Throughout the high school football preseason, it’s very common for Utah teams to face an out-of-state opponent. In fact, there are 50 games on tap this season that feature Utah teams vs. out-of-state teams.
Some of these cross-state games kick off this Friday in Week 2, and there’s definitely a different vibe to some of the games than in past years.
Most notably is West High School’s trip Santa Ana, Calif., where it will take on Mater Dei High School, the No. 2 ranked team in the country according to MaxPreps.
“The team is excited for the opportunity to play Mater Dei. We know who we’re playing and have a lot of respect for them but for our West community this is a huge opportunity that we couldn’t pass up,” said West coach Olossa Solovi.
West rolled past Clearfield in its season opener last week, while Mater Dei will be playing its first game of the season.
This is Solovi’s fourth season as head coach, and with the program coming off back-to-back region titles he’s trying to help the program take the next step in competitiveness.
“We’ve been trying to take the next step in our program and felt a game against a national power would prepare us for an opportunity to make a run in the playoffs. Mater Dei said they would be open to playing this year if we could commit to it early in the year. We knew that this would be a tough game but again the opportunity for our boys to be on this stage was one we wanted for our community,” said Solovi.
Corner Canyon’s trip to Las Vegas on Friday to face juggernaut Bishop Gorman, however, is the certainly the marquee game of the night, or arguably the season. Bishop Gorman is ranked No. 1 in Nevada while Corner Canyon checks in at No. 2 in the Deseret News rankings.
Bishop Gorman has yet to play a game this season, while the Chargers certainly should be more polished after routing Herriman in Week 1 last week, 45-7.
“Our team is really excited about the opportunity to compete with one of the top teams in the country. Our kids are ready for the challenge. Bishop Gorman has an amazing tradition of success,” said Kjar.
This will be the Corner Canyon’s first game against an out-of-state team in the brief 10-year history of the Draper school. For coach Kjar, this will be his first game coaching against an out-of-state team since his Jordan team faced Cherry Creek, Colo. in 2015.
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Of the nine games featuring out-of-state teams, Corner Canyon’s is one of five against Nevada schools. Snow Canyon and Orem both face very good opponents.
Orem hosts Desert Pines, Nev., currently ranked fifth in the state. The teams played in Nevada a year ago, with the Tigers losing 53-42.
It’s a game this year’s team hasn’t forgot about.
“Definitely looking to return the favor. Too many mistakes and undisciplined football first go-around. Guys are excited for the opportunity to play another high-caliber team this week and they are taking this one personal,” said Orem coach Gabe Sewell.
Snow Canyon travels to Las Vegas to face Arbor View, currently ranked fifth in Nevada.
The Warriors are coming off a 48-7 win over Northridge in the opening week, and hungry to face tougher competition.
“We work to approach each game & opponent the same but we also understand each team brings unique challenges. We are an athletic team with a lot of team speed. This will be a great test for how we stack up speed wise with Arbor View. We also see some size particularly on their D-line. They have some highly touted talent that is getting recruited. Our guys really look forward to showing what Utah high school football can do outside of our state against a highly ranked Nevada team,” said Snow Canyon coach Mike Esplin.
“We want to test ourselves on a national level. We believe we have college prospects in our program that deserve the opportunity to be recruited & play college football. This is a great chance to show up that way.”
Snow Canyon’s last game against an out-of-state team was in 2019 when it hosted and beat Shadow Ridge, Nev., 31-27.
“Our focus is on controlling at the highest level everything we can. Effort, hustle, teamwork, running to the football on defense, gang tackling, blocking through the whistle on offense, running through tackles and being more coordinated than them. Doing things right as units consistently better. We will give a complete effort.”