Cottonwood (3-7) at Bingham (8-2)
5A state tournament first round
Friday, 5 p.m.
Parry’s Power Guide: Bingham by 22
All-time series: Bingham leads 20-13
Last meeting: Sept. 14, 2012 (Week 5) — Bingham 34, Cottonwood 14
Bingham matches up with Cottonwood in a game that very well may feature more Div. I college talent on both sidelines than any matchup in the state. Bingham is always chock full of college talent, but Cottonwood has more than its fair share and Bingham coach Dave Peck has noticed.
“They have a quarterback going to Alabama, a receiver going to BYU and a tight end that is going to UCLA and some others, so yeah, they have plenty of talent,” observed Peck. “Any team with that amount of talent is going to be tough and they’re playing great right now.”
Bingham handled Cottonwood with ease early on in the season, taking a 34-14 win, but Peck believes his team will be facing a different Colt team on Friday.
After dropping its first five games of the season Cottonwood rebounded to beat Brighton, Copper Hills and then Brighton again in its play-in game this past Monday. The game that maybe announced how dangerous the Colts can be was when they came very close to beating 5A bully Jordan.
“We’ve come a long way and it hasn’t been easy for these kids,” said Cottonwood coach Greg Croshaw. “I’m the fourth coach these kids have had in four years and I’ve only been here since July. It’s taken time to get through some injuries and to just get everything together and we feel just fortunate to make the playoffs. It’s been a hard, tough year, but it’s such a credit to these kids who have been through so much that we’re here playing in the state playoffs.”
Cottonwood is led by senior quarterback Cooper Bateman, who has incurred some unique challenges after committing to Alabama over the summer. Cottonwood simply hasn't been healthy all year along with having to adjust to a new coach and a different system.
"Cooper (Bateman) has been our only player with scholarship offers that has played all year," said Croshaw. "He's battled through a lot and we're still not completely healthy, but we are probably as healthy as we've been all year."
Bateman is joined by Inoke Lotulelei, who is committed to BYU, at receiver and Saile Fakailoatonga, who is committed to UCLA, at tight end. Lotulelei led the team in receptions with 60 for 973 yards and four touchdowns while Fakailoatonga has been limited by injury for a lot of the year.
Bingham, meanwhile, is hitting its stride just in time for the playoffs, according to Peck.
"I love where we're at as a team right now and I truly believe we're playing the best we have all season," he said. "We've had some very good leadership on this team and it's a team that has been through some challenges, but they got through them. It's a team that is very close and unified."
Bingham doesn't feature any particular player with superior stats, but is led by several players with Div. I scholarships and is typically dominant along both its offensive and defensive fronts.
"Bingham is a legendary program and is as well-coached as any high school in the country," said Croshaw. "They always have a lot of guys they send to the next level and this year is no different. It's going to be a huge challenge for us, but we're hopeful we can come out of there with a win. We need to play flawless football and we'll need some breaks to beat a team like Bingham."
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