KAYSVILLE — Things are different this year in Layton.
And the final drive on Friday showed just that.
Senior quarterback Garrett Gifford found Elias Parkinson on a deep back shoulder throw in the closing minute to set up a game-winning 22-yard field goal by Porter Hansen to give Layton a 24-21 win over Davis (2-2) in Kaysville.
It was a win that sent the Lancers sprinting and jumping onto the field in triumph as they defeated their region rivals. But to understand the true jubilation felt by the Lancers on Friday, you first have to understand where the program's been.
Last season, against that same Davis team, the Lancers were down 30-0 at the end of the first quarter in a lopsided loss that dropped Layton to 0-5. A year later and the Lancers are 3-1 and have already surpassed their win total from the 2020 campaign — a team that featured many of the same players.
"It's huge for these young men because this is the corona group," second-year coach Foto Katoa said. "This is that sophomore group that went through that whole situation. So a game like this is huge for their confidence and just to help them turn around and make things happen and to believe in themselves."
That confidence has been key to the quick turnaround for Layton.
Gifford, who threw for two touchdowns and ran for another in Friday's win, was under center in 2020, where he led a young team that was talented but inexperienced. All the hard losses a year ago are paying off this season.
"This year we have just more confidence," Gifford said. "We had the talent last year, we just were young, we had zero confidence. This year we had a great offseason that just made our confidence go up and it's showing now."
That newfound confidence was evident when Gifford found Josh Taylor for a 61-yard touchdown on Layton's opening drive, and when Layton's defense stopped Davis on fourth-and-goal on two separate drives.
But nothing demonstrated it more than the final two minutes of the game.
Layton had just seen its two-touchdown lead wiped out from a heroic drive by Davis' backup quarterback Jackson Stevens. The towering sophomore was called on after starter Easton Baggett left the game due to injury; Baggett walked off the field holding his collarbone after a hit early in the fourth quarter.
Stevens answered the call and found Ty Hoagland in the end zone to tie the game up with just over two minutes remaining.
It was then up to Gifford and the Layton offense to answer.
"My coach just told me to look for mismatches," Gifford said. "Call out the plays, look for mismatches."
He found one on the edge with speedster Elias Parkinson, who already caught a 41-yard touchdown pass earlier in the fourth quarter.
"I just threw it back shoulder to him," Gifford said. "Threw it as long as I could. He did a great job coming back to the ball."
That long completion got Layton into field goal range and set the stage for Hansen to win the game for the Lancers.
"It's monumental," Katoa said. "It's something that these kids can build on, and it's something that can help change the program because it's a new era — that's our theme. A new era has begun. We respect the past, but we also build the future."
And Friday's win was another sign that Layton's future is looking brighter.