Eight high school football teams have won through to the Class 5A and Class 6A semifinals.
Six of those squads represent Utah County high schools.
And five of them have won at least one game against an opponent seeded at least five spots higher.
It’s been upset time on the gridiron.
Here are the local teams who have played above their seeding:
- 6A No. 7 American Fork defeated No. 2 Herriman (28-14).
- 5A No. 10 Timpview defeated No. 7 Springville (21-14) and No. 2 Provo (27-6).
- 5A No. 11 Lehi defeated No. 6 Woods Cross (21-14) and No. 3 Farmington (27-21).
- 5A No. 12 Orem defeated No. 5 Brighton (21-6) and No. 4 Olympus (31-28).
- 6A No. 20 Lone Peak defeated No. 13 Riverton (37-8), No. 4 Skyridge (30-6) and No. 5 Kearns (37-19).
But the job is far from over, especially since No. 1 seeds Salem Hills (5A) and Corner Canyon (6A) are still in the mix.
Each team has had to take its own path, often going on the road for multiple games.
“We got a home game in Week 1 but then we had to win road games two weeks in a row against good teams,” Lehi head coach Ed Larson said in a phone interview on Monday. “That’s tough to do.”
Region 7 has proven to be the “Region of Death” in Class 5A, while Region 4 — as usual — has earned that nickname in Class 6A. Both leagues have three teams still alive (Orem, Timpview and Lehi from Region 7; American Fork, Lone Peak and Corner Canyon from Region 4).
“We’re proud of our region and proud that we’ve been able to survive,” Larson said. “For us this is the equivalent of the college football playoffs with their final four. Not only are there going to be a lot of great players on the field but the physicality of these games is going to be off the charts.”
There is another interesting dynamic in that three of the four semifinals in the two classifications will be rematches from earlier in the year:
- Timpview beat Lehi, 28-9, on Sept. 27
- American Fork beat East, 57-45, on Sept. 6
- Corner Canyon beat Lone Peak, 21-17, on Sept. 27
The Knights in particular won’t likely forget falling to the undefeated Chargers after giving up two touchdowns in the last couple of minutes of the game.
“These boys get pumped for every team they see but when they play a team that they lost to, they have extra incentive,” Lone Peak head coach Bart Brockbank said Monday. “They have always responded well. We are prepping for the game like any team but they definitely want to finish what they didn’t finish last time.”
The Knights have had arguably the most bizarre road as they had an up-and-down season, were forced to forfeit five wins for playing an ineligible player resulting in the No. 20 seed, endured a school lockdown before their first-round game at Riverton — and still tallied three straight “upsets” by comfortable margins.
“I’ve coached different kids with different qualities but this group has been unique in its ability to deal with off-the-field drama,” Brockbank said. “They’ve been able to push it aside, come together as a team and continue to perform. That is a sign of good leadership from the players.”
He actually think that the obstacles may have been a blessing in disguise for Lone Peak.
“The boys have relished being an underdog,” Brockbank said. “It felt like it took a lot of the pressure off of them. When we were 5-1, I think they started to feel that pressure and started playing tight. No one wants to vacate wins but you have to play the hand you are dealt, so we dealt with it.”
All eight semifinalists have experienced tough times and come back strong. Each heads into the final two weeks of the season believing that they have the team to go all the way.
“We feel like we can compete with anyone, anywhere,” Brockbank said. “Each team is just another team in the way of us reaching our goals. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Now it comes down to doing the little things it takes to actually defeat a good opponent.
“We have to check the run game on defense and drive the ball on offense to let our defense catch it’s breath,” Larson said. “This will likely be a game where field position really matters, so we can’t turn the ball over.”
The 5A semifinals will take place on Thursday at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., while the 6A semifinals are on Friday at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. All games will be played at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.