This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
SALT LAKE CITY -- Bingham High football coach Dave Peck remembers it well — almost too well.
In 2009, his team had a chance to take on national power Trinity Euless at Cowboys Stadium. Bingham showed well in mounting a comeback after trailing down 28-7, but ultimately came up short losing 42-21.
“It was the last loss I’ve had as a coach, so yeah, you remember that,” said Peck. “We wanted to go out there and show the nation that Utah schools can play with anyone, and I firmly believe that we can play with anyone although we came up short that day.”
Peck and his Bingham team will have another opportunity on Saturday to show that they can play with some of the top prep teams in the country with the Miners take on Southern California powerhouse Orange Lutheran in Mission Viejo, Calif., at 5:30 p.m. local time.
Both Alta and Timpview are making the trip as well. The T-Birds kick off the day taking on Bakersfield at 11:30 a.m., followed by Alta battling Crenshaw at 2:15 p.m.
“It’s a great opportunity not just for us, but for all three schools to represent well for the state of Utah,” Peck said. “We have great football here. Some people who have seen us play in the 7-on-7 tournaments against other states know it, and more people are getting to know about what kind of football we have here in the state and at Bingham, but we want to make more people aware of it.”
Alta hopes to rebound from last week’s heart-breaking loss in the annual Black and Blue game against Bingham. The Hawks fell victim to a last-minute score by the Miners and fell 21-18.
“It was a game that could have gone either way, but we have to learn to execute better during key situations,” said Alta coach Bob Stephens. “This week, we’ll have a great chance to build some team unity, playing a great and challenging opponent in Crenshaw and we’re excited for it.”
This weekend’s slate of games was brought about after some schedule tinkering by both Stephens and Timpview coach Louis Wong. Both teams were scheduled to play each other during the third week, but opted to join with Bingham in playing their endowment games in Mission Viejo.
“Louis Wong called me up and told me they didn’t think they were going to have enough money to travel out to Hawaii, which they had planned as their endowment game,” Stephens said. “He told me about a guy named Brian Hercules, who was planning to put together some games in Mission Viejo, and asked if I’d be interested. It just sort of fell in place from there and we got Bingham to join us which is great.”
Crenshaw HS is the returning champions of the CIF Los Angeles section champions. After dropping its first two games of last season, Crenshaw won its final 12 games of the season by an average score of 51.5 to 5.16.
“They’re a very, very athletic team,” Stephens said. “They won their league last year, blowing out opponents, and they’ll likely be the most athletic team we’ll ever go against. It will be a challenge, but we’ll be up to that challenge I feel.”
For Alta players, fresh off of this past Saturday’s bitter loss to arch-rival Bingham, they couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity.
“When coach told us we were going to California to play Crenshaw, we were all very excited,” said Alta star defensive back Austin Lee. “It’s a great thing for us to go out there and it should be a lot of fun as well. We had a very tough loss to Bingham and this will be nice to get away and play a top team. I can’t wait.”
Although Bingham is Alta’s fiercest rival, Alta players and coaches a like will be pulling hard for them to upset their opponent, Orange Lutheran.
“I really like and respect the players at Bingham and a lot of them are friends,” said Lee. “On the field, we want to beat them bad, but off of it, I want nothing but the best for them. I really hope they win their game.”
Orange Lutheran struggled a bit last season, but that is hardly the norm for the powerhouse Southern California team. Peck and his team have been told that Orange Lutheran returns most of its team from last season and should compete in what is generally considered as the top Southern California division.
“They have some huge offensive tackles,” Peck said. “They have a tight end committed to Florida State and I’ve been told by everyone that they’ll be one of the top teams in the state this year. They run a power offense, getting behind that big line of theirs and they’ll look to overpower an opponent.”
That description of Orange Lutheran could well be used to describe what has been an over-powering Miner team over the past few years. Last year’s Bingham team dominated their opponents and saw 15 of its players go to sign letters of intent with college programs.
Considering all that lost talent, the timing could have been better for Bingham.
“You look at our 2009 team that lost to Trinity, and they were just becoming the dominant team that we had in 2010 which was the best I’ve ever coached,” said Peck. “I would have gone up against anyone in the country, but we didn’t get that chance. I still have that same mindset (this year) even though we lost so many great players.”
One thing that will aid Bingham against Orange Lutheran greatly will be the return of linebacker Jared Afalava to the lineup. After serving up a two-game suspension for breaking a team rule, he’ll be taking the field again come Saturday.
“Jared might be the best talent I’ve ever coached,” said Peck. “He’s being looked at by a ton of schools and has offers from all those schools and for good reason. I’ve coached a lot of great players that went on to college, but I don’t know if any of them were as talented as Jared.”
Timpview, meanwhile, will be going up against a tough Bakersfield team that made it to its division finals a season ago before falling to Clovis West.
“I want all three teams to win,” Stephens said. “I’m so excited for the kids more than anything. I’m excited to represent the state of Utah and the great football we have here and I just want to win. I want Bingham and Timpview to win and to represent well and I know they will and hopefully we can join them.”
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @BrandonCGurney