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High school football: Tradition meets upstart at Herriman

Published: Friday, Sept. 23 2011 12:08 a.m. MDT

HERRIMAN — Oh how the tale of old versus young is vividly intertwined within the matchup between Skyline and Herriman.

Could the passing of the torch already be in movement in only the Mustangs second season in existence? With both teams moving down a classification this season, that very well could be the case.

In order to glance into the future, however, one must take a step back and study the past. In this regard, Herriman is striving to become what Skyline once was.

The Eagles have the third most titles in state history, two touchdowns worth, winning all 14 championships after 1967 including five straight from 1995-99.

The third-place ranking needs to be taken with a grain of salt considering both West/Salt Lake (21) and East (16) combined for 31 championships before '67. Not to mention from 1898-1917 the team with the best record against other competition was deemed the champion rather than the typical playoff format in place today.

Skyline (3-2) also has the fourth longest winning streak (23) in state history and has helped coach Roger Dupaix rack up 297 career victories — the highest win total in Utah high school football.

The gold domes have established themselves as the elite program in the state of Utah.

But all things must come to an end.

Recently, in the past six years, the Eagles have had four seasons with five losses — including the 9-5 season in 2005 in which they entered the playoffs with a .500 record before winning the state championship.

Whispers have grown to chatter questioning if Skyline's book has officially closed.

Meanwhile, the Mustangs have very little, but already valuable experience. Last year the school in Herriman opened its doors for the first time in the 5A classification, earning a berth in the opening round of the playoffs with a 4-7 record.

"Their coaching staff is really good and all we're thinking about is that we need to win this game in order to compete and win a region championship," said Skyline coach Roger Dupaix. "Whether they're a two-year school or a five-year school we'll have to play our very best football to win this game."

Herriman has already surpassed its 2010 win total this season, bursting out to start the year with a 5-0 record.

Behind Francis Bernard, who has rushed for 754 yards and eight scores off of 139 carries, and quarterback Tueni Lupeamanu, the Mustangs have scored 40 or more points in three consecutive games in 4A — a feat they could only accomplish once last year.

Many doubters, nonetheless, are quick to point out that Herriman has played five teams with a combined record of 11-14 and needed overtime to tiptoe past a highly overrated Riverton team.

Skyline is finally the test that Herriman needs to silence its critics.

"Whoever wins this game has a leg up and that's our goal is the region championship," Dupaix said. "It always has been our goal and everything else will take care of itself. They're a team that deserves to be 5-0. They're very physical (and) very good. We just had a couple of good weeks and hopefully we can get a little bit of momentum from it."

The Eagles have taken a different journey thus far. After starting the season off with consecutive losses to Hurricane and Syracuse, Skyline has strung together three straight wins, most notably the 27-7 eye-opener against Juan Diego to get back in region title considerations.

Can the king continue to wear the crown and start a new reign in 4A? Or is it time for the newcomers to become anointed into football royalty? Either way, no matter the outcome, a lot of questions will be answered tonight at 7 p.m. at Herriman High.

Email: tphibbs@desnews.com

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