by Daniel Olsen | The RPI rankings are final but that means nothing now. 23 teams will compete for the chance to be the 2020 5A Division State Champs of high school football in Utah. The top teams get a bye this week, but we will take a look at the teams playing in the opening round. It’s time to make some predictions!
16 Highland vs 17 Spanish Fork: The Highland Rams and Spanish Fork Dons will square off at 4 PM Mountain Standard Time in Salt Lake City.
The Dons have struggled to win unless they have played less talented teams. Cedar Valley is a middle of the pack 4A team and so is Desert Hills. Spanish Fork does deserve some credit for that dominating 58-0 win over the last place team in Region 8 of 5A, the Payson Lions.
Highland has struggled but they are definitely in a tough division. They only won two games earlier in the season against Granger and Hillcrest. They have a stout defense but often struggle to score the ball. This was apparent in their Homecoming game that resulted in a loss to Olympus in a game that wasn’t as close as the final score of 40-24 would indicate.
Prediction: Both teams have struggled but it’s a new opportunity in the playoffs to turn over a new leaf. I think the Highland Rams are a little more battle tested. They should win this one if they play with the right mentality.
Score: Highland 28 Spanish Fork 10
13 Box Elder vs 20 Woods Cross: Box Elder has been a streaky team this year. They started the season off 0-4 before winning the next four games. They better hope the loss to Bonneville in their season finale isn’t the start of a new losing streak when they get set to play Woods Cross. On paper they are the favorite but even some of the wins in their streak were relatively close. If they let Woods Cross hang that could give them life for a possible upset.
Woods Cross is not a good team but they may have started to peaked at the right time. They lost the first seven games of their season before shutting out Viewmont on Senior Night and beating a middle-of-the-pack 4A team in Mountain View.
Prediction: This will be a close one but I am picking Box Elder to learn from past mistakes and get back to their winning ways quicker than usual.
Score: Box Elder 27 Woods Cross 17
12 Lehi vs 21 Viewmont: This isn’t a title-contender Lehi team that they have been in the past. However, they have had a respectable season with a 5-4 record. The 5A wins were against teams behind them in the RPI though.
Viewmont has had a shortened season and had it not been for a 13-10 defensive victory over Northridge, it would have been a winless season. At 1-6 they might just be happy to be there. They haven’t been close in any of their losses. It will take a renewed determination to pull off a big upset, let alone make this game competitive.
Prediction: The only team that can beat Lehi is the Pioneers. Yes, the mascot for Lehi is the Pioneers so only they can get in their own way. If they play a careless game and Viewmont plays the game of their life, Viewmont has a 1 in 100 chance to win. Like Lloyd Christmas, we are saying there’s a chance, albeit a minuscule one.
Score: Lehi 45 Viewmont 7
15 Mountain Ridge vs 18 Provo: This is a very evenly matched game. The Provo Bulldogs won three games but were never very impressive since their first game against Logan. An average 4A team in the Grizzlies played them close in a 14-7 battle in which the Bulldogs just survived.
Mountain Ridge is ranked a little higher in the RPI but they weren’t that more impressive. They finished 4-4 and their most impressive win of the season was to another 5A foe in Olympus High School to start the season.
Prediction: On paper Mountain Ridge is better but it feels like Provo can pull off the upset if they release their inner Bulldog. It won’t be easy but this is an evenly matched contest.
Score: Provo 14 Mountain Ridge 7
10 Bountiful vs 23 Hillcrest: The Bountiful Braves are the highest seeded team without a first round bye. They have earned the easiest game of the first round by learning how to win. At the start of the season they were losing every other game. They did string together three straight wins to end the season though. All of those wins came by double digits.
Hillcrest has struggled this year but they did allow zero points in their two wins against Hillcrest and Judge Memorial earlier in the season. They enter this matchup on a seven game losing streak.
Prediction: The Braves have worked hard to get to this point. They are not going to be put on upset alert in this one unless they forget how to win consistently like they did early in the season. They have found their identity and Hillcrest is still trying to find theirs.
Score: Bountiful 42 Hillcrest 13
14 Alta vs 19 Farmington: The Hawks finished at a .500 record for the season and look like a respectable team that could make it through this and possibly next weekend. It depends on which version we get of them though. The Alta that lost 44 to 16 to Provo last week has no business even getting through this weekend. That needs to change early and often for them to play like the team they are capable of becoming.
On the other hand, Farmington has only won two games this year. They lost their last four games. They lost their season finale to Fremont, who was forced to forfeit the first round of the playoffs due to multiple positive COVID tests within the team.
Prediction: This could be an upset but it is highly unlikely. Alta is a good program and should be lightyears ahead of Farmington on a normal day. The playoffs aren’t normal though so I expect this to be somewhat close. Alta wins by two scores.
Score: Alta 36 Farmington 24
11 Springville vs 22 Murray: This might be the most uneven matchup in the first round of the 5A playoffs. Springville might not be the best team ever but they did have four wins. None of these teams are the best because none of them have a first-round bye.
This is more about how much Murray has struggled. They did beat Hillcrest 44 to 21 to end the season but we already talked about how much Hillcrest has struggled.
Prediction: There is too much of a talent gap for Springville to get upset in this game and hold their head high. They don’t lose this game unless they want to have a long offseason. Unless Murray found some lightning in a bottle in their last game then they don’t stand a chance. It’s more likely than not that they just found an easy opponent.
Score: Springville 38 Murray 6
If you liked this preview, you’ll love our picks for other divisions like 3A and 4A. We will continue to bring you as much coverage as possible for all divisions in their state playoffs in Utah.
Featured image via Highland High School Athletics