As playoffs for other sports come along, the anticipation is greater and greater for football. A handful of teams already have playoff spots, but just about all the playoff seeding still has to be determined. Some of our top games for Friday night will have powerful implications in that arena.As always, we thank historian George Felt for his weekly statistical report, Felt's Facts. Several of his observations are included here.
East (6-0) at Bountiful (6-1)The set-up: The top two contenders in Region 6 fight for a No. 1 seed.East offense vs. Bountiful defense: Run, run, run. That's what the Leopards like to do. Aside from Isaac Valles' occasional passes, they'll run right at the Braves, leading off with big halfback Ula Tolutau, who has more than 600 yards on the ground. Bountiful has one of the best defenses in 4A, but struggled against the run in the Highland game. The front seven, led by linebacker Rylee Gautavai, will have to be on its toes.Bountiful offense vs. East defense: Bountiful's own rushing attack is led by Jakob Hunt, who has accrued a 4A-leading 16 rushing touchdowns this year. Quarterback Jordan Hayes has shown improvement in the passing game in recent weeks. But East's defense is unreal: The Leopards have only given up 27 points for the entire season. Sophomore Korey Rush leads the unit with six sacks, but just about everyone on the line hassles the quarterback.Bottom line: East's defense should be the determining factor, creating problems for Bountiful's passing offense. But the Leopards also haven't been truly tested in the last two weeks, which might help the Braves.
Mountain Crest (5-2) at Logan (6-1)The set-up: One of the state's best rivalries has another great chapter as both fight for a region title.Mountain Crest offense vs. Logan defense: The Mustangs have enjoyed an offensive renaissance behind the dual threat of quarterback Jamison Webb (13 passing TDs) and running back Eddy Hall (10 rushing TDs). Faimafili Laulu-Pututau is a big body in the receiving game who is hard to beat out for jump balls. The Logan defense hasn't been as dominant this year thanks to injuries to key players, but pass rusher Jacoby Wildman and ballhawker Hunter Ballam still make life tough for opposing quarterbacks.Logan offense vs. Mountain Crest defense: The Grizzlies revolve almost completely around Luke Falk, who has thrown for just about 2,500 yards this year against six touchdowns. Jesse Braddy and are his main targets, combining for 134 receptions. Mountain Crest has been tough defensively this year, allowing only three opponents to score more than 20 points. But two of those games - against Lone Peak and against Woods Cross - were losses.Bottom line: Logan should have a few concerns because its offense is one-dimensional. But the defending state champions might just have a bit of an edge here, owing to their experience.
Kearns (3-4) at Hunter (4-2)The set-up: A feud between two of the leading contenders for the Region 2 title.Kearns offense vs. Hunter defense: James Felila is virtually the heart of this offense, rushing nearly 1,200 yards with 13 touchdowns on the ground. Quarterback Jordan Floyd has stabilized in region play, with 10 touchdown passes on the year. The Wolverine's D hasn't messed around in region either, howerver, only giving up 17 points it its first two wins. Some serious pass rushers, such as Ian Togiai, make it tough to gain ground on them.Hunter offense vs. Kearns defense: Enter running back Trevon Johnson, who romped for four touchdowns and 219 yards against Granger last week. He'll be the main point of attack for a team that doesn't get much out of the passing game. But the big Kearns front line can be tough to get around, and many of the teams that have beaten Kearns did it by throwing the ball over them. Hetu Mataele and Colton Groissant probably have a statement to make about that.Bottom line: Kearns seems to be a little more diverse, even though it has been inconsistent at times. Even on the road, the Cougars should be favored here.
Skyline (4-3) at Westlake (3-4)The set-up: The Eagles try to stay unbeaten against another surprise squad on the rise.Skyline offense vs. Westlake defense: Led by Tyler Snyder, this offense has certainly seen new life in the last few weeks, having its three best outings all consecutively. Snyder has about 1,200 yards of offense on his own, but you can bet it will help having Garrett England to pass to and to give handoffs. Westlake's defense has taken its lumps, but is generally the strength of the team. The toughest thing to account for might be the eight interceptions the team has grabbed this year.Westlake offense vs. Skyline defense: The Thunder have truly struggled on this side of the ball, but it's started coming together behind quarterback Gavin Williams. He threw an overtime touchdown pass to give Westlake a victory last week against Murray. A lot depends on which Skyline defense shows up - the one that shut out Murray, or the one that gave up 35 to Hillcrest? The Eagles will need leading sack artist Jake Wittwer to keep up the pressure.Bottom line: Expect the Eagles to pull this one out, using the run game and capitalizing on Westlakes offensive struggles.
Juan Diego (7-0) at Wasatch (6-1)The set-up: The Region 10 powerhouse meets its toughest contender so far this year.Juan Diego offense vs. Wasatch defense: This Soaring Eagle unit has been aggressive recently, piling up 138 points in only its last three games. That's thanks to an extremely balanced rushing attack, which carried on just fine despite missing its starting quarterback last week. Wasatch has had its struggles defensively, last week giving up 31 points to Judge. If the Wasps hope to stop Chase Williams and Jessie Springer, they'll need their main tacklers, such as Taggart Baxter, to be on high alert and make the right reads.Wasatch offense vs. Juan Diego defense: James Delacenserie is the rare 3A quarterback with the gift for big throws. He's got more than 1,800 yardsd with a whopping 25 touchdowns. Kayden Connor and Gavin Nebeker have combined for 18 of those scores. The problem for Juan Diego is it hasn't faced many elite passing offenses, so the secondary could be a bit out of practice. Still, expect Dakota Cox and Kalei Kauhaahaa to get some pressure that defensive backs such as Cole Nelson could benefit from.Bottom line: This has the makings of a high-scoring shootout, but Juan Diego's defense is definitely the difference-maker in the Soaring Eagle's favor.
Quick hitters• San Juan has not allowed more than one touchdown to any opponent this year, a streak that should be tested when the Broncos face Beaver this week.• Dixie and Cedar City play for the 82nd straight year when they meet Friday, and the Flyers have a 48-33 series edge.• Brighton will try to bounce back from last week's loss against West Jordan, whom they've beaten in all 16 meetings.