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End of a dynasty? A look at the 5A state football playoffs

Timpview competes against Orem in a high school football game at Timpview High in Orem on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021.

Timpview competes against Orem in a high school football game at Timpview High in Orem on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)

Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — You have to go back to 2016 to find the last time the Orem Tigers lost a playoff game. Orem won the 4A title in 2017 and 2018, and the 5A championship in 2019 and 2020.

But the Tigers' long reign is in serious jeopardy entering the 2021 playoffs. Orem is ranked No. 21 in the 5A bracket and will enter the postseason on a three-game losing streak.

Orem's step back has opened up an opportunity for many championship hopefuls. Is this the year Timpview, who has lost the last two championship games to Orem, breaks through? Is Springville good enough to win it all? Or can a team like Lehi or Brighton capitalize on some late-season momentum to make a run?

Here's a look at the 5A playoffs:

Last year's champion: Orem

Teams with a bye: No. 1 Springville (8-1), No. 2 Timpview (8-2), No. 3 Stansbury (8-2), No. 4 Bountiful (7-2), No. 5 Provo (7-2), No. 6 Spanish Fork (7-2), No. 7 Lehi (7-3), No. 8 Timpanogos (8-2)

Team to beat this year: Timpview

It was on Sept. 30 that Timpview officially became the classification favorite. That's when the Thunderbirds followed up a strong non-region slate and exacted some revenge in a 43-13 rout over their nemesis Orem.

By that point, though, the result wasn't too much of a surprise. Timpview's only two losses came to Lone Peak and in overtime against Skyridge — two of the top three teams in the entire state. Those two losses showed they were more than a decent football team.

Led by junior running back Micah Beckstead and senior quarterback Liu Aumavae, the Thunderbirds have had one of the most explosive offenses in the state, averaging 40.8 points per game. Timpview has also proven itself against some top competition, not only sweeping through Region 8, but also beating Bingham and Kearns in non-region play.

The Thunderbirds have fallen in state championship game two years in a row. This season, they are the favorites to finally win it.

Team likely to upset: Brighton

It wouldn't be an upset if No. 1 Springville were to win the whole thing. They have an 8-1 record that includes wins over Bountiful, Riverton and Provo, and running back Seth Rigtrup is one of the state's best, having rushed for 1,127 yards and 14 touchdowns. The Red Devils' resume is legitimate.

But if the champion comes from outside the top 2, that would be a shock. Which team is best positioned to make a surprise run?

Lehi ended the season on a tear, winning four of its last five games with the only loss coming in fairly close fashion to Timpview.

Alta's Ethan Jackson has a claim for the classification's best quarterback after throwing for a 5A-high 2676 yards and 28 touchdowns. Having him under center with a healthy Maika Kaufusi to throw to gives the Hawks a chance.

Meanwhile, Bountiful has relatively quietly won six straight and hasn't allowed more than 14 points since Sept. 3.

But for our upset pick, we are going with Brighton. Bengal quarterback Jack Johnson is averaging 238 yards per game and has thrown for 29 touchdowns. He's led a Brighton attack that has scored 42.5 points per game over their final four contests — all wins.

The Bengals also feature arguably the best defensive player in the state in linebacker Lander Barton, who has 110 tackles coming into the postseason.

The No. 12-seed Bengals will start the tournament this weekend against Orem. If they can dethrone the Tigers, they'll play No. 5 Provo in the second round

5A playoff schedule

First round — Oct. 22

Home sites

  • Alta at Uintah, 6 p.m.
  • Box Elder at Tooele, 6 p.m.
  • Park City at Skyline, 6 p.m.
  • Orem at Brighton, 6 p.m.
  • Northridge at Bonneville, 6 p.m.
  • Maple Mountain at Wasatch, 6 p.m.
  • Payson at Olympus, 6 p.m.
  • East at Cedar Valley, 6 p.m.

Second round — Oct. 29

Home sites

  • Uintah/Alta at Springville, 6 p.m.
  • Box Elder/Tooele at Timpanogos, 6 p.m.
  • Park City/Skyline at Bountiful, 6 p.m.
  • Orem/Brighton at Provo, 6 p.m.
  • Bonneville/Northridge at Timpview, 6 p.m.
  • Wasatch/Maple Mountain at Lehi, 6 p.m.
  • Olympus/Payson at Stansbury, 6 p.m.
  • Cedar Valley/East at Spanish Fork, 6 p.m.

Quarterfinals — Nov. 5

Home sites

Semifinals — Nov. 12

Rice-Eccles Stadium

Championship — Nov. 19

Rice-Eccles Stadium


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