We're looking at another exciting Friday night for high school football. As we get deeper into region play, don't let records fool you. In grudge matches between rivals, there's always a few surprises.
Here, we look at the games that might seem lopsided on paper, but should boil down to some classic contests.
As always, we must thank George Felt, whose labor of love Felt's Facts gives every high school football fan a bit of historical perspective. Some of his figures and observations are included here.
Bountiful (4-1) at Highland (3-2)
This Region 6 match-up will go a long way to determining who will be challenging East at the top of the standings this year. Defensively, this is one of the state's most intriguing contests.
The Braves have a strong running game led by beefy senior fullback Jakob Hunt, who has 12 touchdowns this season and more than 600 yards on the ground. Quarterback Jordan Hayes has filled in ably after Trevor Lloyd went down early in the season, and he'll be hunting for top receiving threat Tanner Redding. The defensive front seven is pretty hard to gain ground on lineman Junior Hamilton and linebacker Rylee Gutavai have combined for eight sacks. Bountiful did a great job stuffing Cyprus last week, holding them to 10 points.
Highland has a tough front seven of its own, anchored by defensive linemen Bryan Mone and Luti Nonu. Junior Adam Webber is a DI-caliber prospect patroling at linebacker. The unit did have trouble against Herriman and Lone Peak, giving up some yards to elite rushers, so Hunt should be a concern. This offense primarily thrives on the run, and a lot of guys will get a chance to carry the rock: Eight different Rams have had rushing touchdowns this year. Austin Peterson will have to find ways to throw over Bountiful's defense, as well.
Brighton (5-0) at Alta (4-1)
But for an Alta loss last week, this would be the most anticipated game in the state some argue it still is. The intrigue comes from a region contest featuring one of 5A's best running units against an elite passing offense.
Brighton, despite being 5-0 this season, would be considered the challenger here. But the Bengals have an enormous line led by Utah-committed junior Jackson Barton, a 6-foot-7, 285-pound tackle. Behind this unit, brothers Uaea and Osa Masina have been running free. The attack was slowed up last week by Pleasant Grove, and Brighton just barely escaped with a win. Part of the reason for that was its own defense, which gets a boost from Isaiah Kafusi on the line and Uaea Masina at safety in the secondary. Aside from a special teams play last week, the defense has only allowed two offensive touchdowns in the last two weeks.
Expect more points from No. 3-ranked Alta, which despite being humbled last week against Jordan still has a tremendous passing game. Harrison Handley, Ammon Barker and Mack Richards are bigger than most defensive backs and can make explosive plays. Chipper Lucero threw for 393 yards last week with no interceptions against the No. 1 Beetdiggers. The Hawks need more out of their running game to control tempo, and they need to stop the run. After giving up nearly 350 yards on the ground to Jordan, this defense will have to find some fire to compete with Brighton's strong line.
Herriman (4-1) at Skyline (2-3)
The Mustangs would be the favorite in this match-up, now the No. 2-ranked team in the state and looking for their first region title. In the way is Skyline, which clipped Herriman last year in a one-point stunner.
Herriman thrives on the run, relying on running back Francis Bernard, quarterback Tueni Lupeamanu and backup rusher Brandon Farmer to get down the field fast. The Mustangs are one of the leading rushing teams in the state this year, and Lupeamanu has also thrown for 671 yards and five touchdowns this year. Both Lupeamanu and and Bernard are also factors on defense, where the Mustangs held Hillcrest to less than 50 yards rushing last week.
Skyline has struggled early this season, but is a traditional slow starter. The Eagles' star is Garrett England, a BYU-committed receiver who can score running the ball, catching the ball or in the return game. Quarterback Tyler Snyder is the main rushing threat, notching more than 400 yards on the ground. The Eagles have had their struggles up front, but last week rolled in a 41-0 win against Murray. Part of that success is credited to the team's defense. Machi Ubani is a double-team threat up front, while Roman Salehi can blow up a lot of plays at linebacker. Defense was the main reason Skyline came back last year the Eagles will be hoping for the same kind of magic.
Riverton (3-2) at Bingham (4-1)
Although this rivalry has been fairly one-sided, emotions typically run high for this game between schools in proximity. The Miners haven't been invincible this year, and the Silverwolves seem improved.
Riverton's strength is defense, even though they've allowed a lot of points. If you look at their tough preseason schedule, all of the teams they faced were held below their season average. Seven players have at least one sack this year, and guys such as Ethan Cutler, Brady Holt and Tevita Loamanu bring the pressure. Albert Tai is a tackling machine in the middle. If Riverton is to keep up, they'll have to score big as they did in their 41-13 romping of Kearns. Jake Simonich is the leading rusher with 336 yards in the Silverwolves' attack, but three other backs have at least 150 yards on the ground.
Bingham seems to have found its stride, scoring 78 points in their last two wins over Layton and Cottonwood. The Miners love to control the clock with the run, using quick Wildcat-style quarterback Jantzen Bowles for a handful of snaps, or handing the ball off to reliable bruiser Tonga Manu. The offense often gets great field position because a dominant defense, particularly standout pass rusher and Boise State commit Durrant Miles, who has 5 sacks this year. Koa Wilson is also a dangerous playmaker, grabbing three picks so far. Lowell Lotulelei will be a key player in this match-up, he'll have to help control the line of scrimmage against Riverton's run.
Timpview (4-1) at Timpanogos (5-0)
The Region 8 division title is very much at stake in this game. Timpview is no suprise, but the Timberwolves have somewhat come out of nowhere to have their first 5-0 start since … well, ever.
The Thunderbirds have quarterback Jake Lloyd and that's a pretty big chip to throw around. The senior has nearly 1,400 yards passing this year, with 17 touchdowns and only two picks. His favorite receivers are Dax Raymond and Braydon Galland, who each have more than 20 catches so far. Just about no one has been able to stop this attack. Defensively, Timpview gets a lot from pass rushers Gabe Reid and Pita Taumoepenu, who have combined for 10 sacks on the season. In region play, the Thunderbirds have only allowed two touchdowns so far.
The challenger is Timpanogos, and the reason the Timberwolves are relevant this season is tremendous defense: only about 8 points per game. Riley Schwenke specializes in sacks, getting to the quarterback six times already this season. Several of his teammates have also done well in that regard. On offense, the team is led by Kaden Bramhall, who has six touchdowns against only one interception this year. The guy Timpview really should be worried about is Jacob Hougaard, a running back who has more than 400 yards, 4 touchdowns rushing and a return score this season.
• If Syracuse beats Layton, and Northridge beats Weber this week, we could have another battle of unbeatens on Sept. 28 in what could decide Region 1.
• Can Cottonwood win? The Colts' best chance for a trailhead on the road to redemption is this week against fellow winless squad West Jordan.
• Stansbury is leading Region 11, running rampant to a 5-0 start, but they'll have to take on Morgan in what might be their toughest test in region pla
• If Duchesne can beat Layton Christian on the road this week, they'll take sole possesion of fourth place in the longest winning streaks in state history with 27 in a row.