Amazingly, after tonight's slate of high school football games, only two weeks remain in the regular season. For those teams teetering on the playoff bubble, it's gut-check time.
For 5A squads such as Fremont, Brighton, West Jordan and Timpanogos all teams with playoff aspirations they're in virtual must-win situations tonight.
In 4A, the same goes for schools such as Box Elder, Olympus and Provo.
The scenarios aren't quite as urgent for the smaller classifications. Sixteen of 19 3A teams make the playoffs, whereas all 12 2A teams qualify for the postseason and eight of 10 1A teams advance to the playoffs.
At the other end of the playoff spectrum, there are several games on tap tonight that will influence the outcome of several region championship races.
With its inevitable win over Syracuse, Layton will become the first 5A team to clinch a playoff berth and move to within one win of clinching at least a share of the Region 1 title.
The most intriguing game in the 5A ranks is a Utah County clash between Pleasant Grove (5-2) and Lone Peak (2-5). Despite the disparity in overall records, both teams boast 2-0 region records and the winner will occupy the driver's seat for the Region 4 championship.
In many respects, Lone Peak fell off the map after starting the season 0-5. All five preseason setbacks were against tough opponents, however, which seems to have prepared the Knights well for the games that really matter.
The game of the week in Class 4A is Cottonwood at East. Both teams own identical 6-1 records, but East is untarnished in Region 6 with a 4-0 record while Cottonwood is coming off a narrow loss to Highland.
An East win would give the Leopards a seemingly insurmountable edge in the quest for the region title with two weeks remaining.
A Cottonwood victory could create a four-way logjam atop the region assuming Highland beats Cyprus and West beats Murray. Under that scenario, all four teams would be tied with 4-1 league marks with two weeks remaining.
In Class 3A, there are two games tonight that in all likelihood will determine region titles. North Sanpete hosts Juan Diego in Region 8, while Morgan hosts Logan in Region 11.
AROUND THE GRIDIRON: Jordan receiver Cody Raymond is three touchdowns shy of tying the career touchdown receptions list with 41... Roy is gunning for its 200th win in school history ... Woods Cross coach Fred Fernandes is coaching his 100th career game, with 92 of those coming at Northridge ... Millard has defeated Grand in 13 straight games dating back to 1975 ... Skyline is 14-0 all-time against Taylorsville.
PREPS ON THE WEB: Can't wait for the nightly scores? Log on to deseretnews.com/sports/hs to see live scoring updates of more than half of the games in the state. While there, check out your favorite high school's own Web page, complete with the state's most comprehensive standings, schedules, results and leaders.
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