For several 5A football teams, they'll try and break through the quarterfinal ceiling today that's hindered their program for decades.
Layton hasn't advanced to the state semifinals since 1979, American Fork hasn't advanced since 1984 and Timpanogos is 0-for-11 since the school opened in 1996.
Conversely, the other five semifinalists have all played a game at Rice-Eccles Stadium as recently as 2003, with Alta looking to making it three straight trips to the U. and Bingham hoping to make it two straight.
If home-field advantage is a factor, Layton and American Fork are good bets to end their lengthy droughts.
Today's four quarterfinals include: Timpanogos at Alta, Hunter at American Fork, Davis at Bingham and Skyline at Layton.
Several of the games could ultimately be blowouts, but it's hard to imagine that occurring when Skyline pays a visit to Region 1 champion Layton.
Perennial state-title contender Skyline is back from the dead, winning five straight after a horrendous 2-4 start in which it lost to Bingham by 27, East by 29 and Alta by 42. If history is any indicator, though, all the Eagles need is a pulse in the postseason to be considered a contender and they've found it in the last month.
That still might not be enough to overcome the high-flying Layton Lancers.
Since a Week 2 loss at Jordan, Layton has ripped off nine straight victories with an average margin of victory of 23 points.
"We've got a great group of kids who love playing, they've been playing together forever, and not only do they like playing together on the field they're friends off the field," said Layton coach Jim Batchelor. "We have a bunch of kids who like to compete together and be there for each other, and it's taken us along the way."
Layton's offense has hogged all the headlines, but defense has been the catalyst to the success giving up a 5A-best 10.0 points per game.
"Our defense is probably one of our best things, I think that's why we've won a lot of our games because our defense holds strong," said Layton star linebacker Chad Willson.
Like Skyline, Hunter is a team peaking at the right time, winner of four of six since starting the year 0-5. Star running back Muka Atiga, who's surpassed 3,000 career rushing yards, has been the key to the success.
Yards might be tough to come by against Region 4 champion American Fork, an underrated defensive team that's been solid all year.
With apologies to Davis and Timpanogos, the other two quarterfinals might be mere table-setters for next week's semifinal showdown between Bingham and Alta. First they've got to get past their respective quarterfinal foe, but on paper it doesn't look like that will be a problem.
Not only do the top two teams in the state possess fantastic offenses and defenses, but they both crushed their first-round opponent, discrediting the crazy notion that they might get caught looking ahead. Complacency might be the only shot Timpanogos and Davis have.
Even though Davis is playing well lately, it struggles to score points and the Darts also might be a bit intimidated after losing to Bingham in last year's quarterfinals 35-10.As for Timpanogos, it might have a glimmer of hope with gunslinging quarterback Christian Stewart, who surpassed the 6,000-yard career passing mark last week. If he limits his turnovers, the T-Wolves might be able to keep this quarterfinal game at Alta close.
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