Olympus retains The Rock, Skyline begins renaissance with new stadiumNov 01, 2021 02:57PM ● By Daniel Olsen
An aerial view of the newly completed Roger Dupaix football stadium at Skyline High. The Eagles’ field officially opened with a ribbon cutting on Aug. 19. (GSD)
By Daniel Olsen and Heather Lawrence
The Rock remains one of the premiere traveling trophies among high school football rivals in Utah. Both Olympus and Skyline teams have gone back and forth, but the Olympus Titans kept the rock on their side with a 27-7 victory at the newly completed Roger Dupaix Field Oct. 15 at Skyline.
“I think it’s a neat experience for kids to compete against their neighbors,” Skyline head football coach John Rowbotham said. “The kids from both schools are friends because the borders are separated by streets in some areas. It’s nice to compete for this item that means so much for tradition for high school football.”
While the competition on the field is fierce, there is no love lost between these teams. Outside of one night a year, there are plenty of positive things to say about each other.
“I like that our rival is a really good school,” Rowbotham said. “They are an extremely talented team. We have to play up to their ability. They are really good because it’s balanced. We try to get better each year. The only negative is we put too much pressure on the fact that it’s a rivalry game. You still need to play football just like every other game.”
It has been a successful season for Skyline as they finished in a three-way tie for second place in Region 6. Brighton ran away with the title while Skyline, Olympus and Park City were right behind.
“It’s been a great season in the sense that our coaches have done a great job preparing kids and put time and effort into preparation,” Rowbotham said. “Like any team, you lose some and win some. Our coaches handle losing very well. They help kids understand what we need to do to be successful.”
While it was a disappointing ending for the Class of 2022 on Senior Night, there is no time to hang their heads with the state playoffs right around the corner.
“We have a great group of seniors,” senior leader James Kerr said. “We have a positive team culture. That’s tough with a first year head coach. They’ve done an amazing job at mentoring the younger kids. The younger kids have stepped up and played amazing football.”
This hasn’t always been the easiest season as the Eagles had some losses out of the gate. They had to band together to get on the winning track.
“Over the course of this season, we have faced adversity in every game we’ve played in,” Kerr said. “There have been games where the special teams wins, the defense comes up clutch or the offense bails us out. I hope the touchdown at the end of the Olympus game will help us build off that.”
Building off that last score is what will need to be done quickly as the Eagles host the Park City Miners in the first round of the UHSAA 4A State Playoffs the following week.
“This Park City team has a lot of talent and athletes,” Kerr said. “We beat them the week before Olympus in a close 10-7 defensive win. We are hoping that the touchdown over Olympus is something we can build off of. We can weed out the bad things and use it as a silver lining.”
Despite Skyline football’s conference game loss on Oct. 15 to their rival Olympus, the Eagles still had a great season in their new stadium.
Skyline is in the middle of a phased rebuild which started in 2020 and is scheduled to last through 2026. When the football season ended last November, work started immediately on the stadium. It was done in time for the field to be used this fall.
“On Aug. 19 we celebrated the completion of our new stadium just in time for the football season. We held a ribbon cutting, and invited the community for free hot dogs and drinks,” said Skyline’s principal Mitch Nerdin.
The field was named after retired Skyline head coach Roger Dupaix. Dupaix coached at Skyline from 1986-2011, and is recognized as one of the “winningest” coaches in Utah high school history.
The fan support at Skyline has been an important factor this season. They have enjoyed a true home field advantage with fans back in their stadium and opposing ones as well.
“When we are home, we have great fans in The Nest (name for the fans cheering on the Eagles),” Kerr said. “I can’t speak enough about our culture. Our student involvement and backing from the school is great. We have hundreds of fans at every game. They follow us wherever we go. It doesn’t matter when or where we play. Regardless of the score, the fans and parents show up. It’s unlike anywhere else. Being at home is something I love since I’m playing in front of our fans.”
Now, the goals turn toward the postseason as the Eagles are getting ready to face the Park City team they faced just a couple weeks ago. The Miners had a bye last week, so the close loss to Skyline is still the freshest game in their minds.
“We just have to take it one day at a time and we will see,” Rowbotham said. “I think our coaching staff and players and community are excited. We have a great tradition and coaching staff here.”