WOODS CROSS — For most of the previous decade, Murray and Granger had languished in boys soccer mediocrity.
Murray did win a 4A state championship back in 2001, but the Spartans followed that up with eight consecutive losing seasons before this spring and only qualified for one 4A tournament during that barren run.
Meanwhile, Granger won just seven total games between 2001 and 2005 before Opie Okeson took over the Lancers' program and made it respectable. Still, though, the Lancers only had one winning season during the previous eight seasons and had never made it out of the first round.
So it's almost beyond comprehension that, in the year that the UHSAA moves them up to Class 5A, they'd be making noise in the 5A tournament.
And yet here they are, left as only two of the four teams still standing in this year's 5A soccer tournament.
To improbably get to this point, they only beat the who's who of boys soccer in the state's largest classification — Brighton and Alta — and now they ride into today's semifinal round at Woods Cross High hoping to extend their already incredible postseason runs.
No. 3 Davis will be the favorite when it meets Granger in one semifinal at 4:15 this afternoon, while No. 5 Fremont will be the favorite when it meets Murray in the other semifinal at 6:30.
After last week, though, it would be foolish to bet against Granger or Murray.
Indeed, Davis and Fremont of Region 1 need only look at last week to see why they absolutely, positively cannot take Granger or Murray of Region 2 lightly.
In last Tuesday's opening round, Murray did get to play Viewmont of Region 1 at home, but many figured that the Vikes, a perennial power who had been to the last two 5A semifinals, would "take care of business" on the road against Murray and set up an enthralling quarterfinal match against two-time defending champ Brighton.
Murray had other ideas.
Down 2-1 at halftime, the Spartans roared back in the second half to tie the game and then won it through Casey Yates' golden goal in OT.
And then three days later, Murray pulled off an unbelievable upset against Brighton.
After blowing a 2-0 lead in the second half, the Spartans nonetheless took down Brighton when Yates scored his second OT winner in as many games.
And then there was Granger.
A lot of folks believed Weber would take down the Lancers in the first round, but they instead played a composed game to win in the first round and earn a shot at hosting top-ranked Alta.
After falling behind 1-0, Granger came from behind and eventually won the game in a shootout to stun the rest of the state.