Highland (6-4) at Olympus (6-4)
4A state tournament first round
Friday, 5 p.m.
Parry’s Power Guide: Highland by 12
All-time series: Highland leads 47-19
Coach vs. coach: Olympus’ Aaron Whitehad and Highland’s Brody Benson, tied 1-1 — both meetings occurred when Whitehead was at East in 2006 and 2007
Last meeting: Oct. 1, 2010 — Olympus 21, Highland 17
In the days leading up to hosting Highland High in their 4A playoff matchup, the Olympus Titans are bracing for a battle.
“Highland is a very, very good team. They are traditionally very physical, they play smack-you-in-the-mouth football,” said Olympus coach Aaron Whitehead. “And I don’t expect any different.”
The Rams, on the other hand, are working to prepare for the changing looks of the Titans.
“We are getting ready to face a tough Olympus team. They do a lot of things well, and they have a lot of different formations,” Highland coach Brody Benson said. “It’s hard to get a beat on what they are doing, run or throw. They keep you on your toes.”
When looking at the numbers, the Rams and Titans look quite similar. Both squads finished the season with an overall record of 6-4; they both averaged approximately 23 points per game on offense; and while the Highland defense allowed 16.1 points, the Titans gave up just slightly more with 17.7.
The Rams ultimately finished in the third-place slot in Region 6, and Olympus earned its place in a three-way tie for the Region 7 title.
“I am proud of this senior class,” Whitehead said of his team. “They won one game as sophomores, two games in JV, and this year they are region champs.”
The Titans’ only region loss — their only region loss in two years — was against co-champion Herriman. The Mustangs lost to Skyline, a team Olympus beat, to create the tie at the top of the standings.
“Our theory is if we are playing better competition, we will play better,” Whitehead said. “We are definitely seeing the fruits of that labor.”
Highland, meanwhile, is putting all of its attention on what is ahead rather than allowing the Region 6 commotion to stray focus.
“If we are focused on that,” Benson said, “then we’re not focusing on what we need to — and that’s Olympus.”
Namely, Titan quarterback Corbin Anderson.
“He is a good athlete,” Benson continued. “He throws well, he runs well, he’s dangerous.”
The Olympus run game is led by Jake Jones, who has so far accumulated 785 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns. Tate Benson is the team’s leading receiver and has also recorded 60 tackles, one sack, and three interceptions. Tanner Goates leads the Titan defense with more than 70 tackles, 5.4 sacks and two interceptions.
The Rams will be depending on the play of junior running back Adam Webber, who has accumulated rushing yards, receiving yards and the second-highest total tackles for Highland.
“He has been solid all year,” Benson said. “In fact, he has been solid for three years. He has taken on a leadership role, and we will look to him on both sides of the ball.”
Senior Austin Peterson is the Rams’ quarterback and also leads the rushing attack with more than 600 yards on the ground, and Luti Nonu and Bryan Mone anchor the line on both offense and defense.