Ravell Call, Deseret News
American Fork (5-5) at Viewmont (7-3)
5A state tournament first round
Friday, 5 p.m.
Parry's Power Guide: Viewmont by 1
All-time series: Viewmont leads 2-1
Coach vs. coach: First meeting between American Fork's Aaron Behm and Viewmont's Brad Lloyd
Last meeting: Oct. 26, 2007, American Fork 28, Viewmont 21 (5A first round)
Which Viewmont High team will show up for Friday's first-round playoff game against American Fork?
Will it be the terrific Viewmont team that notched six straight victories en route to winning this year's Region 2 title? Or will it be the Vikings' squad that struggled and turned the ball over in its regular-season finale, a surprising 28-14 setback against Hunter?
"We had one of those darn days (the University of) Utah's been going through," Viewmont head coach Brad Lloyd said of his team's loss to the Wolverines. "We gave up a kickoff return for a touchdown and threw an interception that they returned for another touchdown.
"You've got to hand it to Hunter, though. They played very well and are really hitting their stride. They pretty much took it to us up front.
"We didn't have the intensity that we normally have," admitted Lloyd, whose team had already clinched the Region 2 crown a week earlier. "We're hoping it's a real good wake-up call for us. Sometimes you just get going along and start feeling pretty good about yourself. With six wins in a row, sometimes you can get a little complacent.
"And Hunter was in a situation where, if they beat us, they wouldn't have to have a play-in game to get in the playoffs and they could've moved all the way up to second place in their region, which is a very tough region."
Now the Vikings must seek to regain their lost momentum.
After losing two of their first three games early in the season, the Vikings rattled off six consecutive wins. Strong defense was their main calling card during the Vikings' winning streak, as they allowed an average of just 11 points per game over that six-game span.
But after wrapping up the Region 2 title, Viewmont suffered a 28-14 setback against a 3-6 Hunter team last week, stopping the Vikings' winning ways and sidetracking their momentum heading into the playoffs.
The Vikes will try to get their ship steered back in the right direction behind the play of quarterback Josh Staples, who has thrown for over 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns and has rushed for nearly 400 yards and four more scores. Staples' top receiving target is Haden Heath, who has 42 catches for 504 yards and six touchdowns.
"Our defense has been extremely tough this season," Lloyd said. "They get turnovers for our offense and we've been able to capitalize on some of those.
"Every team's gonna be bigger than us. American Fork has got good size and they've got a big, strong-armed quarterback that throws the ball real well, and they've got a real good receiver, too. They like to play old-school, power football that helps them set up the play-action pass."
American Fork started the season strongly with three straight wins, but since then, the Cavemen have dropped five of their last seven games. However, two of those losses were one-pointers — 22-21 setbacks against both Cottonwood and Riverton — along with lopsided losses to 5A powerhouses Lone Peak and Bingham.
Tyler Brimhall has accounted for nearly 1,300 combined passing and rushing yards and 10 touchdowns, and Tyler Belliston leads the A.F. ground game with nearly 800 yards and nine TDs. Brandon Tausinga and Silas Olsen are the Cavemen's top tacklers on defense.
American Fork statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 21.6 ppg
Scoring defense: 22.1 ppg
Passing leader: Tyler Brimhall (52-107, 48.6%, 863 yards, 5 TDs, 7 INTs).
Rushing leaders: Tyler Belliston (135 carries, 790 yards, 9 TDs), Tyler Brimhall (98 carries, 418 yards, 5 TDs).
Tackles leaders: Brandon Tausinga (72 total tackles), Silas Olsen (67 total tackles).
Interceptions leader: B.J. Eldredge, Dallin Lindsey (2 interceptions)
Viewmont statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 19.61 ppg
Scoring defense: 15.4 ppg
Passing leader: Josh Staples (121-191, 63.4%, 1,248 yards, 11 TDs, 12 INTs)
Rushing leaders: Josh Staples (103 carries, 372 yards, 4 TDs), Braden Waiters (47 carries, 381 yards 7 TDs)
Receiving leaders: Haden Heath (42 receptions, 504 yards, 6 TDs), Colton Steele (15 receptions, 115 yards, 1 TD)
Tackles leaders: Levi Hinze (81 total tackles), Paul Tesina (70 total tackles)
Sacks leaders: Colton Steele (2 sacks)