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Kragthorpe: Timpview’s defeat of East is right result in 4A playoffs

Any other outcome would have been tarnished by eligibility issues.



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Somehow, this all worked out nicely in the end.

After all the agonizing, all the controversy and all the waffling of the Utah High School Activities Association, everything in the Class 4A football playoffs seemingly happened just the way it should have in the snowy semifinals Friday at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

At a glance

Playoffs schedule

2A championship, Saturday

At Pleasant Grove High School

San Juan vs. Manti, 11 a.m.

1A championship, Saturday

At Pleasant Grove High School

Duchesne vs. Rich, 2 p.m.

5A championship, Friday

At Rice-Eccles Stadium

Jordan vs. Syracuse, 2:30 p.m.

TV » KJZZ

4A championship, Friday

At Rice-Eccles Stadium

Timpview vs. Mountain Crest, 6:30 p.m.

TV » KJZZ

3A championship, Friday

At Rice-Eccles Stadium

Spanish Fork vs. Dixie, 11 a.m.

TV » KJZZ

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With a second-half surge to a 32-14 victory over East, the Timpview Thunderbirds completed one of the toughest roads to a state championship game in Utah history. That three-week stretch of games from Logan to Salt Lake City featured the Provo school’s avenging last November’s loss to East.

The Leopards also overcame their share of obstacles to reach this point. Yet as of three weeks ago, when their season was on the verge of ending as a result of ineligibility issues, they could not have asked for any more opportunity than they received.

The Leopards got to compete in four playoff games (including a play-in contest), Brandon Matich was allowed to coach Friday after serving his three-game suspension and Timpview even fumbled the opening kickoff, helping East eventually take a 14-13 halftime lead.

Somebody, or something, decided that was enough for East. Sometimes, these dilemmas have a way of solving themselves.

Here’s why this outcome is proper: A championship for East would have come with an asterisk, considering UHSAA originally ruled that forfeitures would keep the Leopards out of the playoffs. In turn, East’s absence from the tournament would have tarnished a title for Timpview or anybody else.

And the rest of us would have been cheated of the chance to witness how Timpview’s spread offense would match up against East’s option scheme — although without any off-field issues, this meeting would have come in the finals.

East battled gamely, gunning for a return to the title game. Christian Folau was all over the field, making 11 tackles, and the running of Isaac Valles, Ula Tolutau and Patrick Curtis dented Timpview’s defense at times.

But five turnovers were insurmountable for East, and Timpview quarterback Jake Lloyd and his receivers were too much for the Leopards to handle.


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Having to go through East, after the sanctions made them travel to Logan and Woods Cross in the playoffs, validates the Thunderbirds’ appearance against Mountain Crest in next week’s championship game. Their own forfeitures for using an ineligible player resulted in clear-cut penalties, compared with East’s, and cost them in the seeding process.

Mix in that halftime deficit and the conditions that threatened to short-circuit Timpview’s passing game, and the Thunderbirds certainly have earned all of this with their "Anyone, anywhere, anytime" theme of the playoffs, as framed by offensive line coach Mike Bakken.

"They’re very resilient,"said Timpview coach Cary Whittingham, who also deserves that label after wearing shorts and a short-sleeved shirt on the sideline. "They’re very tough. They’ve very confident. They know that they can win these games. But they’re a very humble bunch."

The Thunderbirds responded in the third quarter by turning two fumble recoveries into touchdown drives. Lloyd was nervous about how the weather would affect his passing, but you would never know that by the results.

After completing 17 of 24 passes for 266 yards and four touchdowns, Lloyd described the conditions as "pretty fun to me … I hope it’s like this next week."

Actually, next Friday’s forecast calls for 52 degrees and clear skies. Lloyd and his teammates will just have to deal with it, the way they’ve handled everything else in these playoffs.

kkragthorpe@sltrib.com



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