Estimated read time: 5-6 minutes
SALT LAKE CITY — The 1A and 2A championship games will feature four teams who are used to winning state titles.
This will be the 7th time in the last eight seasons that either San Juan or Manti have reached the 2A State Championship.
This will also be the 6th time in the last seven years that either Rich or Duchesne have reached the 1A State Championship.
It's also not the first time these teams have faced each other in a state championship game.
The history will add intrigue to some great match ups in these championship games. Here is a breakdown of each game that will take place at Pleasant Grove High School on Saturday:
No. 1 San Juan (11-0) vs. No. 2 Manti (10-1) Saturday 11 a.m.
Thomson had 14 carries for 189 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Rebels 40-14 win over Altamont in the 1A semifinals. With that effort he now has more than 1,000 yards rushing on the season. Christian Mahan Duchesne
Mahan had 7 tackles and two interceptions in the Eagles win over Monticello in the 1A semifinals. He returned one of those interceptions 30 yards for a touchdown.Connor Aste QB Manti
Aste continued his great season by passing for three touchdowns on Saturday in a 58-15 win over Grand. Ammon Mitchell San Juan
Mitchell had two interceptions for San Juan in a 15-9 semifinal victory over South Summit. His last interception came in the final minute and clinched victory for the Broncos. Bronz Eldredge San Juan
Eldredge had 11 tackles and a sack on defense helping the Broncos survive a close semifinal battle with South Summit.
Players to watch: Logan Meyer San Juan, Koleton Moon Manti San Juan state championships: 6 (1989, 1998, 2000, 2006, 2009, 2010)
Manti state championships: 3 (1999, 2003, 2011)
San Juan is back in the state championship game after falling in last year's semifinals. Before last year's playoff loss, the Broncos had won back-to-back state championships and, in the process, won 30 straight games. Their dominance returned this year. They are undefeated this season and have held their opponents to just 5 points per game. Quarterback Barkley Christensen has had a great year and that continued against South Summit in the 2A Semifinals. He overcame three interceptions passing for 242 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 52 yards and a score. Logan Meyer, Justin Nielson and Bobby Bowring have also made big plays on offense this year combining for 28 touchdowns. The Defense once again came up big in that win as well. Bronz Eldredge had 11 sacks and Ammon Mitchell had two interceptions including one in the final minute that clinched the win over South Summit in the quarterfinal.
The San Juan defense will face it's most difficult challenge of the season on Saturday against the defending state champions. Manti can beat you with the run or pass. They don't have the size they had last year but they have enough to dominate the line of scrimmage this season against 2A competition. The Templars only loss this season was to Juan Diego, the top ranked team in 3A. Quarterback Connor Aste has completed 66 percent of his passes for 1,466 yards which is the most in 2A. He has thrown 15 touchdown passes which is 3rd in 2A. The run game is led by Austin Jackson who has rushed for 511 yards and 9 touchdowns. Taylor Soper and Zane Stevens have also combined for 9 touchdowns on the ground. T.J. Pogroszewski is the team's leading receiver with 20 catches for 402 yards and 5 touchdowns. Defensively they are led by Koleton Moon on the defensive line and Jamen Miller in the secondary. Moon has 6 sacks while Miller has 6 interceptions.
San Juan has won 6 state championships. Manti has won 3. Both teams would add another trophy to the case. Doing so won't be easy for either team. This game is going to be a battle. These are two very talented teams who have defeated teams at the 3A level this season. They have combined to win the last three 2A state titles.
KSL Prediction: Manti 27 San Juan 24
No. 1 Duchesne (11-0) vs. No. 3 Rich (8-3) Saturday 2 p.m.
Players to watch: McKade Nielsen Duchesne, Kaden Thomson Rich
Duchesne State Championships: 3 (2006, 2010, 2011)
Rich State Championships: 5 (1994, 1995, 1996, 2002, 2009)
Duchesne is enjoying a historic run.
The Eagles have won 32 consecutive games which is the 2nd longest winning streak in state history. They hope to make it 33 on Saturday and are heavy favorites to do so. Duchesne wasn't supposed to be as dominant as they were the past two years but they've averaged 36 points per game and their average margin of victory is 27 points per game. Running back Kaden Moon is closing in a on a 1,000-yard season and a 100-yard effort in the title game would put him over the top. The Eagles are also getting great play from quarterback Trent Roberts who has thrown 16 touchdown passes and also scored 11 times on the ground. McKade Neilsen is his top target in the pass game and has 25 catches for 556 yards and 10 touchdowns. Defensively Moon is their leading tackler with 106. No player in the state, regardless of classification, has more interceptions than McKade Nielsen with 9. Wade Shephard leads the team in sacks with 8.
The last 1A team to beat Duchesne is Rich back in the 2009 State Championship game. Since that win Rich has lost five games in a row to Duchesne. They would love to put an end to that streak and win a championship at the same time. The Rebels have an an up and down year which included a 40-14 loss at Duchesne earlier in the season. Since a 43-7 loss to Diamond Ranch in week 8 Rich has been on a roll. They have averaged 44 points in their last three games including their semifinal win over Altamont. Quarterback Austin Groll leads the team in passing and rushing. He has thrown 11 touchdown passes and just 2 interceptions while rushing for 977 yards and 15 scores. He hands the ball off to Kaden Thomson who is now rushed for more than 1,000 yards not the season and scored 12 touchdowns. The Rebels will hope to get big games out of Groll and Thompson on Saturday.
It's difficult to beat a team twice in one season but Duchesne has managed to do it against Rich the past two seasons. For the Rebels to reverse this trend they will have to play clean football and get stops on defense. On paper Duchesne is a heavy favorite but weather will be a factor on Saturday with snow expected which could make things even more interesting on Saturday. There have been some great games between these two schools in the past and it would be fun to see another one come down to the very end.
KSL Prediction: Duchesne 35 Rich 20