Rankings take a back seat to rivalry when the high school football season begins in earnest Friday (there are two games Thursday) - just ask neighbors Orem and Timpview.
The Tigers and Thunderbirds enter the new campaigns Friday ranked No. 1 in their respective classifications."We're not even worried about the rankings. Orem is a rival game for us," says Timpview coach Chad Van Orden. "It's a heated rivalry - a head knocker for sure."
Senior quarterback Bret Engemann and lineman Wes Brock lead the Thunderbirds, who won at Orem last year and will host Friday's 7:30 p.m. showdown. The defending 5A-champion Tigers counter with a tough defensive unit festuring linebacker Jon Guenter and safety Jason Gonzalez.
"It's a pretty big game. Probably very exciting for the fans, ," said Orem coach Paul Clark. "We're going to play a good football team, but beating Timpview is not our No. 1 goal. We've got other things, down the road, on our mind."
Skyline and Olympus opened the season in similiar fashion last year with the Eagles (who open the 1995 campaign tonight against Fremont, while Alta hosts Kearns in the other Thursday opener) prevailing in a thriller.
Elsewhere in the state Friday: East at West, 4 p.m.: The state's most-played rivalry opens the new campaign with a twist - it counts. Region 6/7 play begins when the Panthers and Leopards kick off.
Pleasant Grove at Bear River, 7 p.m.: A memorable postseason meeting in Utah County is revisted in Garland. A wild finish dethroned the Vikings and propelled the Bears to a second-place finish in '94. Revenge or more of the same? Copper Hills at Hillcrest, 7 p.m.: THe first-ever game for the Grizzlies is a tough one. The Huskies are considered region/state title contenders.
American Fork at Hunter, 7 p.m.: The third-ranked Wolverines open the season in less than prehistoric fashion. The visiting Cavemen are projected challengers for Region 4 honors.
Cyprus at Olympus, 7 p.m.: Will linebacker Mary Neff see any action? Mountain View at Provo, 7 p.m.: Two new coaches, but a rivalry as old as Donny Osmond's purple socks.
Jordan at West Jordan, 7 p.m.: THe Jaguars have had Beetdiggers on their minds ever since last year's setback on State Street.
Brighton at Bonneville, 7:30 p.m.: The battle of the B's should act as a barometer of sorts for the strength of regions 1 and 4.
Clearfield at Bountiful, 7:30 p.m.: Davis County's best tilt. Winner deserving of Top 5 ranking.
For complete schedule see Scoreboard on D7.