By Kurt Kragthorpe
Bingham running back Harvey Langi was slowed in the first half, much tougher to bring down in the second half, and absolutely unstoppable after the game.
Once the Miners' Class 5A state championship was secured with Friday's 35-24 win over Davis, Langi skipped around midfield with a big blue-and-white flag, hugged teammates and pointed to his relatives in the front row of Rice-Eccles Stadium. Even while briefly standing still for interviews, he yelled and waved his arms, repeating the Miners' mantra: "Right here, right now!"
It did take them awhile, thanks mostly to Davis quarterback Gavin Fowler, but the Miners came through in the end.
In this case, "right now" clearly meant the second half. Trailing 17-7 and unable to sustain much of anything, Bingham responded with a lot of Langi.
"I told him at the half, he needs to come out and show us what he's made of," said Bingham quarterback Ty Hannay. "He did it; he got the whole team up. He came out and just dominated."
You could say that. Brady Measom returned the second-half kickoff to the Davis 38, and this sequence of plays followed:
Langi for 14 yards. Langi for 20 yards. Langi for a 4-yard touchdown.
Even though Davis answered with a nice touchdown drive, the tone was set. The Miners would rush for 222 yards in the second half, scoring touchdowns on all four drives until the final, clock-killing possession.
Alternating with quarterback Stefan Cantwell and Langi, Bingham just kept running behind the offensive line of Jordan Hicks, Brad Laursen, Bradyn Heap, Tuni Kanuch and Brandon Taukeiaho.
The Darts were powerless to stop them, as hard as they tried.
"I don't know if they wore us down, or they're just good," said Davis coach Ryan Bishop.
How about both?
The Miners needed most of the 48 minutes to establish dominance, but once they did, they left no doubt.
Davis gamely did everything possible to keep anyone from saying the genuine state title contest was staged last week, when Bingham overcame Alta in the annual playoff meeting of superpowers. Even with Bingham containing running back Tanner Hinds, Fowler kept the Darts in the game as long as he could with his passing.
But the Miners ultimately were too big and strong for Davis, and Cantwell and Langi took advantage. "It's good to see that he stuck with it for the second half," said Langi's brother, Sam, who preceded him as Bingham's tailback. "When his teammates are strong, Harvey's strong. When you're as strong as the strongest link, that's how you do it."
Langi gained 120 yards against Davis after switching from his usual No. 21 to No. 5 in honor of cousin Inoke Taufalele, a talented back who missed the season with a knee injury. Langi himself played through hip and knee problems, but "got better and better as the season wore on," said Bingham coach Dave Peck, who believes the junior will "go down as one of the greatest backs to come out of Utah."
As of Friday, Langi helped deliver Bingham's second championship in four seasons, after his brother contributed to the school's first title in 60 years. Among Langi's postgame declarations was this season summary -- and look ahead, all in one: "Our last goal's checked off, until next year."