FARMINGTON — Bonneville High has won 18 region football titles in its history, but the most recent one was in 2002.
Next week, the Lakers will have a chance to end that drought. But first, they had to go through the defending champs who bested them twice last year in the regular season and the playoffs.
Bonneville (7-1, 4-0 Region 5) beat defending Region 5 champion Farmington 26-15 on the road, going up 19-0 early in the game and holding off some rough patches and late scores by the Phoenix.
"This one feels good, get a little get-back from last year," Lakers head coach Jantz Afuvai said.
It was the sixth win in a row for the Lakers, also their longest winning streak since a 10-game streak in 2002.
Since Box Elder beat Woods Cross to also stay unbeaten in Region 5, the two teams will meet next week at Bonneville for a winner-take-all region championship game.
For the Lakers team that lost four weeks of practice in the summer due to two separate COVID-19 quarantines, had around 10 kids not come out for football because of COVID concerns and then lost leading tackler Aaron Johnson and skill player Jordan Citte to season-ending injuries, the position Bonneville's in right now isn't one that experts would've picked in the summer.
"Lot of hard work, lot of building a foundation and slowly just making your program better each year. It's been a lot of work, and credit to those teams that we've had in the past that allowed us to keep building foundation steps and here we are," Afuvai said.
For all the points Bonneville's offense puts up — it averaged 31.7 per game coming in — the Lakers definitely go with the death by a million paper cuts approach. Screen passes, quick slants, quick passes and only rarely a deep throw are the norm for Bonneville football games in 2020.
That got them a 19-0 lead — they missed two extra points — that lasted until 15 seconds left in the first half when Farmington's (2-6, 1-2 Region 5) Drew Patterson ran in for a 2-yard touchdown to cap a much-needed drive for the Phoenix.
"I don't think there needed to be any kind of motivation for this one, I could tell before the game. It was a good buzz, these guys were ready to go," Afuvai said.
A methodical first drive ended with a 2-yard rushing score for Kord Shaw and a 7-0 Bonneville lead. After the defense forced a three-and-out, quarterback Kamen Best finished a 10-play drive with a 1-yard quarterback sneak and a 13-0 lead.
What got the Lakers down so close on the first touchdown drive: a screen pass to Shaw, a jet sweep to Shaw, a quick slant to Caleb Nielson and a short pass to Reiss Graybeal that turned into a 21-yard gain on third down.
On the second TD drive: a Shaw screen, a Shaw jet sweep and a rare deep throw that turned into a diving 33-yard catch by Graybeal that TV replays suggested was a dropped pass.
Myles Hymas picked off Patterson and returned the ball to the Farmington 10-yard line and, after a flag, Shaw took a screen pass 15 yards to the house for a 19-0 lead. Hymas later got a second interception that stymied a second-half Farmington drive.
Bonneville converted a short-field opportunity into a 6-yard touchdown pass from Best to Shaw for a 26-8 lead late in the third quarter. Farmington responded on the next drive when Patterson threw an 8-yard score to Da'von Harvey.
The Lakers also had plenty of chances to extend its lead throughout the game: two missed extra points were part of it, plus a Farmington goal line stand that forced a missed field goal and a dropped interception at the Farmington 4-yard line that was a surefire pick-6.
But the defense, which now has kept three-straight opponents under 20 points, was in the right place a lot of the time and Farmington's young offense misfired too often to stay within touching distance.