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4A football: East, Springville set for undefeated showdown for championship

Published November 17, 2016 7:27 pm

4A football • Leopards looking for a second straight title.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2016, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Class 4A championship features two programs on opposite ends of the hype spectrum, but with similar philosophies. Both East and Springville predicate their success on power rush attacks and physical defenses, but only recently have the Red Devils started to demand headlines, which the Leopards have claimed all season.

While Springville has won 24 of its past 25 games, it laid an egg against the Leopards in the state semifinals last year. East is ranked No. 22 nationally by MaxPreps and is riding a 22-game winning streak — the fourth-longest in state history.

However, Springville is an extremely dangerous team in its underdog role, and despite East being an overwhelming favorite again — in only the 19th championship featuring two undefeated programs in state history — overlooking Springville could mean a date with the Devil.

East is vying for its 18th state title in school history, but a win on Friday at Rice-Eccles Stadium would mark the first time the Leopards won 14 games in one season in their 103 years of existence. East has never lost against Springville, with a 4-0 record all-time in the series, while coach Brandon Matich is 1-2 in state championship games.

Springville is 1-3 all-time in the final game, with the lone championship coming in 1985. This is the first appearance for coach Willy Child in the title game. The Red Devils last played in the state championship in 2009.

The Leopards (13-0) are averaging 49.7 points per game while surrendering 16.9 points. They've scored 646 points this season, which is 47 points away from breaking the state record the program set in 2013. Springville (12-0), on the other hand, is averaging 40.3 points and allowing 15.5 points per game.

However, while both programs place an enormous emphasis on the ground game, expect Springville to test the airways. Jantsen Thorpe is a three-year starter under center for the Devils, and if East has shown any weakness, it has been the susceptibility of getting beat in the secondary. That doesn't mean the Devils will abandon a run game fueled by a veteran offensive line and Payton Kelepolo, who has rushed for 1,612 yards and 21 touchdowns.

No matter who is calling the shots in the huddle for East (with starter Ben Ford likely out with a dislocated elbow), the game plan truly won't change. The Leopards, who have rewritten every offensive state rushing record this season, lead the nation in rushing and average 495.5 yards per game on the ground.

Jaylen Warren is 107 yards away from reaching 3,000 yards on the season, and with 36 rushing touchdowns on the year, he's two away from tying the single-season state record in that department.

Prep football historian George Felt contributed to this report.


Twitter: @trevorphibbs —

East vs. Springville

P Class 4A Championship, at Rice-Eccles Stadium

• Friday, 6:30 p.m.






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