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Prep football: Playoff preview capsules

Published November 14, 2013 10:45 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The time has arrived for the championship trophies to be presented in the three smallest classes, while the three biggest classes battle for the right to play for a state crown. Rice-Eccles Stadium will be home to the 5A, 4A and 3AA semifinals Thursday and Friday, while the 1A, 2A and 3A state championships will be decided Saturday at Weber State. Here's a look at what to expect in those contests, with special thanks to state historian George Felt for some tips and tidbits and maxpreps.com for a few of the statistics. And if you're looking for some more, check out our TribPreps Radio podcast.

Class 5A

Friday's semifinals at Rice-Eccles Stadium

Brighton (11-1) vs. Jordan (7-5), 2:30 p.m. • The Beetdiggers, the reigning Class 5A state champs, get another crack at the Bengals. Brighton downed Jordan 34-21 on Oct. 16 by forcing turnovers. Simi Fehoko intercepted Jordan QB Austin Kafentzis three times in the game, so the Wisconsin commit will have plenty of motivation against the Bengals. He already leads the state in total offense with 4,507 yards. He needs another 58 yards for the best total of his illustrious career with the Beetdiggers. But Jordan must figure out a way to slow down the Bengals' offense. Jordan has surrendered at least 28 points in its last six games, and Brighton is averaging 47.4 points over its last five games. Drew Jensen asserted himself in the Bengals' 41-36 win over Herriman in the quarterfinals by running for five scores. He'll help take some pressure off Osa Masina, who ran for 145 yards and two scores against Jordan earlier in the season.

Lone Peak (8-4) vs. Bingham (12-0), 6:30 p.m. • The Miners fell to Syracuse in last year's semifinal round, and they want to erase that memory. Running back Scott Nichols turned in another knockout performance in the quarterfinals. The senior ran for 262 yards and three scores. The Knights must figure out a way to slow him, something defenses have struggled to do all season. The Miners have been held to less than 30 points once this season — a 24-21 overtime win at Valor Christian on Sept. 7. But don't count out the Knights. Lone Peak tamed Syracuse in the opening round before taking down Alta in the quarterfinals. Senior QB Baron Gajkowski has excelled in the postseason, accounting for two scores against Syracuse and three vs. Alta. He ranks 11th in state history in career total offense with 7,306 yards.

Class 4A

Thursday's semifinals at Rice-Eccles Stadium

East (12-0) vs. Olympus (10-1), 2:30 p.m. • The Leopards score. A lot. Like at a historic pace. The Leopards average 51.5 points per game and are on pace to be the first team in the state to average more than 50 points per game for a season since Dixie's 52.2 in 1972. That Dixie team holds the state record for points in a season — 678. East has 618. Running back Ula Tolutau, another Wisconsin commit, has rushed for 2,156 yards this season and is a load to bring down. Olympus enters on the heels of a 23-21 win over Logan in the quarterfinals. The Titans defense intercepted four passes in the game, and 16 of the team's 23 points came off turnovers. They reached the quarterfinal round by defeating Springville with a double hook-and-lateral in the opening round, so expect the unexpected from the Titans. And their coach, Aaron Whitehead, spent five seasons as the Leopards' coach (2003 to 2007), so he knows a thing or two about the Leopards program. Olympus relies on a rushing attack led by Coleman Meier and his 1,218 yards. Ben Seagle and Cooper Draper also help carry the load for Olympus.

Timpview (11-1) vs. Woods Cross (11-1), 6:30 p.m. • The Thunderbirds defense has been tremendous this season, holding the last nine opponents to 8.4 points per game. And Britain Covey has developed into a threat at quarterback. He threw for 97 yards and a score and ran for 183 yards and three TDs in the T-birds' 49-17 quarterfinal win over Sky View. And the big stage won't scare the Thunderbirds, who won the 4A state title in double overtime last season. Woods Cross is trying to reach just its second state title game — it fell to Logan in the 1989 championship contest. The Wildcats' lone setback was a 42-6 loss at East on Sept. 13. The defense only has allowed 13 points per game over its last five contests.

Class 3AA

Semifinals at Rice-Eccles Stadium

Juan Diego (11-0) vs. Pine View (8-2), 11 a.m. Thursday • There's nothing wrong with the Soaring Eagle offense, which has averaged 48.3 points over the last three games. But it will be the Juan Diego defense that's going to get a workout. Quarterback Kody Wilstead has thrown for 3,656 yards (sixth-most all-time in state history) this season, and he's done it in 10 games. He's thrown 30 TD passes. So that means he's averaging 365 yards and three TDs through the air per game. Juan Diego's best defense might be its run-oriented offense. The Soaring Eagle average nearly 300 yards rushing per game, and that's a great way to chew up clock and keep Wilstead on the sideline. The teams have played once — Nov. 4, 2005 in a Class 3A quarterfinal. The Panthers handled the Soaring Eagle 49-13.

Dixie (9-2) vs. Desert Hills (9-2), 11 a.m. Friday • The Flyers got the better of the Thunder on Oct. 4, a 27-7 victory for Dixie. The Flyers are making another impressive run in the postseason, much like last season when they took home the 3A state title. Ammon Takau is doing a great job leading the offense. He's thrown for 2,186 yards and 24 TDs, and Drew Batchelor is his favorite target. He's caught 763 yards and eight scores after earning all-state honors last season. The Thunder field a suffocating defense. Dixie scored the most points (27) against Desert Hills, and one of those touchdowns was an interception return. The opposition is averaging 8.5 points over the last four games against the Thunder, who are making their third consecutive appearance in the semifinal round.

Class 3A

Title game at Weber State

Judge (10-2) vs. Manti (10-2), 11 a.m. Saturday • If the Bulldogs are going to end their 30-year title drought, they must defeat the two-time defending Class 2A state champs. Judge already beat the Templars once this season — 49-20 on Oct. 16. Bulldogs QB Kaden Elliss rushed for four scores in the win. He leads the team with 774 yards and 15 TDs rushing. But Max Barnett (554 yards) and Henry Garcia (505 yards) also provide power on the ground. The Bulldogs' two losses came to teams playing in the state semifinals in larger classifications — Pine View (Class 3AA) and Woods Cross (Class 4A). The Templars will lean on running back Kamren Fowles, who has 20 TDs on the ground this season, and QB Connor Aste, who has throw for 1,109 yards and 16 TDs. The Templars are trying to become just the 14th school in Utah history to pull off the three-peat.

Class 2A

Title game at Weber State

Grand County (10-1) vs. South Summit (10-1), 4 p.m. Saturday • Jacob Francis, the Red Devils quarterback, has returned from injury, and he helped lead the team past North Summit in the semifinals. Francis teams with Koi Cook to form a lethal offensive running attack. The Wildcats also like to keep it on the ground. A steady diet of Colby Averett and Ty Jones lead the way. This game likely will come down to who is more effective on the ground, who can churn out more yards. The Red Devils are seeking their second state title (2005), while the Wildcats are after their fifth crown but first since 1988.

Class 1A

Title game at Weber State

Duchesne (12-0) vs. Rich (9-2), 1:30 p.m. Saturday • The Eagles have won the last nine meetings with the Rebels, but the last one was a doozy. Duchesne nearly saw its historic winning streak come to an end when it trailed by two scores entering the fourth quarter Oct. 11. But the Eagles rallied for the 20-19 victory and enter the title game on a 46-game winning streak. There's quite a history between the programs. Duchesne beat Rich for the state title in 2010 and 2012 but fell to the Rebels in the 2009 title game. Rich also downed the Eagles in the championship game in 1995 and 1996. —

Playoff schedule

O Class 5A

State semifinals

Friday at Rice-Eccles Stadium

2:30 p.m. • Brighton vs. Jordan

6:30 p.m. • Lone Peak vs. Bingham

Class 4A

State semifinals

Thursday at Rice-Eccles Stadium

2:30 p.m. • Olympus vs. East

6:30 p.m. • Woods Cross vs. Timpview

Class 3AA

State semifinals

At Rice-Eccles Stadium

11 a.m. Thursday • Juan Diego vs. Pine View

11 a.m. Friday • Desert Hills vs. Dixie

Class 3A

State title game

Saturday at Weber State

11 a.m. • Judge vs. Manti

Class 2A

State title game

Saturday at Weber State

4 p.m. • Grand County vs. South Summit

Class 1A

State title game

Saturday at Weber State

1:30 p.m. • Duchesne vs. Rich