Defending 6A champion Bingham pulls away from 4A champ Orem to open 2018 high school football season
Orem's Puka Nacua grabs a touchdown over Bingham's Braedon Wissler in Orem on Thursday, Aug. 16, 2018.

Orem’s Puka Nacua had a state-record 321 reception yards — on 16 catches — in Orem’s 51-46 victory over Santa Margarita, California last Saturday evening. Nacua’s performance surpassed the previous record, which lasted just over a year, by seven yards (Lehi’s Dallin Holker on Aug. 18, 2017). Nacua’s 16 receptions ties for fifth-most all-time.

Legas also on display

Orem QB Cooper Legas passed for 438 yards and ran for 190 more in the Tigers’ win. His 628 yards of total offense is the eighth best all-time performance by a Utah gridder. It’s also the best performance against an out-of-state team. (His 438 passing yards ranks 55th-best all-time.)

Turnarounds

Midway through the regular season, Logan and North Sanpete lead the state as the most-improved teams (which the NCAA calculates by taking the year-to-year difference in victories and the difference in losses, adding the two numbers and dividing by 2). Logan has moved from 2-8 last year to 5-0 so far and North Sanpete from 0-10 to 3-2. Those are improvements of 5.5 games. Davis (1-8 to 4-1) is 5.0 games better than last season. Westlake (0-10 to 2-3) has improved by 4.5 games so far.

Utah vs. the nation

Speaking of out-of-state opponents, Utah squads are 16-14 against non-Utah foes so far this year. Just four games against out-of-state teams remain: Monument Valley has three and Whitehorse, one.

Undefeated and winless

Halfway through the regular season, seven teams savor perfect records while 10 others remain winless. Bingham is the only unbeaten in Class 6A. Class 5A claims three, Corner Canyon, Olympus and Timpanogos, while Class 4A has two, Logan and Sky View. Milford is the sole unblemished squad in Class 1A.

The only possible matchup between undefeated teams during the regular season is Logan at Sky View, a Region 12 showdown, on Sept. 28. That’s if Sky View upends Mountain Crest and Logan handles Ridgeline this week.

5-0 Starts

Five schools have raced to 5-0 starts this year. Here’s a look at the last time each of them matched, or bettered, that start.

Olympus looks to open 6-0 for the first time since 1998, when the Titans went 12-0 and captured the Class 4A state championship.

In 2013, Logan won its first 11 games before a quarterfinal-round loss.

Timpanogos (23rd season) has matched its best-ever starts of 2012 and ’17 – and its school-record winning streak.

Last year Bingham stormed to a 13-0 record and the state championship before losing an out-of-state contest, and Sky View romped to 11-0 before falling in the semifinals.

Another team clocks in at 4-0. Milford enjoys its best start since 1994 when the Tigers won their first eight games, a school record.

Worth mentioning: Ogden (4-1), while not undefeated, hasn’t had a better beginning since starting 5-0 in 2009.

This week’s most-played rivalries

Two series celebrate their 50th meetings. Juab hosts Manti and leads the rivalry 26-23, since 1969. The Wasps have won four straight over Manti. Layton visits Clearfield and, coincidentally, also leads the series 26-23, but since 1968. Clearfield won 10-3 last year to break the Lancers’ nine-game winning streak in the series.

First-time matchups

Just one: newly opened Farmington hosts Woods Cross.

Milestone games

Herriman (hosting East) takes the field for the 100th time. In a landmark for a coach, Clint Christiansen directs his 200th career game in stints at South Sevier (1998-2002), Provo (2004-07) and Stansbury (2009-18). He’s 113-86 in his first 199 contests.

Undefeated first-year coach

Of the 17 head-coaching changes this year, only Logan’s Travis Van Leeuwen remains unbeaten.

Shutouts

Nine schools have blanked two opponents this season, but Monument Valley (3-2) leads the state with three. The Cougars’ shutouts have all come against out-of-state teams.

Winning streaks

Milford leads the state with 11 straight, while Logan and Timpanogos have won six in a row. Bingham, Olympus and Sky View follow with five.

Midway scoring leaders

Halfway through the regular season, here are the Top-5 leaders in points-per-game averages.

Margin of victory:

  • Olympus – 42.8
  • Milford – 39.8
  • Timpanogos – 37.4
  • Parowan – 30.3
  • Corner Canyon – 28.3

Scoring Offense:

  • Pine View – 50.5
  • Olympus – 49.0
  • Timpanogos – 48.8
  • Milford – 48.5
  • Parowan – 45.5

Scoring Defense:

  • Olympus – 6.2
  • Desert Hills – 7.6
  • Milford – 8.8
  • North Sanpete – 10.8
  • Richfield – 11.2

Speedy returner

Sky View’s Caleb Christensen returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown against Bear River last Friday. That’s the fifth of his career and includes two in a playoff game against Mountain View last year.

The career record for kickoffs returned for touchdowns is six, held by San Juan’s Jens Wilson (2004-05). Morgan’s Jordan Wamsley (2009) ran back five, so Christensen joins him in second place.

By the way, 16 players since 1960, including Christensen, have returned two kickoffs for TDs in a game. (Thanks to John Newbold for bringing attention to Caleb’s achievement.)

All-time Top-20 Career Updates (alphabetically by school)

Milford’s Bryson Barnes, a junior, ranks 20th in TDs-Responsible-For (86–23 rushing, 63 passing).

Orem’s Cooper Legas jumped to seventh place in passing yards (7,165) and 11th in total offense (9,202 yards). He’s tied for 18th in TD passes (69). Puka Nacua’s record-setting game performance propelled him into second place in career reception yards (3,706). That’s 838 yards off the state record (4,534), held by Jordan’s Spencer Curtis, 2013-16. Nacua is also second in touchdown receptions (44), one behind Curtis. Puka ranks eighth in receptions (192), just 10 away from fifth place and 61 shy of the state record, also held by Curtis (253).

Pine View kicker Connor Brooksby is tied for third in field goals (25), three away from second place and 11 out of first. He’s fifth in extra points (166) and four away from fourth place. (Pine View had a bye last week, so Brooksby’s stats remain unchanged.)

Comment on this story

Taylorsville quarterback Dane Leituala ranks third in total offense (11,940 yards), fifth in touchdowns-responsible-for (115) and tied for sixth in 100-yard rushing games (34). He’s ninth in net rushing yards (4,764) and 11th in passing yards (7,176). Dane is 18th (tied) in touchdown passes (69), 18th in carries (531) and 19th in passing attempts (828). (Leituala’s statistics are unchanged from last week as he’s on the sidelines recovering from an injury.)

Felt’s Facts welcomes questions – email [email protected]