The Kuna High football program has walked a long road from the bottom of the 4A Southern Idaho Conference.
In 2013, it ended a five-year drought of playoff appearances. It qualified again for the playoffs in 2014.
But the Kavemen scored possibly their largest victory of their rebuilding project Friday, beating perennial power Skyview for the first time since 2008 with a 34-14 victory at Kuna High.
“It’s one of those confirming wins that we’ve been talking to these kids about,” Kuna coach Ian Smart said. “The confidence is there. They just needed to see it.”
Kuna (4-2, 2-0 4A SIC) and Skyview (1-5, 0-2 4A SIC) waged a defensive slugfest in the first half and entered halftime tied at 8-8. But the Kavemen scored 26 straight points in the second half before a last-second Skyview touchdown to run away with the win.
Junior running back Josh Rumsey kick started the second-half surge when he took a handoff on the first play from scrimmage up the gut and ran 69 yards untouched to the end zone.
“It got us skyrocketed,” Rumsey said of his touchdown. “At that point, there was no stopping us.”
Kuna ran for 242 yards Friday. But the Kavemen pulled away once they started attacking Skyview’s corners locked in one-on-one coverage on the outside.
Cody Trautman beat his defender for a 12-yard TD catch on 4th-and-goal from the 7-yard line. And 6-foot-6 senior Jake Johnson slipped behind his defender for a 72-yard gain to start the fourth quarter, setting up his 5-yard, 4th-and-goal TD against single coverage.
“We talked at the half and said, ‘Hey, if they’re going to commit nine to the box, we’re going to get man coverage,’” Smart said. “And we have some kids that we trust.”
The Kavemen racked up 414 yards, 314 in the second half. But a historic victory couldn’t have come without their defense, which held the high-flying Hawks 251 total yards, 171 before Skyview mounted a final drive against the second string.
“It feels good to win,” said senior defensive lineman David Valdez, who recorded a sack and recovered a fumble. “It’s been a long time. It feels good.”
Smart said Kuna focused on bottling up Skyview running back Cody Ghighina, and the Kavemen held the reigning first-team All-Idaho pick to 95 yards on 22 carries as its defensive line flowed to the ball and eliminated any cutback lanes and big plays.
“He’s a workhorse for them, and we knew if we left six in the box (against the spread) and dared them to throw at us, I thought we’d be ok,” said Smart, whose team has won four in a row after starting 0-2. “Sure enough, those front four kids, they shined for us today.”