Just two of the six coaches in this week's finals have won state championships: Dixie's Blaine Monkres at Morgan in 1993 and Mountain Crest's Mark Wootton in 2005.
The other four make their first title game appearances and, of course, Spanish Fork's Kirk Chambers and Timpview's Cary Wittingham are first-year coaches.
Those two become the 39th and 40th coaches to advance to the title game their inaugural season and the first since Highland's Brody Benson in 2006. The last coach to win a state championship his first year was Monticello's Seth Giddings in 2004. Of the previous 38 to make the finals, 18 celebrated victories.
Spanish Fork and Syracuse emerge on the championship stage for the first time, while Jordan and Dixie haven't been there since 1998. Mountain Crest is back for the second time in three seasons, and after missing the last two, Timpview returns for the fifth time in seven years and the sixth time in nine seasons.
5A Championship – Jordan (11-1) vs. Syracuse (12-0)
Series history: First meeting
Coach vs. coach: First meeting between Jordan's Eric Kjar and Syracuse's Russ Jones.
Current winning streaks: Jordan 6 (but 11 against Utah schools), Syracuse 12 (school record).
Jordan Quick Facts
Began its gridiron program in 1909, 103rd season. Finals record: 11-4 (.733). Last championship: 1994. Playoff record: 50-30 (.625), 42nd appearance.
Championship game history:
1931, beat Logan 18-0
1934, beat Box Elder 3-0
1936, beat Box Elder 13-7
1938, lost to Carbon 6-0 (A)
1939, beat North Cache 13-0 (A)
1940, beat Carbon 7-6 (A)
1941, beat Box Elder 20-12 (A)
1944, beat Provo 7-0 (A)
1947, beat Logan 21-6 (A)
1948, beat Carbon 28-0 (A)
1950, beat Box Elder 13-0 (A)
1981, lost to Judge Memorial 52-13 (3A)
1983, lost to Judge Memorial 26-21 (3A)
1994, beat Bear River 27-7 (4A)
1998, lost to Skyline 41-21 (5A)
Coach: Erik Kjar is 37-13 (.740) in his fourth season, since 2009. Kjar took the Beetdiggers from 7-5 and the quarterfinals his first year to 9-4 in 2010 and 10-3 last season and back-to-back semifinals.
Playoff record: 7-3, fourth appearance and first championship game.
Syracuse Quick Facts
Opened in 2007, sixth season. First championship contest. Playoff record: 8-4 (.667), fifth appearance.
Coach: Russ Jones is 45-23 (.662) in his sixth season at Syracuse, since 2007. Overall, he's 70-50 (.583) in his 11th season, including 20-13 in three years at Viewmont (2000-02) and 5-14 in two seasons at Woods Cross (2005-06).
Jones guided the Titans from 0-10 their first season to 10-3 and the semifinals their second year.
Playoff record at Syracuse: 8-4 (.667), fifth appearance. Overall: 10-7 (.588), eighth appearance, including 2-2 at Viewmont and 0-1 at Woods Cross. First championship game.
Extra Point 1: Last week, Jordan continued its pattern of scoring at least five touchdowns in every game this season.
Extra Point 2: The Beetdiggers will be Utah's scoring leader this year for the first time since 1913 unless Timpview tallies 31 points more than Jordan when the Thunderbirds play in the 4A title game Friday evening.
Extra Point 3: Jordan has scored in a school-record 97 straight games since 2004, the 17th longest scoring streak in Utah history and the fourth longest current streak.
Extra Point 4: The 'Diggers haven't won 11 games since 1998 and 12 since 1983.
Extra Point 5: Jordan attempts to be the 54th team to spoil another school's perfect season. (Manti became the 53rd last week in shocking previously unbeaten San Juan.)
Extra Point 6: Jordan appears in its 16th title game, the fifth-most in state history (behind Millard's 21, Skyline's 20, Beaver's 18 and Box Elder's 17).
Extra Point 7: Only Skyline (14), Millard (13) and East (12) have won more championship games than Jordan.
Extra Point 8: Syracuse has blanked four opponents, and allowed more than two TDs just once – in the quarterfinals against Alta.
Extra Point 9: Syracuse enjoys its most-ever wins with 12. Its best previous record was 10-3 in 2008.
Extra Point 10: Five teams entered the playoffs unbeaten, but Juan Diego, San Juan and Stansbury didn't survive the postseason without losing. Only Syracuse can join Duchesne in 2012's class of the undefeated.
Extra Point 11: Jordan's Austin Kafentzis leads the state in total offense with 4,270 yards and vaulted this week to eighth all-time from 15th last week. He's just 295 yards short of his 2011 performance.
Extra Point 12: Kafentzis is responsible for 49 total touchdowns this year, the ninth-most all-time.
Extra Point 13: Kafentzis has 8,835 career yards of total offense, ranking fifth all-time, and is responsible for 93 career touchdowns, which ranks seventh.
4A Championship – Mountain Crest (11-2) vs. Timpview (8-5)
These foes have squared off in the playoffs nine times, but never in a championship encounter. They met in the semifinals from 2007-09 when the Thunderbirds prevailed and went on to win state titles. MC last defeated Timpview 50-27 in a 2001 quarterfinal at home.
Series history: Timpview leads 6-3 and has won the last four.
Last meeting: Nov. 12, 2009 (4A semifinal) – Timpview 38-21.
Coach vs. coach: First meeting between Mountain Crest's Mark Wootton and Timpview's Cary Whittingham.
Current winning streaks: MC 10, Timpview 8.
Mountain Crest Quick Facts
MC opened in 1983, 30th season. Finals record: 3-3. Last championship: 2005. Playoff record: 42-20 (.677), 24th appearance.
Championship game history:
1987, beat Sky View 9-7 (3A)
1991, lost to Bountiful 7-3 (3A)
1992, lost to West 43-22 (3A)
2001, beat Box Elder 32-24 (4A)
2005, beat Highland 16-13 (4A) (Wootton coaching)
2010, lost to Highland 37-36 in double-overtime (4A) (Wootton coaching)
Coach: Mark Wootton is 75-32 (.701) in his ninth season at Mountain Crest. Overall, he's 148-88 (.627) in his 22nd season including a 73-56 record at North Sanpete from 1991-2003.
Playoff record at MC: 16-7 (.696), ninth appearance. He's 22-16 (.579) overall in 18 appearances, including 6-9 at North Sanpete. Championship game record: 1-1 (at MC).
Correction: Thanks to alert readers, Wootton's semifinal record at North Sanpete should have read 0-2, not 0-3, last week.
Timpview Quick Facts
Opened in 1977, 36th season. Finals record: 8-1 (.889). Last championship: 2009. Playoff record: 59-23 (.720), 32nd appearance.
Championship game history:
1986, beat Bear River 14-8 in overtime (3A)
1991, beat Skyline 35-34 in double-overtime (4A)
1996, lost to East 37-0 (4A)
1997, beat Olympus 19-16 (4A)
2004, beat Lone Peak 42-0 (4A)
2006, beat Highland 21-12 (4A)
2007, beat Pine View 50-7 (4A)
2008, beat Cottonwood 34-28 (4A)
2009, defeated Springville 35-6 (4A)
Coach: Cary Whittingham is 8-5 in his first season and he's 3-0 in postseason action.
Extra Point 1: The 4A championship pits two of the top five teams with the highest playoff winning percentages: Timpview ranks third (.720) and MC is fifth (.677).
Extra Point 2: The Mustangs have improved 5.0 games from 5-6 to 11-2 to lead the state as the most improved team this season.
Extra Point 3: Mountain Crest hasn't won 11 contests since its 2005 championship campaign (12-1).
Extra Point 4: Timpview has the fifth-most playoff victories (59) behind only Skyline (87), Millard (78), Delta (63) and Davis (60).
Extra Point 5: The Thunderbirds can become just the third team to win a championship with five losses, although four of those were by forfeit. (Dixie won in 1998 and Skyline prevailed in 2005, both with 9-5 records.)
Extra Point 6: Timpview has scored in 86 straight games since 2006, the 26th longest scoring streak in Utah history and the seventh longest current streak. (The school record is 100 games from 1996-2005.)
Extra Point 7: T-bird QB Jake Lloyd enters the finals with 50 touchdown passes on the season, in second place all-time and three behind Logan's Riley Nelson's 53 (2005). Lloyd is responsible for 51 total touchdowns this year, the eighth-most all-time. He's thrown for 3,618 yards this season, the sixth best performance all-time.
Extra Point 8: Over his career, Lloyd is sixth in TD passes with 77, just two away from a second-place tie, but 24 away from the state record. His 6,723 yards of total offense ranks 14th and his 5,971 career passing moved him to 15th. Lloyd is also responsible for 84 touchdowns, good for 15th place all-time.
Extra Point 9: One of Lloyd's top receivers, Dax Raymond, has hauled in 22 touchdown passes this season, just one off the state record held by Logan's Richie Geertsen (1989). He has 1,366 season reception yards, 10th best all-time and two yards off Timpview's school record (held by Mark Ercanbrack, 2007).
3A Championship – Spanish Fork (12-1) vs. Dixie (10-2)
Series history: Dixie leads 9-6. These teams first met in 1974 and then annually from 1977-82 and again from 1989-96. This is their first postseason encounter.
Last meeting: Sept. 6, 1996, Spanish Fork crushed the Flyers 43-6.
Coach vs. coach: First meeting between SF's Kirk Chambers and Dixie's Blaine Monkres.
Current winning streaks: Spanish Fork 9, Dixie 3.
Spanish Fork Quick Facts
Spanish Fork began its football program in 1916 but took a four-year break from 1922-25 and so plays its 93rd season. First championship game. Playoff record: 19-29 (.396), 30th appearance.
Coach: Kirk Chamber is 12-1 his first season and 3-0 in the playoffs.
Dixie Quick Facts
The Flyers have played 68 seasons of 11-man football, from 1935-38 and again from 1949. In between, Dixie competed in 6-man football and won titles in 1939, '45 and '46; only 11-man records are included here.
Finals record: 6-2. Last championship: 1998. Playoff record: 51-32 (.614), 39th appearance.
Championship game history:
1957, beat Millard 26-13 (B)
1967, beat Wasatch 26-7 (B)
1972, beat Morgan 58-30 (2A)
1973, beat Grantsville 32-0 (2A)
1974, beat Wasatch 22-13 (2A)
1976, lost to Davis 21-14 (3A)
1996, lost to Snow Canyon 21-14 (3A)
1998, beat Cedar 35-28 (3A)
Coach: Blaine Monkres is 34-20 (.630) in his sixth season at Dixie, since 2008. Overall, he's 167-88 (.655) in his 23rd season, including a 32-9 record at Morgan from 1990-93 and a 101-59 mark at Fremont from 1994-2007.
Playoff record at Dixie: 6-3, fourth appearance. He's 25-17 overall in 19 appearances, including 5-2 at Morgan (1990-93, one state title in 1993) and 14-12 at Fremont (1994-2007).
Championship game record: 1-1, including 1-0 at Morgan and 0-1 at Fremont (1995).
Extra Point 1: Spanish Fork enjoys its first double-digit win season. The Dons' most victories previously came in 1996 (9-2) and last year (9-4).
Extra Point 2: Spanish Fork has 22 wins since 2011, the most in SF history over a two-year span.
Extra Point 3: Spanish Fork has scored in a school-record 90 consecutive games since 2005, the 24th longest scoring streak in Utah history and the sixth longest current streak.
Extra Point 4: SF makes its first championship game, but North Sanpete has gone longer without a title game appearance, 97 seasons. The Hawks and Park City (105 seasons) are the only two schools to play more years than the Dons without winning a state football title.
Extra Point 5: Spanish Fork receiver Colton Olsen is tied for 10th in all-time season receptions with 84.
Extra Point 6: Dixie's ten season victories are the most for the Flyers since 1982 (10-1). They haven't snared more since going 12-0 in 1974.
Extra Point 7: Dixie QB Blake Barney ranks seventh in both career total offense (8,685 yards) and passing yards (6,937). He's 13th in career attempts (785) and 14th in completions (422), but within striking distance of third in both categories. Barney places 16th in TDs-responsible-for with 83.
2A and 1A Title Game Notes:
Manti became the 53rd team – and the first since 2008 – to play spoiler and ruin another school's perfect season.
Templar Carlo Garcia not only set the state record for longest field goal in a championship game, 54-yards, but he also tied the record for most field goals in a title contest by connecting on three. The previous distance record was 48 yards by Skyline's Richard Critchfield in 1995. South Summit's Jed Frazier in 1988 and East's Gavin Van Minde in 2011also kicked three field goals in a championship game.
Manti's overtime victory was the first extra-session championship game since a pair of them in 2010 when Highland trimmed Mountain Crest 37-36 in double-OT and Duchesne slipped by Rich 21-14 in one overtime.
Despite losing, San Juan can take slight consolation in capturing statewide scoring defense honors (5.9 ppg) for the third straight season. In the race for scoring margin, San Juan leads (27.9 ppg), but Jordan (26.8), Timpview (26.1) or Syracuse (25.0) could overtake the Broncos with sizeable victories in their respective championship games.
Meanwhile, Duchesne celebrated its third undefeated season in claiming its fourth state championship. Duchesne became just the 10th school to complete back-to-back unbeaten campaigns, and the first since Timpview in 2007-08.
The Eagles' defensive standout McCade Neilsen finished his career with 24 interceptions, the fourth best-ever performance.
Current Winning Streaks
Duchesne won its 34th consecutive game, now just two shy of tying Timpview's state-record set from 2006-2009.
Syracuse has the second longest current winning streak (12), followed by Manti and Mountain Crest (10), Spanish Fork (9), Timpview (8), Jordan (6) and Dixie (3). Six schools tie in ninth place: American Leadership, Bonneville, Cyprus, Juab, Roy and West, which all won their final regular season game but failed to make the playoffs.
Looking Back, Looking Ahead
By Friday evening, 2012 will have witnessed 571 games, surpassing last year's 560 for the most in Utah prep history…. Next year, Corner Canyon becomes the 103rd current football school and 132nd overall. At least one new program has been added annually since 2007.