Jason Olson, Deseret News
This week's high school football games are off their regular schedule because it's UEA Week, but there are some heavyweight showdowns.
Three league championships will be decided when Davis hosts Fremont in Region 1 and Bingham travels to Riverton in Region 3 tonight, and Millard plays at Enterprise in 2A West on Thursday.
All three games have high stakes, but the closely contested title matchup is expected to be the Region 1 clash.
Most games in 5A's northern region are close, and that bodes well for underdog Fremont. The Silver Wolves have been under the radar since losing their season-opener against Jordan, but they've won seven straight games and put themselves in position to compete against Davis for the Region 1 championship.
Darts coach Ryan Bishop said Fremont is no surprise team.
"We start playing league games in Week 2, so everyone gets to see film on each other from the get-go," he said. "Everybody (in Region 1) has really had an idea that Fremont is a team that's truly gotten better the last couple of years. Everybody in the region knows how good they are. On the northern end of the state, they've made a lot of noise."
Fremont has been mentally tough enough to win close games, beating Syracuse and Northridge in overtime and Weber with a late field goal. The Silver Wolves have a star on offense in running back Nick Vigil, who is closing in on a 1,000-yard rushing season.
Silver Wolves coach Kory Bosgieter said it'll take another clutch effort to beat the Darts.
"We need to play a complete game," he said. "Every team in this region knows that you have to beat Davis if you're going to win it. We're just grateful to be able to go down (to Davis), and the game has some meaning to it."
The Darts and Silver Wolves are closely matched, but second-ranked Davis has one significant advantage: rest. The Darts had a bye last week, so they'll be playing tonight's game on 12 days' rest. Fremont, meanwhile, is playing on a short week after beating Viewmont on Friday.
"Of course we would (like to have more time), not only to prepare but to heal up from last week," Bosgieter said.
Obviously, playing the Darts is a big concern as well. Davis is unbeaten at 7-0, and is also solid in close games. The Darts, with three-year starting quarterback Gavin Fowler leading the way, beat Northridge by three, Viewmont by seven and Syracuse in overtime.
"They're very good," Bosgieter said. "We have to win all three phases to win the game."
Another set of Silverwolves is feeling the same way. Although Riverton is unbeaten at 8-0, it is a decided underdog against top-ranked Bingham tonight. The nationally ranked Miners have owned the series against Riverton, winning the last six games, and they're averaging more than 50 points per game.
But the Region 3 championship game should be closer than most people expect — and even the Miners say that.
"This is their best team by far," Bingham coach Dave Peck said of the Silverwolves. "I think it's going to be a good game."
The 2A West title game also will be very good. Enterprise has won seven straight games and features one of the state's most productive players in quarterback Slade Moyle. In eight games, Moyle has thrown 25 touchdown passes and rushed for 17 more scores. The Wolves have scored more than 40 points in six of their games.
Millard could be up to the task of slowing down Moyle and the Wolves. The Eagles have won six straight games and feature a solid running game that could help keep Moyle on the sidelines. Jesse Rhodes has rushed for more than 1,000 yards, and Francisco Alcala has gained 667 more yards on the ground.
In addition to the region championship games, a few other contests are intriguing tonight because teams are in must-win situations. In Region 6, Woods Cross has to beat Highland in order to stay in playoff contention. In Region 2, Hunter has to beat Skyline in order to avoid having to be in a play-in game, and the loser of the Murray-Cyprus game is eliminated from the postseason chase.
Also, Layton would eliminate Weber from playoff contention with a win. And Lone Peak would clinch the outright Region 4 championship with a victory over Pleasant Grove.
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