The high school football playoffs kick off this Friday with 72 teams dreaming of making noise over the next four weeks.
Realistically though, you probably only need two hands to count the number of teams who have a legitimate shot at winning the six state championships.
Undefeated Bingham is the clear-cut favorite to repeat in Class 6A, especially when you consider it already beat No. 2 East by 31 points in an earlier meeting this season.
Corner Canyon marched through 5A undefeated, under first-year coach Eric Kjar, enjoying an average margin of victory of 33.3 ppg. We were reminded of how dominant a coach Kjar team can be when he’s got a complementary defense — think Jordan of 2013 when it beat Syracuse 58-2 in the championship game.
There are three primary contenders in both 4A and 3A, and a few other fringe contenders, which should make for an exciting next few weeks in those respective classifications.
Class 2A seems to be as clear-cut as 6A and 5A, with South Summit projected to roll. It led the state with a 35.6 margin of victory this season, which includes blowout wins over Beaver and Delta.
Duchesne and Milford separated themselves from the pack in 1A this season and are expected to meet in a couple weeks at Southern Utah for the championship.
With six state titles over the past 11 years, Bingham has been as dominant as any team in the state over the past decade. Ranked 11th nationally according to MaxPreps, it heads into this year’s 6A tournament seeking the 11th state title in school history.
Don’t expect coach John Lambourne to allow his players to get caught looking too far ahead to another trophy ceremony.
Even though Bingham already beat 6A’s No. 2 East and No. 4 Lone Peak by double digits this season, the Miners benefitted greatly by five turnovers in each of those games. Neither was a fluke, as Bingham plays relentless defense, but with better ball security from East and Lone Peak both of those games are probably close in the fourth quarter.
East and Lone Peak are on opposite sides of the bracket as Bingham, so only will get a potential rematch with Bingham.
The rest of the 6A field has long-shot odds of upsetting the 6A big boys, but Weber and Kearns aren’t worried about trends and history. They bucked decades of history to end long region title droughts this season, they hope to roll with the momentum in the playoffs.
The conversation in the 5A playoffs begins and ends with Corner Canyon.
Region 7 was regarded as the best region in 5A and the Chargers outscored its five opponents 229-48. And here’s the absurd part of that dominance — the combined score of those five games at halftime was 173-0.
Corner Canyon consistently buries teams in the first few drives of games.
While region foes Timpview, Alta and Jordan know what they’re up against if they’re fortunate enough to meet Corner Canyon again, other 5A contenders like Lehi, Springville and Skyridge would love a chance to measure themselves against the juggernaut.
Lehi won Region 6 dominant fashion, and with elite QB Cammon Cooper, it might have what it takes offensively to put a scare in Corner Canyon’s defense.
Springville won the Region 8 title buoyed by a 19-10 win over Skyridge. It faces an uphill climb in the playoffs though. It lost to Jordan 33-7 in Week 5, and that same Jordan team finished fourth in Region 7.
For all the lack of drama in 6A and 5A, there should be plenty of it in 4A with all the potential contenders.
Sky View is ranked No. 1 heading into playoffs with a 9-0 record, but let's not forget that it scored on the final play of the game against Mountain Crest (9-1) otherwise the Mustangs might have the No. label.
Region 9 teams have dominated this classification in recent years, and it’s not about to go down to Northern teams without a fight. Dixie dominated Region 9 with double-digit wins in every game, and in the preseason it wowed with a win over 6A contender Lone Peak.
Pine View could make some noise as well as it has won four straight, including a 42-14 win over Desert Hills in Week 8.
Orem is the other major contender in 4A after sweeping Region 10 with a potent offensive attack and a strong defense. The Tigers could easily be heading into the playoffs with a perfect record as well if coach Jeremy Hill tailored his schedule a little differently. Orem’s only two losses in the preseason were against Bingham and Corner Canyon, and it played respectably in both games.
In 3A, it’s tough to peg a favorite after a triangle of results in the 3A South region. Juab beat Summit Academy, Summit Academy beat Juan Diego and then Juan Diego beat Juab as the three teams tied for the region title with 4-1 records.
Juab benefitted from a coin flip and is on opposites sides of the bracket as Juan Diego and Summit Academy.
Morgan won the 3A North region and is on the same side of the bracket as Juab, but the young Trojans might be a year away from contending for a state title.
Beaver has won back-to-back 2A state titles, but it’s far from the favorite this go around.
South Summit marches into the playoffs with a 9-0 record, which includes a 23-point win over Beaver in the regular season and a 35-point win over Delta.
It would take a herculean effort by anyone to stop South Summit, which is anxious to get back on top of the 2A mountain after back-to-back championship losses.
Duchesne and Milford won their respective 1A regions comfortably and appear on a collision course for a title showdown. Duchesne is the favorite to repeat as 1A champs.