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SALT LAKE CITY - For the first time since 2004, Bingham or Alta is not in the 5A semifinals. The last five state championships have been won by either the Miners or Hawks.
With both teams eliminated from the playoffs, the door is open for a new program to rise up and claim the title.
Three of this year's semifinalists are back after reaching the semifinals last year. Fremont, Lone Peak and Jordan all have experience playing on the turf of Rice-Eccles Stadium and all have impressive wins this season. The dark horse is Syracuse who is more than capable of challenging the other three teams thanks to their stingy defense.
Fremont (9-2) vs. Syracuse (8-3), Friday 11 a.m.
Fremont leads all-time series 3-2
Players to watch: - Nick Vigil RB Fremont
- 1,058 yards and six touchdowns
- Committed to Utah State
- Hunter Dimick DL Syracuse
- Leads state with 13 sacks
- Committed to Utah.
These two teams know each other well. They have played each other every year since Syracuse opened in 2007. All five of the meetings between both schools have been competitive. This year Fremont defeated Syracuse 15-3 to clinch the Region 1 title, but it was much closer than the final score would indicate.
The Titans haven't lost since that loss, including a shocking win against No. 2 Alta in the 1st round of the playoffs. They are peaking at the right time, especially on defense. They haven't given up a point in their last seven quarters of play and are coming off a shutout of West in the quarterfinals. Defensive lineman Hunter Dimick has been a force for the Titans. The Utah commit leads the entire state with 13 sacks.
Dimick and his teammates will have their hands full trying to contain Fremont running back Nick Vigil and the Silverwolves offense. Vigil now has back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons and has racked up 1,058 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2011. He leads an offense that averages 28 points a game. Fremont is just as good on defense where defensive lineman Jake Gallegos leads a unit that gives up just 11 points per game.
They return several starters from last year's team that advanced to the 5A state championship where they fell to Bingham. Last week they avenged that loss thanks to Vigil's 256 rushing yards and three touchdowns. They are very motivated to get another shot at a title.
KSL Prediction: Fremont 14 Syracuse 10
Lone Peak (12-0) vs. Jordan (10-2), Friday 2:30 p.m.
Lone Peak leads all-time series 2-0
Players to watch: - Chase Hansen QB Lone Peak
- Micah Hanneman WR/CB Lone Peak
- Austin Kafentzis QB Jordan
- Hayden Babka LB Jordan
Lone Peak quarterback Chase Hansen is having a special season. The University of Utah commit has established himself as the best player in the state. The numbers back up that claim. He has passed for 2,359 yards, 35 touchdowns and just 4 interceptions with a 60 percent completion rate. He has a touchdown pass in every game and has thrown 6 touchdown passes in a game twice this season. That is just what he accomplished with arm. Hansen is also the Knights leading rusher. He has racked up 1,003 yards and 11 touchdowns leading No. 1 ranked Lone peak to a 12-0 record.
Lone Peak is not a one man team. Hansen is surrounded by talented athletes on offense like Zac Saunders, Talon Shumway, Connor Humphrey and Micah Hanneman just to name a few. Defensively, the Knights are fast and physical. Brody Berry leads the defense with 5 interceptions.
If you are impressed by Chase Hansen's numbers wait until you see the numbers of Austin Kafentzis. The Jordan quarterback has completed 58 percent of his passes for 3,082 yards and 22 touchdowns. Austin is also a 1,000-yard rusher racking up 1,330 yards and 20 touchdowns. All that is impressive but the number that stands out the most is 15. That is Austin's age. He is just a freshman yet he leads the state in passing yards and is 2nd in rushing for the 5th ranked team in the state.
Jordan has always had the reputation of having a high powered offense. Defense? Not so much. That has changed this season as head coach Eric Kjar has put more emphasis on the defensive side of the ball. They give up just 14 points per game which is an 8 point improvement from last season. Hayden Babka has been a star on defense with 7 interceptions, 7.5 sacks and a state high 121 tackles.
Both teams average more than 35 points per game. While both teams are solid defensively expect plenty of offense in this game with so much talent on the field at the same time.
KSL Prediction: Lone Peak 45 Jordan 35