by Daniel Olsen | There was not a single upset in the first round of the UHSAA State Playoffs at the 4A Division. This suggested that the RPI Rankings were accurately done. Time will tell if the games go all chalk in the second round. The competition gets tougher so it’s likely there will be some surprises. We will be there every step of the way. Let’s make some picks.
1 Sky View vs 16 Desert Hills: Sky View had a nice game vs. BYE last week. The 2019 4A Champs cruised into the second round riding a 21 game winning streak dating back to last season. They have to be pretty confident that they will be able to quickly shake off the rust in this second round matchup.
Desert Hills isn’t a pushover though. They have already made one trip up to Cache Valley and didn’t just beat the Mountain Crest Mustangs. They won by a convincing 44-14 score. In that battle southern Utah reigned supreme over the north. It is interesting that a vast amount of this division is comprised of Cache Valley in the far north and Washington County on the southern border of the state. That makes for some long road trips for the game.
Prediction: Even though Desert Hills had a successful road trip last week, that was against a more evenly matched team in the 17 seed Mustangs. They will now make another long trip to the north side of the valley to take on the top ranked team in 4A. Sky View won their matchup against Mountain Crest 29-0 earlier in the season. It would have been an easier matchup for the Bobcats had their familiar Region 11 opponent advanced. However that’s not the case. The Bobcats should win this game but only if they show up on defense. They can’t allow themselves to ease up. Desert Hills has a good defense and an even better offense so this isn’t a get-out-of-jail card. It’s hard to win at this level but the Bobcats have continued to do so. The Bobcats will do just enough to win. They will be on upset watch early in the game but make a few key plays in the second half to flip the script.
Score: Sky View 31 Desert Hills 21
8 Cedar vs 9 Dixie: Dixie and Cedar both got a first round bye last week so it will be interesting to see what happens in this matchup. This is an even matchup featuring two familiar foes. These two teams squared off on September 18th with Dixie coming out with the 24-19 win. Cedar still got the slight nod in the RPI rankings with a 6-4 record. Dixie finished at 5-5 so they will have to earn a victory on the road this time if they want to advance.
Prediction: As always with a rivalry game between two evenly matched teams, this will be another close matchup. The winner will be the team that comes out of halftime with the answers on offense. That is what happened in the regular season. After trailing 13-7 at halftime, Dixie scored 17 unanswered points in the third quarter. This time since Cedar gets the home game. I’m saying the home team will again make the comeback in this matchup. It will come in the form of a two point conversion for the win.
Score: Cedar 29 Dixie 28
4 Ridgeline vs 13 Cedar Valley: The Riverhawks were one of the few teams to legitimately challenge the Sky View Bobcats and their otherwise 7-1 record gives them a relatively high RPI seed going into the playoffs. It won’t come without adversity though. Cedar Valley made a statement against a Tooele Buffaloes team in the first round last week. While the Cedar Valley Aviators beat Tooele 23-21 in the regular season, they did slightly better in this game, winning 28-21.
Prediction: On the wrong day Ridgeline could lose but they have found ways to beat teams they are better than. They beat Pine View, Bear River and Green Canyon in one possession games. Their last regular season game was a 55-6 thrashing over their brother Mountain Crest. Count on this game to be close but ultimately the Riverhawks will find a way to get it done.
Score: Ridgeline 27 Cedar Valley 21
5 Park City vs 12 Ogden: 5 vs 12 is a classic upset in March Madness and it could certainly happen here. Park City had some close losses to tough opponents in Wasatch and Pine View early in the season. They are now riding a seven game win streak. However, their 24-21 win over Cedar Valley was a little closer than expected.
The Tigers let everyone know who the kings were in Weber County last week. The Ben Lomond Scots were left playing a sad tune on their bagpipes after losing in the first round to Ogden. This rubbed a little salt in the wound after the Scots were within a possession of the Tigers the week prior in the season finale.
Prediction: Both teams are talented and such is the case in most second round matchups. I’m going to save my upset pick for a different game though. The eye of the tiger isn’t enough to stop the Park City streak in this one. The Miners find a way to get it done.
Score: Park City 35 Ogden 21
2 Pine View vs 15 Crimson Cliffs: Familiar Region 9 foes square off in this battle in southern Utah. Pine View won the regular season matchup 21-7 over the Crimson Cliffs Mustangs. It’s easy to see why Pine View is the heavy favorite here.
The Mustangs are no slouch though. They have hung tough in many of their games. This game won’t be over before it starts like most matchups between underdogs of this magnitude are.
7 Green Canyon vs 10 Bear River: Bear River is the only double digit seed in 4A to get a bye that wasn’t due to forfeit. The Bears will face a familiar Region 11 foe in the first round. They matched up with the Green Canyon Wolves on September 25th. This was a close 26-24 loss for the Bears in Garland, Utah. They responded with a convincing 21-0 win over Mountain Crest in the next game before falling 35-20 to Sky View in the finale. The Wolves finished third in Region play with a 5-4 record. On the other hand, the Bear River Bears played tough but only managed one win in the region over Mountain Crest. They still finished with a 4-5 overall record which earned them a more favorable seed than the fourth place region team, the Logan High Grizzlies.
Prediction: The Bears are a good team but that’s just it. They are good enough to hang with Green Canyon and even beat them. However, the Wolves have more talent on their roster and tend to do well with that talent if they play as a team. I’m predicting the Wolves put the puzzle pieces together and advance out of the second round. Bear River has a really talented player or two but ultimately will struggle. Once again, the Region 11 representation will remain in Cache Valley.
Score: Green Canyon 31 Bear River 28
3 Snow Canyon vs 14 Logan: This was quite the matchup fourteen years ago. At the time, the Grizzlies were the defending 3A state champs until Snow Canyon came to Crimson Field and ran all over the Grizzlies. They were led by running back Adam Timo and started a powerhouse down in southern Utah.
Snow Canyon has only lost one game this season and that was a one point loss at Pine View. The Grizzlies, on the other hand, went 4-6 this season. On paper, they don’t look half the team that Snow Canyon is.
Prediction: The state playoffs aren’t played on paper and the Grizzlies seem to be peaking just at the right time. They had a great 43-22 win over Hurricane last week and seem to be playing like the playoff Grizzlies of old. This is the one upset prediction I am making. I think Snow Canyon will be feeling themselves after the favorable RPI ranking and overlook the Grizzlies. This is the time for the young Grizzly Cubs to grow up under the bright lights in St George. It will be a trip they won’t forget.
Score: Logan 38 Snow Canyon 31
6 Stansbury vs 11 Mountain View: The Bruins on the west side of Orem got a first-round win by default. The Uintah Utes had to forfeit the first round matchup. This should be a close matchup between two Region 10 opponents. The Bruins finished 6-3 while Stansbury finished 7-2. Ironically these two Region foes never faced off in the regular season.
Prediction: Stansbury enters the postseason after three straight victories to close out the regular season. That streak will be extended at least one more game. Mountain View enters this game on that one game winning streak (if you call a forfeit a win). They lost their final two regular season games prior to that postseason bye last week. The one thing the Bruins will have this weekend to remember the game is a few bruises.
Score: Stansbury 38 Mountain View 24
Featured image courtesy Deseret News