SOUTH JORDAN — Mountain Crest apparently had little trouble making the jump from 4A classification to 5A in the regular season and into the first round of the playoffs. The Mustangs managed an undefeated record before falling narrowly to Sky View to end the regular season before getting past Viewmont 35-12 to advance to the 5A quarterfinal round.
The reward for all the impressive work put in? Well, that would be a quarterfinal matchup with defending 5A state champion and biggest bully on the 5A block most years.
"Yeah, I've heard that program is pretty good," quipped Mountain Crest coach Mark Wootton about his opponent this Friday. "Seriously though, it's obviously going to be as tough of a challenge as we've faced in some time."
Bingham went undefeated through its in-state schedule during the regular season to come out on top of Region 3. The program was challenged a bit by American Fork in the first round but still came away with a relatively comfortable 22-6 win.
To arrive at the point where they are currently, the Miners have simply done what has brought so much success during recent years.
"They attract the best players every year and that coaching staff is obviously very strong and they expect to win," observed Wootton. "It's about as successful of a program as they come, so we respect that and certainly recognize the challenges in beating them."
Bingham, as usual, relies on punishing line play on both sides of the football. On offense, the focus is on a running attack led by Jahvontay Smith, who has rushed for 802 yards and 14 touchdowns on the year. At quarterback, the Miners are directed effectively by sophomore Matt Degn, who isn't asked to throw often, but usually proves proficient when doing so with 734 yards and nine touchdowns on the year.
The Miners enter Friday's game with a lot of expectations, something first-year head coach John Lambourne says comes with the territory.
"It's just the way it is here and we've worked hard through the years to earn those expectations. So we deal with them the best we can," Lambourne said. "Every year we're expected to win it all, so we acknowledge it, but we also try and remain realistic and work and prepare the same, no matter what we have in front of us."
What Bingham has ahead of it this Friday is a program used to a lot of success as well, albeit playing at the 4A level in recent years. Regardless of where Mountain Crest has found its success, Lambourne feels the Mustangs will present a stern challenge.
"That's a very well-coached team, a team of hard-nosed, scrappy players that play until the whistle," Lambourne said. "You don't get to where they're at without being a very good football team. It's going to be a challenge for us to beat a team like that."
The Mustangs use a balanced attack on offense and are led by quarterback Tanner Schwab who passed for 2,111 yards and 24 touchdowns on the year.
"They have a lot of guys that make plays for them," Lambourne observed. "On offense they're balanced and consistent and it's the same thing on defense. It's just a well-coached and solid team in every way."
In order to beat a team like Mountain Crest, the Miners hope to play their game, which is to wear their opponent down with powerful line play on both sides of the ball. The task, for the Mustangs, will be to withstand that attack the best they can.
"We can't match up physically with everything they have and we know that going in," Wootton said. "So we'll have to play a perfect game, keep battling no matter what and try and withstand their physicality if we have any hope to come out of there with a win. We'll see if we're up to the challenge."
Mountain Crest statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 34.9 ppg (6th in 5A)
Scoring defense: 13.4 ppg (5th in 5A)
Passing leader: Tanner Schwab (171-259, 66.0%, 2,111 yards, 24 TDs, 6 INTs)
Rushing leaders: Lavani Damuni (70 carries, 386 yards, 5 TDs), Kort Fuller (69 carries, 337 yards, 6 TDs)
Receiving leaders: Dallas Niemann (52 rec., 670 yards, 8 TDs), Lavani Damuni (32 rec., 444 yards, 3 TDs)
Tackles leaders: Payton Thomas (47 tackles), Lavani Damuni (38 tackles)
Interception leaders: Sirrell Hall (3 INTs)
Bingham statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 35.1 ppg (5th in 5A)
Scoring defense: 9.6 ppg (1st in 5A)
Passing leader: Matt Degn (44-72, 61.1%, 734 yards, 9 TDs, 3 INTs)
Rushing leaders: Jahvontay Smith (125 carries, 802 yards, 14 TDs), Brady Atkin (57 carries, 331 yards, 9 TDs)
Sack leaders: Jay Tufule (10 sacks), Langi Tuifua (7.5 sacks)
Interception leaders: Simote Lokotui (7 INTs)
Felt’s Facts for Mountain Crest High School
All-time record: 221-141 (33 years)
Region championships: 13 (1991, 1992 co, 1994, 1998, 1999 co, 2001 co, 2004 co, 2005, 2007 co, 2008, 2009, 2010-co, 2012)
Playoff appearances: 25
Current playoff appearance streak: 1 (2015)
All-time playoff record: 43-21
State championships: 3 (1987, 2001, 2005)
State championship record: 3-4
Most played rivalry: 34 meetings with Sky View dating back to 1983. Mountain Crest leads 23-12.
Felt’s Factoid(s): Mountain Crest defeated its top rival Sky View, 9-7, for the 1987 Class 3A championship in front of a state-record 19,887 fans at Utah State’s Romney Stadium.
Felt’s Facts for Bingham High School
All-time record: 472-362-30 (92 years)
Region championships: 23 (1938, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1943, 1945, 1946, 1960, 1963, 1991 co, 1996 co, 1999 co, 2000, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012 co, 2013, 2014, 2015)
Playoff appearances: 43
Current playoff appearance streak: 27 (1989-2015)
All-time playoff record: 53-33
State championships: 9 (1939, 1941, 1945, 1946, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014)
State championship record: 9-2
Most played rivalry: 53 meetings with Cyprus dating back to 1926. Cyprus leads 24-21-8. Last met in 1992.
Felt’s Factoid(s): Miner Justin Sorensen set the state record for career field goals by kicking 28 from 2005-07. He also holds the record for the longest field goal, 62 yards in state prep history. Chayden Johnston booted 23 during his career (2011-14) and ranks sixth on the all-time list . Cameron Smith established a championship-game record by rushing 37 times in the 2014 Class 5A title contest . The Miners set a state record for most games in a season, 15, in 2014 . Bingham is also the only school to win 14 games in a season more than once (2006, 2013).
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