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High school football: Experience looms large as teams hit 4A quarterfinals

SHARE High school football: Experience looms large as teams hit 4A quarterfinals

There are six of the eight teams remaining in the 4A football playoffs that made it to at least the quarterfinals in 2007, as well as this year. Is it a coincidence? Or does being successful one season help to maintain a winning tradition?

"I am sure that it helps give our players a little better feel for what they are going up against, the type of pressure and intensity of a playoff game," said Sky View coach Craig Anhder, whose Bobcats advanced to the 4A semifinals in 2007 and play Timpview today in a quarterfinal matchup. "There are a few guys that were in that game last year, and even those that didn't play, at least they got to experience it a little bit."

All four of the semifinalists from last season are still alive in the playoff chase and will be in action today. Timpview is the obvious favorite, as the Thunderbirds are on a 33-game winning streak, have won the last two state titles and three of the last four. Not since 2004 have the defending champs not made at least the semifinals. With plenty of experienced players returning from last season's winners, the T-Bird players know nothing but success.

Mountain Crest was in the semifinals a year ago, and the Mustangs have several of their key players back from that squad.

"I am sure there are some benefits to those guys getting a taste of success last year," said Mustangs coach Mark Wootton. "At the same time, it can be a little bit of a downfall, a trap. If your guys start to think they are automatically going to get back there because they've been there before, it could be bad for the team.

"Luckily, I haven't seen that with this team. I don't think they feel any sense of entitlement," added Wootton. "They have come out every day ready to work and put in the effort that they know is necessary to get back there."

Pine View made it all the way to the championship game last season. According to Parry's Power Guide, the Panthers are again considered favorites to make it back to the Rice-Eccles turf. The other teams that are in the quarterfinals again this season include Bonneville and Cottonwood. The newcomers are Dixie and Highland — if you can call Highland a playoff newcomer after the Rams had reached at least the semifinals for the three previous seasons before last year's upset loss in the first round to Bonneville.

It may surprise some people to know that Bonneville has reached the second round in each of the last two seasons, but coach Matt Williams has a philosophy for that.

"Yeah, I guess we are kind of peaking at the right time," he said at the conclusion of the regular season. "It is important to be playing your best football at the end of the year."

Cottonwood, Pine View, Mountain Crest and Timpview are the favorites today. Just being favored doesn't necessarily guarantee a spot at the University of Utah next week. But by the looks of the pairings the past couple of seasons, it wouldn't be a big surprise to see them there both this year — and next.

E-mail: mblack@desnews.com