by Daniel Olsen | it has been upset city so far in 5A and last week was no exception. This is the only division so far in which the top seed was knocked out. Now, we take a look at the remaining teams. Which team left will be the last one standing? We have to narrow it down from four to two first. Let’s take a look at the four semi-finalists!
4 Salem Hills:
Who they are – The Salem Hills Skyhawks are a relatively new school located in the south side of Utah County. They were founded in 2008 and have seen success recently. They were in this same situation last year and lost to the eventual three-time champion Orem Tigers in the semifinals. The football team is led by Coach Jeff Higginson and they are hoping to advance to the finals to possibly earn a rematch with the Orem High Tigers. Due to the Brighton Bengals being upset in the quarterfinals, the Skyhawks enter this game as the lower seed.
How they got here – Salem Hills was on their way to a special season but ran into a couple obstacles along the way. Their two losses were each by a single possession at the hands of neighboring rivals Springville and Maple Mountain. They sent a message to Box Elder with a 44-13 in their first state playoff game. They followed that win with a gritty 38-35 victory over a Wasatch team that they had shut out in the regular season.
The Skyhawks are led by Senior quarterback Jarret Elmer. They are more of a pass heavy team as they have amassed 3096 passing yards compared to just 1322 rushing yards this season.
Why they will win – As Coach Higginson mentioned earlier in the season, when the Skyhawks play their brand of football, they win. If the team can take care of the football, they will win. It’s that simple. Whoever wins the turnover battle should win this football game.
Why they will lose – Timpview is a hot team right now. Don’t count them out. Although they are one of the highest seeds among all divisions, they are the nine seed that nobody wants to be facing. They also create plenty of turnovers that usually make or break a game for Salem Hills. They have recorded 13 interceptions and have recovered 9 fumbles. Look out for some ball-hawks on the Thunderbirds.
Who they are – Timpview is one of the most well-known prep football teams in state history. They were founded in 1977 and had a period in the mid 2000s where they had the longest win streak at the time. Duchesne and Corner Canyon have since surpassed that but that doesn’t take away from their dominance. That extends beyond the football field too. In the 2008-2009 season, they won the “All Sports Award” in the 4A classification. In addition to football, they also had state championships in boys cross country and track that year. They are located in Provo just north of the the BYU campus.
How they got here – The Thunderbirds were a team that was overlooked by many, including our 5A quarterfinals preview. We admit these Thunderbirds are better than any of us thought. Perhaps those state championships in football aren’t a thing of the past after all. They beat a solid Olympus team in their first playoff game and stunned the undefeated Brighton Bengals 35-24 last week.
Why they will win – As mentioned previously, Timpview will win if they take the ball away from the finesse passing team that is Salem Hills. These Thunderbirds aren’t about the glamorous game. They play smash mouth, ground-and-pound football. If they rattle Salem Hills early, it could be a rough game.
Why they will lose – Their very strength could their weakness in this game. They are slightly heavier on the rushing attack than the passing game. They amassed 452 rushing yards against Brighton. If Salem Hills can stop the run (and that’s a big if) then it could be the an ugly end to the 2020 season for Timpview.
I am predicting that the Timpview train will move on and they will be one of the biggest Cinderella stories in the state in these playoffs. They will get the run game going and connect on a few timely turnovers. The Thunderbirds will win a close one!
Final Score Prediction:
Timpview 24 Salem Hills 21
Who they are – The Orem High Tigers have been one of the best teams in Utah for quite some time. They are the three-time defending state champions. They haven’t been perfect as they play a gauntlet of a non-region schedule but they win when it counts. They have won their last 15 playoff games dating back to their days at the 4A Division.
How they got here – It was tough sledding for a while for the Tigers as they missed a month of their season due to scheduling conflicts with schools that had outbreaks of COVID-19. Their only losses were close games against 6A opponents. They beat their first two playoff opponents rather handily. Last week’s 49-28 win over the soaring Skyline Eagles was just the most recent evidence that the Orem Tigers are still the team to beat in 5A.
Why they will win – They will win because it’s in their championship DNA. Orem High has had a plethora of wins to go around under Coach Gabe Sewell. They showed early in the season when they shut out a 6A East High team that made it to the semifinals in their division. Orem will win if they keep doing what they are doing. Their coaching, athleticism and playmaking are a step above the rest.
Why they will lose – This is football. Anything can happen. Orem better not be full of themselves. There is still talent in the 5A ranks that can catch them off guard if they aren’t careful. They have so far proven too much from any team in 5A. Unless they move up to 6A, they won’t be challenged if they play to their potential.
6 Maple Mountain:
Who they are – Since 2009, the Golden Eagles have become a forced to be reckoned with this year down in Spanish Fork. While they went winless in their first year as a team, they have finally had that breakout season they’ve been waiting for. They are hoping to keep it going and advance to their first state championship appearance ever! Jaren Hall, a quarterback on the BYU depth chart, is one of the most notable alumni members of the Maple Mountain football team. His brother, Kyson Hall, is currently a receiver for the Golden Eagles team.
How they got here – While there were a few hiccups along the way, the Golden Eagles finished with only two losses on the season. They didn’t dominate but they defeated their rival Springville 27-21 in the first round. That was the second time they beat the Red Devils this season. After that, they beat the Alta Hawks by a modest ten points to advance to the semifinals. They enter this game riding a five game winning-streak.
Why they will win – Balanced offense and timely plays on defense would be the keys in this game. The Golden Eagles aren’t pass or run heavy but they are football savvy. They will make the right football play and chip away little by little if you aren’t careful. They haven’t scored 50 points in a game like some of the other dominant offenses in the state. However, they haven’t let any of their opponents score that much either.
Why they will lose – Orem is better. There’s no shame in losing if they put their best effort into it. If both teams play their best, the better team will win. Orem has been that team all year long. Their records may look similar but remember again that Orem’s two losses were to 6A teams.
With Brighton knocked out, there doesn’t seem to be an obstacle standing in Orem’s way. Last year it was Thunderbirds vs Tigers. This year it will be a rematch.
Final Score Prediction:
Orem 38 Maple Mountain 27
Featured Image courtesy Daily Herald