Northrdige (9-2) at Bingham (10-0)
5A state tournament quarterfinal
Friday, 4 p.m.
Parry's Power Guide: Bingham by 24
All-time series: Northridge leads 5-2
Coach vs. Coach: Bingham's Dave Peck leads Northridge's Erik Thompson, 2-0
Last meeting: Oct. 31, 2008 — Bingham 42, Northridge 7 (5A first round at Bingham)
Northridge has been able to steamroll most of its opponents with a powerful running game, as the Knights average 230 yards per game on the ground.
Well, that strength will be put to the test — to put it mildly — on Friday when the Knights play at top-ranked Bingham in the 5A quarterfinals. No team has been able to run on the Miners, who feature a front seven that has played like a brick wall this season.
"It's our strength against their strength," said Northridge coach Erik Thompson. "They've got a really good scheme matched up with really great players. We're going to battle and do whatever we can."
The Knights will have to pull out all the stops against a Miner defense that has allowed just four rushing touchdowns all season. Riverton got two of the rushing scores, and Alta and Taylorsville each hit paydirt during garbage time.
Bingham's stout run defense will probably put more pressure on Northridge quarterback Trent Buckley to try and win Friday's game for the Knights. He'll have to distribute the ball to his backs and receivers to move the chains against the Miners.
Bingham coach Dave Peck said he's impressed with what he's seen of Buckley.
"I think their quarterback is a lot like our quarterback (Stefan Cantwell)," Peck said. "He's a tough kid that could play about anywhere. I like the way he plays. He's probably a big reason for their success. You can tell he's a leader, just a kid who competes."
Defensively, the Knights will have to contend with the state's most powerful run game. Bingham, which will have star running back Harvey Langi back in the lineup after a one-game suspension, hasn't been slowed by anyone all season. The Miners have other solid backs besides Langi, and when defenses have loaded up to stop their run, they've been hurt by Cantwell.
"I think people think we just pound the ball all the time, but we can throw the ball with the best of them," Peck said. "Cantwell throws the heck out of it. He has the strongest arm of any kid I've ever been around. He's a good leader, has great grades. He's just an athlete. He's definitely a huge reason for our success."
The Knights have enjoyed an outstanding turnaround this season. They've won four more games than last year when they didn't qualify for the playoffs. They won a playoff game for the first time in six years when they beat Alta, 21-14, last week.
A bad tournament draw forces Northridge to face Bingham already, but the Knights feel OK about taking their shot against one of the best teams in state history.
"Opportunity is knocking on our door," Thompson said. "We can dare to be great, and if we don't measure up then we'll take our hats off to Bingham and feel good about our performance."
An enormous problem for Northridge in this game is depth. The Knights have a few key players that go both ways, while the Miners don't have any.
"I think we just wear people out, especially in the trenches," Peck said. "By the time we get to the third and fourth quarter we've been pounding on them both ways. We're a pretty physical team in all aspects of the game."
Northridge statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 30.7 ppg
Scoring defense: 12.4 ppg
Passing leader: Trent Buckley (97-171, 56.7%, 1,634 yards, 12 TDs)
Receiving leader: Shaymus Bertagnolli (24 receptions, 479 yards, 5 TDs)
Sacks leader: Five players tied with two
Interceptions leader: Austin Gottschalk (6 interceptions)
Bingham statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 50.3 ppg
Scoring defense: 8.0 ppg
Passing leader: Stefan Cantwell (71-117, 60.7%, 1,378 yards, 22 TDs)
Rushing leader: Harvey Langi (110 carries, 1,090 yards, 15 TDs).
Sacks leader: Moses Kaumatule (5 sacks)
Interceptions leader: Logan Parker (3 interceptions)