The high school football playoffs start Friday and here’s a preview of all the games.
No. 4 Cedar vs. No. 5 Park City, 5 p.m.
Cedar (4-5) came into the season as one of the favorites to win the 3AA state title with a number of returning starters and playmakers. However, the Redmen were repeatedly bitten by the injury bug as they ended up finishing tied with Snow Canyon and Hurricane at the bottom of the 3AA South standings.
But things are starting to look up for the Redmen as they won two coin tosses against Snow Canyon and Hurricane to take the fourth seed. The news got even better with head coach Josh Bennett reporting that starting quarterback Mason Fakahua could play Friday after going down with what appeared to be a season-ending injury against Snow Canyon.
If Fakahua is unable to play, Braden Garrett, who has been playing slot receiver this year, will continue to start under center. Expect Cedar to come out with a heavy dose of run plays with Trenton Maurer, Travis Tait and Garrett running the show on the ground. All three players had over 100 yards rushing in a 37-29 win over Hurricane.
Park City (5-5) loves to throw the ball and is led by quarterback Spencer Zur (2,350 yards, 19 TD’s). If the Redmen can get to the quarterback early and limit the big plays, they should have a good shot at advancing to the quarterfinals next week.
No. 6 Snow Canyon at No. 3 Ridgeline, 4 p.m.
For the second consecutive season, the Snow Canyon (3-6) comes into the playoffs as the sixth seed. The Warriors used that as motivation en route to a semifinal appearance last year and look to do it again according to head coach Mike Esplin.
“We got unlucky on the coin flip, but at the end of the day we shouldn’t have put ourselves in that spot in the first place,” he said. “But it’s a new season now and the boys are excited to go out and have another big playoff run.”
Ridgeline (7-3), a new school up in cache country this year, took a number of players from Logan’s state championship team last year and will provide a tough test for the Warriors.
“Ridgeline doesn’t have a lot of weaknesses and we are going to have to play our best game of the season if we want to win tomorrow,” said Esplin. “They do have a lot of two-way players so the plan is to control the clock and hopefully wear them down in the second half.”
No. 3 Pine View vs. No. 6 Ben Lomond, 5 p.m.
If you like offense, this is the game for you.
Pine View (7-2) comes into Friday’s showdown against Ben Lomond (5-5) averaging 28.8 points per game with the Scots at 34.1.
Despite playing a sixth seed, Pine View coaches know they are going to have their hands full Friday night.
“They have a lot of players that play both ways and that’s really hurt them late in games,” Pine View assistant and defensive coach Brett Gifford said. “On film, they are right there with the best of them but as the game goes on that’s where teams have hurt them.”
The Panthers will look to wear the Scots down with its high-flying offense and its physicalness on both sides of the ball. While Ben Lomond can score, the Scots also give up 33.5 points per game so fans should expect a lot of points at Panther Stadium.
No. 5 Hurricane at No. 4 Bear River, 4 p.m.
Hurricane (3-6) comes into Friday’s game against Bear River (7-3) looking to end its four-game losing streak and try to duplicate another first round playoff win.
Hurricane hasn’t lost a first-round game since 2013 and the Bears are coming off another first round loss after falling to Pine View at home 21-13, last year.
Friday’s game will likely be low scoring as the Bears offense has been inconsistent this year, but their defense is stout, giving an average of just 12 points a game.
Hurricane will be led by running back Jaron Cordova who had rushed for more than 800 yards and six touchdowns this year. Quarterback Josh Parker also has plenty of playoff experience under his belt after taking the Tigers to the 3AA championship game in 2014.
No. 3 Canyon View at No. 2 Juan Diego, 4 p.m.
A rematch it is.
A week after taking down Juan Diego (5-4) at home in the final game of the regular season, Canyon View (4-6) will go on the road to take on the Soaring Eagle in the first round of the 3A playoffs.
The Falcons ran for 242 yards and three touchdowns and will look to have big games again from Stockton Rigby and Isaiah Shearer who have a combined 1,366 yards and 16 touchdowns.
No. 3 Enterprise at No. 2 South Summit, 2 p.m.
Enterprise (8-2) won its eighth game of the year after a 28-0 shutout victory over Millard last week. The Wolves will now go on the road as they take on a really good South Summit team (8-1) in the 2A quarterfinals.
The Wildcats have lost just one game all year and have wins against several schools in the 3A and 3AA classifications. South Summit quarterback Nick Beasley loves to throw the ball as he’s passed for nearly 2,000 yards to go with 31 touchdowns on the year.
It doesn’t help that the Wolves will be without starting quarterback Jayson Holt who went down with a season-ending injury two weeks ago. Tyler Hess will start under center again this week for Enterprise.
Friday’s game kicks off at 2 p.m.