By Kurt Johnson
Photos by Dave Argyle (DBA Photography)
Dave Peck has had quite the 15-year run as the head coach of the Bingham High football team. Regardless of the kind of offense the Miners have from year to year, the defensive-minded head coach has built a reputation. His squads are great when the other team has the ball.
“We play a little bit different,” Peck said. “We do it the right way. Our motto is ‘we’re going to light you up and then we’re going to help you up.’ It shouldn’t be you take off from the pack and you pound your chest, because it’s not about you. You made the play because two guys opened it up for you.'”
The Miners have a name for that, and it is a motto of the Bingham defense.
“(It’s) having passion and intensity and ‘party to the pile,'” said senior defensive back Kade Cloward. “If someone makes a hit, all 11 guys are running to the ball to either help our teammate up and usually help the other guy up that’s on the ground. Just everybody telling everyone ‘good job, nice play.'”
That passion is infectious and it starts at the top. The Miners have built a program that expects success, and the 2014 edition is one of the best ever. Bingham entered the postseason having allowed just 97 points in its 10 games this season. When you consider that the Miners play in a region that includes two teams – Brighton and Jordan – who played a 78-76 game this season, it is all the more impressive.
Nearly half of those 97 points, 41, came in one game against Jordan, and all of those came after Bingham built a 31-0 lead in the first half. Another 23 points came in a non-region road game in Las Vegas against one of the nation’s top-ranked teams, Bishop Gorman, which beat the Miners 23-20 in overtime to hand Bingham it’s only loss in the last two campaigns.
Seven of the Miners’ 10 opponents scored in single digits, and three of those were shut out. If Bingham repeats as state champion, you can bet this defense will be a major reason why.
“It starts with an attitude,” Peck said. “There’s an expectation. You watch, if there’s a run play, 11 kids at that ball every play. I get coaches asking all the time asking ‘How do you do that?’ We stress it, we go through it and we can’t get it.’
“Well, we’ve built a foundation here that our kids know it, their older brothers were part of it. They get called out. In film session, if there’s a guy that doesn’t get to the pile, they get called out and it’s embarrassing because they’re not buying in. It’s to the point now where it just kind of happens. They’re (the players) the ones now. It’s not as much me, it’s them. If a kid doesn’t get it done, they’re like, ‘what is up with that?'”
The Miners play defense with energy, but it’s not like this is all coming from players without skills. This is built on the combination of outstanding players who compete at a high level combined with huge effort.
“We have a great coaching staff and a lot of talent,” said senior linebacker Daniel Langi. “Us being blessed with all the talent that we have, basically all we have to do is our job. Basically it’s just never being outhit, never being outhustled.”
Lessons Along the Way
This program embraces competition, and while playing in one of the state’s most competitive leagues – last year’s state semifinals featured three teams from Region 3, including the two finalists in Bingham and Brighton – Peck also schedules heavyweights outside of region play. This season, that included the trip to Las Vegas to take on Bishop Gorman, where the Miners showed that they are for real.
“I learned that we never quit,” Langi said in describing that game. “Not one time in the game did I feel like the ball game was over.”
“We were always thinking we were going to come back and win,” Cloward said. “We watched film (afterwards) and we could have done better, so we were kind of upset with ourselves because we know we could have been better. I feel like we realized that we had a great opportunity and gave it away, kind of.”
In the midst of dominating all in-state comers over the course of the year, Bingham ran into Jordan. After building a 31-0 lead in the first half, the Miners turned the ball over while attempting to go in and get to a running clock situation for the second half. That brought the uber-talented Austin Kafentzis to life and the Beetdiggers put 41 points on Bingham, which scored 56 that night.
“During the game, it reopened our minds that people can score on us, and we need to go out there and do our jobs and focus all the time, and go 100 percent and not get lackadaisical during games,” Cloward said. “Otherwise, people can score and have a chance to beat us if we don’t come out and do our thing.”
“(We learned) not to get too high-headed,” Langi said. “Always try to keep yourself low to the ground, and know that any team on any given day can come out and beat us if we’re not fully prepared.”
A year ago, Bingham scored 21 points in the opening quarter of the state championship game against Brighton. It looked like the Miners were going to run away and hide, but then the momentum turned.
The Bengals scored one touchdown, and then on the final play of the half, Sione Heimuli-Lund picked off a Kyle Gearig pass and returned it 30 yards for a Brighton score. The play got it within eight points, but it also cost Bingham its quarterback, as Gearig suffered a concussion while trying to make the tackle at the goal line.
“All we said was, they’re not going to get more yards,” Cloward said about the defensive halftime discussion. “We’re going to shut them down on defense. It doesn’t matter if the offense doesn’t score again the rest of the game, we were up eight by then. We just said ‘it’s on us ,we’ve got the team on our back.’ If they can’t score, they can’t win.”
And Brighton did not score after the break as the Miners pulled away for the 38-13 victory.
Peck entered the season extremely confident in his strength at linebacker, where he returned two senior inside backers, and the ability of his secondary. With five outstanding defensive backs – Cloward, Dominieke Jones, Chase Meservy, Ethan Erickson and Simote Lokotui – Bingham is deep and talented.
“We do a good job of disguising what we’re in and then when we come, we come,” Peck said. “If you can’t block us up front, you’re in for a long night if we blitz, because we’ll just keep blitzing. I’ve got the five best DBs that I’ve ever had. I typically will have two really good DBs, one that’s okay and one that we try to hide.
“Because of the platoon system, and some of our best skill kids are receivers, typically I have one kid that I’m trying to cover up, we don’t press much because if I press across the board, I’ve got that one or two guys that you’re maybe going to beat us for an easy touchdown. This year, my guys, any of them, can come up and press. I’ve never done that in my 31 years, but I’ve got guys that I can trust now.”
Linebackers Daniel Gasio and Langi are the anchors of the defensive unit, with Langi as a three-year starter. As good as those two are, the Miners have received an outstanding level of performance from outside linebacker Parker Workman, filling the role that was filled last year by Nick Heninger.
“Parker Workman is a stud,” Peck said. “He’s a man among boys. He’s athletic. He’s quick and he’ll come and just knock the crap out of people. Wednesday’s our live-drive and we go best on best. It’s intense, but everybody knows the limit. Last week, our offense could not move the ball at all on our defense. It’s ugly and after, one of the coaches came over and said, ‘the reason is that three out of four plays, Parker Workman just destroys everything.’ He’s the reason offenses can’t function.”
The major area of concern for the coach as he prepared for 2014 came along the defensive front, where the Miners graduated all of their 2013 starters, and there were no upperclassmen waiting in the wings. So, Peck turned to a trio of talented sophomores, and they delivered in a big way.
“We were worried. We lost all of our D-linemen and we didn’t know how we were going to be,” Peck said. “Those three just do what they’re told. Langi Tuifua is about 6-3 and he’s probably about 215 right now, but he’s just quick. And Jay Tufele, he’s that power guy. He’s quick off the ball. He’s probably 6-2 and 280, 285 in the middle, and then Brigham Tuitagaloa, that’s our long snapper. He’s the best long snapper around and he did it as a ninth-grader for us too. He’s just really good. Brigs played linebacker for our sophomore team. He’s maybe 6-foot, maybe 220. I asked him to play D-line because I knew what I’d get. He’s just a tough kid, a great kid that I knew if I tell him to do something, he’d do exactly what I asked, and that’s exactly what he’s doing. He’s just been solid.”
Passing It On
Success happens at Bingham because the players expect it. Because they expect it, the players demand a level of preparation from each other.
“I feel like our program wouldn’t be where it is today if we didn’t have such a great offseason program like we do here,” Cloward said.
“School starts at 7:30 in the morning. These guys start at seven and if there’s a guy that’s even five seconds late, they’ve got 25 up-downs,” Peck said. “It’s totally run by these guys. The players take ownership of it. All I do is just write the workout up on the board, they come in and they do everything. I go into the weight room and the weights are just banging and it’s just…it’s these guys. Our team is good because of the players and what’s been created. What we’ve created from other kids in the program is what we’ve got. These guys are just running with it.”
And as they break in the new players, like those sophomore defensive linemen, the seniors pass that work ethic along.
“The best way for me to pass it on is to try to lead by example and show them what hard work brings, and try to show them it’s really worth it in the end and if you put the time and effort in, you’re going to get good results,” Langi said.