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Alta vs. Bingham football rivalry living up to its hype

It's the gift that keeps on giving and giving and giving.

How else can you describe the Bingham vs. Alta football rivalry, which has produced fantastic game after fantastic game over the past three years?

"It lives up to the hype," Alta coach Les Hamilton said of the state's premier football rivalry, which will be renewed for the seventh time in just over three years when Alta and Bingham lock horns Friday night at Bingham High.

"You'd think there'd be a bad game, but this one, every stinking game since 2005 has been an intense, close battle."

Maybe Friday night's contest, which is expected to be played in front of yet another mammoth, standing-room-only crowd, will be the game that finally doesn't live up to the enormous hype.

But don't bet on it.

Bingham and Alta have met each preseason since Hamilton took over Alta's program in 2005, and they've met in the final two rounds of the postseason in each of the past three years.

The first two meetings, both won by Bingham, were OK games. But the last five? They've been nothing short of magical.

Every meeting between Bingham and Alta since they faced each other in the 2006 5A title game has been a memorable one, with all five games being decided by razor-thin margins.

According to both Hamilton and Bingham coach Dave Peck, all those close games have lifted their respective programs because they know they have to continually work hard to keep up with one another.

"The reason why Dave and I have been playing in the preseason ever since I came to Alta was we knew that the opportunity to play each other early in the year would be great motivation to our clubs in the offseason," said Hamilton. "In January, you'll hear my guys talk about, 'Hey, we've got to bust our tail because Bingham is.' We both use that as motivation."

Peck echoed those sentiments, and pointed out that he believes the Alta-Bingham rivalry, which is extremely respectful between both programs, has lifted prep football throughout the entire state.

"They've always been great games, not only for our programs, but I think for the state," said Peck. "The rivalry has raised the level of all the other teams. I know we both work harder in the offseason and do a lot of things because we know we have to if we're gonna keep up, which makes football in the state of Utah great.

"I think it's being recognized nationally — you see a lot more recruits in the state of Utah, and I'd like to think that we've had something to do with the overall success in the state."

e-mail: drasmussen@desnews.com