By Kurt Johnson
Photos by Kevin McInnis (ScoreStream.com)
Utah football’s Class 1A, 2A and 3A crowned champions Saturday, while 3AA, 4A and 5A narrowed things down to two teams each Thursday and Friday as the season heads towards it climax Nov. 20 inside Rice-Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah.
The weekend produced some interesting results, as a pair of defending champions fell and most of the games ended with wide margins on the scoreboard. The stage is set for the final football Friday of the season after some huge performances on Week 13 paved the pathway to some intriguing state title matchups.
As we look at the players who came up big the third full weekend of state tournament action, here are some of the notable performances that stand out. Let us know about the big plays and players we did not get on our list….
Class 5A Semifinals
The first 5A semifinal Friday saw the end of the line for previously unbeaten Sky View (12-1) after the Bobcats were unable to find any kind of offensive rhythm against Herriman (10-3). The result was a 23-7 Mustang victory that sends Herriman through the its first state championship game. Jake Jutkins (32 carries, 171 yards, TD) and a potent ground game kept pounding at Sky View until the Bobcats were worn down, and then the Mustangs picked up a pair of huge turnovers to seize control. Noah Vaea scored from 21 yards out on a pick-6 and then recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff to set up a second score that gave Herriman a 16-7 advantage it would never relinquish.
The win sets the Mustangs up for a rematch with another undefeated team, Lone Peak (13-0), which beat Herriman just a few weeks ago 30-0.The Knights ended Bingham’s (11-2) pursuit of a third consecutive 5A state title with an impressive 26-9 victory. Lone Peak had too many stars to mention them all, but it started with a domination of the line of scrimmage by the defense. The Knights’ front seven – Parker Magee (12 tackles), Michael Cannon (10 tackles), Tyler Everett (9 tackles, sack), Terrence Levy, Britton Bettridge, Preston Lewis and Terrell Levy – limited the Miners’ powerful running attack to just 2.7 yards per carry on 39 plays. Two timely interceptions by cornerback Nate Bennett sealed the deal for Lone Peak as he allowed the offense to find its groove. Talmage Gunther completed 11-of-19 passes for 248 yards and three scores, with two of them coming on explosive plays to Jackson McChesney (3 rec., 158 yards, 2 TDs) and Gunther also ran it 17 times for 107 yards and a touchdown.
Class 4A Semifinals
East (10-2) flexed its muscles on both sides of the ball as it knocked Springville (11-1) from the ranks of the unbeaten. It was the Johnnie Lang show as the Leopard quarterback scored on runs of 69 and 57 yards on his way to a 19 carry, 280 yard, four touchdown day. East generally doesn’t get you through the air, but once the Red Devil defense was sucked in, Lang added a little flair to his game with an 81-yard touchdown pass. Jaylen Warren had all of his 16 carries during the first half, going for 102 yards and a score for East, while the Leopard defense delivered a strong performance behind Fusimalohi Teisina (seven tackles, 11-yard sack).
The Leopards will face three-time defending state champion Timpview (11-1) for the fifth successive postseason as the Thunderbirds knocked off Highland (8-4) 49-27 behind a very strong performance from quarterback Kahi Neves, who completed 15-of-24 passes for 266 yards and four touchdowns, while running it 16 times for 97 yards and another score. Samson Nacua was on the receiving end of seven of those passes for 151 yards and two TDs. Will Watanabe had 10 tackles, a sack and a tackle-for-loss, Keenan Pili added 10 tackles and Donovan Faumui had 2.5 sacks to lead the Timpview defense.
Class 3AA Semifinals
A 42-14 win over Snow Canyon (6-6) sends Logan (10-2) to the 3AA state title game in the Grizzlies’ first year in the classification. Spencer Corbett returned a punt 84 yards for a touchdown and caught five passes for 168 yards and two scores to lead the way for Logan. Hunter Horsley had another big night for the Grizzlies, completing 18-of-33 for 312 yards and three TDs and running 17 times for 94 yards and a score. Colton Hatch led the Logan defense, forcing a fumble and recording 14 total tackles.
While its offense put up big play after big play, defending 3AA champion Dixie (9-2) advanced back to the title game on the strength of a defense that allowed just 110 yards of offense to Tooele (8-4), led by 10 tackles by Jeff Martinez. Quarterback Zak Harrah ran for a touchdown, while connecting on 18-of-23 tosses for 366 yards and three more scores, as two of his receivers delivered huge nights – Jaden Harrison (8 receptions, 210 yards, 2 TDs) and Bret Barben (9 receptions, 151 yards, TD). Tre Miller complemented the impressive aerial barrage with a solid night in the ground game as he rushed 21 times for 101 yards and pair of scores.
3A Championship Game
Kaden Hayward (19 carries, 172 yards, TD) led Juan Diego Catholic (12-1) to the 3A state title as the Soaring Eagle beat Morgan (10-3) 28-13 in the 3A championship contest Saturday at Weber State University. Ryan Baker added to the outstanding ground attack with 22 runs for 114 yards. The Juan Diego defense was led by Blake Moore’s 15 tackles and Josh Vasquez, who had eight tackles and an interception.
2A Championship Game
The state’s longest winning streak came to an end as Beaver (11-1) beat South Summit (11-1) 33-0 to claim the 2A state title. Matthew Roberts completed 9-of-12 passes for 260 yards and three TDs, while adding 51 rushing yards to lead the Beavers. Brennan Hutchings was a big star on both sides of the ball, as he intercepted three passes and also caught four balls for 121 yards and three scores.
1A Championship Game
Diamond Ranch Academy (11-0) held off Kanab (9-4) 23-20 to win the 1A state championship behind Aaron Kern, who carried it 16 times for 124 yards.