Editor’s Note: The Deseret News’ McCade Pearson, a graduate of Riverton High, has a passion for all sports, including high school sports. He’s also passionate about sports analytics and is fine-tuning formulas and models for his own power ranking and state tournament predictive system. Here’s his take on the upcoming 6A, 5A boys soccer playoffs.


On Wednesday morning the UHSAA released its RPI rankings for 6A and 5A boys soccer and the next round of brackets. It’s an exciting day that is the culmination of months of hard work as teams learn the path they have to chase for a state championship. The RPI rankings utilize win-loss record and strength of schedule, but my analytical nature has always been curious about a better, more efficient formula.

Throughout my life, two things have always been tied together — my love for sports and my love for numbers. The past decade has provided me opportunities to work in athletics as well as receive a mathematics-statistics degree.

When I looked over the empty brackets before the final RPI release, my mind wandered and I started thinking about all the exciting things that could occur during the next few weeks. I quickly built some models to try and predict what might unfold in the 6A and 5A boys soccer state tournaments

The predictive model I designed rewards teams for results over the past two seasons, with extra weight added to the current season for obvious reasons. It has aspects that try to make it more predictive of the future than analytical to the past. Trying to predict the future is always a work in progress in sports.

There is always another number to crunch and another variable to factor in and try to quantify. I openly admit these predictions are far from perfect, and I will likely spend significant time in the coming months refining and redefining to try and get final results closer to reality for numerous sports. 

However, that is what makes sports great. No matter how many predictions are put out there, the future is just one reality. Below is a summary of 100,000 simulations for each 6A and 5A soccer tournament. And yet when the players actually take the field during the coming weeks, only one version of each match will be played, only one team will come out with a victory, and they will do so just one time as one champion is crowned. We just have no idea which of the infinite simulations that will be and that is the magic of sports.

The 5A tournament kicks off Thursday with nine play-in games, while 6A follows up with eight first-round games on Friday.


6A model predictions and takeaways

No. 1 seed Weber entered as the team to beat after it followed up a perfect 19-0 season with a strong 13-2 campaign in which it beat every team on its schedule at least once. The model gives the Warriors a 53.7% chance to grab the title in back-to-back years. If the coin flips on the other side, the tournament is wide open as seven teams have between a 3.5% and 7.5% chance to win the tournament. Any one of those teams could catch fire between now and May 25. One team to watch early is Corner Canyon. It is going to have a much tougher matchup in the second round than a normal No. 2 seed would expect, whether it is Herriman or Westlake, but if the Chargers can survive that home game, they have a great shot to make it to the title game.

Note: The ranking column is the power ranking formula I’ve created. The other columns are probability of reaching those rounds of the playoffs.

Predicting 6A state tournament

TeamsRankRPIR16QFSFFinalChamp
Weber1980.51100%94%80%65%54%
C. Canyon1735.02100%59%46%24%8%
Bingham1722.53100%76%38%21%6%
Davis1746.55100%69%40%11%6%
Syracuse1725.34100%76%39%11%5%
Skyridge1762.52277%42%26%16%5%
Farmington1701.66100%52%27%14%4%
Herriman1736.71859%28%22%11%4%
Mtn. Ridge1669.68100%55%10%4%2%
Pl. Grove1700.4980%41%8%4%2%
Fremont1666.91269%24%12%3%1%
Westlake1647.61541%14%9%4%1%
Lone Peak1570.51085%53%15%5%1%
Hunter1581.31382%23%7%1%0%
Copper Hills1575.71463%17%5%2%0%
Am. Fork1561.61686%6%2%1%0%
West1458.77100%44%8%2%0%
Layton1551.02131%7%2%0%0%
Riverton1531.51123%6%2%1%0%
Granger1509.41937%8%2%1%0%
Clearfield1480.12420%5%0%0%0%
Kearns1343.02018%2%0%0%0%
Roy1274.21714%0%0%0%0%
West Jordan1300.82315%4%0%0%0%

5A model predictions and takeaways

Wasatch is a strong title favorite despite being the No. 3 seed. It has a strong win over top-seeded Provo and championship experience after winning the title last year. Meanwhile other top seeds like Provo, Alta and Skyline have great chances to continue their successful seasons all the way to Rio Tinto Stadium. Maple Mountain could be a sneaky Cinderella team, as the Golden Eagles grabbed the No. 24 seed but have had an incredibly tough schedule and picked up a few impressive wins along the way. Region 5 beat up on each other all season as Northridge, Bonneville and Viewmont split the region title at just 6-4 and it will be interesting to see if any of these teams can play their best soccer at the perfect time.

Predicting 5A state tournament

TeamsRankRPIR32R16QFSFFinalChamp
Wasatch1840.73100%100%92%64%52%41%
Skyline1722.06100%100%80%30%20%14%
Provo1656.61100%100%72%45%28%10%
Alta1640.42100%100%84%52%16%9%
Murray1619.24100%100%73%45%23%8%
Maple Mtn.1625.32495%49%34%17%10%3%
Brighton1600.910100%65%37%19%5%2%
Stansbury1591.29100%51%33%15%8%2%
Northridge1571.512100%66%36%17%8%2%
Lehi1517.75100%100%49%20%8%2%
Olympus1529.37100%100%46%19%4%1%
Salem1510.413100%73%23%11%4%1%
Bountiful1551.63274%42%14%7%3%1%
Jordan1537.61676%42%13%6%3%1%
Sp. Fork1549.32384%33%16%7%1%1%
Timpanogos1460.68100%100%33%10%3%1%
W. Cross1513.02180%31%14%6%2%1%
Hillcrest1527.211100%71%16%3%1%1%
Viewmont1520.21974%51%6%2%1%0%
Park City1392.415100%63%11%3%0%0%
Timpview1432.62780%27%4%1%0%0%
Bonneville1359.61883%35%5%1%0%0%
Box Elder1378.72059%17%3%1%0%0%
East1349.81727%8%1%0%0%0%
Mtn. View1367.63324%8%1%0%0%0%
C. Valley1342.82941%10%2%0%0%0%
Orem1344.814100%36%2%0%0%0%
Highland1367.93026%13%1%0%0%0%
Uintah1281.12616%2%0%0%0%0%
Tooele1132.5255%0%0%0%0%0%
Springville1296.82820%3%1%0%0%0%
Payson1118.13118%3%0%0%0%0%
Ctwood1169.12221%2%0%0%0%0%