3A semifinal previews

Canyon View vs. Richfield

In a highly anticipated 3A South rematch, the undefeated No. 1 Richfield Wildcats will face off against the No. 4 Canyon View Falcons in the semifinals at Zions Bank Stadium. Richfield enters the game with a perfect 11-0 record, while Canyon View boasts an impressive overall record of 9-2.

The Wildcats have been dominant all season, with a scoring average of 37.0 points per game and a stifling defense that allows only 9.2 points per game. Reggie Hafen leads the Richfield offense with 2,081 passing yards and 19 touchdowns. Receiver Kai Thomas has been a key target, racking up 637 receiving yards and six TDs. On defense, Cort Moon has been a force to be reckoned with, recording 73 tackles and two interceptions.

Meanwhile, the Falcons have had their most impressive season in the program’s existence. Quarterback Jaxon Jensen has thrown for 1,908 yards and 17 touchdowns. Lincoln Rushton has been the primary rushing threat, amassing 433 yards and finding the end zone five times. Bubba Ludlow has been a favorite target for Jensen, with 864 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns.

These two teams have already faced off this season, with Richfield emerging victorious in a 28-14 contest in Week 9. In that game, the Wildcats were able to contain the Falcons’ offense while finding success of their own. Richfield will look to repeat their success and advance to the 3A championship game, its first chance at a state title since 1988.

Morgan vs. Manti

In a highly anticipated 3A semifinal matchup, the Manti Templars will face off against the Morgan Trojans in an electrifying 7 p.m. game at Zions Bank Stadium.

Manti enters the game with an impressive 9-2 record, while Morgan boasts a strong 8-3 record for the season. Both have looked nothing short of perfect in the playoffs. Manti trounced region rival Juab in the second round, 47-10, while Morgan easily put No. 11 Union to bed after the Cougars upset their way to the second round.

On the offensive side, the Templars rely on the pure firepower of quarterback Maison Starkweather. Starkweather has thrown for an impressive 3,465 yards and 43 touchdowns this season, becoming the first Manti quarterback ever to cross 3,000 yards in a season. Running back Bo Stevens has accumulated 419 rushing yards and five TDs. Wide receiver Hunter Stevens has been a favorite target for Starkweather, catching 67 passes for 1,238 yards and 15 TDs.

The Trojans’ offense is led by quarterback Beck Sheffield. In his first year at the helm, he has thrown for 2,352 yards and 23 TDs against 10 picks. Running back Zak Sargent has also been a key contributor, rushing for 772 yards and finding the end zone 12 times. Morgan’s receiving corps, spearheaded by Lincoln Gilson and Tate Nelson, has been effective in the passing game.

Defensively, Morgan has been a pure shutdown team for several weeks in a row. That ferocity could be matched by Manti for once as both teams have held numerous opponents to one score or less. The Trojans have 15 interceptions on the season, which would be a tough time for Manti’s vaunted passing attack. On the other side, Morgan will have to contend with junior sack artis Lincoln Alder, who has racked up 13 sacks on the year, seventh-highest in the state.

These two teams previously met in a nonregion game last year, with Morgan emerging victorious with a shutout score of 42-0. Last season, Morgan went on to have an undefeated 13-0 record and a successful playoff run, while Manti finished the season at 5-7. The two teams are far more evenly matched coming into this year’s semis. While Morgan looks to keep its title defense alive, Manti hopes to get to its first-ever state championship game in the 3A classification.

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2A semifinal previews

Summit Academy vs. San Juan

Two high-powered teams will meet in the 2A semifinals at 10 a.m. at Zions Bank Stadium as No. 1 San Juan faces off against No. 5 Summit Academy. San Juan boasts a perfect 10-0 record for the season and has notably won 35 straight games, the fourth-longest streak in state history.

The Broncos have been dominant on both sides of the ball, averaging an impressive 59.7 points per game, while only allowing 11.1 points per game. Senior quarterback Parker Snyder has led the offense with his dual-threat abilities, accumulating 2,696 passing yards and 34 touchdowns, along with 635 rushing yards and 11 TDs on the ground. He has relied heavily on his top target, Zack Conway, who has caught 22 passes for 425 yards and four TDs. Conway has been a monster in the run game, amassing 1,316 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns on 123 carries, averaging over 10 yards per carry.

The Summit Academy Bears enter the semifinals with a 7-4 record. They’ve had a well-rounded offense led by quarterback Kyan Anderson, who has thrown for 2,509 yards and 22 touchdowns. Anderson has connected with a variety of receivers, including Javen Montella, who has 338 receiving yards and eight TDs. On the ground, running back Bronson Dixon has been a key contributor with 1,353 rushing yards and 17 TDs. Defensively, the Bears will look to players like Caden Collotzi, who has recorded 73 tackles and two interceptions, to make stops against the potent Broncos’ offense.

In a Week 4 matchup earlier this season, the Broncos dominated the Bears with a final score of 47-22. The Broncos got off to a strong start, scoring 33 points in the first half and never relinquishing their lead. Snyder showcased his versatility with two rushing touchdowns and three touchdown passes, two of which were caught by Conway and one by Javen Montella. Although the Bears fought back in the second half with Anderson throwing two touchdown passes, it wasn’t enough to come back against the Broncos’ overwhelming performance.

While San Juan dominated their previous meeting this season, Summit Academy will aim to put up a stronger fight in the rematch. The outcome of this semifinal matchup will determine whether San Juan can play for a chance at a title three-peat, while Summit Academy hopes to regain the luster of its championship year in 2018.

Layton Christian vs. South Summit

As if by fate, No 2 South Summit will prepare to face off one more time against No. 3 Layton Christian Academy, this time for a shot at the 2A state championship game.

As the teams prepare to face each other again in the semis at 1 p.m. at Zions Bank Stadium, South Summit enters the game with an impressive 9-2 record. The Wildcats’ high-scoring offense has averaged 39.3 points per game while only allowing 17.4 points per game. Bracken Lassche has been a key player, leading the team with 26 touchdown passes and six rushing TDs. Wide receiver Mitchell Gempeler has been a frequent target for Lassche, accumulating 426 receiving yards and eight TDs, while running back Trey Stembridge has rushed for 664 yards and 16 TDs.

In a previous meeting earlier this season, the Wildcats narrowly defeated the Eagles with a final score of 28-21. The Wildcats were propelled by the standout performance of Lassche, who threw a TD pass to Stratton Stevens and ran for another. Layton Christian responded with a remarkable 70-yard TD run by Mihaljo Pantic and a TD pass from Elijah Elliss to Jaden Emmanuel. The game remained tight until the fourth quarter, when South Summit sealed the win with a touchdown pass from Lassche to Stembridge.

On the other side, the Layton Christian Eagles have had a solid introductory season to 3A after moving up from 1A with a 6-4 record. Their offense has averaged 39.9 points per game, led by the dual-threat abilities of quarterback Marcus Miles, who has thrown for 2,190 yards and 29 TDs, along with rushing for 701 yards and eight TDs. Wide receiver Brayden Bott has been a reliable target for Miles, catching 33 passes for 551 yards and five TDs. Defensively, the Eagles will rely on the playmaking abilities of linebacker Kyson Atkinson, who has recorded 36 tackles and 2 sacks.

These two squads finished first and second in the 2A North standings. This rematch promises to be another closely contested battle between two talented teams.


1A semifinal previews

Kanab vs. Beaver

No. 4 Kanab (7-4) will face No. 1 Beaver (10-1) on Friday at Zions Bank Stadium in Herriman in the first 1A semifinal. This is a rematch of their regular-season meeting, where Beaver emerged dominant with a resounding 42-7 victory.

For Kanab, quarterback Griffen Bone is expected to be key to challenging the Beaver defense as he finished the regular season with 11 TD passes. Running back Rider Allen and receiver Maddix Baird will also provide key offensive support, with Allen scored five touchdowns this season and Baird adding five TD catches.

Beaver’s offense is spearheaded by quarterback Bodie Wheatley, who has completed 41 of 86 passes this season for 964 yards and 12 touchdowns. Beaver’s two-pronged rushing attack with Tate Gale and Tavyn Hollinghsead has been productive as well, amassing a combined total of 1,559 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns on the season. Baylor Blackburn, who has made 31 tackles, 6 interceptions, and a defensive touchdown, is one of the standouts defensively.

Beaver is averaging 34.5 ppg this season while allowing a meager 7.3 ppg. Kanab, meanwhile, is averaging 24.0 ppg while allowing 20.6 ppg. Kanab squeaked into the semifinals with a 14-13 win over No. 5 seed Millard in the 1A quarterfinals, while Beaver dominated No. 8 seed Gunnison Valley 42-0.

The winner of this matchup will advance to the 1A state championship, set to face the winner of the No. 3 Enterprise vs. No. 2 Duchesne match.

Enterprise vs. Duchesne

In an intriguing rematch of an exciting regular-season game, Enterprise (10-1) takes on Duchesne (10-1) on on Friday in the 1A semifinals at Zions Bank Stadium. These teams met back in Week 5, with Enterprise scoring the final 14 points to rally for the 34-28 victory. The victor advances to the state championship to face either No. 1 Beaver or No. 4 Kanab.

Both teams feature strong offenses, with Enterprise averaging 32 points per game and Duchesne tallying a close 29.6 points. Defensively, the Wolves have been slightly stingier, allowing an average of 12 points per game compared to the Eagles’ 15.2 points.

Enterprise advanced to the semifinals after beating North Summit 35-6 in the quarterfinals. Duchesne, meanwhile had to grind to a 16-9 win over Milford.

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The key to Enterprise’s offense is its dominant rushing attack, with standout Kyron Bracken delivering 1,201 yards and 17 touchdowns on 155 carries this season. Through the air, QB Ryker Phillips has completed 43-of-92 passes for 664 yards and nine touchdowns.

Duchesne’s offensive pivots are Parker Crum, who completed 116 of 230 passes for 1,667 yards and 18 touchdowns, while also leading the team in rushing with 653 yards and 15 touchdowns on 143 carries, and Brody Jacobs, who proves a dual threat with 14 receptions for 242 yards and five additional rushing touchdowns.

Brayden Gardner, the defensive leader for Enterprise, has secured 103 tackles and two sacks, while Jeshaun Johnson of Duchesne has made a mark with 92 tackles.

This report was compiled with the assistance of ChatGPT.

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