Prep football preview: Powers to battle for spot in 3A state semifinals
Just because we're in the quarterfinals of the high school football playoffs doesn't mean we're getting only a fraction of the action.
After some washout matches in the first round, expect the stakes and the competition to heat up this week. In 3A in particular, there are some power players still at work, and there could be a few surprises as well. And of course, there's Juan Diego hosting Hurricane a rivalry that has enough material for a book.
As always, we thank historian George Felt for his weekly release of statistical observations and trends. Some of those are incorporated into these previews.
Hurricane (9-1) at Juan Diego (11-0), 5 p.m. • It's a pity these teams can't continue their rich history at Rice-Eccles Stadium, but the stands should be packed anyways for arguably the game of the week. Juan Diego has played immaculate defense, allowing an average of only seven points per game. That defense is led by Dakota Cox and Kalei Kauhaahaa, fast linebackers who possess rare athleticism for the 3A level. Match that unit against Hurricane rushers Jared Edwards and Adam Thompson, a thunder-and-lightning combo that has rushed for a combined 1,700 yards and 33 touchdowns. Something's got to give. The Tigers have not been as successful on defense, so if the Soaring Eagle's three-headed rushing attack can get moving, Hurricane could have some catching up to do.
Morgan (7-4) at Spanish Fork (10-1), 6 p.m. • Fresh off narrowly avoiding an upset at home, the Dons will have to defend their home field again against visiting Morgan. Spanish Fork set a program record for wins this season.
Bear River (7-4) at Desert Hills (7-3), 5 p.m. • The Bears have a 378-mile bus ride to go take on last year's runner-up, a Thunder team that's only gotten tougher through the season.
Dixie (8-2) at Stansbury (11-0), 5 p.m. • Another signature matchup this week, with one of the state's hottest offenses going against one of the few remaining undefeated squads.
Alta (9-2) at Syracuse (10-0), 5 p.m. • This is a rematch of a first-round game last year, and the Hawks want revenge after falling 16-10. But the roles are reversed this season. Syracuse enters undefeated after winning a region title, while Alta is the No. 2 seed from Region 3.
Fremont (4-6) at Bingham (9-2), 4 p.m. • Here's another playoff rematch from last season, which the Silver Wolves won 27-20 on their way to losing in the state title game. Of course that was a rematch of the 2010 title game, which Bingham won 30-7, so these programs are familiar with each other at this time of year.
Davis (7-4) at Lone Peak (9-2), 4 p.m. • The Darts needed a win just to make the playoffs, then slammed Kearns 38-0 in last week's opener for the program's 550th victory in its 97-year history. The reigning state champs needed a touchdown with six minutes left to beat Brighton in the opening round.
Northridge (9-2) at Jordan (9-1), 4 p.m. • The state's highest scoring offense, led by sophomore quarterback Austin Kafentzis, will offer an enormous challenge for the Knights.
Timpview (6-5) at Woods Cross (9-2), 3 p.m. • Timpview's offense will provide an overwhelming obstacle for the Wildcats' defense, which has posted shutouts in three of its last four games. The teams met in a playoff opener last season, and Timpview prevailed 31-14.
Highland (7-4) at Orem (8-3), 4 p.m. • The Tigers are out to reach their first state semifinal since 1996, but the resilient Rams stand in the way.
Bountiful (9-2) at Mountain Crest (9-2), 4 p.m. • The Braves are trying for their second consecutive trip to the state semifinals, but they'll have to get past a team riding an eight-game winning streak.
East (4-7) at Box Elder (7-4), 4 p.m. • Both teams upset better seeds in the first round, although East isn't a typical No. 4 seed it won the region title only to have it stripped for using ineligible players.
Davis at Lone Peak, 4 p.m.
Fremont at Bingham, 4 p.m.
Northridge at Jordan, 4 p.m.
Alta at Syracuse, 5 p.m.
Timpview at Woods Cross, 3 p.m.
Bountiful at Mountain Crest,4 p.m.
East at Box Elder, 4 p.m.
Highland at Orem, 4 p.m.
Bear River at Desert Hills, 5 p.m.
Dixie at Stansbury, 5 p.m.
Hurricane at Juan Diego, 5 p.m.
Morgan at Spanish Fork, 6 p.m.
Class 2A at Hillcrest High
Grand vs. Manti, 11 a.m.
South Summit vs. San Juan,2 p.m.
Class 1A at Southern Utah
Monticello vs. Duchesne, 11 a.m.
Altamont vs. Rich, 2 p.m.