PLEASANT GROVE — The challenge facing Rich High's football team in this Saturday's 1A state championship game is daunting to say the least.
Not only is No. 1 Duchesne riding a 33-game winning streak — three shy of Timpview's state record — but the Eagles have beat fellow 1A opponents by double digits in 18 straight games, too.
Rich has been the victim of three of those double-digit setbacks the past two years, including a 40-14 thrashing back in Week 8 this season.
After a convincing semifinal victory of its own against Altamont, Rich is hoping for a much better showing in the 1A title game at Pleasant Grove High School at 2 p.m.
"We were just lackadaisical, and we just need to wake up and play like we know how to play," said Rich quarterback Austin Groll.
Duchesne and Rich were tied at 8-8 early in the second quarter in the first meeting, but the Eagles quickly pulled away with some big plays, and things snowballed from there as Rich was forced to play catch-up.
Jumping out early will be key again.
"It's really important to us to come out and take an early lead. We don't want to play catch-up," said Duchesne coach Jerry Cowan.
A week after balmy temperatures for the 1A semifinals, the forecast is calling for temperatures in the 30s this weekend.
Protecting the football will be of extreme importance in the cold and potentially wet conditions, but Cowan said it's nothing either team can't deal with.
"It's football, and this late in the year you kind of have to expect it. For us being in Duchesne, and for Rich, where it's even colder, it's nothing either team hasn't played in before," said Cowan.
Duchesne heads into the championship game coming off an impressive 35-7 semifinal win over Monticello as it forced seven turnovers and scored three defensive touchdowns.
Kaden Moon has anchored that defense all year with a team-high 106 tackles.
Quarterback Trent Roberts has been the offensive catalyst for Duchesne this season, and he was a nightmare for Rich in the first meeting. Not only did he rush for two touchdowns, but he passed for two scores on 5 of 10 completions.
"Last time they threw the ball well against us, and we've got to be able to stop that, and we've also got to be able to stop the run," said Rich coach Ashley Brown. "They're a very good team. It's going to be a challenge."
It's been extremely difficult for opponents to sustain drives against Duchesne's defense all season, and Rich will likely need several big plays like it did in the semifinals to have a chance at pulling off the upset.
Three of Rich's six touchdowns covered more than 40 years in the victory over Altamont, including the first two scores.
Rich running back Kaden Thomson accounted for two of those big plays on TD runs of 44 and 71 yards, as he went over 1,000 yards rushing on the season.
Scoring offense: 33.8 ppg
Scoring defense: 21.5 ppg
Passing leader: Austin Groll (43-83, 51.8%, 815 yards, 11 TDs, 2 INTs)
Rushing leaders: Kaden Thomson (119 carries, 1,008 yards, 12 TDs), Austin Groll (101, 977, 15)
Receiving leader: Wyatt Muirbrook (11 rec., 303 yards, 6 TDs), McKay Jarman (13, 202, 2)
Tackles leader: Not provided
Sacks leader: Not provided
Interceptions leader: Not provided
Scoring offense: 36.1 ppg
Scoring defense: 9.2 ppg
Passing leader: Trent Roberts (47-109, 43.1%, 1,001 yards, 16 TDs, 2 INTs)
Rushing leaders: Kaden Moon (118 carries, 904 yards, 7 TDs), Trent Roberts (95, 477, 11)
Receiving leader: McKade Nielsen (25 rec., 556 yards, 10 TDs), Josh Hanberg (6, 158, 0)
Tackles leader: Kaden Moon (106 tackles)
Sacks leader: Wade Shephard (8 sacks)
Interceptions leader: McKade Nielsen (9 INTs)1A on the air
Duchesne vs. Rich
Saturday, 2 p.m.
Pleasant Grove High School
Parry's Power: Duch. by 15RICH GAME-BY-GAME
8/25 … Rich 33, Mountain Crest JV 21
8/31 … Rich 46, West Side, Idaho 30
9/7 … Rich 35, Summit Academy 17
9/14 … Monticello 22, Rich 6
9/21 … Rich 41, Altamont 26
9/28 … Rich 46, Milford 6
10/5 … Duchesne 40, Rich 14
10/12 … Diamond Ranch 34, Rich 20
10/17 … Rich 43, Layton Christian 7Comment on this story
10/26 … Rich 48, Monument Valley 20
11/3 … Rich 40, Altamont 14
8/24 … Duchesne 39, North Summit 12
8/31 … Duchesne 33, West Wendover 0
9/7 … Duchesne 47, Milford 6
9/14 … Duchesne 37, Diamond Ranch 7
9/21 … Duchesne 42, Layton Christian 13
9/28 … Duchesne 14, Summit Academy 0
10/5 … Duchesne 40, Rich 14
10/12 … Duchesne 21, Monticello 6
10/17 … Duchesne 34, Altamont 14
10/26 … Duchesne 55, Milford 22
11/3 … Duchesne 35, Monticello 7