The Capital and Mountain View high school football programs enter the state championship as mirror images of each other.
Both run spread offenses based around the read option. Both team’s coaching staffs are closely knit. And both programs have suffered plenty of heartbreak in the state finals.
For Mountain View (10-2), the 5A state championship game at noon Saturday at Albertsons Stadium marks the opportunity to bring home the program’s first state title. The Mavericks reached the finals in 2014 and 2015, but lost both times.
For Capital (10-1), the game marks a chance to end 25 years of almosts and what-ifs since its last title in 1991, long before any of the current Eagles were born.
“It’s hard to get to this game,” Capital coach Todd Simis said. “You start to wonder if you’re ever going to get that opportunity again. You keep the faith and you keep working hard, and here we are.”
Mountain View’s heartache is the most recent. The Mavericks reached the state championship for the first time in 2014, only to get steamrolled by Highland 56-21 as the Rams wrapped up an undefeated season.
Mountain View returned to the blue turf at Albertsons Stadium last year as the heavy favorite with an undefeated record and a 44-20 win over Rocky Mountain already under its belt. But Rocky Mountain ran away with the rematch 41-22.
Mountain View safety Jace Richter, one of three Mavericks to start in all three title games, said players have learned from their two previous championship games and won’t be overwhelmed by a large crowd in a college stadium.
“I remember my sophomore year I walked out and I was in shock because I’ve never seen that many people at a high school game,” Richter said. “I feel like having that experience and being there twice before, it’s really an edge. Mentally, you’re on the game and not focused about anything else.”
I’m hoping that that experience helps us. It’s not new. We’re showing up, we’ve been there before. We’ve played in that stadium. It was in front of 13,000 people.
Judd Benedick, whose Mountain View team will play at Albertsons Stadium in the 5A championship for the third year in a row
Capital’s heartache extends back to the early ’90s. Since winning a title in 1991, Capital has reached the finals four times, losing in 1992, 1993, 2007 and 2009.
The Eagles lost two of those games by one point. In 1992, Capital missed a tying extra point with four seconds left to fall to Pocatello 28-27. And in 2009, Eagle converted a fake extra point to take its first lead with 2 minutes, 39 seconds left and hung on for a 22-21 victory.
A win Saturday would release 25 years of built-up frustration.
“It’ll be big. Capital is going to go crazy if we end up taking it,” receiver/defensive back Alex Lindsey said.
Saturday’s game marks the second meeting this year between the two teams. Capital won 27-22 four weeks ago at Dona Larsen Park for the 5A SIC Pod A championship. But recent history favors the revenge factor.
Both Capital and Mountain View advanced to the championship by beating a team in the semifinals they lost to early in their year — Rocky Mountain for Capital, and Eagle for Mountain View.
The 5A championship has featured a regular-season rematch three times in the past four years. The team that lost in the regular season won both championship games (Rocky Mountain in 2015, Coeur d’Alene in 2013).
“I think it’s just the law of averages,” Simis said. “Between these four schools — Rocky, Eagle, us and Mountain View — we’re so level. We’re so equal. I think if we all play each other 10 times, we might each win five times. That’s how close it is this year.
“It’s going to be tough to beat them period, whether it’s the first or second time.”
Tale of the tape
Capital and Mountain View feature dynamic offenses and stout defenses, with little separating the two statistically.