“This is why we play football, for weeks like this.”
That is how Lone Peak coach Bart Brockbank summed up the excitement around his football program heading into Friday’s highly-anticipated showdown between No. 2 Lone Peak at No. 1 Corner Canyon.
Both teams won their respective state championships last season — but this year are competing in the same 6A region because of realignment.
The similarities don’t end there either. Both feature extremely athletic rosters that often overwhelm teams from the opening quarter.
Defensively, both have scored points on the defensive side of the ball in four of six games this season.
Corner Canyon’s explosive offense, however, is what separates it from most teams in the country as gives it the leg up against the Knights.
Through six games the Chargers are averaging 44.2 ppg against a schedule that’s included Orem, Herriman, Bingham, Jordan, Alta and Pleasant Grove. They’ve carved up defenses through the air and the ground.
“It’s definitely nice to have both and have that balance and keep defenses guessing a little bit on what they’re going to try and take away,” said Corner Canyon coach Eric Kjar.
When defenses have keyed on the run, quarterback Cole Hagen has gashed teams with 1,506 yards and 18 TDs this year. When teams have dropped more players into coverage, Austin Bell and Hagen have done damage with their legs by combining for 1,007 rushing yards and 14 TDs.
Brockbank and his coaching staff have certainly taken notice of Corner Canyon’s dynamic offense in film study this week.
“They’re very efficient, they execute very well so it makes it difficult to pinpoint one thing you can take advantage of,” said Brockbank.
Lone Peak will try and counter that with athleticism that Corner Canyon likely hasn’t seen yet this year led by do-everything safety Nate Ritchie and standout linebackers Keegan Nitta and Jared Fotu.
Corner Canyon’s defense, anchored by Josh Wilson, Cade McDougal and Van Fillinger, can be just as imposing. The defense has only allowed six first-half touchdowns in six games.
Kjar said his defense needs to be very aware at all times of Lone Peak’s dynamic receiving duo of Shawn Wood and Trajan Hansen, who’ve combined for 1,197 yards and nine touchdowns this year.
“Their two outside receivers are really good and they create mismatches on the outside. Both those two definitely have our attention,” said Kjar.
While Corner Canyon seemingly has the edge based on its collective dominance this year, that edge could shift to Lone Peak if the game is close in the fourth quarter.
Corner Canyon’s starters have only played meaningful minutes in the fourth quarter once this season, way back in week 1 against Orem when it pulled away for the 30-14 win.
Lone Peak, meanwhile, has played three games this season that were either tied or one-possession games in the fourth quarter.
Getting the game to the fourth quarter will be key for Lone Peak.