Skyridge (12-1) vs. Lehi (11-2)
5A state championship
Friday, 6:30 p.m. (at Rice-Eccles Stadium)
Parry’s Power Guide: Lehi by 1
All-time series: First meeting
Coach vs. coach: First meeting between Skyridge’s Jon Lehman and Lehi’s Ed Larson
LEHI — Neither team wanted to talk about it in interviews, and for good reason, but the underlining storyline for 5A's football state championship is both intriguing and extremely rare.
Prior to the 2016 season Skyridge was founded as a high school, residing just over the I-15 freeway from Lehi High. The new high school was built in response to the booming growth of the city of Lehi, with new buildings and residential communities popping up just about everywhere and old Lehi High School, which was founded in 1908, no longer able to accommodate all the incoming students.
Skyridge took about half of Lehi's student population and almost exactly half of those within the Pioneers' football program, according to Lehi coach Ed Larson. Considering Lehi's massive struggles on the gridiron, prior to the 2016 season, it was assumed both the Pioneers and Falcons would take a while to be competitive.
Well, it took about a year.
Lehi went on to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004 last season, with Skyridge surprising everyone with a six-win season while coming within just one play-in game of qualifying for the postseason.
Both programs doubled-down on their respective success in 2017.
Lehi went perfect in Region 6 play, after incurring some early season struggles, while Skyridge came to within just a game of taking the Region 8 championship. As good as both programs were in the regular season, most agree they're playing their best football of the year when it counts most.
"We're confident," said Lehi coach Ed Larson. "I think we've managed effectively through some struggles, we've been able to beat some really good teams to get here. The kids believe in what we're doing and I feel we've been able to get better. Hopefully that continues for one more week."
As for Skyridge and its sudden success, Larson said, "I don't know much about their program, to be honest, but it's obvious they've won some big games and I'm certain they're just as excited to be here as we are."
Considering a good many of Skyridge players were teammates with most of the Lehi players at some time, it makes for a great natural rivalry, although both sides aren't focusing on that aspect much, if at all.
As a coach, I pay attention to anything that I think could distract us from our goal," said Skyridge coach Jon Lehman. "A rivalry game can bring out the best in you, or you can make it something it doesn’t need to be. It can distract you of the process of preparing for football. The way we approach it, always try to remove distractions. The value from a coach’s perspective, increased motivation. That’s probably what most coaches would say."
Well, at least one other coach would say what Lehman did.
"We're playing for a state championship, and if you need extra motivation from some rivalry, when you're playing for a championship? I just can't see how focusing on anything than yourselves and the opportunity to do something here that hasn't been done for a long, long time should take any focus, at all," Larson said. "So we're just focused on ourselves and playing our best game."
"I don’t feel like Lehi or Skyridge needs increased motivation. Not the type of game where you have to hype anyone up. It's for a championship it is the type of game where we need to be focused," Lehman added.
Although both teams aren't focused on the natural rivalry, players do take great pride in representing their community.
"Lehi's the best city in his state and both Lehi schools being in the championship awesome," said Lehi quarterback Cammon Cooper. "But no, we're not focused on them breaking away from us, or anything like that. We just want to finish out with the best game we've ever played and hopefully win ourselves a state championship."
Skyridge statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 40.0 ppg (3rd in 5A)
Scoring defense: 14.9 ppg (2nd in 5A)
Passing leader: Jayden Clemons (131-237, 55.3%, 2,074 yards, 31 TDs, 8 INTs)
Receiving leaders: Colby Samuels (53 rec., 705 yards, 9 TDs), Nathan Upham (36 rec., 665 yards, 11 TDs)
Sack leaders: Iohalani Raas (6 sacks), Blayden Togiai (5 sacks)
Interception leaders: Garrett Rusick (5 INTs)
Lehi statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 37.7 ppg (5th in 5A)
Scoring defense: 20.0 ppg (6th in 5A)
Passing leader: Cammon Cooper (312-486, 64.2%, 4,464 yards, 53 TDs, 9 INTs)
Rushing leaders: Carsen Manookin (182 carries, 1,080 yards, 6 TDs)
Interception leaders: Jacob Vasquez (2 INTs), Qi’Sean Rust (2 INTs)
Felt’s Facts for Skyridge High School
Head Coach: 2016-current — Jon Lehman (18-6)
All-time record: 18-6 (2 years)
Region championships: 0
Playoff appearances: 1
Current playoff appearance streak: 1 (2017)
All-time playoff record: 3-0
State championships: 0
State championship record: 0-0
Felt’s Facts for Lehi High School
Head Coach: 2014-current — Ed Larsen (22-23)
All-time record: 367-444-22 (96 years)
Region championships: 13 (1940, 1944, 1950, 1963, 1990, 1992, 1996 co, 1997, 1999 co, 2000 co, 2003 co, 2004 co, 2017)
Playoff appearances: 33
Current playoff appearance streak: 2 (2016-2017)
All-time playoff record: 23-30
State championships: 2 (1980, 2000)
State championship record: 2-2