By Kurt Johnson
Photos by Kevin McInnis
There were still nearly six minutes left to play and the Lehi High football team had made a couple of plays that provided the appearance of life. Then, Lone Peak’s Michael Daley happened. The defensive end batted a Cammon Cooper pass in the air, reached out and pulled the ball in and ran 60 yards for the touchdown that put the Knights on top 33-7.
Moments later, Keaton Fuller picked off another Cooper pass and took it back inside the 10-yard-line to set up another Lone Peak score. Those two gems capped one of the most complete defensive performances we’ve seen in quite some time as the Knights completely shut down the high-powered Pioneer offense to the tune of 40-7.
One week earlier, Lone Peak gave up 44 points in a Week 2 loss to Dixie. With that hanging over its head, it went to work preparing for Cooper and a Lehi offense that was rolling. Through two games, the Pioneers had scored 93 points, led by 13 Copper touchdown passes and 861 yards passing.
In Week 3, Lehi visited Lone Peak, and a defense that returns just two starters from last year’s 5A state runner-up came prepared. Head coach Bart Brockbank and defensive coordinator Ryan Denney had their defense ready to disguise looks, keep Cooper off balance and take away his two primary receiving targets – Kade Moore and Dallin Holker. That effort is our TOSH Top Story of the Week.
Holker eventually caught five passes for Lehi, but Cooper’s leading receiver was running back Carsen Manookin, as the quarterback was harassed constantly into quick throws by the heavy Lone Peak pressure. Along the way, the Knights rushed Cooper on almost every down and got to him four times, with four different players recording sacks.
By the time the night was over for Cooper, he had completed just 17-of-42 passes for 181 yards, one touchdown and those two interceptions. His best play of the night was a 33-yard scramble that set up the Pioneers’ only touchdown of the night, midway through the third period. By that time, Lone Peak had built a 26-0 advantage.
Andrew Ostler and Logan Greer were the leading tacklers in what was an overwhelmingly impressive defensive effort for the Knights. Thomas Bateman was also among the top performers, along with the four players who contributed the sacks – Jared Fotu, Brady Shimanek, Jonah Vimahi and Daley.
While that group owned the line of scrimmage in the front seven, Eric Pedroza, Tyson Tautu, Cade Baker and Jacob Mumford kept the Lehi receivers under a blanket. And then there’s one more defensive back that had a big night, but not just in pass coverage and run support.
Sophomore Nate Ritchie made a number of big plays in the secondary, but he also works as the team’s kicker and punter. Ritchie extended one drive with a fake punt, consistently left the Lehi offense with a long field as kick-off after kick-off went into the end zone, and kicked a pair of field goals, including a 47-yarder that would have been good from 60.
All told, it’s a defensive effort that earns Lone Peak our TOSH Top Story designation.