High school football: Hawks hope to snap losing streak in Black & Blue Classic
For the first time since 2004, neither Bingham nor Alta were part of the 5A semifinal party at Rice-Eccles Stadium last fall. Don't think for a second, however, that the one-year hiatus has taken anything away from the intensity of the rivalry.
"I think it's alive and well," said Alta coach Bob Stephens.
In keeping with tradition that began when they were placed into different regions after the 2004 season, Alta and Bingham will clash in the preseason for the eighth straight season this Saturday, the third straight meeting at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Kickoff for the 2012 Black & Blue Classic is set for 7:30 p.m., which will be preceded by an exciting showdown between Herriman and Riverton at 4:30 p.m.
Bingham beat Alta 21-18 in last year's clash after Kalan Cantwell hauled in an 11-yard touchdown reception with only 17 seconds remaining. The victory was Bingham's fourth straight over Alta, and ran its record to 8-3 against the Hawks since the region split in 2004.
"We always get excited for the Alta game. It's probably one of the most hyped up games of the year," said Cantwell, who said the adrenaline is pumping for weeks leading up to the game, and then lasts for several hours afterward.
Both Bingham and Alta head into the Week 2 clash with 1-0 records, with the Miners rolling over West Jordan last week and Alta surviving a big scare from Timpview.
With both getting bounced in the early rounds of the playoffs last year, there's a little bit of unfamiliarity between the teams.
From 2006 to 2009, the teams met annually both in the preseason and then in the semifinals or championship game at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Alta won the 2007 title game and then both meetings in 2008, but ever since it's been all Bingham.
"Bingham's taken it four games in a row, and we're hoping to change it," said Alta nose guard Sonatane Lui.
Despite Bingham's current streak, the games are almost always close. In the 11 meetings since 2004, only two have been decided by double digits or more, with six being decided by four points or less.
"It's a huge atmosphere. There's always a lot of pressure who's going to win the game 'cause it's bragging rights for pretty much the rest of the year," said Bingham three-year starter Hayden Weichers. "This whole week you just get the chills every time you think about it. At night you dream about the plays you're hopefully going to make."
Cantwell lived those dreams last season.
For all the hype that surrounds the Black & Blue Classic, it's actually a respectful, healthy rivalry off the field. Many of the Bingham and Alta players are friends with one another, but for a few hours each season that friendship takes a back seat.
"There's just something about when we play them and we're on the field, it just gets so intense. We're not friends on the field for sure. When we put on the blue and black it's game on, it's enemies for the next couple hours," said Cantwell.
Regardless of what happens on Saturday at Rice-Eccles Stadium, with the quality of both teams this year, odds are good it won't be the only meeting between the two teams this year.
Short history of Alta-Bingham rivalry
2005 — Bingham 28, Alta 18
2006 — Bingham 28, Alta 12
2006 — Bingham 21, Alta 19
2007 — Bingham 23, Alta 20
2007 — Alta 21, Bingham 17
2008 — Alta 27, Bingham 19
2008 — Alta 21, Bingham 17
2009 — Bingham 38, Alta 34
2009 — Bingham 28, Alta 19
2010 — Bingham 49, Alta 26
2011 — Bingham 21, Alta 18