Put a ring on it: No. 14 Bingham, No. 19 Kahuku can end seasons with titles
Cornerback Kekaula Kaniho helps lead a Kahuku defense that is allowing only 6.5 point a game.
For those of you who feel like the high school football just started, here’s a sobering thought: Two Super 25 teams are playing for a state championship this weekend.
No. 14 Bingham (South Jordan, Utah) is looking to reclaim the 5A state title it won in 2013 and 2014. Friday in Salt Lake City, the Miners play Lone Peak (Highland), a team that Bingham beat 42-21 in the regular season but the one that also knocked the Miners out of the playoffs last season.
No. 19 Kahuku (Hawaii) is looking to win its second consecutive Open Division state championship. The Red Raiders face Saint Louis (Honolulu) on Saturday, the same team they beat to win the title last season.
Bingham (13-0) has won nine state titles. This season, they have allowed only only one opponent, Lehi, to come within two touchdowns. Usually, the Miners’ modus operandi is a tough defense and a pounding running game that wears down opponents. Typically, Bingham has scored 40 or more points and held its opponent to 10 or less.
In the Miners’ semifinal defeat of Fremont (Plain City) last week, they didn’t having their top running back, Jahvontay Smith, because of a high ankle sprain. In his place, junior Amoni Kaili and seniors Daniel Loua and Tate Peterson ran for a combined 345 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
“Bingham does what Bingham does,” Miners coach John Lambourne said. “We make choices based upon our opponents and the flow of the game, but I don’t suspect you’ll see us try to throw the ball 40 times a game.”
Lone Peak (12-1) is more balanced. Dual-threat quarterback Dakota Hansen has led the Knights, who have passed for 2,544 yards and 25 touchdowns and run for 2,624 yards and 27 touchdowns.
“We aren’t the same team and I’m sure they aren’t, either,” Lone Peak coach Mike Mower said. “Bingham gains strength during the season. I think we’re playing pretty good ball right now. To play a class outfit like Bingham, to have this opportunity, we are giving it everything we have.”
Both teams may come in feeling they have something to prove after last season. Bingham, of course, was knocked out in the semifinals by the Knights. Lone Peak then lost in the state finals to Herriman.
“I don’t think they see themselves as the underdog,” Lambourne said of Lone Peak. “I think they believe they can compete with us and we have to do things to dispel that belief. … They have athleticism in their skills positions and up front offensively, they have a lot of bulk. Hansen is a dangerous dual-threat guy. They have athletes on the perimeter that can make you pay. Their tempo is designed to make you mess up and we’re
trying not to mess up.”
Kahuku is similar to Bingham in some ways in that it doesn’t do anything fancy. The Red Raiders are averaging 46.5 points a game and have four different running backs that have run for 275 or more yards. On defense, the Red Raiders (11-1) are allowing only 6.5 points a game and that includes their only loss, a 35-7 defeat at No. 1 Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas).
Saint Louis (9-1) is much more likely to go to the air with quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, an Alabama commit, throwing for 2,426 yards and 26 touchdowns.