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Skyline Overcomes Early Turnovers, Scores Four TDs Unanswered
The Grizzlies came out flat against the underdog Huskies, but quickly found their groove in the 4A state championship
Published: 11/21/2020 9:16:13 PM
 

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Throughout Scott Berger’s 31-year career at Skyline, not much seems to surprise. 

But winning, especially in November, can still bring a tear to the Grizzly’s leading man's eye. 

“You can never take this stuff for granted,” Berger said. “You just can’t.”

Skyline committed five turnovers, two of which in the game's first minutes. But once Berger's Grizzlies got into a rhythm, there was nothing stopping Skyline from winning the 4A state championship 42-22 over the Emmett Huskies. 

Turnovers, something Berger said his Grizzlies had struggled with all year, plagued Skyline in the opening moments. Eli Ames, back from injury, fumbled his first carry, with the Huskies recovering. A few moments later, Emmett quarterback Caden Young punched it in from a yard out, giving the Huskies an early 7-0 lead. 


“We’ve had turnovers all this year,” Berger said. “We just had to keep our wits about us. We knew going in they were explosive.”

It took a second for those wits to kick in. On the ensuing kickoff, Skyline’s Connor Maloney fumbled again, with the Huskies again recovering. 

But this time the Grizzlies held strong, preventing a two-score deficit. Skyline entered Saturday’s game with the best defense in the 4A classification. 

“We had a lot of experience on the defense. We knew they could keep up in games,” Berger said. “And when you’ve got Eli Ames and Connor Maloney, they’re really dynamic players anytime they touch the ball.”

One defensive stand was all it took for Skyline’s offense to start humming. Ames redeemed himself on a short out route from quarterback Cade Marlow, running it in from 23 yards out. A two-point conversion later, and Skyline would take its first lead of the game, which would hold true for the rest of the evening. 

The Grizzlies then dug into their bag of tricks, with Marlow throwing a lateral to Davien Cruz. Instead of taking the ball upfield, Cruz cocked back and fired a 56-yard bomb to Maloney, who sprinted untouched into the end zone. 

A Marlow-to-Maloney connection proved good enough for another Grizzly touchdown not long after, putting Skyline up 29-7 midway through the third quarter. 

Emmett, despite offensive struggles throughout, fielded a defense that seemed to find the cracks in the Grizzly offense. At halftime, Emmett had forced three fumbles and picked off Marlow once. In the third, Marlow was again picked off, this time by Jeffery Lockett, who returned a botched screen pass to the Grizzly seven-yard line. The short field gave way to an Emmett touchdown by Westyn Smith. 

“We always talk about finishing and taking care of the ball. But you know how young kids are,” Berger said. “I talk about staying focused all the time at practice. I told them, ‘Can we go out there for two hours and just stay focused?’”

But that last Emmett score was the final meaningful touchdown of the game. The two teams would trade scores in the fourth quarter, but a tough defense that throttled Young’s passing lanes made any sort of comeback by the Huskies impossible. 

Young finished with 133 yards on just nine completions. Marlow would find much more success, throwing for 238 yards and four touchdowns. 

Skyline finishes the year 12-1, winning its seventh state championship and third in five years. 

“You know what makes high school football special? Every year is a little different,” Berger said of the tumultuous start to the season caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. “We had to battle through a lot of different things. We were thinking, ‘If we could just play three games, we’d be lucky.’ Thirteen games later, and we’re still here.”

 

 

 
 


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