By Kurt Johnson
Photos by Kurt Johnson & Kevin McInnis
The Utah high school football playoffs got started last week with some predictable results, mixed with a couple of surprises. As it has been for most of the season, scoring was way up and in a couple of cases, powerhouse offenses needed just the first half to deliver huge numbers.
Two backs, Alta’s Josh Davis and Jaylen Warren of East are in the middle of a historic record chase as both are on target to break the all-time single-season rushing yardage mark. Davis has already set a new record for total yards, so the biggest question remaining as their teams fight to keep playing, is which of the two will finish the campaign with the most yardage.
The list of elite individual performances from all across the state Friday and Saturday is long, so as we do each week, here is our best effort at recognizing the players and the numbers that jump out at us, at least from the stats for which we have access through the multiple sources we check….
At the bottom of each section you will find the list of matchups for next week’s 1A through 3A semifinals and 3AA through 5A quarters.
After trailing most of the day, the most exciting finish of the day came in a 28-27 win by Taylorsville (5-6) on the road at Davis (7-4). The Warriors scored two late touchdowns and followed each with a successful two-point conversion to earn the come-from-behind win as Dane Leituala delivered with his arm (33-of-40, 342 yards, 3 TDs) and his legs (14 carries, 80 yards). Jace Simons caught 15 passes for 129 yards and a pair of scores while Chase Hess reeled in nine for 96 yards and a TD.
Jordan (8-2) rolled up all of its points before halftime as the Beetdiggers buried Viewmont (6-5) 63-20. Crew Wakley was nearly perfect as he connected on 16-of-17 passes for 294 yards and three TDs. The quarterback also ran it 13 times for 86 yards and three more scores, while wideouts Spencer Curtis (six catches, 151 yards, TD) and Isaiah Jackson (seven receptions, 94 yards, TD) both had strong performances.
A huge night in the passing game carried Fremont (9-1) past Pleasant Grove (6-5) 27-7 as Haze Hadley caught 11 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns. Saxton Morby completed 17-of-21 for 287 yards and three scores.
Viking running back Tai Kauwe went for 189 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries in the loss.
The passing game was also huge for Lone Peak (10-1) as the Knights took care of business against Northridge (4-7) 51-7. Tyler MacPherson caught seven passes for 198 yards and two touchdowns, making him the nearly exclusive pass catcher for quarterback Dakota Hansen, who completed 10-of-15 for 243 yards and four scores. Hansen ran for another TD.
Ty Metcalfe connected on 20-of-31 for 280 yards and three TDs and also ran for a score in leading Syracuse (7-3) to a 38-35 victory over West Jordan (8-3) in a game won at the final whistle on a 26-yard Jayden Grose field goal. Brennon Jones hauled in six aerials for 144 yards and a touchdown.
Lehi (8-3) survived a late charge by Sky View (6-4) as the Pioneers celebrated their first-ever 5A playoff win with a 24-14 win over the Bobcats. Cammon Cooper completed 24-of-37 for 287 yards and two touchdowns, connecting 11 times for 89 yards and a TD with Dallin Holker and five times for 127 yards with Carson Terrell.
Riley Haderlie had 16 tackles for Sky View in the defeat.
5A quarterfinals (Friday, Nov. 4)
Jordan (8-2) at Lone Peak (10-1)
American Fork (8-4) at Syracuse (7-3)
Taylorsville (5-6) at Fremont (9-1)
Lehi (8-3) at Bingham (11-0)
The Josh Davis show continue to roll at Alta (10-1) as the running back went for 277 yards and three scores on 20 carries to lead the Hawks past Wasatch (6-5) 49-7. Will Dana connected on 19-of-27 throws for 305 yards and a pair of TDs, with Hayden Harrison on the other end of four tosses, picking up 116 yards and a touchdown.
Meanwhile, over at East (11-0), Jaylen Warren kept pace with Davis with a huge day of his own. Warren ran it 18 times for 270 yards and six touchdowns as the Leopards shut it down early after scoring 35 points in each of the first two quarters on their way to a 70-20 win over Skyline (4-6).
Highland (8-2) beat Hillcrest (3-7) 21-14 led by 86 yards on five rushes from Jake Boren.
A Jordan Papenfuss 53-yard touchdown run on a fake punt was a huge play as Woods Cross (6-4) knocked off Kearns (8-3) 35-17 despite 168 yards rushing from Cougar running back Sese Felila.
Tyson Denison completed 17-of-20 passes for 150 yards and a touchdown and Garred Blanthorn ran it 14 times for 62 yards and three scores as Maple Mountain (6-5) took care of Provo (7-5) 27-20 in Saturday 4A action
Four interceptions by the Springville (10-0) defense played a major role as the Red Devils knocked off Orem (5-7) in another Saturday contest. Brennen Rymer had two of those picks and also caught a touchdown pass.
4A quarterfinals (Friday, Nov. 4)
Timpview (9-2) at East (11-0)
Box Elder (6-5) at Maple Mountain (6-5)
Highland (8-2) at Alta (10-1)
Woods Cross (6-4) at Springville (10-0)
Park City (6-5) beat Cedar (4-6) 28-21 with huge numbers in the passing game as Spencer Zur connected on 27-of-46 passes for 412 yards and two touchdowns. Beau Pederson caught 11 balls for 166 yards and a score, while Collin Zur was on the receiving end on eight passes for 133 yards and a TD.
Jacob Mpungi ran it 17 times for 238 yards and four scores as Pine View (8-2) defeated Ben Lomond (5-6) 58-21.
A strong defensive effort from Levani Damuni, who had 11 tackles and 1.5 sacks, paced first-year program Ridgeline (8-3) past Snow Canyon (3-7) 26-0.
3AA quarterfinals (Friday, Nov. 4)
Park City (6-5) at Stansbury (8-2)
Ridgeline (8-3) at Desert Hills (7-2)
Bear River (8-3) at Dixie (6-3)
Pine View (8-2) at Tooele (9-1)
A pick-6 and another interception from Brennan Norman and 10 Owen Pentz tackles led the way for Morgan (8-3) as the Trojans shut out Manti (3-7) 20-0.
3A semifinals (at Weber State)
6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3 – Morgan (8-3) at Delta (8-3)
6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 4 – Juab (8-3) at Juan Diego Catholic (6-4)
Class 2A quarterfinals
The most diverse performance of the 2A quarterfinals came from Brandon Dansie of South Summit (9-1), who returned the opening kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown to set the tone in a 55-23 win over Enterprise (8-3). Dansie also caught eight passes for 175 yards and two scores, ran for a TD and picked off a pair of passes.
Jay Knox had 13 tackles to pace the Summit Academy (9-1) defense as the Bears knocked off South Sevier (4-7) 41-14.
Beaver (9-1) shut out North Summit (4-7) 41-0 in a Thursday 2A quarterfinal as Dillion Smith picked up 98 yards and a touchdown on just seven carries while delivering an efficient performance as a pass receiver as well, with 103 yards and two scores on just three grabs.
In the other Thursday 2A contest, San Juan (9-1) picked up a 46-6 win over Grand Country (5-6) as Dylan Ivins led the defense with 13 tackles.
2A semifinals (Thursday, Nov. 3 at Weber State)
11 a.m. – Summit Academy (9-1) vs. Beaver (9-1)
1:30 p.m. – San Juan (9-1) vs. South Summit (9-1)
Class 1A quarterfinals
A missed point-after-touchdown after a late Layton Christian Academy (7-4) score allowed Milford (7-3) to hold off LCA 34-33 in one of the day’s best battles. Bryson Barnes completed 20-of-31 passes for 380 yards and four touchdowns, with Colton Pomerinke (five receptions, 134 yards, TD) and Stetson Wright (six catches, 125 yards, TD) as his primary targets.
The ground game was on full display as Duchesne (9-1) defeated Monticello (3-7) 35-6 behind 135 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries from Weston Poulson and nine runs for 106 yards and two TDs by Steven Skewes.
1A semifinals (Friday, Nov. 4 at Weber State)
11 a.m. – Duchesne (9-1) vs. Milford (7-3)
1:30 p.m. – Kanab (10-1) vs. Rich (6-4)