There's a handful of games every year that high school football fans circle on the calendar and say, "that's where I want to be."
One of those games is usually Alta vs. Bingham, while others are often rivalry games that kids look forward to playing in as far back as their little league days.
Sometimes, like Friday at Highland, the stars align and football fans are treated to a unique preseason showdown between two of the best teams in the state. That's what's on tap when 5A's Lone Peak travels to 4A's Highland in a marquee showdown of undefeated teams with state title aspirations in their respective classifications.
"It's a preseason game. It doesn't really matter as far as the standings, but you want to go out and compete and have a good showing," said Highland coach Brody Benson. "Our goal, especially for a preseason game, is to go out and get better at what we do and go out and be physical."
If this game were on the boards in Vegas, it would be listed as pick-em because most agree it could go either way. Highland's power running game is more than capable of dictating the outcome of the game, while Lone Peak's passing attack could take over as well.
"They execute that offense really well, it's probably the best offense we've seen this year," said Lone Peak coach Tony McGeary. "Defensively they're very physical up front, very quick. It will be a challenge for us no question about it."
Both teams are 3-0, but Lone Peak's perfect start looks much more impressive with double-digit wins over Bountiful, Mountain Crest and Davis. The Rams, meanwhile, have steam-rolled West, Cedar and Provo, but the latter two Benson admits, "weren't much of a test. They didn't really do too much to cause us any problems."
Lone Peak is playing arguably the best football in the state right now, and it could cause Highland a lot of problems — particularly Chase Hansen. The Ute-bound senior has completed 65 percent of his passes for 648 yards and eight TDs. He's also rushed for 276 yards and three TDs on 39 carries. No one else on the team has carried it more than 15 times.
"It's kind of like going into that game against Mountain Crest (against Alex Kuresa). You just want to contain him," said Benson.
Highland believes the key will be neutralizing the weapons around Hansen to put even more pressure on the senior. Hansen faced similar circumstances at Davis last week, but he still thrived in leading the Knights to the 21-10 victory.
Tonight's game is a rematch of Highland's 14-12 win at Lone Peak in Week 3 a year ago. The Rams were 0-2 heading into the game, but the victory turned around their season as they went on to win the 4A title. Lone Peak bounced back from the surprising loss and won nine straight to advance to the 5A semifinals.
RIVALRY NOTES: Ben Lomond hosts Ogden tonight in the 58th meeting in the battle for the Iron Horse. The teams have also met five times in the playoffs with Ogden leading the series comfortably 43-19.10 comments on this story
Morgan and Grantsville renew their rivalry with the 75th meeting tonight, a series Morgan has dominated 45-27-2.
STAY CONNECTED: To keep high school football fans in touch with the action around the state, the Deseret News will post quarterly scoring update at deseretnews.com for virtually every game in the state.
The Deseret News recently launched a new mobile version of deseretnews.com — deseretnews.com/m/ — so be sure to have your smartphones handy with you in the bleachers so you can scroll through scores from around the state.