The average margin of victory in the 6A state football first round was 30 points. Six of the eight teams advancing thrashed their opponents by more than 20 points, with Bingham providing the largest margin in its 65-7 demolition of Cyprus.
No one should expect that trend to continue in the quarterfinal round.
Most 6A coaches around the state agree that this Friday's slate of playoff games should prove intriguing, competitive, and should ultimately share a much more narrow margin of victory than the first round.
Take Lone Peak's matchup with Weber, which kicks off at 6 p.m. MDT, for starters. The two teams finished out the regular season as hot as any two teams in the state, and then went on to notch big first-round wins, with the Knights dispatching of Granger (56-12) and the Warriors doing the same versus Riverton (31-13.)
“They have a real high-powered offense, so we’re going to have to be on our toes,” observed Lone Peak coach Bart Brockbank. “We’re going to have to be at our best defensively, and it’s the same story on the other side of the ball. It’s a very good, well-coached team. We’re not as familiar with them as other teams, but it’s obvious they’re a team that deserves to be where they’re at.”
“They have great skill and they have a great quarterback. They’re talented, top to bottom,” added Weber coach Matt Hammer. “They play with the right type of confidence and we’ll have our hands full, that’s for sure.”
The Weber versus Lone Peak matchup looks to be a high-scoring affair, as should a matchup between East and American Fork, two of the highest-scoring offenses in the entire state.
The Cavemen are led by quarterback Bronson Barron, who has led one of the state's most prolific passing attacks this year.
“They’ve got a special quarterback, probably the best quarterback we’ve seen this year, anywhere," said East coach Brandon Matich, "He’s the most elite guy that we’ve been behind center yet. He’s a physical kid, he’s a big, strong kid, he can throw the football well, and he can throw it hard. He can fit the ball in small windows, and he’s a dynamic runner."
East does most of its work on the ground but can prove every bit as potent in fielding what most consider the state's best offensive front. Operating behind East's line is quarterback Ben Ford, whom American Fork coach Aaron Behm admires greatly.
“He’s really smart with the football and gets it where it needs to go," Behm said. "He’s a great athlete when he pulls and runs the ball. Really, with that triple-option offense, I think everything begins with him."
East will be at home, with the kickoff scheduled for Friday at 4 p.m.
Herriman hosts Pleasant Grove Friday at 4 p.m., in a game featuring two teams that endured tough starts to finish out the regular season on high notes.
"We haven't had any easy weeks this season with who we've played," said Pleasant Grove coach Mark Wootton. "Our kids have kept together though and I'm proud of how they've progressed and we'll need to keep that going if we're to beat another great team like Herriman."
Lastly, it will be Bingham hosting Syracuse Friday at 5:30 p.m., in what looks on paper to be the most lopsided matchup. Regardless of what many expect, Syracuse coach Mike Knight believes his team can compete with one of the state's most historic programs.
"We know what Bingham is and what they've done. There are no surprises there," Knight said. "It's a very, very good football team that has done very, very impressive things in recent years. But we know who we are, and we're going to treat it the same way we've treated all of our games. We're going to focus on us and focus on doing the things we do best."
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