I don’t think there’s any question that (Cooper) and the seniors have that drive to say that we’re not going to be satisfied until we get to the carpet —Lehi coach Ed Larsen
Four of the top five quarterbacks in 5A will be on display in the 5A quarterfinals this Friday, and each game features a unique storyline about how their opponents will look to slow them down.
Skyridge’s plan is simple against Jordan’s Crew Wakley (258.9 ypg) — keep playing the brand of defense that has resulted in the top-ranked unit in 5A this year at 10.7 ppg.
Springville’s methodical power rushing attack hopes to keep Alta’s offense, led by Will Dana (283 ypg), on the sideline as much as possible.
Lehi’s Cammon Cooper (351.5 ppg) strolls into the quarterfinals as the state’s top passer, but Woods Cross hopes a physical brand of defense that forced five Timpview turnovers the week before can frustrate Cooper.
Lastly is Corner Canyon’s Zach Wilson (289 ypg). Highland’s best bet at knocking off the top-ranked team in 5A is a unique triple-option offense that Corner Canyon hasn’t seen yet. The Rams averaged 37.9 ppg this year, and their offense could help them match the Chargers point for point throughout the quarterfinals.
Those storylines are set to unfold this Friday afternoon, with the four winners advancing to next Thursday’s 5A semifinals at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
“I don’t think there’s any question that (Cooper) and the seniors have that drive to say that we’re not going to be satisfied until we get to the carpet,” said Lehi coach Ed Larson. “We’re at the point finally in the season where this game matters toward that goal.”
Lehi has won seven straight since losing to Springville 18-15 in Week 4, and it’s the favorite to knock off Woods Cross to advance to its first state semifinal since 2002.
The Wildcats, meanwhile, are hoping to pull off a second straight upset after knocking off Timpview in the first round. Minimizing penalties and turnovers will be key, especially for a team that ranks 15th in 5A in scoring offense.
None of the four quarterfinals are rematches from the regular season, but Alta at Springville is a rematch of last year’s semifinal that Springville dominated 42-14.
Alta coach Alema Te’o said the challenge facing his team isn’t much different than last year.
“They are so good at running the football. It’s real impressive and we got a full dose of it last year,” Te’o said. “They execute their blocking scheme as well as anyone, so we really have to be sound and assignment-sound upfront. It’s going to be a great challenge for us.”
Highland’s ground attack presents similar challenges for undefeated Corner Canyon, which got a major scare in the first round last week against Bountiful.
“It’s hard to go against those teams, you just have to be assignment sound. I’m confident in our kids, but that’s always a concern when you play an option team,” said Corner Canyon coach Eric Kjar.
Corner Canyon was the most dominant team in the region play as it outscored its five Region 7 foes 229-48. It showed chinks in the armor though against Bountiful, something Highland hopes to further exploit.
“We do have a lot of weapons, and we do have the ability to get the ball spread around right now,” said Highland coach Brody Benson.
The last quarterfinal features Skyridge’s top-ranked defense against Wakley, Jordan’s QB who has accounted for 4,163 yards of total offense and 40 total touchdowns.
Skyridge marches into the game with a 10-1 record, with that lone loss coming against Springville back in Week 8.
The Falcons have dominated since that loss with a 60-17 win over Maple Mountain, a 31-7 win over Wasatch then a 55-0 win over Skyline last week’s first round.
“Everybody’s goal is to continue to progress throughout the year and peak at the end,” said Skyridge 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.”