Spittin' images and the state's longest winning streaks - that succinctly summarizes the story lines behind Friday's 4A and 3A state prep football championship games at Rice Stadium.
At 11:30 a.m., Highland meets Skyline for the 4A title in a matchup that seems like identical twins squaring off against each other. One other item of note - Highland is the team that handed Skyline its sole loss this season - a 21-14 loss in a Wednesday night game on Oct. 10.And at 6 p.m., Bear River battles Bountiful for the 3A crown, with the Bears having won 11 straight games since an opening week loss to Jordan and the Braves sporting the state's only undefeated overall record.
The UHSAA-First Security Bank championship doubleheader will also get double billing when broadcast by KXIV-TV, Channel 14. The 3A game will be televised live at 6 p.m., while the earlier 4A contest will be broadcast immediately afterward on a tape-delayed basis, at approximately 8:30 p.m.
Highland (10-2) vs. Skyline (11-1), 11:30 a.m.: Talk about your mirror images. Both teams run the wishbone, with Roger Dupaix installing the offense at Highland while with the Rams in the early 1980s. Dupaix then brought the wishbone along when he moved over to Skyline in 1986, and former Ram assistant Tom Kingsford kept the same offense essentially intact when he took over as the Highland head coach after Dupaix's departure.
There's more similarities - both have good-sized lines anchored by standouts such as Highland's Kerry Hicks and Skyline's Aaron Hansen. Both have talented backfields that run the wishbone to near perfection. And both have a second-year starter at quarterback wearing identical No. 4 jersey numbers with each better than your average Joe - that's Skyline's Joe Dupaix and Highland's Joe Sheffield.
Averaging 26 points a game this season, the Rams have amassed a five-game winning streak. But Highland has cut it close of late - the Rams' last six games have all been decided by single-digit margins. That includes a pair of overtime victories in the playoffs, with the latter being last week's 24-23 OT semifinal triumph over Provo, thanks to Kerry Hicks' block of a PAT kick.
Some numbers of note for Skyline - the Eagles have scored 44, 50 and 48 points in three previous playoff games while averaging 38 points a game on the year. The 14 points in the previous outing against Highland was one of only two times when Skyline failed to score at least 21 points, and the defense has given up more than two touchdowns in a game on only four occassions.
Bear River (11-1) vs. Bountiful (12-0), 6 p.m.: This is the kind of matchup made for a championship - the undefeated Braves facing a Bear team that has won 11 straight. The title-game twosome have been quite dominating all season - except for a pair of squeaker-type wins in last week's 3A semifinals, with Bear River edging Spanish Fork 31-29 and Bountiful nipping Mountain Crest 17-14.
Bear River's sole blemish on its overall record is a 17-7 opening-week loss to Jordan, with the Bears learning since then by averaging 26 points a game this year - make that 32 points a game for the past six weeks. The bulk of the offense rests with running back Jared Burnham, while backfield mate Brian Theurer and QB Shawn Fuhriman also potent threats. The Bears have a large, underclass-laden line that has matured quite well over the season.
As the state's sole undefeated team, Bountiful has averaged 31 points a game, with last week's 17-point output its fewest points all year.
The Braves couple a strong defense and a balanced offense that features folks like Chris Jones and Jake Murdock on the ground and QB Austin Lindsay and receiver Aaron Roderick through the air.
Prep football state titlists
Teams having won the most prep football titles, with no distinction made between the 4A, 3A, 2A and 1A classifications.
Team Tot. title recent
East 15 1917 1974
Salt Lake 12 1898 1913
Millard 11 1950 1988
Jordan 10 1931 1950
Beaver 9 1970 1990*
Judge 9 1948 1983
Box Elder 7 1926 1960
West 7 1915 1984
Davis 6 1937 1976
Delta 6 1938 1986
Kanab 6 1974 1987
Skyline 6 1967 1979
Ogden 6 1901 1966
Note: List includes Beaver's 2A championship won last week.
Source: UHSAA Handbook