IDAHO FALLS – Before the Skyline players took the Ravsten Stadium field for Friday’s game against Coeur d’Alene, they stopped just outside the locker room. Facing them was Skyline assistant coach Lucian Johnson, who started a chant.
“They ain’t ready,” the Grizzlies players chanted. “They ain’t ready, they ain’t ready, for us!”
This wasn’t any team Skyline was playfully accusing of being unprepared. This was the two-time defending Idaho 5A State champions. Skyline was coming off a 3-7 season.
But the chant almost seemed prophetic.
Skyline played the Vikings close throughout the first half, and the game was tied 13-13 heading into the fourth quarter.
Coeur d’Alene pulled away in the final quarter and won 26-13, but Skyline came much closer than many expected going in.
“We played a lot better defensively than we have in the past,” Skyline head coach Scott Berger said. “I saw a lot of promising things out there.”
Skyline illustrated its preparedness on the first drive of the game, stuffing Vikings’ 6-foot-1, 225-pound running back Drew Berger on 4th and 1 for a loss of 9.
However, Coeur d’Alene struck back two drives later. On the first play from scrimmage, quarterback Austin Lee connected with Ryan Walde on an 82-yard touchdown pass. The ensuing two-point conversion failed.
But Skyline struck back the next quarter. Grizzlies’ senior quarterback Benton Mitchell capped a 16-play drive with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Brannon Whyte in the left corner of the end zone. The extra-point kick was good, putting Skyline up 7-6.
The Grizzlies had a chance to add on later when they received a punt at their 38-yard line. But sophomore running back David Ames fumbled on the first play from scrimmage. Eight plays later, the Vikings scored on another Lee-to-Walde hookup. This one from 16 yards.
“We had our chances to win the game,” Berger said.
Alex Peterson knotted the game up in the third quarter on a 35-yard catch-and-run. This was the last Skyline would score, though, as Jorge Carmona’s extra point was blocked.
Coeur d’Alene looked like the juggernaut it was adverstised to be in the fourth quarter, scoring 13 points and stifling Skyline’s offense.
“Obviously, it’s a tough loss, but we played pretty well,” Peterson said. “It’s promising for our season.”
Mistakes were littered on both sides Friday night. The Grizzlies turned the ball over three times, maybe the biggest factor in a game that was in Skyline’s grasp.
The Vikings committed 12 penalties for 120 yards, including several personal fouls.
“We learned a valuable lesson and we were lucky enough to come out with a win,” Amos said. “We have to be way more disciplined.”
Right before Skyline’s players rushed the field before the game, they followed up their “They ain’t ready” chant with a loud, “We ready!” Despite the loss, Scott Berger and his players were encouraged by their performance. Coeur d’Alene and head coach Shawn Amos, on the other hand, had improvement on their minds as they prepared for the 10-hour bus ride home Friday night.