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At midway point of high school football season, frontrunners are emerging

From 6A to 1A, the contenders and pretenders are coming into focus

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Lehi celebrates winning a high school football game against Corner Canyon at Corner Canyon High School in Draper on Friday, Sept. 9, 2022. Lehi won 25-24.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

The first week or two of the high school football season always features surprises and perceived upsets, but it’s really not until a few weeks later that one can more accurately determine their significance.

With the high school football regular season hitting the midway point this past weekend, now there’s absolutely enough of a sample size to draw conclusions and project ahead to what schools we’ll still be talking about in November.

That conversation starts with the 12 undefeated teams remaining across all six classifications, and Week 5 provided massive litmus tests for arguably the two best teams in the state, Skyridge and Lehi. Both passed after rallying for victories, and now they’ll head into the second half of the season with an even bigger bull’s-eye on their backs.

Skyridge and Lehi both overcame double-digit deficits last week to remain undefeated, and one could argue that Lehi’s 25-24 win over Corner Canyon is the most eye-opening result of the entire state.

A year ago in Week 5, Corner Canyon beat Lehi 52-7. The Pioneers regrouped and went 8-1 the rest of the way to win the 5A title.

With its best offensive and defensive player returning this season, Lehi opened as the preseason No. 1 in 5A and not surprisingly crushed its first four opponents. But many figured a reality check awaited in Week 5 against 6A juggernaut Corner Canyon.

That’s what it looked like too when the Chargers went ahead 24-0 early in the third quarter Friday, but Lehi didn’t stop fighting and stunningly relied for the victory.

“I am so proud of our players and the toughness and perseverance they showed. These wins are program builders because of who we beat. Coach (Eric) Kjar and his storied program have been the benchmark in the state for several years. I was proud of the way we responded to Corner Canyon taking it to us in the first half,” said Lehi coach Ed Larson.

Region 5 favorite Bonneville and Region 7 favorite Stansbury are the other two undefeated teams in 5A, and both will be favored to win out and head into the playoffs undefeated.

Timpview nearly made it a quartet of perfect 5A teams, but ultimately fell to Skyridge 20-13 despite leading 13-0 late in the first half.

Timpview will get another chance to prove it’s the best team in 5A when it takes on Lehi on Oct. 6 in a game that will likely determine the Region 8 champion.

For Skyridge, rallying to beat Timpview with its backup QB is proof this team has the type of resiliency necessary to ultimately win a 6A title. From a talent standpoint, that was never in question as the Falcons’ roster is loaded with talent that will play on Saturdays.

Skyridge still has to go through the gauntlet of Region 4, but unlike a year ago when that region appeared to be a three-horse race, this year the quality of Skyridge’s defense may be the separator.

Farmington is the other 6A unbeaten team. Its only close game to date was beating Pleasant Grove 19-14 in the opener.

At the time that win seemed like a ho-hum victory. But Pleasant Grove hasn’t lost since and is one of the surprise teams in 6A, so if the Vikings can back up their strong start with a few more wins in region play that bodes well for Farmington, and how it may measure up to Region 4 teams in the playoffs.

Last year Farmington lost to Skyridge 52-7 in the quarterfinals.

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Farmington’s Lucas Peterson (41) runs with the ball during a high school football game against Bountiful at Farmington High School in Farmington on Friday, Aug. 19, 2022. Farmington won 24-3.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

In 4A, no clearcut favorite has emerged thus far with all but Crimson Cliffs and Dixie suffering at least two losses. Defending champ Ridgeline struggled out of the gate but has since won three straight and is looking like a repeat contender again.

Class 3A is shaping up to be a three-team race for the crown as Grantsville, Morgan and Juab all sit at 5-0. Each school has won a state title in the past three years. Defending state champion Grantsville and Morgan square off in Week 8 in a game that should determine the region title, while Juab doesn’t play either of the other two until a possible playoff matchup.

In 2A, San Juan sits at 5-0 and hasn’t skipped a beat after graduating almost its entire offense from a year ago. South Summit also owns a 5-0 record as the team is rolling under first-year coach Michael Ruf.

With San Juan relying on so many new starters some expected a dropoff, but coach Barkley Christensen believed the talent on this year’s team had the potential to be even better. Through five games, it looks like that may very well be true.

San Juan is looking to continue the pattern of back-to-back state champions that began in 2007 and 2008 when North Summit won consecutive titles. There’s been a new champ every two years since then, and they’ve always repeated. No team has won a third consecutive title though.

San Juan denied Beaver a three-peat last year, and this November will be looking for its repeat.

In 1A, Enterprise and Kanab both own 5-0 records at the midway point, but neither received too much love in the initial RPI rankings this week as they check in at fourth and sixth, respectively.

Layton Christian and Milford grabbed the top two spots in the 1A RPI rankings because of strong opponents’ record. The reality is, with defending champion Duchesne struggling this year, the chase for the 1A state title appears to be wide open.

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Jack Johnson (2) of the Brighton Bengals shakes off a tackle from Akeli Naea (26) of the Olympus Titans, during a game in Holladay on Friday, Sept. 9, 2022. The Bengals won 28-17.

Ben B. Braun, Deseret News