DAYTON — It was an evening of celebration at Lyle S. Henderson Field on Friday night.
After each West Side touchdown, the pyrotechnician set off fireworks, and people watching their games from inside their cars — to avoid the 45 degree Idaho weather — would blare on their horns in acknowledgment.
With the Pirates scoring seven touchdowns en route to a 47-8 victory over district rival Bear Lake in their 2A state semifinal game, the booming and honking went on all game long as West Side advances to its third-straight state championship game and extends its win streak to 31 — something certainly worth celebrating.
“Feels good,” WS head coach Tyson Moser said. “Been a long year and this has been the goal the whole time, to get a chance to get back in this game and this group of seniors has been very determined.”
West Side’s formula to dominate the game was the same it’s always been: Play smash mouth football. The more physical Pirates racked up 237 yards of offense on the ground, while holding the outmatched Bears to 35 rushing yards, including minus-seven in the second half.
Offensively, West Side dominated the majority of the game. The Pirates (10-0) scored three touchdowns in the first half, four in the second, and quarterback Blaize Brown tacked on 127 yards passing yards to complement the run game.
The always stingy West Side defense forced three turnovers, two turnovers on downs and held Bear Lake to 35 yards of offense in the second half.
But despite the convincing numbers, there was a stretch late in the first half where the Pirates were legitimately tested.
With West Side leading 20-8, Brokens fumbled deep inside Bear territory. Bear Lake nearly took full advantage, with quarterback Tayson Neal finding running back Brady Shaul for a 57-yard reception. Moments later, the two-time defending state champions found themselves just 10 yards away from making it a one possession game going to the half.
The Bear Lake defense proceeded to step up, forcing a 5-yard gain, then three straight incompletions to force a turnover on downs and reclaim momentum.
“That goal line stand was the game because you never know,” Moser said. “They score right there and the score is (potentially) 20-16 at halftime you never know what happens. I mean, hopefully we come out and respond but you just never know momentum is a crazy thing.
Once the second half began, it was all Pirates.
West Side opened with a nine-play, 56-yard drive capped off by a 5-yard touchdown run from Parker Moser to go up 27-8.
After the Pirate defense forced a three and out, the offense responded with a 56-yard reception off a rollout from Brown to Bryler Shurtliff. Soon after, Brokens was in the end zone, and the hosts led 34-8.
Following an interception and fumble recovery by West Side’s Karson Chugg, the hosts tacked on two touchdowns to wrap up the victory.
“Well, we’re usually a second half team,” Brokens said. “This time we kind of we came out strong and then we went flat a little bit in the first half. Then we got yelled at in the locker room, so we decided we need to get something done. So, we did.”
Despite the frustrating second quarter, the West Side offense was effective from the get-go, in large part due to Brokens. The first offensive play for West Side, he broke loose for a 55-yard touchdown run. The following drive, the Pirates converted on two 4th down plays, including a 2-yard touchdown rush from Cristain Plancarte.
After a Bear Lake fumble, Brown connected with Shurtliff for an 18-yard TD pass to make it 20-0 in the second quarter.
It was a complete effort for the Pirates, and a good game to prepare them for their third straight state championship appearance.
“All the kids played great,” Moser said. “Offensive line, I give them credit. They stepped up big time. Then more than anything, I give credit to our seniors. We have not been pushed this year since the first game. We have not really faced any kind of adversity all year. It’s just kind of been easy. And it wasn’t easy there for a minute. And you know, our kids responded, which is what they needed to do.”
PIRATES 47, BEARS 8
Friday at Dayton
Bear Lake 0 8 0 0 — 8
West Side 14 7 13 7 — 47
W — Cage Brokens 55 run (Christian Plancarte kick), 8:48
W— Plancarte 2 run (Plancarte kick), 1:39
W — Bryler Shurtliff 18 pass from Blaize Brown (kick missed), 11:45
B — Tayson Neal 10 run (Jordon Garbett pass from Brady Shaul), 8:23
W — Parker Moser 5 run (Plancarte kick), 7:40
W — Brokens 2 run (Plancarte kick), 4:51
W — Brown 9 run (Kick missed) 9:51
W — Owen Nielsen 1 run (Plancarte kick), 3:10