5A semifinal previews

Olympus at Box Elder

As it heads into 5A quarterfinal play this Friday, No. 4 Box Elder is hoping to break a long semifinal drought dating back to 2006, and the Bees will have a great chance as they host this quarterfinal this week against No. 5 Olympus.

Box Elder comes into the quarterfinals having pulled off a tight 28-21 win against Maple Mountain in the second round, while Olympus dominated in its second-round 35-6 victory over West Jordan.

The Bees’ offense has averaged an impressive 36.1 ppg. Their attack has been led by quarterback Ryan Griffin, who has thrown for 1,136 yards and 16 TDs with a completion rate of 57.6%. Running back Dax Sumko has been outstanding in the backfield, racking up 1,736 yards and 20 TDs on 223 carries. On defense, there is linebacker Nathan Pugsley for Box Elder with 129 tackles and four interceptions, with Caden Buchanan adding 71 tackles.

Olympus has been equally formidable, averaging 34.7 ppg and allowing just 16.8 points per game. Titans’ quarterback Chase Moseley and running back Nic (Jacob) Brown have been standout performers, with 2,513 yards with 25 touchdowns and 671 yards with three touchdowns, respectively. Leading the way defensively for the Titans is Nate Sheets, who has 120 tackles this season, including 12 in the second-round win over West Jordan.

The last time these teams clashed was in the 4A first round back in 2016, with Box Elder winning in double overtime 28-21. Box Elder is eager to repeat this success, and make its first semifinal appearance since 2006, whereas Olympus is eying a semifinal appearance for the first time since 2018.

The winner of this game will face off against the victor of the No. 1 Timpview and No. 8 Brighton game in the semifinals.

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Bountiful at Springville

If the Bountiful at Springville 5A quarterfinal game this Friday is anywhere near as competitive as the last time these teams met, the game could be up in the air until the final minute. The teams previously met in a nail-biting regular-season game last year, where Springville squeaked out an 18-17 win as it scored the winning TD in the final 19 seconds.

No. 10 seed Bountiful (8-4) has won three straight games, including a 51-7 first-round win over Cedar Valley and a second-round win over Granger 42-0. The formidable duo of running back Siaki Fekitoa and quarterback Emerson Geilman, who have catalyzed the team’s offense throughout the season, will be key players to watch in this game.

Fekitoa has rushed for 784 yards and 10 TDs, while Geilman has passed for 2,444 yards and 19 TDs. Meanwhile, Brigham Morrison has been the standout defensively with 122 tackles and seven sacks.

No. 2 seed Springville (9-2) has been even more dominant offensively. Running back Tevita Valeti has carried the ball 251 times for 1,610 yards and 27 TDs. He’s also been one of the standouts defensively along with Tisi Valeti and Tua Naufahu. Last week in Springville’s 24-0 win over East, Tevita Valeti rushed for 114 yards and two TDs and then added 10 tackles.

The winner of this game advances to to the semifinals to face the winner of the Roy-Alta game. Bountiful hasn’t advanced to the semifinals since 2011, whereas Springville was in the semifinals much more recently in 2021.

Alta at Roy

The 11th-seeded Alta Hawks will travel to No. 3 Roy in an intriguing 5A quarterfinal on Friday. The Roy Royals come into the game with a 9-2 overall record and are averaging 37.4 ppg, while allowing 16.8 ppg. They’re in the midst of a five-game winning streak, showcasing their dominance on both sides of the ball.

Leading the way for Roy is Joseph Cariaga III, who has rushed for 1,159 yards and eight touchdowns, while DaeQwan Snider is also a key part of the offense, as he’s rushed for 933 yards and 13 scores. Cariaga has also played some QB this year along with Dru Gardner. Defensively, Hunter Webb, Colby Hepner and Jaxton Scoffield are standouts for the Royals.

On the other side, Alta (9-3) is averaging 33.8 ppg and allowing 18.3 ppg. It enters the game on a three-game winning streak. Quarterback Kepa Niumeitolu has been leading the charge for the Hawks, completing 172 of 275 passes for 2,297 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also has a strong rushing attack behind him, with running back Matt McKea rushing for 332 yards and 10 touchdowns on 46 carries. Wide receiver Bryant Weber has been a reliable target, catching 41 passes for 543 yards and four touchdowns.

Anchoring the Alta defense is Kalvin Liavaa, who has tallied 112 total tackles along with Peizge Mailei with 87 tackles. The last time these teams met was in a 5A first-round game back in 2017 that Alta won easily 52-6.

The last time Roy made it to the semifinals was in 2018, while Alta’s last semifinal appearance was in 2016.

The winner of this matchup will go on to face the winner of the Timpview vs. Olympus game in the semifinals.

Brighton at Timpview

Timpview and Brighton are set to meet in the 5A quarterfinals just like they did in 2020, but in an interesting twist, the seeding is reversed. In 2020, Brighton was the No. 1 seed but lost at home to the lower-seeded T-Birds. This year, it’s Timpview who rolls in as the top seed.

No. 8 Brighton hopes to get a bit of revenge at No. 1 Timpview when they meet on Friday at 6 p.m. Both teams secured their spot in the quarterfinals with decisive victories in the second round, with Timpview beating No. 17 Orem 35-28 and Brighton dominating No. 9 Woods Cross 44-7.

Brighton enters the matchup with an impressive 8-3 overall record, averaging 28.5 ppg and allowing just 15.5 ppg on the defensive end. The Bengals offense has been led by standout running back Mason Haertel, who has rushed for 621 yards and four TDs on 115 carries this season. Quarterback Jack Johnson has been terrific, completing 65.5% of his passes for 2,433 yards and 23 TDs. On the defensive side, Miles Morgan, Andrew Wood and Kimball Shill have been standouts for the Bengals.

Timpview boasts a strong 8-2 overall record and a high-powered offense that averages 32.8 ppg while allowing only 21.0 ppg. Running back Tru To’a has been a key contributor with 333 rushing yards and a pair of TDs. Quarterback Helaman Casuga has been impressive, completing 65.0% of his passes for 2,801 yards and 26 TDs.

Wide receiver Tei Nacua has been a top target in the passing game, with 647 receiving yards and eight touchdowns on 53 receptions. Linebacker Paka Haunga has anchored the defense, recording 71 tackles and one interception.

The winner of this quarterfinal matchup will advance to play the winner of the Olympus vs. Box Elder game in the semifinals.

This report was compiled with the assistance of ChatGPT.