The state high school football tournament begins next week for most classifications (2A starts this week). Some teams can breathe easily this week (Springville, Fremont, East, Bingham, Alta, etc.) but many will be playing for their tournament lives.
Let's just get right to the most important games to follow Wednesday-Friday.
Region 2 madness
This is absolutely nuts. The top 6 teams are all tied for first place. Only four can qualify for the state tournament. The best part? They all play each other Wednesday night.
1. Davis (6-3, 3-2) at Layton (6-2, 3-2)
The Darts ran away with Region 2 last season. Now, they have to defeat the Lancers just to guarantee a spot in the tournament. Could the Darts actually miss the state tournament? The Darts were thrashed at Hunter 31-7 last week and are in danger against a formidable Lancer team. The Lancers will need to rely on their defense Wednesday as they have only averaged 18.8 points per game against the rest of the top 6 in Region 2.
2. Viewmont (5-4, 3-2) at Granger (6-3, 3-2)
The Vikings got their big win over rival Davis earlier in the season, but losses to Layton and Syracuse have put them in a situation where they could miss the tournament altogether. And they like playing close games, with each game against the other top 6 in Region 2 being decided by just 5.8 points. The Lancers too have played close games, with the exception of the 33-13 loss to Hunter. The other games have all been decided by a touchdown. Can we see another nail biter in West Valley City?
3. Syracuse (5-3, 3-2) at Hunter (4-5, 3-2)
The Titans will try to extend the career of their head coach as they travel to Hunter. In the Titans' last four games, all against those in Region 2's top 6, they are 2-2, losing their only road game 29-23 to Davis. The Wolverines are coming off their huge 31-7 victory over Davis and have all the momentum. The Wolverines' season record is under .500, but Hunter does have its home field, where it has defeated the aforementioned Davis and Granger.
4. Herriman (5-3, 3-2) at Lone Peak (8-1, 5-0)
Remember when Herriman defeated Lone Peak for the state championship last year? So do the Knights. Even though Lone Peak is set as the Region 4 champ, expect it to play its best against the Mustangs. Now, the defending champ is in some trouble. Not only are the Mustangs the underdogs Wednesday, they could miss the playoffs if they lose. If the Mustangs win, they are in. But a loss puts their season in jeopardy. The Mustangs will need to play their best game of the season to get back to the tournament.
5. Pleasant Grove (5-4, 3-2) at American Fork (6-3, 3-2)
The Vikings and Cavemen will be playing for their playoff lives Wednesday night. The winner is in and will be guaranteed the No. 2 or No. 3 spot in the region. The other will be sweating bullets about getting into the tournament. The Vikings are on a four-game winning streak, including a 13-0 shutout of Herriman. On the other hand, the Cavemen have lost two of three and survived a 23-17 scare against Riverton.
6. Timpview (7-2, 4-2) at Skyridge (6-3, 4-2)
This is going to be a great game. Both the Thunderbirds and the Falcons are in the state playoffs. This game will determine the No. 2 seed out of Region 7. The Thunderbirds will need to rely on their offense and score more than 30, where they are 6-0 on the season. When scoring less than 30, they are 1-2. The Falcons are coming off a tough 24-14 loss to Orem. And like was stated before, the Falcons will need to keep the Thunderbird offense in check to secure a home tournament game next week.
Here are some more games that didn't make the list but are crucial to state tournament seeding and qualifying.
Maple Mountain (4-5, 4-1) at Salem Hills (6-3, 4-1)
These two will play for second place in Region 8.
Alta (9-0, 6-0) at Corner Canyon (5-4, 3-3)
Corner Canyon needs to win this game to keep its playoff hopes alive. It is tied with Provo and Orem for fourth place, and the Bulldogs and Tigers are favored to win their games.
Bear River (6-3, 4-2) at Stansbury (8-1, 6-0)
Two of the best teams from the 3AA North region will play each other, and the Bears can lock up the third spot with a win.
Wasatch (5-4, 2-3) at Uintah (4-5, 1-4)
If Wasatch wins, it will take the last tournament spot from Region 8.
Diamond Ranch (4-3, 2-1) at Milford (5-3, 2-1)
Winner gets second place in the 1A South region.
Bountiful (2-7, 1-3) at Box Elder (4-5, 1-3)
Winner gets the last playoff spot out of Region 5.
Nathan Harker is a sports writing intern currently enrolled at Brigham Young University majoring in broadcast journalism. Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @n8_harker.