This is the year that instead of getting only three teams into the state playoffs, Region 7 can get four. But one team will have to beat a team from Region 6 in a play-in game to gain that fourth spot.
Currently, it looks like the Region 7 team that will be in that game will either be the Mountain View Bruins or the Timpanogos Timberwolves. Neither squad wants to be there. Both prefer to take care of business before hand and get one of the league's top three spots.
"We don't want that play-in game, that's for sure," Mountain View coach Doug Meek said. "We'd rather skip that one."
However, both teams have only one league win. The loser of tomorrow's match-up between Timpanogos and Mountain View could easily finish that way — with one league win. In other words, both squads feel this game will determine which team is in and which team is facing a play-in.
"We know the importance of this game, and that's why our players are excited for it," Timpanogos coach Frank Bramall said.
The winner will not only be in the driver's seat for the region's No. 3 seed, but will still be in the hunt for the No. 2 seed. In fact, both could even keep outside league-title hopes alive.
"The kids know this is a chance to get in the playoffs for the first time in a long time, so there's a lot of excitement in that opportunity," Meek said.
The Bruins have been the doormat of the league for the past two seasons but have improved greatly this season and have put up a decent fight even in their losses. Behind the rushing and passing of Don Lovelace and a tenacious defense, they've won two of their past three games and are riding a new wave of confidence. Still, Meek feels his team has a lot of room for improvement.
"We feel like there's some confidence building, but we still have to execute better and do the things we need to do if we're going to have a shot at beating Timpanogos," Meek said.
The T-Wolves started the season off 3-0 and were considered one of the valley's top teams, but then the injury bug bit, and they've won only one game since. Defensive end Chris Burr has been hobbled for a few weeks and is questionable against Mountain View. Powerful back Jerritt Lui is also uncertain after getting hurt in last week's game at Lehi. Two key lineman are missing practices but could play. Speedy back Alex Lyons is also a little battered.
"It's that time of year when a lot of guys are bruised, banged up and wounded," Bramall said.
When Timpanogos' three-headed running attack of Lui, Lyons and Alex Gonzales are healthy, the T-Wolves can put plenty of points on the board. Whether the three will be ready come game time Friday, however, is a wait-and-see question. The T-Wolves will surely need them.
"We're not a very deep team," Bramall said.
Rayburn's pick: Mountain View
PROVO AT TIMPVIEW: Cross-town rivalry and all, this contest will have a ton of excitement in the air but won't be much of a game for very long. The toughest part of the T-Birds schedule is behind them.
Rayburn's pick: Timpview
SPANISH FORK AT AMERICAN FORK: Realistically, the No. 3 seed from Region 6 is on the line. The Dons had a strong second half against Payson last week, but they're on Cavemen turf this week.
Rayburn's pick: American Fork
SPRINGVILLE AT PAYSON: With senior signal caller Blake Francom suffering a shoulder injury last week, Payson is too wounded to put up much of a fight. The Red Devils could rack up some big numbers in the Lions den this week.
Rayburn's pick: Springville
OREM AT PLEASANT GROVE: With the Vikings aching for a win and the Tigers aching for a league title, the helmets should be clashing pretty hard in Pleasant Grove. In the end, the Tigers' defense should prevail and force a few costly Vikings turnovers.
Rayburn's pick: Orem
RAYBURN'S RECORDS: Last week — 6-0. Overall for 2004 — 43-12.