Prep football: Title game preview capsules
The high school football season culminates Friday with three state champions crowned at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Two of the six teams participating will be playing in their first state title games Syracuse and Spanish Fork while Jordan (11) boasts the most state titles of the remaining teams.
Here's a breakdown of the three games, with some help on interesting tidbits from George Felt, the state high school football guru.
Jordan (11-1) vs. Syracuse (12-0)
The Beetdiggers • Jordan last captured the state title in 1994, and it has won 11 of the 15 championship games it's played in. Sophomore Austin Kafentzis leads a potent offense that is averaging more than 46 points per game. He has thrown for 28 TDs and more than 2,600 yards this season. He also has added 20 TDs and more than 1,600 yards on the ground. Junior RB Clay Moss has found the end zone seven times in the team's last two games. The defense also has picked up over the last three games, only allowing 11.3 points per game in the playoffs.
The Titans • Syracuse might be undefeated, but it's playing without starting QB Brock Anderson, who was lost to injury in the quarterfinals. But backup QBs Kole Tracy and Spencer Johnson did just enough and the Titans' defense delivered in a big way against Bingham. The Titans came up with five turnovers and recorded three sacks. Opponents are managing only 9.2 points per game against the Syracuse defense this season.
The skinny • This is going to come down to a showdown between Jordan's offense and Syracuse's defense. It's two of the state's best units squaring off for the state title. Syracuse has shut out four teams and allowed more than two touchdowns only once this season, while Jordan has scored at least five TDs in every game this season. Syracuse can't count on another five turnovers like in the state semifinals. Can the Titans' defensive line find a way to slow down Kafentzis and give the Syracuse offense a chance to get comfortable and complete a perfect season? Or will the Jordan offense gain yards in chunks and score in bunches?
Mountain Crest (11-2) vs. Timpview (8-5)
The Mustangs • The defense has clamped down on opponents over the last nine games. Mountain Crest has allowed two touchdowns over that span, and two of the wins were shutouts. The defense has allowed only 5 points per game over the last five games. And there's been nothing wrong with the offense, although a 14-6 win over Highland in a snowy state semifinal wasn't pretty. But the Mustangs averaged 36.5 points per game in their four games before the snow.
The Thunderbirds • The record is deceiving because of four forfeits due to using ineligible players. The lone loss suffered on the field was a 33-31 setback to Alta in the season opener. Otherwise it's been a high-octane offense led by QB Jake Lloyd. He's thrown 50 TD passes this season, which is second all-time behind current BYU QB Riley Nelson. Lloyd's favorite target is Dax Raymond, a 6-foot-5 receiver who has caught 22 TD passes this season. The Thunderbirds have gone 8-1 in state title games, including four consecutive championships from 2006 to 2009.
The skinny • This has the makings of a shootout between a pair of rivals. Timpview scored at least 28 points in every game and more than 40 points five times this season. The defense also has stepped up in the playoffs, limiting the talented offenses of East and Logan to 14 points apiece. Mountain Crest's offense hasn't been as dangerous as Timpview's, but the Mustangs have topped 40 points four times this season. Mountain Crest's defense hasn't allowed a team to reach 10 points since a win over Logan on Oct. 5. Timpview and Mountain Crest have played nine times in the playoffs, but this is the first time with the state title on the line.
Dixie (10-2) vs. Spanish Fork (12-1)
The Flyers • It's hard to imagine anyone intimidating Dixie after it beat previously undefeated teams the last two weeks. The Flyers lean on QB Blake Barney, whose 6,937 yards passing and 8,685 yards of total offense during his career both rank seventh all-time in the state. He was responsible for both of his team's TDs in its win over Juan Diego in the state semifinals. Junior Drew Batchelor leads the Flyers with 40 catches for 699 yards and 10 TDs. The Dixie defense has picked off 14 passes this season, including four by senior Tyson Graff. He also leads the team with 123 total tackles.
The Dons • The wait is over. Spanish Fork will play for a state title in its 93rd year of competing in football. It's just another first for the school, which set a record for wins in a season its previous best in 1996 when it had nine, which it tied last season. Sophomore QB Jason Money threw for 264 yards and two scores in the team's win over Desert Hills in the semifinals. The offense has averaged 33.3 points over the last four games, and Money has thrown 10 TD passes over that span. Colton Olsen has hauled in 84 passes this season, which is tied for 10th all-time in a season.
The skinny • Dixie boasts a 6-2 record in state title games, but the last crown came in 1998, so title game experience shouldn't be much of a factor for either team. The game matches two teams that seem destined for a title. First there's the Flyers, who have knocked off a pair of unbeatens after earning the No. 3 seed out of Region 9. Then there's the Dons, who finally reached the state title game after trying for nearly a century. The Flyers' defense has stiffened in the playoffs, allowing just 10.7 points per game, so it will be up to Money and the Dons' offense to find a way again. The Dons have won their three playoff games by an average of 7.3 points.
All games on KJZZ
Friday at Rice-Eccles Stadium, 2:30 p.m.
Jordan vs. Syracuse
Friday at Rice-Eccles Stadium, 6:30 p.m.
Timpview vs. Mountain Crest
Friday at Rice-Eccles Stadium, 11 a.m.
Spanish Fork vs. Dixie
Friday's live chat
O Join The Salt Lake Tribune's staff during Friday's three state championship football games for a live chat. We'll provide updates and commentary on the action at tribpreps.com.