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Lone Peak hosts American Fork in featured West matchup

It has been since 2011 that the HSFB100 No. 87-ranked Lone Peak (Highland, UT) Knights opened a season with a 6-0 start. That unblemished opening progressed into a 14-0 season and ended with a 5A state championship crown.

Standing in the way of making it a lucky seven is American Fork (UT).

No one at Lone Peak seems to be getting ahead of themselves — as the classification looks to be adding a new contender by the week — but there is a lot to be excited about.

Lone Peak quarterback Talmage Gunther. (Photo by Kurt Johnson)

Lone Peak quarterback Talmage Gunther. (Photo by Kurt Johnson)

According to coach Mike Mower, a big element in the success has been senior quarterback Talmage Gunther.

“He’s really everything you’d want in your starting quarterback,” Mower told “He really is a team player and there’s no question about it. He wants to do a great job individually, but his desire to do that job is only to help the team as much as possible.”

Gunther has 833 passing yards and 15 touchdown passes along with 308 yards on the ground and two more scores. The stats are a bit skewed with the signal-caller playing limited time in the second half of games as Lone Peak has seen all of its wins come in blow-out fashion.

Jon Christensen and Tyson Doman have proven to be top targets for Gunther, combining for 35 receptions, 537 yards and 10 touchdowns. The dual-threat backfield of Tyler Kap and junior three-star BYU commit Jackson McChesney have combined for 560 yards and six scores on the ground and 325 yards and five touchdowns through the air.

The defensive unit has been great as well, surrendering less than 10 points per game. Up front, the Knights are steered by twin brothers Terrell and Terrence Levy along with Preston Lewis — who leads the team with three sacks. Linebacker Michael Cannon is a team captain in the middle and safety Seth Corry leads the team in tackles. The defense has forced seven interceptions, a number to keep an eye on going into this week.

In its two losses on the season, American Fork quarterback Tanner Smith was intercepted twice in a seven point loss to Highland (Pocatello, ID) and three times in a one point loss to Brighton (Salt Lake City, UT).

Turnovers removed, American Fork could be entering this game undefeated as well.

Smith has thrown for 1,384 yards and 11 touchdown passes and was also a big contributor to the teams state runner-up finish a season ago.

He has completed two touchdown passes to five different targets.

Ashton Coleman leads the team with 24 receptions and 366 yards. Right behind him is Garrett Purvis with 21 catches for 250 yards. American Fork will continue to spread the workload around in the running game as leading rusher Nate Honey has still not returned from the cracked tibia he suffered against Westlake in Week 4.

The defense for the Cavemen has given up an average of 18 points per game. Joshua Bailey leads the team with 51 tackles and two interceptions from the secondary. The team has seven total sacks on the season, an area that will need to see maximum production in an effort to slow down Gunther.

If the American Fork offense can take care of the football, it can stay in this ballgame. If not, expect Lone Peak to continue its torrid pace.

Check out four other top games in the West Region for the weekend:

No. 60 Bishop Alemany (Mission Hills, CA) vs Chaminade (West Hills, CA)

A dark horse has emerged as a contender in the Mission League in Southern California. Alemany entered the season as a meager fourth place candidate, eyeing a potential at-large berth into the Pac5 playoffs. Now — after a 42 point average margin of victory in its first four games and an 18-0 victory over Crespi (Encino, CA) to start league play — the Warriors are in the mix for the league crown.

The rise of sophomore quarterback Brevin White has been a big factor in the team’s success.

Although it didn’t show against Crespi, White, along with an explosive receiving corps and sophomore running back Jordan Anderson can score points in bunches.

Two-way athlete Marcel Meyers is a threat to score at any time on offense, defense, or special teams. Meyers, Johnny Edwards, and three-star Jarrin Price form a talented trio of targets for White.

The defense has shown it is tough to run on. Lamin Touray, Darian Cohen, and Guy Alford form another strong trio on the defensive side of the ball at linebacker.

It will need to be at its best, as Chaminade has a top rated 2018 prospect of its own in running back TJ Pledger.

Pledger burst onto the scene as a freshman last season, rushing for 822 yards and 11 touchdowns, while averaging 6.6 yards per carry. He has already surpassed his touchdown mark from a year ago with 12 through the team’s first five games. The young four-star prospect already holds a pair of offers from USC and Washington and should see his recruitment pick up even more as his career and production continue.

Pledger is one of many sophomores that contribute for Chaminade but seniors Dymond Lee, Isaiah Thomas, and Tommy Costello pack a punch of their own.

Lee is a four-star receiver who is committed to UCLA. The future Bruin is likely to take snaps at quarterback in addition to his natural position at receiver. He has thrown for 350 yards and five scores and has caught 12 passes for 138 yards. Tommy Costello serves as the primary quarterback and is up to 501 yards and three touchdowns. Each signal-caller will have many options in the passing game as six different receivers have caught a touchdown, led by senior Jordan Chin with three.

The offense for Chaminade is off to a hot start but it will be facing a defense that is allowing only six points per game in Alemany. Look for the balance on both sides of the ball for Alemany to be the difference in this Mission League showdown.

No. 85 Grant (Sacramento, CA) vs Elk Grove (CA)

It is not often that a league champion is determined mid-way through the season but that could be the case in the Delta League this year as both Grant and Elk Grove enter with a 4-0 record and will likely be the last true test for one another before starting the Sac-Joaquin section playoffs.

Senior running back Deshaun Collins will be the featured weapon on offense for Grant. He has rushed for 756 yards and nine touchdowns for the run-heavy Pacer offense. Per the usual for the Sacramento power, Collins runs behind a massive offensive line that features all five players 6-foot-2 or taller, each over 300 pounds.

The play of the line has helped Grant to average over 300 yards on the ground this season. Quarterback Michael Cook adds another option with 305 passing yards and four touchdown passes. Two-star San Jose State commit Gerald Brown and Lawrence Hardy are the top targets for Cook.

The defense, like the offense, features a colossal line anchored by 6-foot-4, 300-pound Soape Tupou. Tupou is rated a three-star recruit and holds an offer from UCLA. David Moala is a stand-out linebacker with 34 tackles and four of the team’s nine sacks.

Like Grant, the offensive attack for Elk Grove starts on the ground.

Do-it-all senior Ryan Robards leads the team with 756 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. He also has two interceptions on defense and a 51-yard field goal as the team’s kicker.

Julius Fullah will see time in the backfield as well and has added 246 yards and four scores. Junior quarterback Jayden Machado has thrown for 485 yards and five touchdowns. Gavin Reinwald is his main target with 13 receptions, 230 yards and three touchdowns.

The defense may be even more impressive for the Thundering Herd.

The team has 10 total sacks, nine interceptions and eight fumble recoveries. Opportunistic may be an understatement.

There are a lot of similarities between the two Delta League heavyweights. Each has allowed exactly 35 total points on the season. Both teams will look to establish the run game and stick with it while attempting about a dozen passes.

This figures to be a close game in the neighborhood of 21-14. Grant should come out on top although it would not be shocker to see Elk Grove knock off its league foe.

Folsom (CA) vs Del Oro (Loomis, CA)

One league challenge down for Folsom, next one up.

A week after an impressive 27-14 over Granite Bay (CA), another traditional NorCal power stands in the way of Folsom repeating as Sierra Foothill League champions. This week it is Del Oro, a team that is no stranger to tough opponents.

The Golden Eagles routed Pleasant Grove (UT) 41-0, suffered a 22-15 defeat at the hands of one of Hawaii’s best in Punahou (Honolulu, HI), and a narrow 34-31 loss at the hands of Bellarmine Prep (San Jose, CA). The test of battles could help Del Oro keep this game close.

Junior quarterback Stone Smartt has thrown for 858 yards and seven touchdowns. He will hook up with three-star Colorado commit Trey Udoffia in the passing game. Udoffia is up to 14 receptions for 369 yards and five touchdowns this season. Junior running back Dalton Gee has rushed for 344 yards and four touchdowns, sharing duties with Dominic Peircin, who has three touchdowns. Both the run and pass game will have to perform at a high level to keep pace with Folsom.

The defense for Del Oro will need to be up for the challenge as well. Linebacker John Spencer leads the team with 29 tackles and 4.5 sacks. The play of the secondary will likely be a big factor in the outcome. Defensive back Mason Hurst leads the team with five interceptions and Justin Burrage is another playmaker in the secondary that will be tasked with slowing down the Bulldog offense.

Folsom senior Jake Jeffrey continues to impress in his first season as the team’s starting quarterback.

He has thrown for 1,282 and 16 touchdowns and showed off another element to his game last week by rushing for 93 yards and two scores.

Christian Huber is the team’s leading receiver with 33 catches, 542 yards and six touchdowns. Tre Green and Roger Neal share the workload on the ground and have combined for nine touchdowns. Neal also leads the team in tackles with 63 at the linebacker position.

Folsom should come away with the win and with some added style points, could inch closer to cracking the HSFB100.

Bellarmine Prep (San Jose, CA) vs Serra (San Mateo, CA)

An interesting rivalry game in the West Catholic Athletic League features two Central Coast section powers. Last season Bellarmine got out to a 14-0 lead but Serra ran away with four unanswered scores to win 28-14.

A lot of players from that game return for Bellarmine.

Quarterback Troy Martig leads a trio of explosive weapons on offense. Martig can hurt a defense through the air or on the ground. Two-way seniors Kyle Macauley and Devon Buenrostro are both big-play threats out of the backfield, in the receiving game, and in the secondary. Vincent Fernandez is another back in the double-wing arsenal who has a three-touchdown game under his belt this season.

Outside of a 34-31 victory over Del Oro (Loomis, CA), the Bells defense has only surrendered seven points in two games.

Serra will also feature a dual-threat quarterback on offense in Leki Nunn. Nunn has thrown for 400 yards, rushed for 186 yards and has six touchdowns combined. Brandon Monroe leads the team in receptions with 15 and Rory Uniacke provides a big play threat with 193 yards on nine catches. The duo has combined for three touchdowns on the season.

The Padres will need a collective effort on defense to slow down the Bellarmine offensive attack.

With Serra serving a post-season ban this year, it will be fighting for its third straight WCAL title as its ultimate prize of the season. A league opening victory over one of the league’s most formidable opponents would certainly have it off to a good start.

Bellarmine will be looking to continue its pace as the league and section favorite. The Bells should win a close one, in a hard fought rivalry game.

— senior analyst Dallas Jackson contributed to this report

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