Estimated read time: 14-15 minutes
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 Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information.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 -- The opening round of the 2009 Utah high school football playoffs didn't feature many surprises. Pleasant Grove, Woods Cross, Bear River, Grand, and Altamont were the only road teams to win last week and all of them were favored to win.
The biggest surprise of the first round has to be Bonneville's thrilling overtime upset of Bountiful. Although the Lakers were at home and both teams were No. 2 seeds, few outside of the Bonneville locker room thought they were going to win that game. With that upset, one of the following teams will reach the 4A championship game: Bonneville, Dixie, Springville or Woods Cross. Who would have predicted that this summer?
The Quarterfinals feature some great matchups as well as some interesting re-matches. Here is a look at each game as well as the 2A and 1A Semifinals. Feel free to give us your predictions in the comments section.
Pleasant Grove (8-2) at Davis (8-2), 3:30 p.m. Friday
Expectations were high for the Davis Darts this season and things may be coming together for them at the right time. Since losing to rival Viewmont in Week 7 by just three points, the Darts have beaten their last three opponents by a combined score of 98-13. One of those wins was over Fremont, a team who gave Alta trouble last Friday. Running back Tanner Hinds is playing as well as any running back in the state. He has racked up 545 yards rushing and 8 touchdowns in the last three games including a 261-yard, 4-touchdown performance against Fremont. But this week Hinds and the Darts face a tough Pleasant Grove defense that gives up just 14 points a game and they've done that against very tough competition. They held prolific offensive teams like Jordan, West Jordan and Timpview to 14 points or less and held Alta to just 23 points in an overtime thriller. Offensively, the Vikings have put up big numbers this season. If quarterback Dallas Lloyd is healthy and able to play, the Darts defense will be challenged despite giving up just 11 points per game. KSL Sports staff prediction: Pleasant Grove 21 Davis 14Lone Peak (9-2) at Hunter (7-3), 4 p.m., Fri.
When the season began most considered Region 4 to be the toughest in the state. Most who follow high school football in Utah also would have guessed that Alta, Pleasant Grove, and maybe Jordan would be the elite teams in the region. But at the end of the season, it was Lone Peak who won a share of the region four title and now the Knights can continue their impressive season and reach the 5A semifinals by beating Hunter on the road. That won't be easy considering how well the Wolverines are playing right now. They have won six straight games and boast an impressive run game led by La'au Tanuvasa who carried the ball 29 times for 149 yards and two touchdowns in a 24-20 win over Weber last week. The Wolverines are big and physical on both sides of the ball. The key matchup in this game will be Lone Peak quarterback Tannon Pedersen and the Knights passing game against the Hunter secondary. Pedersen is having a fantastic season and should get a chance to play at the next level. If he has success throwing the football and the Knights get ahead early it would force the Wolverines to do the same keeping their powerful rushing attack on the shelf. KSL Sports staff prediction: Lone Peak 31 Hunter 21Cottonwood (8-3) at Alta (9-2), 4 p.m., Fri.
These two teams met in week one of the regular season with the Hawks having no trouble with the Colts in a 59-20 victory. Now these two powerful programs meet for a 2nd time at Alta high school with a trip to Rice-Eccles stadium on the line. We know Cottonwood can score. Quarterback Crosby Jensen leads an offense that has averaged 35 points a game. But can the Colts get stops against Alta's powerful offense and can they take care of the ball better than they did in the first meeting? Despite losing key players to injury, Alta has won six straight games and is averaging 36 points a game during that span. Cottonwood needs to hold them under that average if they want to have any chance of winning this game. KSL Sports staff prediction: Alta 45 Cottonwood 28Syracuse (8-2) at Bingham (11-1), 4 p.m., Fri.
The Syracuse Titans made an improbable run to the 5A semi-finals in 2008. There is nothing improbable about where the Titans find themselves now following a 31-7 blowout win over Skyline. After putting together two impressive seasons in just 3 years of existence, they have quickly established themselves as one of the top football programs in the state. With that said they face a tall order on Friday. Knocking off the No. 1 Miners on their home field will be very difficult. Bingham's average margin of victory this season is 22 points a game and the Miners have yet to lose to a team from the state of Utah. The Miners also average 41 points a game but their offense will face a stiff test Friday against the Titans who boast the top defense in 5A giving up just 9 points a game. That defense is too good for this game to turn into a blowout. The question will be can Syracuse score enough points offensively against a Miners defense loaded with talent. KSL Sports staff prediction: Bingham 28 Syracuse 7Class 4A
Spanish Fork (8-2) at Timpview (8-2), 3 p.m., Friday
Is there a 4A team in Utah that can slow down Timpview right now? The T-birds are red hot since losing to 5A defending champ Alta in week 3. The average margin of victory during their 7 game win streak is 42 points. Their matchup with Spanish Fork should be much closer than that. The Dons have had a nice season since making the move back to 4A. Sophomore quarterback Hayden Neilson has led a very explosive offense that averages 42 points a game, best in 4A. The challenge will be to score points against the fast and physical Timpview defense that gives up just 13 points a game and hasn't given up more than 12 points in their last 6 games. KSL Sports staff prediction: Timpview 49 Spanish Fork 35Mountain Crest (9-1) at Highland (8-3), 2:30 p.m., Fri
This has potential to be the most compelling matchup of the quarterfinals regardless of classification. This is a rematch from a game played in week 1 that was dominated by Mountain Crest 48-27. Before you assume that the same will happen this Friday consider the change that has taken place with the Rams since that loss to open the season. They started 1-3 but since have rattled off seven consecutive wins in dominant fashion with an average margin of victory of 26 points. The offense is rolling, especially the run game, behind quarterback Mason Keller and running back Toi Taufa who have combined for 2,000 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns. They can also throw the ball when they need to with Keller tossing 15 touchdowns, 8 of them to receiver Nate Fakahafua. Where they have really turned it around is on defense. After giving up 27 points per game during their 1-3 start, they are giving up just 8 points per game during their win streak including three shutouts. Their defense will be challenged Friday by an offense that scores 40 points a game. Mustangs star quarterback Alex Kuresa shredded the Highland defense in week one throwing for 372 yards and two touchdowns. The junior has completed 69% of his passes for 2,764 yards and 32 touchdowns. Thanks to a coin flip, Highland will host this matchup of region champions. Will home field advantage help the Rams pull off the upset? KSL Sports staff prediction: Mountain Crest 31 Highland 28Bonneville (7-4) at Dixie (7-3), 2 p.m.
Each year there is that Cinderella team who makes a surprising run to Rice-Eccles. Last year it was Syracuse and in 2007 Layton shocked everyone by reaching the finals. Could Bonneville be that team this year? After a dramatic win over a very good Bountiful team the Lakers are riding a wave of momentum into the quarterfinals. But after knocking off the Braves at home, they now must make the trip to St. George to face a Dixie team who thinks they are that Cinderella team ready for a run. The Flyers are enjoying a 6 game winning streak. Quarterback Mike Sharp has been beating teams with his arm and his legs. Last week he rushed for 112 yards and 3 touchdowns with just 12 carries. He also threw a touchdown pass in a 31-6 win over Mountain View. The Flyers offense may find it harder to score points against the Lakers defense, which has been stonewalling the opposition all season. Bonneville held Mountain Crest's explosive offense to just 16 points, the Mustangs lowest scoring output of the season. KSL Sports staff prediction: Dixie 10 Bonneville 7 Woods Cross (7-3) at Springville, (9-1), 3 p.m., Fri.
Woods Cross is enjoying their first winning season since 1993 and first playoff berth in 5 years. They have a balanced offense that averages 31 points a game while their defense gives up just 16 a game. After an impressive 35-20 road win at Provo the Wildcats have momentum heading into the quarterfinals. Once again, they travel to Utah County Friday to take on region 8 champ Springville, a program that is also enjoying a nice turnaround. The Red Devils are enjoying their best season since 2004 when they went 10-1. Head coach Scott Mitchell was the quarterback the last time the Red Devils won state in 1985, which happens to be the first and only football championship in school history. He has this team executing well and playing physical football. They made some big plays and some big hits in their opening round win over Sky View. KSL Sports staff prediction: Springville 31 Woods Cross 28Class 3A
Morgan (8-3) at Hurricane (9-2), Sat., 1 p.m.
Morgan is the only 3A team left in the playoffs that played in a close game last week. Jordan Wamsley led a Trojan rally with three consecutive touchdowns in a comeback win over Emery. The adversity they faced in that game may prepare them well for the long trip to Hurricane this week. The Tigers suffered a disappointing loss to end the regular season but bounced back nicely with an impressive 74-7 opening round win over ALA. What makes this matchup compelling is the fact that it is a rematch from last year's state semifinals. Hurricane came out on top 26-9 in that game before losing the state title game in the final seconds to Juan Diego. I'm sure players and coaches on both sides remember last year's meeting which should make this fun. KSL Sports staff prediction: Hurricane 28 Morgan 17Delta (7-4) at Park City (10-1), Fri., 4 p.m.
The Park City Miners have been a juggernaut this season. Their only loss was to No. 1 Juan Diego in week 2, a game in which they led at halftime 14-7. Since that game they have won 9 straight games. In those games they have averaged 54 points a game while holding their opponents to just 14 points a game including two shutouts. One of their victims was Delta. The Miners made the long drive to Delta and still dominated the contest 41-17. In that game they gave up 407 yards on the ground to the Miners. If they want to have any chance in this rematch they must do a better job stopping the run. That is easier said than done. Miners running back Dylan Chynoweth leads the state with 1,844 rushing yards and 30 rushing touchdowns. His yards per carry this season is 13.3. Juan Diego is the only team to hold Chynoweth under 100 yards this season. But he isn't the Miners only threat on the ground. Quarterback Erik Walker has 1,349 yards and 19 touchdowns as well. Delta's defense will have their hands full but don't overlook the Rabbits rushing game either. Running back Derek Peterson had 114 yards rushing against Park City in week 3 and the Rabbits will need that kind of production from him again for them to have any chance of winning this game. KSL Sports staff prediction: Park City 49 Delta 14Bear River (6-4) at Wasatch (9-2), Fri., 4 p.m.
Wasatch was very impressive in the opening round dominating a Desert Hills team that had just knocked off No. 3 Hurricane the week before. The Wasps offense has been putting up big numbers all season but last week it was the defense that took center stage forcing 7 turnovers and giving up less than 200 yards of offense. They will need their defense to come up big Friday against a Bear River team that scored 35 points in the 4th quarter on the road against Manti in the first round. They actually had more touchdowns than first downs in the 2nd half of that game. It would not be a surprise to see a lot of points being scored Friday afternoon in Heber City. KSL Sports staff prediction: Wasatch 42 Bear River 35Cedar (8-4) at Juan Diego (10-1), Fri., 4 p.m.
The Cedar Redmen have had a great season under Head Coach Todd Peacock. They have advanced to the Quarterfinals for the 4th consecutive year but getting past the quarterfinal round for the first time since 2004 will take a monumental effort. Juan Diego has not lost to a Utah team since November 2nd, 2007. They showed no signs of weakness in a 56-0 win over Juab in the opening round. Some of their opponents refer to them as Juan Diego JC. They do have talent that will move on to play college football. Keegan Anderson has committed to play for his dad at Utah State. He had 200 yards receiving and 3 touchdowns in the win over Juab. He is just one of a number of talented athletes the Redmen will have to deal with on both sides of the ball. Cedar does have 1,000-yard rusher Adam Rice back in the lineup. He ran for 105 yards and a score against Union in the opening round. Having success running the football will be a must for Cedar to pull off the upset. KSL Sports staff prediction: Juan Diego 35 Cedar 7Class 2A Semifinals
At Southern Utah University
San Juan (9-1) vs. South Sevier (9-1), 2 p.m. Saturday
South Sevier is enjoying the best football season in school history with a 9-1 record. The Rams have the talent to knock off the No. 1 Broncos on Saturday in Cedar City. They throw the ball really well. Quarterback Orion Wilson has 11 touchdowns this season with 6 of those scores going to Dillon Bishoff. Their biggest hurdle Saturday may be psychological. San Juan is 18-3 all-time against he Rams. The Broncos have not lost to a Utah opponent this season and the average margin of victory in their games is 21 points. The Broncos defense gives up just 11 points a game but they will be challenged by the Rams balanced offense that averages 29 points a game. KSL Sports staff prediction: San Juan 31 South Sevier 21Grand (7-4) vs. South Summit (9-1), 11 a.m. Saturday
Grand is coming off a 28-14 upset over No. 3 Enterprise in the quarterfinals and looks to do the same thing this week in Cedar City against South Summit. The Wildcats happen to be coming off their best performance of the year after throttling No. 5 Millard 45-6. These teams met earlier in the season. South Summit beat Grand 35-14 on September 18th but that game was much closer than the score would indicate. It was a 7-point ballgame in the 4th quarter before the Wildcats took control of the game. The rematch should be a much tighter contest. KSL Sports staff prediction: South Summit 21 Grand 14Class 1A Semifinals
Saturday at Snow College
Duchesne (9-2) vs. Monticello (4-4), 10:30 a.m.
These teams have already met this season with Duchesne blowing out the Buckaroos 36-6 in week 9. Monticello has had a week to rest and get ready for this game, which should make the final result much closer. If they have any chance of winning they must find a way to score more points. Six points won't get it done against a team that averages 33 a game. KSL Sports staff prediction: Duchesne 35 Monticello 14Altamont (6-4) vs. Rich (9-0), 1 p.m.
Rich has been dominant this season in 1A and is the only undefeated football team in the state of Utah. This is a rematch of a game played on September 25th that saw the Rebels dominate Altamont 52-14. The longhorns can't afford to make any mistakes if they want to hang with the Rebels on Saturday.