The most intriguing high school football game this weekend is - hands down - the Bingham-Hunter showdown.
It's run vs. pass. It's high-profile quarterback vs. star running back. It's two hard-hitting defenses vs. two prolific offenses.Best of all, it's No. 1 vs. No. 2.
Or maybe that isn't such a good thing. Remember the last time the two top-ranked teams from a classification collided on the football field?
The game quickly turned into a one-sided affair that would've been stopped early and called a TKO if it were a boxing match. And Highland might still be seeing stars after getting creamed by new No. 1 Olympus, 37-0, in last Friday's debacle between the 4A powers.
Don't expect that kind of blowout to happen when the best of Class 5A tangle in West Valley City Friday night.
Both coaches believe this west-side clash will live up to its billing.
"I'd be quite surprised if a lot of points were scored by either team," said second-ranked Bingham's coach, Son Sudbury.
"Your guess is as good as mine," said John Lambourne, coach of the No. 1 Wolverines. "These are two equally matched teams. We have coaching staffs and players that know each other really well. And we have a history of barnburners."
Last year's was as good as any. The Wolverines beat Bingham 12-9 thanks to a last-minute touchdown by David Fiefia.
Both teams will have top-quality rushers returning to their backfields. Junior Justin Grundy should make his first appearance after breaking his collarbone in preseason drills. Hunter welcomes back Joe Lomu, who missed the last three games because of a school-enforced suspension.
Hunter and Bingham have each relied on their stars to notch their 5-0 records coming into the contest.
Bingham quarterback Jake Schroeder is perhaps the best passer in the state. He has completed over 70 percent of his passes for 1,062 yards and 13 TDs.
Fiefia has carried the Wolverines on his back lately. He's rushed for almost 600 yards and eight touchdowns (736 yards and 12 TDs overall) while getting the bulk of the carries in Lomu's absence.
Though the Wolverines are at home and have won three in a row, it's pretty tough to pick a favorite. Looking at common opponents doesn't help much, either. They've played and beaten Cottonwood, Kearns and West Jordan. Bingham outscored the three teams 111-17 and Hunter defeated them 98-23.
"We'll find out how good we really are," Sudbury said.
As will Hunter.
"We'll kind of see where we both stand. We're both in the same boat," Lambourne said.
BEST OF THE REST: Two ranked 5-0 teams are also teeing off against each other in Class 2A, as No. 1 Millard visits fourth-ranked Kanab in an important Region 11 meeting.
Two other games have Top 5 teams squaring off. In 3A, No. 3 Canyon View (5-0) travels to No. 4 Dixie (3-2), while 2A's third-ranked Grantsville (4-1) is at fifth-ranked Juab (4-1) in Nephi. The latter is a rematch of last year's 2A championship game which the Cowboys won, 33-7.
LONG TIME, NO SCORE: Brighton (2-2) will try to light the scoreboard against visiting Alta (4-1) after being shutout for the first time in over a decade. The Bengals had scored in 123 games before getting blanked 18-0 by 5th-ranked Hillcrest. Their last shutout came Sept. 18, 1987.
HAVE MERCY: San Juan is averaging a state-high 52.2 points and an astonishing 50.8-point winning margin, going into its game against Duchesne. The 1-4 Eagles have already been outscored 174-52.
Utah prep football historian George Felt notes that only six teams in the state's 105-year football history have ever averaged over 50 points, and only four have won by an average margin of 50 or more.
LET IT REST IN PEACE: Skyline coach Roger DuPaix said Tuesday's meeting between principals and football coaches from Skyline and Northridge was "cordial." They gathered at Viewmont High to patch things up after a verbal dispute erupted following the Knights' 27-24 overtime win at Northridge. It was decided no disciplinary action will be necessary.
DuPaix again stressed that he felt the whole situation was blown out of proportion. He also spoke very highly of and defended his friend and volunteer assistant, Steve Marshall, who was accused by Northridge of starting the shouting incident with Knights' coach Fred Fernandes.
Skyline supporters and an apologetic Marshall didn't feel his side of the story was fairly represented in local papers.
Marshall said he didn't start, nor did he try to get into, an altercation with Fernandes. He was simply trying to prevent an incident from happening between the players after the emotional and hard-fought game, and then he heard somebody yelling at him. He said he verbally reacted to Fernandes, though he didn't recognize him as being the head coach. Marshall insisted that he didn't swing at him, though.