SALT LAKE CITY — The top teams from the 2A Central Region, Rowland Hall and St. Joseph, are the most likely contenders for this year's state title.
St. Joseph head coach Derek Tate emphasized the evenness of the two.
"If we end up getting to play each other again, it will be who executes better that day. I expect us to have a great battle at the end. That's what we're hoping for."
Rowland Hall head coach Scott Langone agreed saying, "They are solid top to bottom. If you're not careful and you're not on your game, they're going to put a hurtin' on ya."
The two have split games this year — handing each other their only region losses — with Rowland Hall snagging the latest, 1-0.
The Winged Lions are going through some changes due to injury, and a full team effort has been crucial to the continuing success. The scoring effort is well distributed and the young team is currently enjoying an eight-game win streak.
Prior to last week, St. Joseph was on an eight-game streak of its own, before falling to the Lions. The Jayhawks' Adam Brodstein poses the biggest scoring threat, as he is third in the state and leads 2A in scoring with 20 goals.
Oswald Cruz and David Donlevy aren't far behind with a combined 18 goals. Keyanu Tate acts as the glue in the middle while Mitch Koehler protects the net. Koehler is often unyielding and has earned seven shutouts so far.
Waterford, the defending state champ, had a rough start and struggled midseason but has been picking up speed with three consecutive victories. Last year, the team entered the tournament as a three seed and ended up taking home the crown.
Wendover is a viable contender as well, according to Langone and Tate.
"Wendover is a very solid team," Langone said. "They are very technical and they have guys that can really handle the ball."
The Wildcats boast a very talented cast, including Lencho Rivera, a speedy ball handler that orchestrates the offense. Sergio Badillo leads in scoring with six goals.
"All four teams have a great shot at going all the way," Tate said. "I wouldn't write any of those guys out at all."
The 2A East region is seemingly the second toughest region, with Wasatch Academy, Manti and Gunnison. Wasatch Academy is talent laden on both ends and has dropped just two games all year.
The Tigers were in the same region as the Jayhawks last year and narrowly lost both games to St. Joseph in overtime.
Manti shows promise with two potent scoring threats in Juan Miguel and Carlo Garcia. Both are among the top scorers in 2A, combining for 32 goals.
Outside of the 2A East and Central regions, Oakley leads 2A North and Millard and American Leadership are at the top of 2A West. Oakley boasts an undefeated region record but is yet to be truly tested, while Millard has won its last four contests.
Class 2A pairings
Beaver at Rowland Hall, 4 p.m.
Grand at LCA, 4 p.m.
ICS at Manti, 4 p.m.
Waterford at Millard, 4 p.m.
Gunnison at Oakley, 4 p.m.
Liahona at St. Joseph, 4 p.m.
Wendover at ALA, 4 p.m.
Mount Vernon/West Ridge at Wasatch Academy, 4 p.m.
Note: Mount Vernon and West Ridge finished tied and split their head-to-head meetings.
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