Kearns (4-6) at Bingham (8-2)
5A state tournament first round
Friday, 4 p.m.
Parry's Power Guide: Bingham by 33
All-time series: Bingham leads 22-9
Coach vs. coach: Bingham's Dave Peck leads Kearns' Bill Cosper, 5-0
Last meeting: Sept. 24, 2010, Bingham 52, Kearns 7
SOUTH JORDAN — For the first time since 2004, after 31 straight region victories, Bingham isn't the No. 1 seed heading into the state playoffs.
However, one streak is still very much intact. The Miners will look to extend its eight game winning streak in the postseason against Kearns tomorrow at 4 p.m. at Bingham High.
Bingham has won 17 of its last 19 playoff games and hasn't lost at home since 2005 when it was upset by Brighton, 31-24. Kearns coach Bill Cosper is fully aware of the supremacy that Bingham has displayed over the years and is excited for the chance to shock the state.
"From injuries and losing close games — our kids are excited about the playoffs and the opportunity to play Bingham," he said. "It's one of those things. You have to be realistic and realistic is probably no one wants to believe that Kearns can win but the team and the coaches. You have an opportunity that can be something that you can really remember. It can be a lifetime memory. Our kids are looking forward to it."
The Cougars (4-6) have had quite the ride this season with injuries and several close losses in the fourth quarter. After starting the season 1-3, Kearns won three of its final five games. The two losses were by a combined seven points with one heading into overtime.
"Finally we're being able to pay the dividends from guys fitting in and replacing (injured players). We actually could have won; we fumbled on the 20 (yard line) against Viewmont with 1:20 left in the game (looking) to kick a field goal," said Cosper. "That could (have) conceivably clinched the region title if we would have won. It's been tough but the kids have been fighting through some adversity."
If Kearns expects to pull off the massive upset, it'll have to win the time of possession battle. In order for that to happen, tailback James Felila, will be the focal point to establishing the run game.
Thus far he's rushed for 758 yards and nine touchdowns after changing positions from safety after injury struck.
"He just has to continue running hard, which he does, and the main thing he has to do is take care of the football," Cosper said of Felila. "We've got to cut down our turnovers offensively – that's one of the things that's going to be a key to the game."
Bingham (8-2) is an entirely new animal than anything Kearns has seen this season. The Miners have six different players that have found the end zone at least twice on the ground. Daniel Palepoi leads the herd with 1,103 yards and 10 touchdowns off of 154 carries. Kalan Cantwell and Hayden Weichers have teamed up for 14 touchdowns and 54 receptions in the passing attack.
On defense, the Miners have 17 players that have eclipsed 20 tackles and are led by their two leaders Jared Afalava and Drake Miller, who've combined for 119 tackles. Bingham knows its defense has to make big stops to stay ahead in the battle of the clock.
"To counteract (clock management game-plan) you can't give up first downs. If they're getting three, four yards a pop — control the ball and control the clock. That is the one way they can stay in the game," said Bingham coach Dave Peck.
Kearns feels like it'll be ready for the on slaughter of talent it'll see come Friday because of previous encounters.
"It's not like we haven't played Bingham, we've been in (their) region for the last six years," Cosper. "Our kids know how Bingham is and in the past we've played well for a half. Then we've shot ourselves in the foot. It's like I told (the players) we need to play a complete game. Not just a half."
Kearns statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 20.8 ppg
Scoring defense: 20.1 ppg
Interceptions leader: Afuvai Leiato (3 interceptions)
Bingham statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 35.1 ppg
Scoring defense: 16.7 ppg
Passing leader: Brady Lail (96-175, 54.9%, 1,302 yards, 16 TDs, 7 INTs)
Interceptions leader: Koa Wilson (3 interceptions)