SALT LAKE CITY — There’s a famous shot of Steve Young standing on the sideline near the end of Super Bowl XXIX. The 49ers were about to win their first Super Bowl with Young as the starting quarterback and a sense of relief came over the former BYU star.
“Take that monkey off my back, please!” Young shouted on the sideline.
That image came to Hurricane head football coach Skyler Miller on Friday.
No, it wasn’t a Super Bowl, nor was it a state championship. It wasn't even a playoff game, but Miller got to feel, at long last, that same sweet, relieving feeling of victory.
Miller, in his third season as a high school head football coach, got to celebrate his first win.
Hurricane beat Crimson Cliffs, 24-14, on Friday, earning the Tigers' first victory since Sept. 15, 2017, and giving their coach his first victory ever.
“We wanted to get them that feeling so much,” Miller said. “Hurricane is a phenomenal community, there’s a tremendous legacy here — we wanted, as a coaching staff, to have them have that feeling. We are so proud of them.”
The prep game is first and foremost about the kids.
It’s about players like receiver Ray Cordova and quarterback Brexton Starley, who combined for two touchdown passes in the victory. It’s about linebacker Clayton Warr, who made the game-sealing interception. It’s about each and every one of the players that suffered through loss after loss — and kept coming back to Miller's team.
“I’m honored to be able to experience it with these boys and this team,” Miller said. “They came back after last year.”
It’s about the players, first, yes. But this was a special night for the head coach, too.
In 2017, Miller left the Hurricane coaching staff to take over a rebuilding squad in Cedar City at Canyon View High School. It was his first head coaching job. The Falcons went 0-9.
The next season, he returned to Hurricane to once again take over a team filled with underclassmen. The Tigers went 0-9.
So for Miller, Friday night was one he’d been waiting for two-plus seasons. It was a night he finally got a chance to celebrate with his players.
No matter where he goes from here, be it leading his team to rivalry wins, playoff victories, or even state titles, the win against Crimson Cliffs will stick with him.
“It’s pretty special,” Miller said. “Right now, I don’t know if there is going to be a win that means anything more. I'm hopeful there will be more. If we are lucky enough to go far this year or in future years, I think I’ll always look back and remember this one.”
The monkey is off his — and his team’s — back.
Here are a few other games of note from Week 4 of the Utah high school football season.
AF’s Betts shines in shootout win over East
Hayden Betts threw for six — yes, six — touchdowns to help American Fork top East 57-45 in a shootout between two of the top teams in the state. And he didn’t even start for the Cavemen.
Betts came on in reserve for sophomore Maddux Madsen, who had run and thrown for a score himself before he got hurt early in the first half, and the American Fork offense didn’t miss a beat. Betts threw a pair of touchdowns to both Tanner Holding and Garrison Grimes in the shootout win.
American Fork improved to 3-1 with a 3-0 record against in-state competition.
East's Sione Angilau ran for four touchdowns for East, including an 86-yarder in the first quarter.
Mountain View's off to best start in 20 years
Duce Anderson scored four touchdowns to lift Mountain View to a 44-12 victory over Ogden, guiding the Bruins to their first 4-0 start of the 21st century.
Ben Mella added a pair of touchdowns, including a 30-yard scoop-and-score off a fumble recovery during the Bruins’ 38-0 first half.
.@MRhatch5 repping the MV turnover chain after recovering a fumble in @football_mtn’s rout of Ogden tonight in their Region 10 opener. What other programs have one? #UTHSFBS#UtahPrepspic.twitter.com/bhasesAG2G— Utah Preps Zone Podcast (@UtahPrepsZone) September 7, 2019
Mountain View hadn’t won its first four games of the season since a 10-0 start in 1999. The Bruins won four games in a row for the first time since 2010.
Park City's off to a historic start, too
Park City is also off to one of the best starts in some time. The Miners defeated Uintah 47-0 Friday and are 4-0 for the first time since 2007, when they started the season with five-straight victories.
Dylan Bauer ran for three touchdowns, while Jack Skidmore thew for three of his own to lead Park City to the victory.
The Payton Murphy-to-Austin Mortensen connection
A week ago, Springville’s Payton Murphy found Austin Mortensen for a game-winning touchdown with four seconds remaining.
What did they do for an encore?
Murphy and Mortensen connected four more times to lead Springville to a 35-22 win over rival Maple Mountain. Springville improved to 4-0 with the win in the Red Devils' Region 8 opener, setting up a showdown next week against the league's preseason favorite, Provo.