit up the 10 o’clock highlights. But still, the idea of tossing a shutout at previously-unbeaten Corner Canyon in the State semifinal game is astounding.
Go down Corner Canyon’s schedule and its full of big numbers. The Chargers came into this game 12-0 and had been held to fewer than 30 points only twice. They scored 40 or more six times and once hung 48 on Timpanogos and 44 on Orem.
Roy held them to a goose egg.
Here’s why: The Chargers came in without their star quarterback, Mike Eberling, who suffered a broken collarbone in his team’s opening-round victory over Box Elder. Although backup Kyle Reavely helped get them a victory over Springville in the quarterfinals, he was an easy target for the Royals’ defense.
Defensive coordinator Eric Jones, once an outstanding linebacker at Weber State, came up with a wise game plan for the Reaveley and the Chargers, whose running game has been impressive. With Eberling out, the Royals were like sharks smelling blood in the water and, sure enough, a feeding frenzy ensued.
The wind, the cold, wet weather and the big stage provided the perfect setting for Roy’s defense. On a day when the Chargers wanted to run the ball – needed to run it – the Royals wouldn’t let them and they forced Reaveley’s hand.
“That’s exactly what it was,” Jones said. “No disrespect to (Reaveley) but it just didn’t look like he was all that proficient throwing the ball so we were gonna load the box with as many guys as we could and dare him to throw it and just try to knock out the run early.”
Roy’s defense, which had allowed more than 32 points a game last season, held the Chargers to just 87 yards rushing and only 50 yards passing.
Total offense: 137 yards on 58 plays for an average of 2.4 yards per snap.
That’s an impressive effort from the Royals and, yes indeed, their defense was more than enough to win this semifinal.
But does defense win championships?
They say it does.
Stay tuned next week to find out.
Jim Burton is the Standard-Examiner’s sports columnist. He can be reached at 801-625-4265 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @StandardExJimbo