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What we learned from Utah high school football’s first week of play

There’s a lot to unfold for the 2019 prep football season, although the first week of competition provided a few hints on what’s to come

Corner Canyon and Orem in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019.
Corner Canyon and Orem in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The first week of high school football is in the books, with several noteworthy games taking place across the state’s five classifications.

So what did we learn?

The inclination is often to put too much stock into first week observations, as teams often learn about themselves much more than any observer could during the first week of the season. A lot is yet to play out, although teams taking the field for the first time can give at least a hint as to what is to unfold from now until the state playoffs in late November.

Rankings review

Preseason rankings are hard to assess at any level, but perhaps particularly at the prep level, where personnel turnover and other factors can make it difficult to accurately assess how a team will fare.

That said, our rankings for the 6A classification appeared to hold strong, with all top-five teams in the Deseret News ranking enjoying wins, and it wasn’t as if all five were playing patsies to start off.

As for 5A, the two top-ranked programs, Orem and Timpview, both took tough losses, although some qualification certainly needs to be applied.

Orem went to battle having to fill the huge void left by the graduations of both quarterback Cooper Legas and receiver Puka Nacua. Throw in an injury to the state’s top college prospect, Noah Sewell, and the Tigers certainly faced their toughest test in some time since rampaging through the 4A ranks last season in the form of defending 5A champion Corner Canyon.

Ultimately Orem fell 30-14, but managed to hang within striking distance until late, indicating better games ahead and very conceivable contention for the 5A championship down the road.

As for Timpview, it was neck and neck with 6A defending champion Lone Peak before one of the state’s very best, Nate Ritchie, took over late to hand the T-birds a tough 30-20 loss. Timpview certainly looked improved and like a team worthy of its No. 2 classification ranking despite the defeat.

Four of the the top-ranked 4A teams took losses, although two of those losses came against well-regarded teams from higher classifications. No shame should come with No. 1-ranked Dixie narrowly losing out 21-20 to 5A’s Springville with the same to be said about Desert Hills losing 35-29 to 5A’s Highland.

In 3A, No. 3 Juan Diego took a surprising 27-14 loss to Bear River while No. 4 Grantsville lost out in a 7-6 defensive struggle to North Sanpete. Both losses certainly indicate an early shakeup in the Week 2 rankings.

No big surprises were found in 2A play, with the only top-five loss proving to be No. 5 Enterprise taking a 20-14 loss at the hands of No. 4-ranked Duchesne.

Rough beginnings

Four brand-new programs took the field for the first time ever on Friday with all four taking tough losses.

Providence Hall took it on the chin, taking a 42-0 loss to Richfield while Mountain Ridge was handed a tough 56-0 blanking courtesy of Olympus. More competitive performances for first-year programs were put forth by Crimson Hills, which lost 27-14 to Manti, and by Cedar Valley, which fell to Maple Mountain 51-35.

First years are tough and it’s likely all four programs have much better days ahead.