SMITHFIELD — It'll be strength against strength, the proverbial irresistible force versus the immovable object, when Sky View and Highland square off in their first-round Class 4A football playoff matchup Friday afternoon.
The irresistible force is the Bobcats' high-scoring offense, which ranks second among the state's 4A schools with an average of 43.1 points per game. Sky View scored 44 or more points seven times this season and went over 50 points three times, including both of the Bobcats' last two regular-season games.
Highland, meanwhile, has a strong-willed defense that ranks fifth in 4A in points allowed and is giving up an average of just 16.8 per game. The Rams allowed their opponents to score more than 17 points only three times all year.
Thus, something's gotta give when these two teams with contrasting styles tangle in Cache Valley.
“I think we drew a very good team to play in the first round,” Sky View coach Craig Anhder said. "That Highland team is a very good team.
“We’ve talked a lot about their defense and how that really won it for them against Bountiful (a 17-10 victory in regular-season finale). I give a lot of credit to that defense of theirs. They’re fast, they’re physical and they fly around. We’ll be challenged for sure. It’s as good a defense as we’ve faced since (defending 4A state champion) Timpview (which edged Sky View 34-28 in the season-opener).
“I would say we’re going to definitely take a team approach to it, in our special teams and in our defense as well," the Bobcats' coach said. "They’ve got some good running backs and a good offensive line, too, so we know they’re gonna get some yards.
"But I can tell you this — if we find a way to score and we can keep them out of the end zone, we’re gonna win."
Way to go out on a limb there, coach.
Finding a way to score certainly hasn't been a problem for Sky View this season, however.
Senior quarterback Braxton Godderidge is the trigger man for the Bobcats' offense, throwing for 2,474 yards and 26 touchdowns, while rushing for 355 yards and eight more scores.
Rugged senior running back Dane Anderson has gained more than 1,000 yards rushing and scored 14 TDs, averaging more than five yards each time he carries the football.
Highland's outstanding defense, meanwhile, has been fueled by strong performances from Adam Webber, Thomas Pembroke, Pita Tonga and Ben Bergeson, while quarterback Jamahl Greer has accounted for nearly 1,300 combined rushing and passing yards and 14 total touchdowns for a Rams team that finished third in Region 6 and generally relies on its dynamic "D" to get things done.
And they'll need it again against a big-play Sky View squad that usually has little trouble lighting the scoreboard.
"We're excited for this," Anhder said. "Getting a home game in the playoffs was one of their goals they've set for themselves this year, and they've accomplished that.
"They've earned it, and that's what I've told the kids. Nobody can take this away from them, they've gone out and earned this, and now it's a new season."
Sky View statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 43.1 ppg (2nd in 4A)
Scoring defense: 20.0 ppg (9th in 4A)
Passing leader: Braxton Godderidge (162-242, 66.9 percent, 2,474 yards, 26 TDs)
Rushing leaders: Dane Anderson (193 carries, 1,065 yards, 14 TDs), Braxton Godderidge (67 carries, 355 yards, 8 TDs)
Receiving leaders: Logan Miller (47 catches, 880 yards, 14 TDs), Alex McCrae (24 catches, 287 yards, 5 TDs)
Tackles leaders: Drake Oldham (61), Dane Anderson (56)
Sack leaders: Max Christensen (11.5), Colton Durrant (8.5)
Interception leaders: Logan Miller (4)
Highland statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 21.0 ppg (19th in 4A)
Scoring defense: 16.8 ppg (5th in 4A)
Passing leader: Jamahl Greer (51-168, 30.4 percent, 810 yards, 8 TDs)
Rushing leaders: Jamahl Greer (97 carries, 477 yards, 6 TDs), Viliami Sekona (87 carries, 459 yards, 2 TDs)
Receiving leaders: Ben Bergeson (17 catches, 270 yards, 2 TDs)
Tackles leaders: Adam Webber (82), Thomas Pembroke (66)
Sack leaders: Pita Tonga (7)
Interception leaders: Ben Bergeson (6), Adam Webber
Felt’s Facts for Highland High School
All-time record: 386-218-3 (57 years)
Region championships: 15 (1958, 1959, 1961, 1963, 1986, 1987, 1988 co, 1996, 1997, 2003 co, 2004 co, 2005 co, 2006 co, 2007 co, 2009)
Playoff appearances: 40
All-time playoff record: 52-34
State championships: 5 (1959, 1961, 1963, 1989, 2010)
State championship record:5-4
Felt’s Factoid(s): Highland holds the record for biggest comeback in state history. Down 28-0 to Bonneville in the second quarter of a 1995 playoff game, Highland scored 31 straight points to win 31-28.
Felt’s Facts for Sky View High School
All-time record: 232-245-8 (50 years)
Region championships: 6 (1969, 1972, 1979 co, 1982, 2006, 2007 co)
Playoff appearances: 22
All-time playoff record: 8-21
State championships: 0
State championship record: 0-1
Felt’s Factoid(s): Sky View clashed with Mountain Crest in the 1987 Class 3A championship in front of a state-record 19,887 fans at Utah State’s Romney Stadium.