SALT LAKE CITY — Under head coach Chris Howell, who is in his first season at the Bobcat helm, this 2019 version of Sky View (12-1) is making a strong case to be considered the best team in school history.
A 49-21 over third-seeded Dixie (9-3) in the semifinals of the 4A State Football Championships Friday night at Rice Eccles Stadium is one brick laid down in hopes of making that a reality.
The second-seeded Bobcats will have a chance to cement that idea in stone next Friday in the state title game against top-seeded Park City (13-0). A win would bring the first title to Smithfield in the school’s 56-year history of football.
Much unlike its past two playoff games — which it won by a total of 118-13 — Sky view had to put up a fight to advance. But they were prepared for a fight according to their head coach.
“We knew they just had tons of athletes, and it’s really hard to take away all of them, so you just try to find certain keys and key into those things and actually, they keyed us a little bit,” Howell said.
Dixie may have been able to limit the Bobcats in the first half — 150 total yards of offense to be exact — and go into the break tied at 21. But the second half performance of Sky View made it seem as if they were the Monstars from Space Jam that had just lifted the talent out of Dixie in the locker rooms. Dixie didn’t put any points on the board in the third of fourth quarters and managed just 109 yards of total offense.
“I thought we took their quarterback out of the run game, and their running back as well,” Howell said. “Those two guys have both run for about 1,000 yards this year, and they didn’t have that many tonight.”
When Sky View’s lethal offense wasn’t putting up the stats it normally demonstrates on a weekly basis, the defense became a calming presence to help ease the minds of the players.
“First of all, once we got that seven-point lead, the pressure was off. We didn’t feel like we had to make every single play and it allowed us to relax,” Howell said. “Then we ran a little trap game there in the fourth quarter that got us going too (and) that was pretty good.”
Some trickery got the offense rolling for the Bobcats early in the game. Mason Falslev disguised himself well as a receiver, so much so that Dixie was completely caught off guard seeing him throw the ball. Twice in the first quarter Falslev caught a pitch from starting quarterback Kason Carlsen and made high-level throws, a 43-yard shot into the red zone and a 16-yard ball into the end zone. The truth is, Falslev has started at quarterback this season for the Bobcats, while also contributing as the team’s best receiver — a luxury most teams don’t have.
“Everybody knows who Mason is. He’s a special talent,” Howell said. “The cool thing about Mason is he wanted the ball down the stretch right there and we actually had a bad snap and turned it into a touchdown. He’s just a really special kid, a great leader, just a tremendous asset.”
Falslev was the standout player of the game, no questions asked. He contributed in every aspect of the game: defensively, rushing, passing, catching as he was everywhere on the field. The senior totaled 191 all-purpose yards, 177 of which came in the second half when the game was in his hands. Two fourth-quarter rushing touchdowns allowed Sky View to capture a 28-point lead and drain any chance of a comeback out of Dixie’s veins. It’s a memory the soon-to-be Ute will not soon forget.
“Oh my gosh, this is the greatest feeling, playing with my boys, playing for my coaches and our fans — it’s awesome,” he said.
Falslev might have been the catalyst his team needed to push through in the second half, easing the pressure of a tight opening half. The Bobcats’ defense can’t be overlooked as they shut Dixie down. Most notably players like Traeson Martindale, who had an incredible 18 tackles and a diving interception as well.
At the same time, Falslev’s attitude and outlook before the game is an embodiment of how Sky View was able to overcome obstacles it hadn’t faced for most of the season.
“You know, it’s kind of sad it’s my senior year and I was just thinking in the locker room I’m gonna give it all I’ve got,” Falslev said. “And, you know, we got it done in the second half and it was awesome.”
It was also a solid performance from Carlsen, who rushed for a pair of touchdowns and tossed a 27-yarder to Brigham Lewis in the third quarter. Lewis also hauled in the 16-yard scoring pass from Falslev, whose two TD scampers were 51 and 20 yards.