7 at 7: The seven best games in Week 1 of Utah high school football

Published: Friday, Aug. 23 2013 6:56 a.m. MDT

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Game of the Week

Parry’s Power Guide Advantage: Alta 4.8 points

Deseret News Prep Editor James Edward’s Selection: Alta

SALT LAKE CITY — What is this game missing? In terms of cinema screenplay it’s the typical good vs. evil script. It’s 5A vs. 4A. It’s differing demographics and communities. It’s the triple-option vs. the up-tempo spread. It’s black vs. red. And in terms of coaching, it’s Utah (East’s Brandon Matich) vs. BYU (Alta’s Bob Stephens).

The teams couldn’t be further apart. Yet, Alta and East share something very much in common: a state championship caliber roster.

Typically, in highly touted opening week matchups, teams that are able to avoid costly turnovers — especially early — and mental mistakes down the stretch earn the tally in the win column.

“A game like that early on with two really good teams, it’s the team that makes the fewest mistakes that’s going to win that football game,” Matich said. “We’ve got to be able to execute and not turn the ball over or (Alta quarterback) Chipper (Lucero) will kill us.”

Lucero threw for 3,414 yards and 37 touchdowns with 13 interceptions as a junior, and at practice Wednesday he displayed the confident swagger of a year of experience. He worked well at distributing the ball to receivers Mack Richards and Logan Harrison along with Nate Teahan — a goosebump-quick option at slot — and junior Tejon Reeves.

“I’ve coached against a lot of quarterbacks that are really good,” Matich said while noting that East put in “a bunch of new coverages” in the offseason to combat the threat. “The best I’ve ever coached against was Riley Nelson from Logan; I thought he was a spectacular high school athlete. I think Chipper is right there — he’s so good.”

Although the offense appeared well oiled on the last practice before Friday, Stephens understands that replicating game situations completely is impossible.

“First game — comfort? I don’t know if there’s such a thing,” he explained. “I feel good about our game plan both offensively and defensively, but I don’t think anyone feels comfortable. … I think the team that comes out and makes the fewest mistakes, because both teams I’m sure will make mistakes, but the team that does the least amount of that will get the win.”

East certainly has firepower on offense, too. Quarterback Isaac Valles, similar to Lucero, has experienced a smoother offseason after starting as a junior. He’s surrounded by Ula Tolutau, Preston Curtis, Malakai Solovi and a physically imposing offensive line.

“It’s going to take the guys up front and everybody together to stop their pounding run game,” Stephens said.

KEY: Both offenses are ahead of their defensive counterparts right now, which is highly unusual. Can East's lethal pass rushers frustrate Lucero into forcing throws? Can Alta's defensive front provide the surge to mitigate the downhill rushing attack? The game could very well boil down to the team that gets one or two stops or the team that separates early. It’s incredibly difficult to play catchup and shake off rust simultaneously.
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Ogden, UT

You mean you will include the seven best games in your OPINION! I'm sure there will be many people who will probably tend to disagree with some of the games that you choose because their opinion is different than yours.

Salt Lake, UT

Somebody watch the grill at East and make sure it doesn't "accidentally" set itself on fire when East is up by a few points haha

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