Monticello's P.J. Leiataua used an obscure and almost forgotten method of scoring in the Bucks' 73-8 win over Whitehorse last week: the drop kick. From the inception of football, kickers have opted to use a placeholder or simply drop the ball and kick it for a field goal or point-after. The drop kick's only requirement is that contact be made as the ball hits the ground or as it begins to bounce upward. Otherwise, it's a punt.
Before the mid-1930s, the football was more rounded on the ends, which made drop kicking easier. To facilitate passing, the ball was made "flatter" and more pointed on the ends in 1934. Drop kicking faded because of the awkward bounces the new design sometimes made.
In the NFL, Doug Flutie booted a drop kick on Jan. 1, 2006 for an extra point. It was his final play in his final game. Before that, there hadn't been a successful NFL drop kick since 1941. The last successful drop kick in the NCAA was by Aaron Fitzgerald in LaVerne's win over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (both Division III colleges in the L.A. area) in 1990.
(Both Flutie's and Fitzgerald's kicks can be seen on YouTube; Fitzgerald's shows the technique better.)
In Utah prep football, it's been 76 years since the last known successful drop kick. South's Clarence Gehrke booted a 3-pointer from the 15-yard line when South blanked East, 18-0, on Nov. 6, 1935.
Murray's Ray Badovinatz missed one from the 37 in a losing effort against Cyprus in 1963 and before last week, that was the last known attempt.
Thanks to Rhett Sifford of KAAJ-FM for bringing the play to my attention. He also reported that Monticello called timeout to alert the officials about the play and that Leiataua's drop kick came from the 17.
Wearing out the scorekeeper:
Monticello's 73 points are the most ever scored by the Bucks, who tallied 45 in the first quarter alone! Just last season, Bingham racked up 49 on Copper Hills in the first period on Sept. 30. Before that, no one had scored at least 45 points in a quarter since 1931. Only five Utah prep games have seen more than 45 scored in a single quarter topped by East's 68 against LDSU in 1919 (148-0 final).
Although scoring 73 or more is a lot, it's not unheard of in recent years. Last year, Enterprise crushed Lincoln County (Nev.), 74-30, and in 2009, Hurricane flattened American Leadership, 74-7, in a 3A first round playoff game.
Kanab destroyed Altamont, 73-8, in 2006 and in 2001, Northridge manhandled Copper Hills, 77-26, in the first round of the 5A tournament.
Even Whitehorse itself has been on the other side of a lopsided game: the Raiders walloped Rock Point (Ariz.), 74-14, in 2001.
Just six squads remain unscathed through six weeks – two in 4A (East and Logan) and one in each of the other classifications: Lone Peak (5A), Hurricane (3A), San Juan (2A) and Duchesne (1A). Neither East nor Logan have easy paths to remaining unbeaten until Week 10, but if they can, they'd meet with unblemished records in a nonregion game on Oct. 19.
Even though teams in several regions have played just one game heading into the heart of the league portion of the season, Beaver and San Juan have already secured Class 2A playoff berths. So have all nine Class 1A teams since all nine qualify for the 1A tournament.
In 2A, Manti, by defeating North Sevier, and Millard, by beating American Leadership, will claim berths.
Nearly Clinched (at least a tie):
All the 2-0 teams in Region 1 (Fremont), 5 (Logan, Mountain Crest), 6 (Bountiful, East) and 7 (Olympus, Skyline) and 3-0 Hurricane in 3A will clinch at least a tie for a playoff berth with a win, and some will cement a spot, depending on other region games.
No one has been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs, and only three teams are out of contention for region championships: North Sevier in 2A North and Parowan and South Sevier in 2A South.
In 4A, 17 teams will qualify for the playoffs with Region 7 No. 4 hosting Region 8 No. 5 in a play-in game with the winner facing Region 5 No. 1. Realignment hasn't completely eliminated those dreaded play-in games requiring the winner to play at least two games the same week – and three if there's a tie for the last playoff spot(s).
2011's Most Improved
Despite losses by Carbon, Copper Hills and Granger last week, those three and Stansbury lead the state with a five-game improvement over last year.
San Juan (6-0) is guaranteed its ninth consecutive winning season and Hurricane (6-0) its fourth straight.
Now in its 56th year, Bountiful goes for its 350th win while North Sanpete plays its 700th game in 96 seasons of football.
Highland's Brody Benson is again gunning for his 50th victory while James Cordova is directing his 100th contest at Judge Memorial. Barry Jones, at Enterprise, and Matt Labrum, at Parowan, are both coaching their 50th games.
It's the 82nd battle of the "Summits" in the 11th most-played rivalry. South Summit grabbed the last two contests to narrow North Summit's series lead to 45-32-4. In perhaps the most memorable series game, SS shut out NS 14-0 to win the 1978 Class 1A trophy.
Kanab and Parowan meet for the 72nd time in what can hardly be termed a rivalry: the Cowboys have won 49 straight over the Rams and lead the series 66-4-1. It's also the second meeting this year. Kanab took a 28-0 victory in a non-region game on Aug. 26.
American Fork and Lehi renew their rivalry for the 67th time but first since 2008. AF has won six straight over the Pioneers to up its series lead to 44-18-4.
Logan and Sky View clash for the 50th time in an uninterrupted series that began in 1964 when Sky View opened. They've split their last four in the series, which the Grizzlies lead 29-20.
Bonneville has captured four straight over Roy in another uninterrupted series – this one started in 1965 when Roy opened. The Lakers lead 33-14 going into the 48th meeting.
Series Win Streaks
In addition to Kanab's 49-game streak over Parowan and American Fork's six-game streak over Lehi, several other games are noteworthy because of winning streaks by one team in the series.
San Juan has an 18-game win skein over South Sevier going back to 1980 and leads the series 20-3. … Dixie dropped a game to Canyon View in 2000, but it's been all Flyers in 10 games since. … Grantsville has also taken 10 straight over Ben Lomond, since 2002.
Skyline has claimed eight straight against Hillcrest, all during Roger DuPaix's tenure. … Tooele also has an eight-game winning streak going against Ogden, although they haven't met since 2006. The Buffs lead the series 12-7 extending back to 1921. … Hunter has a six-game winning streak against Granger since to 2002 and leads the series 13-5.
First-time pairings involving fairly new schools would be expected, and there are four of those this week: Diamond Ranch at Layton Christian, Herriman vs. Olympus (played at Skyline), Maple Mountain at Provo and Westlake at Murray. But there is one surprise, too: Gunnison Valley at Emery County. Emery has been playing since 1962 and Gunnison since 1990, yet these two Central Utah schools have never met in football. They're about 40 miles apart as the proverbial crow flies, but some 90 road-miles distant.
Other Game Notes
Week 7's top game pits the state's top two teams when Lone Peak invades Bingham on Thursday, likely for the Region 4 crown. The Miners won both previous contests, 31-3 in 2007 and 24-8 in '08, Tony McGeary's first year coaching the Knights.
Brighton hosts Alta in their annual battle: the Hawks have captured four of the last five, but the Bengals still lead the series 19-15. … Jordan and Copper Hills last met in 2005 when the Beetdiggers snared a 28-24 decision to take a 6-2 series lead. … West Jordan and Cottonwood haven't faced off since a 2004 first round playoff game. The Colts won, 47-33, but the Jags still maintain a slim 3-2 series edge.
Kearns has a four-game winning streak against West and leads the series 5-4; they last met in 2007. … Viewmont grabbed both previous meetings with Taylorsville, in 1993 and '94. … Davis and Layton have split their last six meetings; the Darts lead the series 19-13.
Woods Cross stunned Highland, 31-23, last season to break a 10-game losing streak to the Rams, who lead the series 18-3. … Spanish Fork and Delta clash for the third time: the Dons won 12-0 in 1948 and a 1959 game ended in a 7-7 deadlock.
Richfield has a two-game win streak against Grand and leads the series 11-6. The Wildcats defeated the Red Devils in 1984 to claim their only football championship. … Manti and North Sevier last squared off in 2002, even though these Central Utah schools are just 30 miles apart. The Templars have defeated the Wolves 12 of their 17 meetings.
Spanish Fork's Hayden Nielsen has moved into sixth place in Career Total Offense with 7,415 yards, but 807 yards out of fifth (Kyler Carlsen, Sky View, 2007-09). He's also crossed the 6,000-yard Career Passing mark with 6,041 – good for ninth place and 54 yards short of eighth (Alex Cate, Cottonwood, 2004-05).
Springville's Steve Bate has thrown 62 Career TD Passes – tied for 11th while Nielsen has tossed 61, tied for 15th.
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Timpview's Tyler Solorzano has kicked 118 career extra points, 11th most in state history; he needs one more to jump into a tie for 10th. He was missed in last week's stats.
Beaver has the most shutouts this season – all in the past three weeks. It's the first time the Beavers have whitewashed three consecutive opponents since 1991. … Two weeks ago, Grantsville posted its first shutout since 2005, then followed up with another last week. The last time the Cowboys blanked opponents back-to-back? 2005.
See you on the sidelines.