HERRIMAN — In the first two weeks of the 2021 high school football season, Skyridge has shown why they are one of the best defensive teams in the state — holding shutouts against Fremont and Woods Cross.
During the Falcons' Week 3 matchup against Herriman, Skyridge again showcased its dominant defense and posted another shutout in a 23-0 win.
Skyridge came out aggressive from the start and scored just four minutes into the game on a 13-yard touchdown pass from McCae Hillstead, who found senior Jeter Fenton for the first of his two touchdowns in the end zone. Fenton's second touchdown came in the second quarter on a 3-yard rush into the end zone.
Herriman started its first offensive possession with a snap that went over the head of quarterback Jack White, and the play laid the foundation for what would become a frustrating offensive game for the home team. The Mustangs continually found themselves on the wrong side of the 50-yard line and rarely could get good field position for a touchdown or field goal opportunity.
Skyridge head coach John Lehman said his players on defense have been smart and the effort is being recognized in the outcome of games.
"It starts with just the assignments and understanding what we're seeing and communicating really well," Lehman said. "Our guys have been really smart to this point. They play really hard and so it leads to a good outcome."
The Falcons put up 23 first-half points, and the game didn't see nearly the same type of offensive production in the second half — both teams were held scoreless. Much of it was caused by several penalties called, and what Hillstead said was a lack of execution.
"We get in situations when we're up and then it's pretty easy to get kind of lazy and the execution isn't as high," Hillstead said. "It's just flags and things that we can control, which is good. It has nothing to do with skill; we got the guys out there to do it."
In the Falcons' first two games of the season, Hillstead was able to comfortably throw the ball; he threw 33 completions for 544 yards. During the game Friday night, Hillstead became more aggressive and ran the ball based on the deep coverage Herriman played on defense.
"They didn't want us to throw the ball very deep. It was hard for us to throw the ball, so we had to run it," Hillstead said. "They gave me opportunities to where I could pull it and where I could just find things on my feet. That was the game plan and we executed it well."
Hillstead ran for 74 yards in the first half, including an 8-yard rushing touchdown in the second quarter. Lehman praised Hillstead for his maturity and for consistently making the "right play."
"He's so talented, but he's so mature and just under control," Lehman said. "He understands the game and situation when the play breaks down; he makes the right play."
The Falcon's schedule does not get any easier in the coming weeks. The next games will likely give Skyridge more of a challenge when it faces off against the top 5A teams in the state — Orem and Timpview — before they hit region play.
"We've got to continue to compete and work hard because it doesn't get easier. It's always going to be hard every single week," Lehman said. "We're proud of our guys for getting wins because wins are hard, and so hopefully we'll just stay with it the rest of the way."
Skyridge moves to a perfect 3-0 record to start the season and will play Orem at home on Sept. 3 at 7 p.m. MT. Herriman (1-2) will play Westlake (2-1) next Friday.