The outcome of Saturday’s Skyview-Wood River playoff football game in Hailey was already settled when Wolverine senior Austin Savaria went on a midnight ramble as time on the scoreboard clock expired.
Down 25 points on the scoreboard, wet and cold on a miserable day of mountain weather and sensing the end of a memorable season, Wood River players took heart when coach Kevin Stilling took a time out with five seconds remaining. He called Savaria’s number.
What happened didn’t mean anything, but it signified a lot more about the 2014 Wood River Wolverines and left an indelible impression about a team playing its first home playoff game in Hailey in 19 years.
Savaria followed the block of sophomore back Ashton Owens around the right end, then cut back into the middle of the field and outran the Skyview defense for a 49-yard touchdown run on the final play of Wood River’s season.
It was a highlight for Wood River on a long day at Phil Homer Field when the Hawks stuffed the Wolverine running game except for the seven inspired carries of Savaria. He rushed for a team season-high 191 yards and two touchdowns.
Nevertheless the Skyview Hawks (6-4) won their fifth consecutive game 39-20 and advanced into the Round of 8 quarterfinals against district rival Bishop Kelly of Boise (7-2) on Friday, Nov. 7. That will be a rematch of last year’s State 4A championship game won by unbeaten Bishop Kelly 42-34.
“People made a big deal before the game about Skyview’s experience,” said Stilling. “We told our kids that our only experience was what we knew about our heart, our desire and our resiliency as a team.
“Our kids didn’t care about our playoff history or what Skyview had done. We put ourselves on an even playing field with them. We just wanted to go 1-and-0 Saturday and take a bus ride to Bishop Kelly.
“Nobody expected us to finish second in our league after winning only one game last season—nobody, except the kids in our locker room. A couple of our league games could have gone either way, except our kids found a way to win.
“The kids played with a tremendous amount of heart. They fought and battled. Even with five seconds left, they were still fighting their butts off. These kids never quit. Austin showed on that final carry how proud I was, and how proud the entire coaching staff was of the entire team.”
Skyview never quit, either, on an afternoon that featured a 33-minute lightning delay before the Hawks offense even touched the ball in the first.
Coach David Young’s Hawks set the tone by limiting Wood River’s 190-yard per game rushing offense to 125 yards in the first half. But 88 of those yards came on two Savaria long gainers, and another 38 on an Alec Nordsieck 28-yard scramble.
Eleven times in 22 first-half carries, Wolverine ball carriers were held to negative yards.
Stilling said, “We had a couple of decent runs outside, but their defense did a great job of taking away our run. Skyview was a very good football team and extremely physical.”
Gunner Gibson’s 14-yard touchdown pass from Nordsieck and Kyle Weller’s extra-point kick gave Wood River its first and only lead at 7-6 in the first period. The big play on the five-play, 74-yard TD drive was Savaria’s 49-yard run behind the lead blocking of Owens.
After the second of three TD runs by Skyview junior workhorse Cody Ghighina (31 carries, 284 yards) put the Hawks on top 14-7, Wood River put together its best drive of the game—a seven-play, 96-yard attack featuring a 44-yard pass from Nordsieck to senior Cam Benson on 3rd-and-13.
On the next play Savaria busted over left tackle for a 39-yard TD and a 14-14 deadlock.
Yet Skyview scored the next 25 points—three TDs and a field goal. The footing on the field wasn’t good with all the moisture that still fell during the game, but Wood River had a tougher time making tackles.
“We just didn’t do a good job tackling,” said Stilling.
He added, “How many times did we have one of their kids stopped behind the line of scrimmage?” Skyview finished with 348 rushing yards, two yards off the season-high 350 that Gooding put on Wood River’s defense back on Sept. 19.
Skyview led 22-14 at half, but the game was still up in the air late in the third quarter.
Nordsieck (9-for-28, 122 yards, 2 interceptions) tried different gloves in an effort to get a better grip on the football. Several of his passes fluttered and a few were underthrown.
He completed just three passes for six yards after half. Skyview’s defense also contained his scrambling with three quarterback sacks.
The Hawks showed resiliency themselves when they marched to a Kody Graves touchdown and a 30-14 lead after a 25-yard Ghighina TD run was nullified by a holding penalty. Graves’ 16-yard gallop on 4th-and-1 from the Wolverine 17 set up the score that came with 16 minutes left.
Wood River had an immediate answer to a score by its opponent, as the Wolverines seemed to do all season.
Helped by a Hawks pass interference penalty, Nordsieck moved his team to the Skyview 14-yard-line before Hawks senior Josh Rudder batted down a 4th-down pass in the end zone.
Not scoring in that situation was a turning point, Stilling acknowledged. After its next possession Skyview intercepted a Nordsieck pass and moved for a quick score and a 36-14 lead—just as the hail poured down on the field early in the fourth.
Stilling consoled his field general on the sideline. “The ball came out of Alec’s hands funny,” the coach said about the intercepted pass. He had taken a shot in the ribs earlier and I knew something was wrong from his body language. I asked him if he wanted to come out. He stayed in.”
Remarking on the progress of Savaria during the season, Stilling said, “Austin applied himself and became a student of the game. He started seeing the field better and getting a feel of things. He left everything out there on the field.”
Savaria not only finished with 59 carries for 455 rushing yards, he led the team in pass catches with 24 for 618 yards. Junior Gunner Gibson was the team’s leading scorer with 10 TDs and 60 points. He caught 24 passes for 618 yards.
Owens was Wood River’s leading rusher with 148 carries for 637 yards. Nordsieck rushed 104 times for 516 yards, and also completed 89-of-172 passes for 1,745 yards and 19 TDs. Jubal Toothman, Hayden Thayer and Travis Swanson were the top tacklers.
The Wolverines finished with a 6-4 record, equaling the finish of Stilling’s 2011 playoff team. The team banquet is set for Wednesday, Nov. 19.
WRHS Line Score
state 4a playoff game
Skyview—Cody Ghighina, 70-yard run (run failed); 5:38 1st (6-0 Sky).
Wood River—Gunner Gibson, 14-yard pass from Alec Nordsieck (Kyle Weller kick); 3:18 1st (7-6 WR).
Skyview—Cody Ghighina, 7-yard run (Holton Hyde run); 0:20 1st (14-7 Sky).
Wood River—Austin Savaria, 39-yard run (Kyle Weller kick); 7:24 2nd (14-14).
Skyview—Cody Ghighina, 10-yard run (Kody Graves run); 4:15 2nd (22-14 Sky).
Skyview—Kody Graves, 1-yard run (Graves run); 3:48 3rd (30-14 Sky).
Skyview—DeMonte Horton, 11-yard pass from Holton Hyde (pass failed); 8:47 4th (36-14 Sky).
Skyview—Matt Kingston, 26-yard field goal; 5:19 4th (39-14 Sky).
Wood River—Austin Savaria, 49-yard run (no conversion attempt); 0:00 4th (39-20 Sky).
|Time of possession
|1st downs, rush
|1st downs, pass
|1st downs, penalty
|1st downs, total
|Yards per carry
|Yards per completion
|Sacks by, yards
|Total yards gained
|Third down efficiency
||3 for 14
||3 for 13
|Fourth down efficiency
||3 for 3
||0 for 4
|Yards per punt
INDIVIDUAL LEADERS—Wood River
Rushing—Austin Savaria 7-191 (27.3 yards per carry), 4 1sts, 2 TD; Alec Nordsieck 10-41, 2 1sts; Ashton Owens 12-24, 1 1st; Cam Benson 1-24, 1 1st; Chris Lentz 1-5; Hayden Thayer 4, -4.
Passing—Alec Nordsieck 9-28, 122 yards, 3 1sts, 1 TD, 2 interceptions.
Receiving—Cam Benson 2-81, 2 1sts; Gunner Gibson 4-31, 1 1st, 1 TD; Austin Savaria 3-10.
Kickoff returns—Owen Gifford 1-20; Ashton Owens 1-16; Bodie Bennett 1-14.
Punt returns—Owen Gifford 1, -3.
All-purpose yardage—Austin Savaria 201, Alec Nordsieck 163.
Fumble recoveries—Cam Benson 1 with a 32-yard return; Jubal Toothman 1.
Sacks (1)—Hans Heaphy 1-5.
Tackles (71)—Jubal Toothman 11, Austin Savaria 11, Hayden Thayer 10, Travis Swanson 6, Hans Heaphy 5, Cam Benson 5, Hagan Barsch 5, Gunner Gibson 4, Taylor Douthit 3, Parker Bingham 2, Owen Gifford 2, Caleb Morgan 2, Wyatt Johnson 1, Ashton Owens 1, Jens Blackman 1, Alec Nordsieck 1, Jackson Toothman 1.
Rushing—Cody Ghighina 31-284 (9.2 yards per carry), 7 1sts, 3 TD; Kody Graves 7-28, 3 1sts, 1 TD, 2 conv.; Austin Lister 4-21, 1 1st; Holton Hyde 2-15, 1 1st.
Passing—Holton Hyde 12-26, 101 yards, 4 1sts, 1 TD.
Receiving—Josh Rudder 4-29, 2 1sts; DeMonte Horton 2-25, 1 TD; Isaiah Schlegal 3-23, 1 1st; Trevor Hatch 1-16, 1 1st; Cody Ghighina 2-8.
Kickoff returns—Garrett Smith 1-26.
Punt returns—Gavin Laws 2-18.
All-purpose yardage—Cody Ghighina 292.
Interceptions (2)—Gavin Laws 1 with a 24-yard return; Garrett Smith 1.
Sacks (3)—Jacob Haynes 1-10; Owen Rockwood 1-3; Fili Church 1-3.
Tackles leaders—Kody Graves 9, Taylor Copeland 6, Fili Church 6, Josh Rudder 5, Jacob Haynes 4, Owen Rockwood 3, Garrett Smith 3, Chris Lugo 3.
Final 2014 Wood River Football Composite
Note: Kyle Weller kicked a 20-yard field goal; Hunter Kern kicked a 19-yard field goal.
Touchdown passes—Alec Nordsieck 19, Cade Schott 1, Owen Gifford 1. Conversion passes—Alec Nordsieck 1. Notes—Wood River scored in 32 of 40 quarters....Wood River successfully made 24 of 41 conversions (59% success rate)....Wood River scored 42 TD—17 on runs from scrimmage, 21 on passes, 2 on kickoff or punt returns, 2 on defense.
2014 Wood River overall stats (10 games)
Wood River—410 carries for 1,905 yards (avg. per game 41 carries for 190 yards)
Highs 47-299 vs. Kimberly and 36-272 vs. Skyview
Low 33-101 vs. Twin Falls
Season average per carry 4.7
Opponents—318 carries for 1,656 yards (avg. per game 32 carries for 166 yards)
Highs 42-350 by Gooding and 44-348 by Skyview
Lows 18, -6 by Filer and 27-72 by Kimberly
Season average per carry 5.2
Single-game highs…Austin Savaria 7-191 vs. Skyview, Ashton Owens 31-154 vs. Gooding and 23-102 vs. Kimberly
Ashton Owens……. 148-637 (4.3), 5 TD, 1 conv.
Alec Nordsieck…….104-516 (5.0), 5 TD, 1 conv.
Austin Savaria……. 59-455 (7.7), 5 TD, 1 conv.
Hayden Thayer………13-98 (7.5), 1 TD
Owen Gifford………. 13-96
Champe Kotara…… 23-50, 1 TD
Chris Lentz……. 11-66
Wood River—94-188 (50%), 1,895 yards (20.2 yards per catch), 8 interceptions
Yardage high—250 vs. Gooding.
Completions high—19 vs. Minico
Attempts high—30 vs. Minico
Opponents—116-218 (53%), 1,591 yards (13.7 yards per catch), 10 interceptions
Yardage high—231 by Jerome
Completions high—18 by Jerome
Attempts high—30 by Jerome
Single-game highs….Alec Nordsieck 10-20, 250 yards, 4 TD vs. Gooding; 8-16, 229 yards, 4 TD vs. Kimberly; 19-29, 232 yards, 3 TD vs. Minico
Alec Nordsieck 89-172 (52%), 1,745 yards (19.6 yards per catch), 19 TD, 1 conversion, 6 interceptions
Single-game highs….Gunner Gibson 4-125 and 1 TD vs. Burley, 3-133 and 3 TD vs. Kimberly
Austin Savaria…….. 25-407 (16.3), 3 TD, 1 conv.
Gunner Gibson……. 24-618 (25.8), 10 TD
Owen Gifford……… 14-411 (29.4), 6 TD
Cam Benson…….. 6-170 (28.3), 1 TD
Ashton Owens……. 10-96
Hayden Thayer……. 9-108
Alec Nordsieck…… 1-35
Chris Lentz…………..1-1, 1 TD
Wood River—99 for 971 yards
Opponents—69 for 610 yards
Wood River—32 for 1,177 yards (36.8 per kick)