Bountiful (9-2) at Mountain Crest (9-2)
4A state tournament quarterfinal
Friday, 4 p.m.
Parry’s Power Guide: Mountain Crest by 7
All-time series: Mountain Crest leads Bountiful, 4-3
Last meeting: Nov. 12, 2010 (4A semifinal) — Mountain Crest 42, Bountiful 35
HYRUM — A rich winning tradition is a wonderful thing.
And ever since their existence, it seems, Mountain Crest and Bountiful have fielded two of the more successful high school football programs in Utah.
Over the last decade or so, each school has a pair of state championships, with the Mustangs taking home titles in 2001 and 2005, with the Braves claiming the coveted crown in back-to-back years, 2002 and 2003.
And they know each other well, too, having tangled every year from 2005-08 and squaring off in the 4A semifinals in 2010.
The two teams' coaches — Bountiful's venerable Larry Wall and his Mountain Crest counterpart, Mark Wootton — are two of the most well-respected prep coaches in the state.
And they have great respect for each other's programs, too.
Thus, the stage is set for a dandy playoff duel when the Braves and Mustangs lock horns Friday afternoon in a 4A quarterfinal clash in Cache Valley.
"They're pretty big and physical," Wootton said in sizing up the Braves. "They've got a couple of big running backs that are well over 200 pounds, including one kid who goes around 235 and another one who goes 205, and they're just a lot bigger than we are.
"That one kid (Jakob Hunt) has over 1,400 yards, and he's big and fast and breaks a lot of tackles. We'll have to get a lot of people to him to stop him. He's a big, physical kid. He's a legitimate football player, fast and strong, and when you watch him on film he really does run hard and breaks tackles.
"If we can withstand the pounding, that'll be the key," Wootton said. "Hopefully we can get 'em to fumble the ball. Physically we're quite outmatched size-wise, but Mountain Crest always seem to be undersized a little bit, for some reason. But one of our biggest assets is we have good team speed."
In this showdown between two 9-2 teams, Mountain Crest brings an eight-game winning streak into Friday's contest, while Bountiful has won seven of its last eight games.
Each of them won handily in last week's opening round of the 4A state playoffs, with the Region-5 champion Mustangs stampeding Timpanogos 38-6 while the Braves skunked Skyline 35-6.
Wall, who has spent 27 seasons as Bountiful's head coach and leads the state among active coaches in career games coached (308) and victories (209), knows his team will have its hands full Friday.
"It's a tough one," he said of their upcoming matchup. "We've had a good rivalry with Mountain Crest over the past years and we've got a lot of respect for them. They've got a good program. We know they're a top-notch outfit.
"Every year we've played em, they've been very potent on offense. They always score a lot of points, play fast, and do a lot of different things. They're pretty balanced. They've always been a good offensive football team and present a lot of problems for you. They're multi-faceted and can run the ball well and throw the ball well, too."
Each team has an elite running back that leads the way. Hunt has carried the ball 224 times for 1,477 yards, an average of almost 7 yards per carry and 22 touchdowns. Mountain Crest's Eddy Hall has 1,380 yards on 184 carries — a stellar 7.5 yards per attempt — and 16 rushing touchdowns. Hall also has three TD receptions from quarterback Jamison Webb, who has thrown for 1,767 yards and 18 scores.
"Jakob Hunt's as good a back as there is in the state," coach Wall said of his star tailback. "He's got close to 1,500 yards for this season and just does a great job for us. He's probably our fastest kid and our strongest kid."
Mountain Crest's eight-game winning streak has been fueled by a strong defensive performance, which will be put to the test by Hunt and Co.
"It's nice to be on a streak like that," he said. "Our kids are becoming more used to winning, which helps a lot with kids this age.
"Our defense has become so good the last eight weeks. They're becoming really dominating and pretty physical. They're not real big, but they're quick and they're playing real smart and real fast. They're all under 200 pounds except for one of our kids, and they've used their speed to their advantage. We don't have any real dominating players, but they're playing really good team defense.
"Our 2005 (state championship) team didn't have a kid over 200 pounds, either," Wootton said. "But our kids have put in a lot of time in the offseason and have played very, very hard this season. Hopefully, that's enough."
Wall looks at turnovers as potentially the most telling statistic of Friday's matchup.
"Our goal would be always — and I know it sounds like a cliché and it certainly worked in our favor last week — is we need to win the turnover battle," he said. "Last week against Skyline, we got six turnovers and only committed one of our own. We need to control the football and not turn it over and play a little field position football. And hopefully, we'll have a chance at the end to win it and we'd be happy.
"The last couple of weeks, we've given up a touchdown a game or so," Wall said. "This week, when you get to this stage in quarterfinals, you know you've got to play hard, play your very best and hopefully don't get anybody hurt."
Lose and go home; win and move on — that's what the state playoffs are all about.
And the latter of those two scenarios is something these two tradition-rich programs know plenty about, so expect a dandy-of-a-duel on Friday afternoon.
Bountiful statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 29.1 ppg
Scoring defense: 16.6 ppg
Passing leader: Jordan Hayes (63-92, 68.5 percent, 853 yards, 6 TDs, 4 INTs)
Rushing leaders: Jakob Hunt (224 carries, 1,477 yards, 22 TDs), Houston Heimuli (68 carries, 482 yards, 3 TDs)
Sack leaders: Junior Hamilton, Rylee Gautavai (4.5 sacks)
Interception leaders: Jeremy Rock, Sam Merrill (3 INTs)
Mountain Crest statistical breakdown
(Note: Defensive stats are only through Week 8)
Scoring offense: 32.7 ppg
Scoring defense: 12.0 ppg
Passing leader: Jamison Webb (128-206, 62.1 percent, 1,767 yards, 18 TDs, 8 INTs)
Rushing leaders: Eddy Hall (184 carries, 1,380 yards, 16 TDs), Gaje Ferguson (53 carries, 281 yards, 6 TDs)
Receiving leaders: Faimafili Laulu-Pututau (41 rec., 689 yards, 8 TDs), Gaje Ferguson (24 rec., 269 yards, 3 TDs)
Sack leaders: Gaje Ferguson (3 sacks)
Interception leaders: Zac Kimball (2 INTs)
Felts Facts for Bountiful High School
All-time record: 363-238-8 (57 years)
Region championships: 12 (1959, 1964, 1974 co, 1975 co, 1977 co, 1981 co, 1990, 1999, 2001 co, 2002, 2010, 2012)
Playoff appearances: 37 (including 2012)
All-time playoff record: 48-31
State championships: 5 (1979, 1990, 1991, 2002, 2003)
State championship record: 5-5
Felt’s Factoid(s): Among active coaches, Larry Wall leads the state in games coached, 308, victories, 209, and seasons, starting his 27th. ... Bountiful was the last large school to shut out all its opponents in the playoffs. The Braves blanked all three en route to the 1979 Class 3A title.
Felt’s Facts for Mountain Crest High School
All-time record: 204-122 (30 years)
Region championships: 13 (1991, 1992 co, 1994, 1998, 1999 co, 2001 co, 2004 co, 2005, 2007 co, 2008, 2009, 2010 co, 2012)
Playoff appearances: 24 (including 2012)Comment on this story
All-time playoff record: 40-20
State championships: 3 (1987, 2001, 2005)
State championship record: 3-3
Felt’s Factoid(s): Mountain Crest defeated its top rival Sky View, 9-7, for the 1987 Class 3A championship in front of a state-record 19,887 fans at Utah State’s Romney Stadium. ... MC’s Alex Kuresa (2007-10) holds the career total offense record: 12,917 yards.