With all eyes on them, Miners set for another title run
Aug 15, 2018 03:00PM
● By Josh McFadden
Once again, the Bingham football team should be among the state powers. The Miners are set to defend their Class 6A state championship, which they won over East last season.
By Josh McFadden | firstname.lastname@example.org
Death, taxes and Bingham football winning games: There are some things you can be sure will always happen.
Since 2004, the Miners have reeled off a 165-20 record and have won an incredible seven state titles. Bingham has won two state championships in a row, including last year’s inaugural Class 6A crown when it defeated East 27-14 to cap off a perfect 13-0 season.
There’s no reason to think the Miners won’t continue their dominance.
As usual, Bingham has a complement of talented, experienced skill position players, linemen and playmakers. Head coach John Lambourne’s squad averaged nearly 40 points per game last season, though just one of those offensive starters is back this year. Running back Braedon Wissler will be the primary ball carrier in the Miners’ multiple-set attack. As a junior last season, he compiled nearly 1,000 yards on the ground and had 16 touchdowns, an average of more than one every game.
Lambourne must replace quarterback Ryan Wood, who threw for more than 1,600 yards and had 17 touchdown passes in 2017. This year’s starter will be Peyton Jones, who went 4-12 for 72 yards in limited action last season. He’ll have some new targets to throw to this season, as Bingham’s top two wideouts from last season have graduated. Briasen Harward will be the featured tight end after seeing some time at that position a year ago, along with some snaps at fullback and on the offensive line.
“Not having a bunch of starters is not atypical for a high school program,” Lambourne said. “We have a bunch of guys that got good experience, but watching and learning from the kids ahead of them was valuable. I feel good about our guys that played sophomore and JV last year. Our assistants do a good job with the sophomore and JV teams.”
While Bingham has had a potent offense for several years, the defense has been consistently strong. This season should be more of the same. Six starters return from a unit that gave up just 10 points a game last year. No team in 6A had a stiffer defense than the Miners.
Simote Pepa will look to cause headaches for opposing offenses once again. The defensive lineman ate up the running game and pressured the quarterback in 2017. Fellow lineman David Latu, who had seven sacks last season, will make an imposing front-line tandem. Meanwhile, a trio of sure-tackling, athletic linebackers will clean up anything that gets through the linemen. Lolani Langi, Saleka Ata’ata and Junior Tafuna has plenty of starts under their belts. Langi had 61 tackles and seven sacks last season, while Ata’ata compiled 95 tackles on the year, and Tafuna had 74. The secondary boasts the skilled Marques Hamilton.
Along with a host of newcomers on offense, perhaps the biggest challenge to Bingham’s quest for three straight state titles will be a grueling regular season. The Miners compete in Region 4, which includes fellow state power Lone Peak, not to mention the always-tough American Fork.
The Miners also usually get every team’s best shot, as opponents want nothing more than to knock Bingham off its pedestal. Lambourne knows there’s pressure, but he and his players embrace it.
“The expectations are nothing but positive,” he said. “A little bit of pressure never hurt anyone. The kids are grateful for it. We don’t mind a target on our back.”
Still, Lambourne knows each win is important, even if it’s a game where everyone expects his team to win.
“We have to be careful and celebrate every win,” he said. “It’s high school football: Every Friday night is important to [the players].”
Bingham opened its season at Orem on Aug. 16. The Miners are set with a showdown at East on Aug. 24 in what will be a rematch from last season’s state title game. The Miners open league play Sept. 14 at Pleasant Grove. A week earlier, the Miners will host out-of-state opponent Mountain Pointe High School from Arizona.