by Daniel Olsen | We started with 24 teams, and then there were four. Some went chalk as we expected but there were some surprises that we did not foresee in our quarterfinals predictions. How did they get here and what obstacles did they have to overcome along the way? The big boys of prep football get set to compete for the bid to the championship on the brightest stage. Thursday night football this week is more than just Colts vs Titans. Like the Titans, you will remember some of these powerhouse teams in the highest classification of the UHSAA. Let’s break down each team and make our picks:
1 Corner Canyon:
Who they are – Corner Canyon High School in the year 2013 in a growing city in Draper, Utah. It sits just at the point of the mountain that separates Utah and Salt Lake County. This brings a diverse group of sports fans at the high school and collegiate ranks. The most well-known alumni of this school is none other than BYU quarterback and Heisman hopeful, Zach Wilson. Wilson grew up a Ute fan but changed his alliances when the Utes never recruited him. BYU made a last second pitch to bring him to the valley just south of the one where he grew up.
Now, the man under center is Jaxson Dart. He wasn’t as well known at Roy High under a run heavy offense. However, his stats have been off the charts since he made the move to Corner Canyon. He is putting up eye-popping numbers and continuing the second longest winning streak in state history. One number as noted by the Deseret News was a state record he tied. He now has tied former Lehi quarterback, Cammon Cooper, for the record of most single-season passing touchdowns. The two both now sit at 58 each with still more football to be played. Also, you need to know the name Jackson Light as he is the number two prospect in the state of the class of 2021. He is committed to the Oregon Ducks.
How they got here – One word: unscathed. In the playoffs alone, the Chargers have outscored opponents 116-25. They weren’t challenged at any point in the Round of 16 game vs Westlake as they won 59-3. They then made a huge statement by beating Bingham by even more than their nationally televised game in August. They won that game 42-20 but poured gas on the fire in a 57-22 quarterfinal win.
Why they will win – They are facing one of the biggest underdogs in the semifinals. East high was dominant not too long ago but it is a new era. The question is can East stifle the Corner Canyon offense? Nobody has been able to do that for over three years. East will put up some touchdowns but it would be surprising if they can hold the Chargers under fifty.
Why they could lose – This is sports. You can count on taxes in April but you can’t always count on your team to win. Streaks are eventually broken. This would be a David vs Goliath upset but we have seen a handful of teams challenge Corner Canyon. Lone Peak and Skyridge on the other side of the bracket only lost to the Chargers by a combined total of 13 points. They are capable of losing but first we have to take a deeper dive into their opponent to see what they bring to the table.
12 East High:
Who they are – East high was founded in 1913 and is a well known football program as well as tourist destination. Known by most of the world to be the filming location for the school in the High School Musical movies. They have won a total of 9 state championships including two consecutive 4A titles in 2015 and 2016. Now, they are playing at the highest classification of 6A as the school as grown significantly.
Voi Tunuufi is the top recruit for the Leopards. He his currently committed to the Washington Huskies. He plays defensive tackle and was highlighted as an All-American candidate by Sports Illustrated.
How they got here – East struggled early on after getting shut out by Orem to begin the season. They rattled of three straight wins to finish the season and carried that momentum into the playoffs. They easily beat the Jordan Beetdiggers in a 49-0 shutout. They also scored a second round upset by default as Kearns High School had to forfeit due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
They upset an impressive American Fork to prove that they belong in the semifinals. They are the lone double-digit seed to make the semifinals in 6A.
Why they will win – It’s hard to think that anyone can dethrone Corner Canyon but if the Leopards can keep this momentum going, maybe it will be enough to stop the rolling avalanche that is the Chargers. They will have to have their offense clicking and find a way to keep the Corner Canyon offense off the field. If they can run the ball and extend their drives, maybe they can hold the Chargers to a mere 40 points. They will have to have the offensive performance of their life to slay the Goliath of high school football in Utah.
Why they will lose – Every team who has played Corner Canyon has lost to them in the last 38 tries. East can’t just get blanked by a 5A juggernaut in Orem and expect a few wins to remove that from their championship DNA. If they have any weaknesses, the best team in the Utah prep scene will exploit those. They did enough to beat a good American Fork team last week. It won’t be enough to beat a legendary team like Corner Canyon though.
Final Score Prediction:
Corner Canyon 41 East 27
(The game will be hosted by Corner Canyon High School on Thursday, November 12th at 2 PM Mountaon Time.)
2 Lone Peak:
Who they are – The Lone Peak Knights are a high school that resides in Highland, Utah. This is a city in Utah County that is just southeast of the Silicon Slopes tech companies in Lehi. This school was built in 1997 and has been well known for producing top basketball talent. Some well-known alumni such as the Haws and Emery brothers played for BYU while standout Frank Jackson played for the Duke Blue Devils and is now in the NBA.
The top football prospect on the Knights is the No. 14 prospect in the state: John Henry Daley. He plays on the defensive line and has offers from several schools. The feeling is that the local BYU Cougars might be up his alley. As one of the few current undefeated teams in college football, that has to be his most intriguing prospect.
How they got here – The Knights got to this spot by beating every beatable team. Yes they lost to Corner Canyon but as mentioned before, that team hasn’t lost in a long time. They are a bunch of cyborgs up there in Draper and the Knights only lost by 10 points which is more than most teams can say. They have proven they can score in bunches as they have outscored opponents 102-7 in their two playoff games. Riverton was not a tough opponent but give the Knights credit for shutting out a good West High team 49-0.
Why they will win – As mentioned before, the Knights can score the football. Not even the best defenses could hold them under 20 points in a game all season. They have a balanced passing and rushing attack and that has led to an average of 37.3 points per game this season. Their defense should be good enough to win as well if they play to their potential.
Why they could lose – If the score differential is less than a touchdown in the fourth quarter, it is possible that the last team with the ball could win this game. These are two potent offenses. They beat their opponent by 17 in the regular season so there may be some Region 4 revenge on the horizon. If they get complacent, they will get punched in the mouth.
Who they are – Skyridge is a newer high school in the city of Lehi that was founded in 2016. As this part of Utah continues to grow, so does the home of the Falcons. They recently moved up to 6A in 2019. They have yet to win a championship in football but have been the runner-up twice to (you guessed it) their rival Corner Canyon Chargers. They did win the state volleyball title in 2018.
How they got here – Sophomore quarterback McCae Hillstead had this program rolling for most of the year. Once they ran into the brick wall of the top two teams in 6A, they came back down to earth. They have prepared for lift-off and haven’t looked back since. They soared into this semifinal game with wins over Herriman and Davis. They won these games convincingly by acting like a team that’s been there. Some of the seniors were on those runner-up teams in 2017 and 2018.
Why they will win – These Falcons can score too. They struggled against Lone Peak last time but this is the perfect opportunity to look at the film and see what they can do to exploit the opposing defense. They will win if they win the turnover battle amd motivate their own defense to not let the Lone Peak offense run wild. The Knights are a prideful team so they need to be punched in the mouth or it will be a long night for their opponent.
Why they could lose – They have lost before in a time when they seemed almost unbeatable. They were sitting at 7-0 and then the wheels came off. They will have to go to that same field where that nightmare happened and it’s possible history could repeat itself.
I think Skyridge gets revenge over the regular season loss and advances to their third state championship appearance in four years. Pick the Falcons to win in a close one.
Final Score Prediction: Skyridge 42 Lone Peak 35
(The game will be hosted by Lone Peak High School on Thursday, November 12th at 7 PM Mountaon Time.)
Featured image courtesy Deseret News