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Nationally ranked Miners the clear favorite in 6A football tournament

Nov 03, 2017 11:57AM ● Published by Josh McFadden

Bingham students light up their phones during a football game. (Courtesy Patrick McDonald)

Gallery: Football [1 Image] Click any image to expand.

By Josh McFadden | josh@mycityjournals.com

After two months of grinding and competing, the high school football regular season is in the books, and the state tournament is about to get underway. One of the biggest questions: Can anyone stop the Bingham Miners?

If the regular season is any indication, the answer is no. The 9-0 Miners had little trouble with any team on their schedule. Bingham outscored its opponents 357-96 and won every game by at least 17 points. Its closest contest was a 17-0 shutout over Hawaii power Kahuku on Sept. 9. Lone Peak gave Bingham its most competitive game among in-state teams. The Miners prevailed 28-10 on Sept. 29. 

Perhaps the team’s most impressive performance game in its second game against East on Aug. 25. The Leopards, the two-time defending Class 4A champions, had set numerous state records the year before during its 14-0 run. The game was billed as a clash of giants, but it was Bingham who stood tall, crushing East 48-17.

During the past decade, Bingham has emerged as one of the most prominent teams in the state. Since 2006, the Miners have won six state championships, including last year’s title. They’ve won 23 games in a row, last losing to Lone Peak in the 2015 state tournament semifinals. 

By going 4-0 in Region 4 and finishing first, the Miners grabbed the top seed in the Class 6A tournament. They’ll host Region 2’s second-place team, Cyprus, Oct. 27. 

The Miners have built their success on dominant play on both sides of the ball, and this year has been no exception. The running back tandem of Braedon Wissler and Amoni Kaili has given defenses all kinds of trouble. They have accumulated 874 and 617 yards, respectively. Kaili averages more than eight yards every time he carries the ball, and scored nine touchdowns during the regular season. Wissler paced the Miners with 11 TDs on the ground. 

Senior quarterback Ryan Wood isn’t asked to throw the ball much in the Miners’ offense, but when he does, he makes the most of it. The field general has thrown for more than 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns. He has only thrown one interception all season. Wood has also rushed for five touchdowns. His most reliable receivers are Brayden Cosper (35 catches for 691 yards and seven touchdowns) and Dax Milne (23 catches for 408 yards and seven touchdowns). 

Bingham has picked off 10 passes this season, as eight players have tallied interceptions. Tanner Merril has three of those interceptions. Other notable defensive stats include 61 tackles from Saleka Ataata, and 38 tackles and three sacks from Lolani Langi. 

The Miners head into the state tournament on the heels of a regular season-ending 48-21 victory over American Fork. Kaili racked up 159 yards rushing and touchdown runs of 76 and 1. Wissler added another 62 yards on the ground and touchdowns of 15 and 4. Woods threw for a season-high 279 yards on only 12 completions. He had a 5-yard TD pass to Milne in the second quarter and 12-yarder to Cosper in the third that put his team up 27-0. Cosper, a 6-foot-3-inch senior, amassed 197 yards on eight catches, both season highs. 

Bingham will be heavily favored to get past Cyprus in the first round. If the Miners take care of business and move on, they’ll get a home game against the winner of Syracuse and West Jordan.

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