Ben Brewer, Deseret News
Prelude to the Playoffs
The 2012 season will be memorable for the multiple hearings the past two weeks about ineligible players – which generally results in forfeits – at East and Timpview. A controversial and largely unpopular decision left many disappointed and confused.
Despite its forfeits, Timpview still had enough wins to remain in the playoffs. However, East would have been out, but a UHSAA Board of Trustees panel justified East's inclusion in the state tournament despite using ineligible players in seven of its nine games and, in the words of the written ruling, despite "East's utter failure to adhere to the By-Laws" and its "wholesale failure to follow the rules" because of "mismanagement of the rules by the principal" and resulting "failures that actually belonged to the principal and head coach."
A team has been booted from the playoffs before. In 1919, the first year of the state tournament, Logan used three college players in its final game of the regular season. Upon discovery, the Grizzlies admitted the infraction. Second-place Box Elder replaced Logan and lost to eventual champion East.
Two other times, schools have forfeited multiple games during a season. West forfeited three contests in 1916 for using an ineligible player, but that was before state playoffs were introduced. Ogden forfeited its last three games in 1968 after the school was suspended from play because of a massive fight following a loss to Weber.
But now it's time to focus on the 2012 playoffs.
Excluding Summit Academy, a newcomer, and Granger, whose last tourney appearance came in 2005, the rest of this year's 69 contestants made the postseason at least once the past two years. Fifty-nine teams – over 85 percent of the 2011 participants – return, led by 16 of the 17 Class 4A squads (Mountain View replaced Springville).
Enterprise stays home for the first time since 2000, a streak of 11 straight appearances. Juab sits out for the first time since 2004, while Cedar and Park City haven't missed since 2006.
Summit Academy is 12th team to qualify for the playoffs in its first year of varsity football. Of the previous 11, only the 1980 Mountain View Bruins own a first-round victory (24-14 over Ogden). MV was also the only school to ever host a playoff contest in its first year.
Eleven schools have made the postseason more than 80 percent of the time those schools have played football. Five have perfect attendance: Desert Hills makes its fifth appearance, Herriman its third, Diamond Ranch its second and Summit Academy its first. But Rich has been in all 28 years of the school's existence.
The other over 80-percenters: Hunter has been in 22 of its 23 seasons, Juan Diego 12 of its 13 and Timpview 32 of 36. Lone Peak's been in 14 of its 16 seasons, Fremont 16 of its 19, Syracuse five of its six and Skyline 42 of its 51.
The Top-20 Playoff Appearances
1. Millard – 60
2. Box Elder – 56
3. Delta – 52
4. Orem – 49
5. Grand County – 47
6. Beaver, Logan – 46
8. Davis, Morgan, North Summit, Wasatch – 45
12. Kanab – 43
13. Jordan, Skyline, Springville – 42
16. Monticello – 41