SALT LAKE CITY — Three high school football championships will be decided Friday, beginning with the Class 4A state title game between Mountain Crest and Orem at 11 a.m. MT at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
But for the Mustangs, getting back to this year’s title game is a major achievement after last season.
“We put in a lot of work to get here,” Mountain Crest running back Beau Robinson said. “I’ve been waiting a long time for this, and so was everyone else. It’s the most amazing feeling to be here — but we’re not done yet.
“We’re trying to bring tradition back to Mountain Crest, to bring home that Orange Crush back. We definitely have.”
Mountain Crest (12-1) split with newcomers Ridgeline a year ago, leaving the Mustangs seriously short-handed enough to be placed in 3A but playing a full 5A schedule.
The school petitioned to move down, but was denied and still had to compete against a schedule that included Roy, Weber, Fremont and other Northern Utah large-school teams to a 3-6 overall record.
That turned out to be a major character-builder — and one that taught lessons the Mustangs are still drawing on today as they seek their first championship since 2005.
“We went through it,” Mountain Crest coach Jason Lee said after his team dispatched Stansbury 17-7. “We didn’t cry about it. There was a lot of anger about why we got put in 5A last year. But we didn’t care.
“We won three ball games last year, the kids kept fighting and battling, and they became this team because of it. I almost want to say ‘Thank you’ to the state, to everybody who made them go that way. They never backed down …. They just fought through it.”
Orem (11-2) has had its own share of trouble last year, losing all but three of their coaches and a number of players to transfers
But star quarterback Cooper Legas, wide receiver Puka Nacua and defensive-minded coach Jeremy Hill have the Tigers in the hunt for their first state title since 1994.
“I couldn’t be prouder of my kids. We had a very difficult offseason,” Hill said after a 28-12 win over Sky View in the 4A semifinals. “We made a lot of coaching changes, and lost a lot of kids in the offseason.
“But I knew the kids that I had were loyal, that they would buy into what I said and the other coaches said, and that’s the difference. We’re here playing for a state championship because we have bought into what the vision is.”
The 6A championship game pits a rematch from Week 2 of the regular season when East (11-1) will try to avenge its lone loss of the year against undefeated Bingham (12-0). The Miners won the lone meeting 48-17 Aug. 25 in South Jordan, and are aiming for their fourth championship in five years.
The 5A title game concludes the season with a battle of intracity rivals Lehi and Skyridge. The second-year Falcons (12-1) will go for their first-ever state title at 6 p.m. MT, while the Pioneers (11-2) are aiming for their first championship since winning the 3A state title in 2000.
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