I think our team hasn’t peaked yet, which is a good thing. I think we are still, even this late in the season, getting a lot better and growing. —Jordan's coach Kaleo Teriipaia
Jordan (7-4) at Skyridge (10-1)
5A state tournament quarterfinals
Friday, 5 p.m.
Parry’s Power Guide: Skyridge by 3
All-time series: First meeting
Coach vs. coach: First meeting between Jordan’s Kaleo Teriipaia and Skyridge’s Jon Lehman
Skyridge vs. Jordan: The Beetdiggers and the Falcons. A more puzzling pair of 5A quarterfinal participants is hard to find.
Both squads have been enigmas at times this season, rising into the ranks of Utah high school football's elite before tumbling down to less lofty standings.
At one point, the Falcons trailed only the unbeaten Corner Canyon Chargers in the 5A rankings, while the Beetdiggers, led by star quarterback Crew Wakely, seemed as a good bet as any to make serious noise come playoff time.
A Week 8 loss to Springville ended Skyridge’s claim to excellence, costing the Falcons both the Region 8 title and a number-one seed.
Back-to-back-back losses against Alta, Timpview and Corner Canyon, meanwhile, had the Beetdiggers fighting for their playoff lives.
Heading into last weekend’s first-round contests against Skyline and Viewmont, it wouldn’t have surprised anyone had Skyridge or Jordan’s season come to an end.
How things have changed.
The Falcons obliterated the Eagles, 55-0, while the Beetdiggers took down the top-seeded Vikings 28-20.
“Everybody’s goal is to continue to progress throughout the year and peak at the end,” said Skyridge head coach Jon Lehman. “I feel like our team is still feeling pretty good. They are still excited to come to practice every day and are energized to get better. Their focus, competition and preparation has these guys playing pretty good football right now.”
Teriipaia, meanwhile, feels much the same about his Beetdiggers.
“I think our team hasn’t peaked yet, which is a good thing," said Teriipaia. “I think we are still, even this late in the season, getting a lot better and growing.
“I think we are on our way to moving forward,” the first-year headman added. “You haven’t seen the best of Jordan yet, but I think you are about to see it.”
The Beetdiggers are led by Wakely, a player Lehman calls “a dynamic athlete, a great quarterback. When you have a guy that can play like he can, anything is possible.”
Wakely has been one of the best quarterbacks in Utah, completing 177 of 297 passes for 2,848 yards and 20 touchdowns all the while rushing 163 times for 1,315 yards and 20 additional scores.
“Stopping a dynamic athlete that can throw the ball well is a great challenge,” added Lehman. “(Wakely) is a guy that can turn nothing into something. He can take a ten-yard loss and turn it into a ten-yard gain.”
Along with Wakely, Jordan has benefited from the play of running back Jake Shaver (151 carries for 728 yards and 15 scores) and receiver Ethan Bolingbroke (52 receptions for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns).
Add in a defense that, while much maligned during the season (Jordan finished with the 15th-rated defense in 5A), proved stout against Viewmont, and the Beetdiggers look like a team to be reckoned with.
“Our team is starting to come together,” said Teriipaia. “Our defense played strong (against Viewmont). We have responded well to difficult situations. It’s helped our confidence.”
As for Skyridge, the Falcons are best characterized by their balanced approach.
“Our greatest strength is our balance,” said Lehman. “Teams that are versatile can win a lot of different type of games. Those are the teams that survive a long season. We believe we are one of those teams.”
For Lehman, the Falcons showed that in their beatdown of Skyline.
“The Skyline game was probably the best evidence of our balance,” said Lehman. “That balance was pretty tough for them to handle.”
The Falcons have had 10 different players score rushing touchdowns this season, led by Ma’a Notoa (47 carries, 315 yards and five scores) and Alex Palmer (31 carries, 573 yards and five touchdowns).
Quarterback Jayden Clemons has excelled this season as well, throwing for 1,596 yards and 24 scores.
“This team has been really fun to coach,” said Lehman. “They are coachable and rise up to the challenge.”
“Do we win this game?” Lehman added. “I’m not sure, but these guys have really made me proud with how they have gotten better every day.”
“We are excited," said Teriipaia. “They are a good team and we are a good team. We should be in store for a great game.”
Jordan statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 38.7 ppg (4th in 5A)
Scoring defense: 39.5 ppg (15th in 5A)
Passing leader: Crew Wakley (177-297, 59.6%, 2,848 yards, 20 TDs, 7 INTs)
Rushing leaders: Crew Wakley (163 carries, 1,315 yards, 20 TDs), Jake Shaver (151 carries, 728 yards, 15 TDs)
Receiving leaders: Ethan Bolingbroke (52 rec., 1,008 yards, 8 TDs), Noah Hennings (32 rec., 486 yards, 1 TD)
Tackles leaders: Not provided
Sack leaders: Not provided
Interception leaders: Not provided
Skyridge statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 40.2 ppg (3rd in 5A)
Scoring defense: 10.7 ppg (1st in 5A)
Passing leader: Jayden Clemons (104-181, 57.5%, 1,596 yards, 24 TDs, 7 INTs)
Rushing leaders: Payton Ainsworth (115 carries, 623 yards, 2 TDs), Alex Palmer (31 carries, 573 yards, 5 TDs)
Receiving leaders: Colby Samuels (47 rec., 585 yards, 7 TDs), Nathan Upham (30 rec., 574 yards, 10 TDs)
Sack leaders: Ioholani Raas (5 sacks), Blayden Togiai (4 sacks)
Interception leaders: Garrett Rusick (5 INTs)
Felts Facts for Jordan High School
Head Coach: 2017-current — Kaleo Teriipaia (7-4)
All-time record: 549-423-28 (108 years)
Region championships: 26 (1931, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1944, 1947, 1948, 1950, 1958, 1961, 1983, 1984, 1987, 1988 co, 1989, 1991, 1993 co, 1994, 1998, 2002 co, 2005-co, 2012)
Playoff appearances: 47
Current playoff appearance streak: 13 (2005-2017)
All-time playoff record: 56-34
State championships: 12 (1931, 1934, 1936, 1939, 1940, 1941, 1944, 1947, 1948, 1950, 1994, 2012)
State championship record: 12-4
Felt’s Facts for Skyridge High School
Head Coach: 2016-current — Jon Lehman (16-6)
All-time record: 16-6 (2 years)
Region championships: 0
Playoff appearances: 1
Current playoff appearance streak: 1 (2017)
All-time playoff record: 1-0
State championships: 0
State championship record: 0-0