Top-ranked Kanab will host No. 2 Rich this Friday in what has the potential to be a dandy Class 1A encounter.
Up to this point, most people in 1A have felt that Kanab and Rich should be considered the classification's two main favorites to win the state's smallest classification later this fall, and Friday's encounter will tell us who's ahead of whom right now.
Add to that the fact it will be a rematch of last year's 1A title game, which Kanab won convincingly, and that a charged atmosphere is expected inside Arlyn Hafen Stadium, and it's easy to see how much potential there is for a memorable contest.
If you're unfamiliar with small-town athletics, what will unfold in the Kanab on Friday might not register anything more than a minor blip on your radar if that.
However, if you happen to be from Kanab or southern Utah or Randolph or northern Utah, it's likely that you've been looking forward to Friday's big game all week.
"You almost have to be a part of it to understand how much it means," said Kanab coach Bucky Orton. "Pretty much the whole town of Kanab will be there Friday. They'll want us to win, and they'll expect us to win."
Of course, Orton understands that's much, much easier said than done.
Both teams have played bigger schools throughout the preseason and enter Friday's contest with losing records (Kanab is 1-3, while Rich is 1-2). Because of those three preseason losses, Orton pointed out that his team needs to get back to winning ASAP, and he didn't try to hide how important he feels this week's contest is.
"This is like a must-win game," he said. "I'm not saying we will win, but that's the attitude we've got to take. We've got to play better than we have all season, or we're gonna lose."
Kanab has knocked the Rebels out of the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, and Kanab-Rich is starting to emerge as a young but blossoming football rivalry.
Orton said his team was "fortunate" and "lucky at times" to have beaten Rich in all three of those playoff games, and he noted that each side knows an awful lot about the other.
"We know what the Rich boys bring to the table, and we're well schooled about each other," he said.
TOP 25 WATCH: There was stability at the top and lots of movement everywhere else in the Deseret News Top 25 football rankings following Week 4 of the season.
The top six-ranked schools No. 1 Alta, No. 2 Timpview, No. 3 Cottonwood, No. 4 Layton, No. 5 Northridge and No. 6 Sky View all retained their previous rankings, while lots of teams moved up or down below them.
Notably, No. 8 East, No. 12 Davis, No. 20 West Jordan and No. 21 American Fork each climbed at least four spots in the rankings, while No. 13 Highland, No. 14 Skyline and No. 22 Jordan each sustained big drops.
Jordan plummeted eight spots to No. 22, while Highland and Skyline each fell six places.
MORE RANKINGS: Timpview has been ranked No. 7 in the West by USA Today, and that's not the only place the T-Birds are garnering national respect.
The two-time defending 4A champs checked in at No. 50 in the latest national maxpreps.com rankings, while fellow 4A squad Cottonwood was ranked 60th.The next highest-ranked Utah team is Alta, which was listed at No. 135 on the list.
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