Sandy • No matter how much they wanted to, Alta's players knew they couldn't afford to look ahead to a potential rematch with Syracuse.
That's because the Hawks had been bounced from the Class 5A playoffs in the first round each of the past two years.
But Friday night's more-dominant-than-the-score-indicated 27-14 victory against visiting Riverton set up what the Hawks want: a chance to avenge last year's postseason defeat.
"It feels great," said Alta receiver Ammon Barker, who caught one of three touchdown passes thrown by Chipper Lucero. "I've never won a playoff game, so getting this win and getting on a roll going into the playoffs is going to be good for us.
"I didn't get to play against Syracuse last year, so this is big for me. I want to go out there and win it for us this year, and win it for my boys last year."
Last year, the Titans traveled south to pull off the 16-10 upset. This time around, the Hawks will fly north to face the last remaining unbeaten team in Class 5A. It's a matchup of The Tribune's No. 2 (Alta) and No. 3 (Syracuse) teams.
"They're very good," Alta coach Bob Stephens said about next week's opponent. "I'm excited to have the chance to play them again."
The Hawks (9-2) advanced by playing a smothering defense that limited the Silverwolves (6-5) to 70 yards of offense in the first half.
Defensive end Brock Davies had one of two sacks of quarterback Connor Henderson, and many of the Silverwolves' 201 yards rushing came against a second-string defense after Alta had built a 27-0 cushion.
"With the Wing-T and how confusing it is, it helped playing them for a second time," Davies said about the Hawks' 19-7 victory against Riverton back in September.
Lucero was stellar in a little less than three quarters of play. He completed 18 of 24 passes for 302 yards and three scores. The first a 61-yard strike to Barker put the Hawks ahead 10-0 early in the second quarter.
He added a 22-yarder to Harrison Handley before halftime and found Mack Richards on a 20-yard TD pass on his last drive of the game.
About the only thing Alta didn't do right was avoid penalties. The Hawks were flagged six times on their opening drive and finished with 19 penalties for 165 yards.