Prep football: Rio Tinto to host stiff test for Utah powers
After the Alta and Jordan football teams beat two out-of-state opponents by a combined 95-0 margin at last year's inaugural Xfinity Challenge, it wasn't long before Rio Tinto Stadium President Bill Manning started getting some feedback.
The big request? Some teams that could hang for four quarters.
"They were asking, 'What can we do about upgrading the level of competition?'" Manning said. "We've elevated the level of competition, and it looks like we might have the best high school football event in the country this weekend."
The Utah schools got their wish, maybe more so than they imagined or hoped for. This Saturday, nationally ranked St. John Bosco (Calif.) and Don Bosco Prep (N.J.) come to Rio Tinto for highly anticipated contests with Jordan and Alta, respectively.
Although it's the early game, the marquee matchup should be between the undefeated Beetdiggers and Braves, both among Rivals' top 50 high school teams. Alta and Don Bosco both have a loss this season, but seeing how the Hawks match up against arguably the nation's best program in the last few years should be intrigue enough.
It's shaping up to be a monumental weekend for high school football in Utah.
"We're really excited to be a part of it again," Jordan coach Eric Kjar said. "Watching film over the weekend, you can tell [St. John Bosco] is every bit as good defensively as they are offensively. That's a lot of team speed we're going against probably more speed than we've gone against in the last few years."
St. John Bosco, a contender in what some consider to be the toughest football division in the country, boasts at least two Division I talents on its offensive line and a sophomore quarterback, Josh Rosen, who could rival the talents of Jordan's own second-year passer Austin Kafentzis.
Don Bosco ended a 46-game winning streak this season but still enjoys a reputation as a nationally influential program and is coming off its best offensive performance of the season. The Ironmen will be trying to stop Alta's strong passing game expect top-flight defensive end Alquadin Muhammad to have an influence there.
The Utah schools know wins will be tough to come by this weekend. They hope for a bit of homefield advantage, particularly since the near sea-level schools are not used to the altitude.
"Hopefully it manifests itself in the third or fourth quarter," Alta coach Bob Stephens said jokingly. "But we don't know what it's going to be like. These are good athletes, they're in good shape and they'll have some time to adjust."
Saturday, Rio Tinto Stadium
2 p.m. • Jordan vs. St. John Bosco (Calif.)
7 p.m. • Alta vs. Don Bosco Prep (N.J.)