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5A football: Bingham, Lone Peak anticipating a competitive matchup for state championship

Published November 18, 2016 3:05 pm

5A football • Last two meetings between Bingham and Lone Peak have been one-sided, but that may change with the title on the line.
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Bingham coach John Lambourne highlighted one specific question after his program clinched an appearance in the Class 5A state championship against Lone Peak:

The Knights certainly have improved since receiving a drubbing from the Miners in Week 3, but has Bingham improved as well?

Lambourne said he believes his team has raised its level of play, especially considering defensive tackle Jay Tufele — the top-rated prospect in the state of Utah — appears to be 100 percent after missing the majority of the season, including the first game against the Knights, with a foot injury.

Either way, both coaches agree the 21-point blowout 11 weeks ago is not indicative of what fans will see when the two budding rivals meet at Rice-Eccles Stadium at 2:30 p.m. on Friday.

Bingham (13-0), ranked No. 18 nationally by MaxPreps, averages 44.8 points per game, while limiting opponents to 11.8 points — the largest margin of victory in the classification.

This is the sixth appearance in the title game in the past nine years for the program, which has prevailed in its last four tries in 2009, '10, '13 and '14. Bingham is 9-2 overall in championship games, but this is the first appearance for Lambourne as a head coach.

This is the second consecutive appearance for Lone Peak (12-1) in the final stage. The Knights lost to Herriman last season, lowering their all-time record to 1-3 in title games, with the lone championship in 2011. Coach Mike Mower, who is 8-3 overall in the playoffs, is 0-1 in his one appearance in the championship.

After reaching the 50-point mark in all three postseason games, Lone Peak averages 38.7 points per game for the season and surrenders 13.9 points — the second-largest margin of victory in 5A.

The Miners are very pedestrian through the air, averaging fewer than 150 yards per game, but quarterback Matt Degn is decisive, and with the convenience of one of the top rushing attacks in the state at his disposal, he's afforded the luxury of catching opposing secondaries unsuspecting and undermanned.

While the emphasis in the passing game has tapered off as the season has progressed, the Miners showcased their ability to open up the playbook if necessary, as Degn completed 8 of 12 attempts for 234 yards with two touchdowns and one interception at Lone Peak.

Junior Brayden Cosper was the main beneficiary, with four receptions for 164 yards and two touchdowns, while running back Jahvontay Smith piled up 158 yards and two scores on 13 carries.

On Friday, Smith will no longer carry as much responsibility after suffering a high-ankle sprain, but there hasn't been any dropoff in production, with Smith, Daniel Loua, Tate Peterson and Amoni Kaili rotating freely.

The Knights actually controlled the first quarter of the first meeting, leading 3-0 before failing to convert on fourth-and-goal and allowing Bingham to reel off three straight touchdowns.

They've yet to experience the same woes since the loss.

Dakota Hansen, a first-year senior starter at quarterback, is more poised in the pocket these days, and although he still has a tendency to get caught for significant losses while scrambling, his play-making ability adds the concern of containment for the defense.

Tyler MacPherson, an underrated talent, is easily the No. 1 target in the passing game with team-highs in receptions (66), yards (1,139) and touchdowns (15), while BYU commit Jackson McChesney adds another element of speed from the backfield.

Lone Peak embarrassed Bingham in the 2015 semifinals, and Bingham repaid the favor earlier this year. If you're a fan of mathematics, eventually there will be a regression toward the mean.

Will that be the case on Friday?


Twitter: @trevorphibbs —

Bingham vs. Lone Peak

P Class 5A Championship, at Rice-Eccles Stadium

• Friday, 2:30 p.m.






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