Entering a season with a roster full of experience and talent might be a coach’s toughest challenge.
You’re expected to win, or as Skyline’s Scott Berger notes, “It’s kind of like having your grandpa’s Cadillac. All you got to do is make sure you keep it on the road and don’t mess it up. Sometimes that’s easier said than done.”
Berger drove his Cadillac to another state title, the team’s third 4A crown in five years to earn Post Register All-Area Coach of the Year.
Skyline entered the season with a host of talented skill players and a solid defense. The one question may have been at quarterback where Cade Marlow stepped in with limited experience, but quickly found his role in the offense and finished with 35 touchdown passes, leading the team to the state title and earning a first-team all-state selection.
“More than anything, Skyline has developed a culture of toughness,” Thunder Ridge coach Jeff Marshall said. “If their kids are playing for them, that’s because they’re tough kids.”
Getting the most out of players is every coach’s goal, and Berger has seemingly done that each year, with Skyline solidifying itself as the top 4A program in the state.
The team’s lone loss this season came at 5A defending champ Rigby. That loss didn’t linger as the Grizzlies followed up with arguably their toughest regular-season game, earning a hard-fought 14-3 win at defending conference champion Blackfoot.
That win helped propel Skyline to the conference title and a No. 1 seed in the state playoffs, which was crucial in the team’s march to the title.
It also showed the team can win with a little swagger.
“From the beginning they were ranked No. 1 or No. 2 and his kids played really hard,” Blackfoot coach Jerrod Ackley said. “They played with great effort and that’s not a mistake … His kids played as hard as any team we played.”
Coach Armando Gonzalez is in the process of building something special at Rigby after the Trojans made a second-straight trip to the 5A title game. He said Skyline has set a foundation for success and that showed after the Grizzlies rebounded from the loss to the Trojans.
Driving the Cadillac is not always easy.
“After that much success, kids think that success is just going to automatically come and to be able to each year look at each team individually and see what your strengths and weaknesses are and be able to put together a competitive program on a consistent basis is not an easy thing to do,” Gonzalez said. “The hardest thing is to stay at this level. When you’re the underdog and no one sees you coming it’s easy to sneak up on people … For him to do that consistently in their program is a sign of an excellent coach and excellent coaching staff.”
“They did a good job of peaking at the right time,” Hillcrest coach Kevin Meyer added. “They just got better and better as year went on.”
The Grizzlies won their final 10 games of the season to finish 12-1 and capped the season with a 42-22 win over Emmett in the title game.