Two things were made abundantly clear after the first-round of the 4A playoffs — East and Timpview are the two teams to beat and Region 6 is the classification's top region.
Timpview squashed Region 5 power Logan 49-14 while East took care of Region 7 champion Herriman 27-16. Region 6, meanwhile, saw all four of its playoff teams (East, Woods Cross, Bountiful and Highland) advance to the quarterfinals.
East advances to take on Box Elder on the road with all of its transfer improprieties hopefully in the rear mirror. Woods Cross will have its hands full taking on a Timpview team that is playing as well as anyone in the state.
The Thunderbirds are led by a prolific passing attack headed by quarterback Jake Lloyd, who has thrown for over 3,000 yards this season. Lloyd will be looking primarily for Dax Raymond, who caught all four of Lloyd's touchdown passes a week ago.
Timpview, like East, was forced to forfeit some games and took on a lower seed entering the state playoffs. With a convincing first-round win under its belt, Timpview coach Cary Whittingham is hopeful all the distractions have been left behind.
"We're trying to keep the distractions down, that's what we've tried to do all season, because there have been a lot of distractions," said Whittingham. "Trying to have the kids focus on what's important and not concerned with anything else. Letting the kids know that they do have to work hard. They knew that Logan was going to be a tough opponent and they worked hard and that's the same boat we're in with Woods Cross."
A team no one should sleep on is Mountain Crest, which entered the playoffs as the No. 1 seed from Region 5 and defeated Timpanogos 36-6 in the first round. The Mustangs will take on perennially tough Bountiful, which defeated Skyline 35-6 in the first round.
"They're pretty big and physical. They've got a couple of big running backs that are well over 200 pounds, including one kid who goes around 235 and another one who goes 205, and they're just a lot bigger than we are," said Mountain Crest coach Mark Wootton. "If we can withstand the pounding, that'll be the key. Hopefully we can get 'em to fumble the ball. Physically we're quite outmatched size-wise, But Mountain Crest always seem to be undersized a little bit, for some reason. But one of our biggest assets is we have good team speed."
Bountiful coach Larry Wall is very familiar with how dangerous Mountain Crest can be.
"We've had a good rivalry with Mountain Crest over the past years and we've got a lot of respect for them," said Wall. "We've met 'em in the state championship game and met 'em in the semifinals a couple of times, and we've got a lot of respect for them and know they're a top-notch outfit. Every year we've played 'em, they've been very potent on offense. They always score lot of points, play fast, and do a lot of different things. They're pretty balanced. They've always been a good offensive football team and present a lot of problems for you. They're multi-faceted and can run the ball well and throw the ball well, too."
Last, but not least of the quarterfinal matchups is Highland traveling down south to take on an upstart Orem team. The Tigers used their wide-open spread attack to overwhelm Sky View 41-31 in the first-round while the Rams had to mount a furious comeback to get by Olympus 20-14.
Like most Region 6 teams Highland presents a lot of physicality on both sides of the football.
"Highland will be one of the most physical teams with the most powerful running attack that we've faced so far," said Orem Coach Tyler Anderson. "We really need to contain their option and it starts with shutting down their quarterback and their fullback. They have great players at those positions that can really hurt you if you let them."
Highland will have to limit Orem's wide-open spread attack if it hopes to go back home with a win.
"With the way they play and how that offense is they're never out of it," said Highland coach Brody Benson. "We're going to need a great defensive effort throughout the game and we can't let up. We need to cut down on the stupid personal-foul penalties we had last week and be much better in our overall execution."