SMITHFIELD — Ty Erickson and Jonathan Bergeson know exactly what it’s like to scale the taxing, arduous mountain to success.

Bergeson and Erickson were members of the 2016 Sky View boys soccer team that only won four matches and finished second to last in its seven-team region. A year later, the Bobcats made some decent improvements as they finished fourth in Region 12 and qualified for the 4A State Championships.

Indeed, Erickson, Bergeson and the Bobcats took their lumps in 2016 and 2017, but the grind to the top of the mountain was well worth the wait. You see, the hard work paid off for the duo in 2019 as the dynamic one-two punch led Sky View to a Region 12 and 4A state title.

“It’s absolutely insane for the program to go from kind of a disappointing program that wasn’t really known throughout the state ... and then for the coaches to come in and to start the program, and then kind of to be the team that everyone’s after at this point,” Erickson said when reflecting back at his final three seasons with the Bobcats.

Throughout the process, Bergeson and Erickson developed a close bond, and it was obvious to those who watched the Bobcats throughout the ’19 campaign. The duo’s synergy on the pitch was a big reason why Sky View went 12-2-4 and ended the season on a 13-game unbeaten streak.

“It’s amazing,” Bergeson said. “I’ve always looked up to Ty and his work ethic ... and how good he’s been at soccer, and also how good of a leader he’s been. And so for me to strive to be like him in practice and in games, that’s helped me a lot.”

Bergeson went on to say his friendship with Erickson “is something that’s going to last forever.” Erickson echoed those sentiments when talking about his partner in crime.

“It’s absolutely amazing,” Erickson said. “Jon’s one of my best friends on and off the field, and just to be able to have that connection with him on the field and always feel like we can rely on each other and play off each other is something special.”

The son of Linda and Dolan Erickson was the glue that held the Bobcats together, a skilled box-to-box midfielder who played his best soccer in the 4A State Championships. The son of Sabrina and Nolan Bergeson was Sky View’s explosive, relentless striker who averaged more than one goal per match this past spring.

Both players were first-team all-state selections and were ultimately chosen as the 2019 Herald Journal co-All-Valley Players of the Year.

Erickson and Bergeson capped of their stellar prep careers by helping Sky View defeat defending 4A champion Desert Hills, 1-0, in the title match at Real Salt Lake’s Rio Tinto Stadium. The Bobcats were the first team to shut out the Thunder in 35 games, a span that dated back to March 16, 2018.

“It was a dream,” Erickson said. “Ever since I was a little kid I dreamed of playing in Rio Tinto Stadium, and for my very last game ever to be able to finally have that chance and to be playing with all my brothers in the state championship was just a dream come true.”

Erickson was rock solid throughout the entire season, but was downright phenomenal during the playoffs. The Smithfield native scored twice in the first round against Spanish Fork, had an assist in the second round against Dixie and created and facilitated a handful of prime scoring opportunities against Desert Hills.

“People always say that no one is irreplaceable, but with this situation, I have a different opinion,” SV head coach Jorge Cruz said. “Ty is one of a kind and it’s not just me, but the whole Sky View program will miss his presence. Ty was my engine and steering wheel for this team. He always gave me a 100 percent effort, even during illness. He eats, breathes and sleeps soccer. In his four years, his practice appearance was 99 percent. This number will tell a great deal about what soccer means to Ty.”

Erickson scored seven goals — in six different matches — this season, and paced the Bobcats with five assists. No. 4 assisted Bergeson on the game-winning goal in Sky View’s wild 5-4 triumph over Logan at home — the match that cemented the Bobcats’ arrival as a legitimate contender in the region and state.

“His passing accuracy and vision of the field always provides others the opportunity for goals,” Cruz said of Erickson. “These skills and his big heart were a factor in us earning the region and state championship titles.”

Erickson, who will begin serving a mission to Peru for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints later this month, was the consummate teammate. His ability to settle things down in the midfield and combine with his teammates was invaluable.

“I feel like just my ability to play more with my teammates and just to trust them and combine with them well was a huge difference between the two years,” Erickson said when asked about his improvement from his junior to senior seasons.

Likewise, Bergeson made substantial strides as a senior. No. 7 found the back of the net twice against Carbon in Sky View’s second game of the season, and his success snowballed from there.

“I just tried to play stress-free my senior year and I think that was the biggest difference,” Bergeson said. “I was just trying to have some fun. I knew this was going to be my last year of soccer and I was just trying to have some fun with my friends. And I didn’t set super high goals because I didn’t know what to expect this year, honestly, and so having it turn out the way it did was amazing. It was more than I possibly could have hoped for.”

Bergeson racked up 20 goals as a senior, which ranked second in 4A. He recorded hat tricks against Logan and Bear River, and netted a pair of goals against Bear River and Spanish Fork, in addition to Carbon. Bergeson’s goal in the second meeting against Logan allowed the Bobcats to capture the region title outright.

“We had a bet with Jonathan that if he scored 20-plus goals during the season, he would earn one of the coaches’ jackets,” Cruz said. “We never imagined he would achieve that goal, but he did. His percentage of goals scored this season was very impressive, not only for the Sky View program, but the whole state of Utah. I am extremely happy to know that Jonathan can achieve any goal that he puts into his mind.”

Additionally, Bergeson assisted on a trio of goals for the Bobcats. For his efforts, Bergeson was tabbed the Deseret News 4A MVP.

“Jonathan and I have known each other for about four years,” Cruz said. “He is always been very committed to his soccer team. ... Jonathan and I talked about game plans and expectations on the striker position, but I never imagined that he was going to be the type of player that he was this season. A complete leader inside and outside the field.”

Knocking off Desert Hills at Rio Tinto Stadium was the dream end to an unforgettable 2018-19 academic year for Bergeson. After all, the 5-foot-7 guard was one of the Bobcats’ top performers off the bench on their state championship team.

“It was incredible,” Bergeson said. “I never would have guessed in a million years that I’d be getting two state championships my senior year, but it’s honestly been such a blessing. ... But the thing I’m always going to remember are the friendships and the times that I had getting those two championships.”

In addition to their excellence on the pitch, Bergeson and Erickson were also exemplary students at Sky View as both earned academic all-state honors. Erickson graduated with a 4.0 grade point average, while Bergeson maintained a 3.987 GPA and scored an impressive 32 on his ACT.

Bergeson plans on majoring in business and mathematics in college, while Erickson is leaning toward majoring in physical therapy. Like Erickson, Bergeson will serve a LDS Church mission before attending college. The long-time Lewiston resident will embark on his mission to Armenia/Georgia in November.

Cruz is supremely confident Bergeson and Erickson will excel in their future endeavors. Regardless of what the future holds, the duo can always look back at their gratifying climb to the top of the mountain — one that helped Sky View and Cache Valley garner respect throughout the state.

“Our club (team) represents this valley pretty well too on the state level, and so to be able to represent in high school too the way we did, it was a dream come true,” Bergeson said. “It really was. I think we represented well and I think Cache Valley will be a lot more on the map in the future now. People will be looking out for Sky View next year.”

Newcomer of the Year

Davis Hall, Fr., Sky ViewThis freshman refused to let his broken wrist put a damper on his season as he was an integral part of Sky View’s stingy backline.

Hall, who spent much of the season with a cast on his left arm, was a big reason why the Bobcats ended their championship season with three straight shutouts. Additionally, it was Hall’s rocket of a shot that led to the rebound goal that propelled the Bobcats to the 4A title.

Coach’s comment: “He is a very smart young player that understands what the program and the coaches demand from him. He is very obedient and respectful, and a 100 percent effort player. I am very grateful to have the opportunity to see him grow and get better, game by game. ... This program benefits very much from players like Davis. I am happy to coach someone like Davis, who’s goal is to be better and better each game.”

FIRST TEAM

FORWARDS

Dylan McCuskey, Sr., Logan

Simply put, McCuskey gave opposing defenders fits with his speed, technical skills and ability to be clinical with his finishing.

The senior paced the Grizzlies with eight goals and assisted on four others. The future Pomona College player recorded a hat trick against Ridgeline, a brace against Sky View and dished out a pair of assists against Bear River. McCuskey also found the back of the net against a very good Desert Hills side.

Coach’s comment: “Dylan was absolutely vital to our team this year. He’s extremely dangerous on and off the ball, someone that makes his presence known on the field. His soccer IQ paired with his work ethic and speed set him apart as one of the best players I’ve ever coached, and (he’s) a game-changing player.”

Kadin Reece, So., Preston

Not only was Reece a threat to find the back of the net in every match for a much-improved Preston squad, he was a good distributor.

The sophomore striker dished out six assists, which was good enough to tie for the No. 2 spot on the team. Reece, a second team all-conference selection, netted a team-best 12 goals for the Indians, who went 10-8-0 last fall.

Coach’s comment: “Kadin is a very hard-working player. He doesn’t just wait for an option to come up, he creates options for himself and the team. On top of being our leading goal scorer and being vital to the offense, he is our team leader, sets high standards and pushes his teammates to be better.”

Duncan Hickman, Sr., Ridgeline

Hickman didn’t score a lot of goals, but his work rate and quick thinking made him a constant threat for the Riverhawks, who doubled their win total from a season ago.

The senior finished his final season with two goals and a trio of assists. Hickman, whose heads-up quick restart on a free quick nearly resulted in a goal against Sky View, had a huge assist in Ridgeline’s big 2-1 overtime triumph over Mountain Crest.

Coach’s comment: “Relentless effort and savvy player. Several quick restarts that resulted in great advantage. Duncan is an academic scholar and it shows in his play. He is a talented individual with excellent ball control skill and a strong team player (that) supports everyone on the field and off. He is a positive role model and captained the team as a great leader.”

MIDFIELDERS

Bennett Browning, Sr., LoganThis talented box-to-box midfielder is a big reason why the Grizzlies went 30-15-3 during his three seasons as a varsity mainstay.

Browning missed a little bit of time with an injury, but still led all Cache County players with six assists. The senior assisted on game-winning goals against eventual 6A champion Weber and against Salem Hills in the first round of the playoffs. The 2018 Herald Journal All-Valley Player of the Year also scored a goal this past spring.

Coach’s comment: “Bennett was crucial to our success as a team. His presence is immediately felt on the field through his leadership and communication, but his vision of the field and technical ability makes him invaluable. He’s constantly involved offensively and defensively. He was and is the heart of our team.”

Willian Murillo, Jr., Preston

This skilled junior was instrumental in Preston scoring multiple goals in 10 of 18 matches this past season. The Indians were much-improved in the attack and were only shut out four times.

Murillo netted eight goals and matched Reece for second on the team with six assists. On more than one occasion, No. 10 garnered the praise of Rocky Rhoads, the head coach of 4A power Century, for his shotmaking and technical abilities.

Coach’s comment: “Junior is a skills player. His foot skills on the ball are phenomenal. He is great at taking an opponent out of the play by beating them in a one-v-one (situation). He knows the game well and is a very smart player.”

Jackson Clark, Sr., Mtn. Crest

Clark helped anchor a talented Mountain Crest midfield and was a big reason why the Mustangs managed to advance to the 4A semifinals despite graduating most of their starters from the 2018 campaign.

The senior, who was selected as Mountain Crest’s MVP, scored four goals and assisted on another. Clark found the back of the net against Sky View and buried the game-winning goal against Region 11 champ Park City in the 4A playoffs.

Coach’s comment: “The importance of his leadership, play-making ability, defensive midfield presence and calming effect on the game was vital to the success of the team. Jackson was the glue that held the team together and made everything flow. As a coach I always felt comfortable with the way things ran in the midfield when he was in the game.”

Mason Hansen, Sr., Mtn. Crest

Mountain Crest’s offensive MVP scored some big goals for his team this past season.

Hansen found the back of the net in Mountain Crest’s 3-2 triumph over Sky View — the Bobcats’ only region setback of the year — and scored against Park City to help propel his side to the 4A semifinals. The senior had a hat trick against Green Canyon, led the Mustangs with six goals and assisted on two others.

Coach’s comment: “Mason was a great team leader this year on and off the field as a senior and captain. ... It was a pleasure to coach Mason, who was always positive with those around him. He is a very versatile player as evidenced this season where he played more of an attacking midfield role vs. his traditional defensive role.”

Roy Mendoza, Jr., Green Canyon

This junior is dynamic with the ball at his feet, and was instrumental in the Wolves doubling their win total from a year ago and qualifying for the playoffs for the first time in program history.

Mendoza dished out a trio of assists on the season, including a massive one in overtime in Green Canyon’s upset victory over Logan.

Coach’s comment: “Roy is amazing. He is incredible. His tactical knowledge, technical ability and power make him one of the very best players in the state. His drive to improve on and off the field really sets him apart (from other players).”

DEFENDERS

Hunter Smith, Jr., Sky ViewNot only was Smith the heart of Sky View’s stellar backline, he also made some impressive, explosive runs into the attack.

The first-team all-state center back was outstanding in the air and a very disciplined defender. Case in point: Smith was only whistled for one yellow card the entire season. The speedy junior assisted on a goal against Ridgeline, to boot.

Coach’s comment: “For this season, Hunter has been a tremendous leader in the backline — not only for the Sky View program, but for the entire state. This year we played nine teams from all over the state, and I did not witness anyone so tough like Hunter. ... He is a very respectful and coachable player, which for a coach is always easier to coach.”

Abel Tlatelpa, Sr., Logan

Tlatelpa shined in all facets of the game during his final season with the Grizzlies. The senior was a hard-nosed defender and one of the state’s best attacking options from the back.

Tlatelpa, who routinely made long, penetrating runs in the attack, scored four goals — all in different matches — and assisted on two others. The second-team all-state honoree dented the scoreboard in both matches against Sky View and netted the game-winning goal against Salem Hills in the playoffs.

Coach’s comment: “Abel was a force to be reckoned with this season. He was dominant in the air, strong on the ball and solid defensively and offensively, and ended the season on the highest note possible, scoring some of the most critical goals of our season as a center back.”

Kaemon Anderson, Sr., Logan

Like Tlatelpa, Anderson was a three-year varsity mainstay on Logan’s backline and was a consistent performer from his center back position.

The senior helped anchor a Grizzly backline that posted seven shutouts on the season, including one against eventual 6A champion Weber. Logan, which won three matches by a 1-0 scoreline, only conceded one goal against four opponents in 2019.

Coach’s comment: “Kaemon was a pivotal part of our backline, but more importantly, our team this season. We relied on him time and time again, and he was always up to the task. He was our rock — extremely consistent, hard to get past, a great distributor and a phenomenal leader.”

Logan Castillo, Sr., Ridgeline

Like Tlatelpa, Castillo was a legitimate threat in the attack and a very valuable defender for his team.

The senior led all local defenders with five goals — scored in five different matches. Castillo ripped the back of the net against Sky View and Logan, and netted the game-winner against Uintah. He also helped a much-improved Ridgeline backline hold eight opponents to one goal and post a clean sheet vs. Uintah.

Coach’s comment: “Logan sacrificed time with his family stationed in Germany to play soccer for Ridgeline his senior year. He is a vocal leader as a captain and pushed himself and his teammates to perform. He is a dynamic outside back that led the team in scoring through his work rate and creativity.”

Ty Smith, Jr., Mtn. Crest

The Mustangs entered the season with very little varsity experience on their backline, but Smith and company were up to the challenge.

Mountain Crest only allowed six of 20 opponents to score multiple goals this season. Smith spearheaded a Mustang defense that shut six teams out in ’19 and limited eight other foes to a single goal.

Coach’s comment: “He received defensive Player of the Year honors from the team, which speaks to the respect that he had in that role. Ty has an innate ability at reading the other team’s offense and being in the right spot to stop attacks. He is one of the smartest defenders I have coached at Mountain Crest.”

Landen Winder, Sr., Green Canyon

This senior did his part both from a competitive and leadership role in allowing the Wolves made significant strides this past spring.

Winder’s lone goal of the season was a memorable one as it was netted on Senior Night and helped propel Green Canyon to a 4-0 triumph over Ridgeline and a spot in the playoffs. Winder was a consistent performer on a Green Canyon backline that posted five clean sheets — one vs. Logan — and limited another opponent to one goal.

Coach’s comment: “Landen was a rock for us this year. It’s rare in the valley to have such a technical player at center back. He is fantastic in the air and his speed and aggression make him an all-around great defender.”

GOALKEEPER

Mailik Horman, Sr., Sky ViewLike Bergeson, Horman went out as a state champion in basketball and soccer. The senior was a big reason why the Bobcats only conceded one goal in four state tournament matches.

Horman went the distance in goal in seven of Sky View’s eight shutouts. The first-team all-state selection only allowed multiple goals in five of 18 matches and only yielded a combined four goals in the Bobcats’ final nine games.

Coach’s comment: “He is a very talented athlete, coachable and an amazing person outside the field. As a soccer player, he is always willing to learn and work hard during practice because he knows that the games are his tests and he is always prepared for it. ... He is a leader by action and for sure he will be missed, not only for his skills, but for the type of person he is.”

jturner@hjnews.com Twitter: hjtrebek

Jason Turner is a sports reporter for The Herald Journal. He can be reached at jturner@hjnews.com or 435-792-7237.