There’s not a lot that separates No. 2 Morgan and No. 1 Juab heading into Saturday’s 3A state championship at Dixie State.
Offensively Morgan is averaging 0.4 more points per game than Juab, while defensively the Trojans are giving up a scant 1.9 less ppg.
These same two teams met in last year’s championship at Dixie State in a defensive grudge match, with Morgan winning 8-0 on two field goals and a safety. Many expected a more high-scoring game with offenses averaging five touchdowns per game, but the opposite played out.
Interesting enough, the offenses for both Morgan (35.2 ppg) and Juab (34.8 ppg) are averaging the exact same amount of points heading into this year’s championship as they were last season.
Will eight points be enough to win it again in 2020, or will the offenses dictate how the game plays out?
“It’s hard to predict, I’d say with the defenses, I would say it’s going to be more low scoring, but last year proved to be different than what people thought it would be,” said Juab coach Mike Bowring. “It will be interesting to see.”
Juab is making its third state championship game appearance in the past seven years, but still seeking its first title game victory with an 0-4 record in school history.
Juab’s offensive attack is a bit more versatile this season with multiple weapons, led by Trey Lund, Shan Jackson and Bodee Blackett.
The trio combined for 212 rushing yards in last week’s semifinal win over Delta, while Alex Jackson had a pretty good day throwing the ball in the wind as he passed for 164 yards and a score.
Bowring said regardless of all those athletes on offense, Morgan’s defense is as good as they get in 3A.
“They have a really good defense, they’re aggressive, they have some good athletes out there,” said Bowring.
While Juab is looking to win its first championship in school history, Morgan is hoping for a repeat a year after winning its first title in two decades.
The championship game rematch between Juab and Morgan represents the 24th time in state history teams have played for the championship in back-to-back seasons.
First-year Morgan head coach Jared Barlow knows beating Juab again won’t be easy.
“They’re a really well-coached team, they’re well balanced, they’re a physical team, they have a good program and good community support,” said Barlow. “They’re really well balanced which makes it difficult to focus on one kids.”
Morgan’s offense is similarly difficult to defend as quarterback Ryder Lish can beat you with his arms and legs, while Tanner Belinski is the perfect complementary runner in the backfield.
Barlow expects Juab will get creative to limit the effectiveness of Lish in particular, and how well Morgan adjusts to whatever that approach is could be the key to the game.
“That’s what we need to focus on, what we can do to make sure we can execute our game plan to the best of our ability, and recognize the things Juab is doing and adjust to those,” said Barlow.
Morgan statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 35.2 (4th in 3A)
Scoring defense: 11.6 (1st in 3A)
Passing leader: Ryder Lish (87-158, 55.1%, 1,256 yards, 13 TDs)
Rushing leaders: Tanner Belinski (110 carries, 892 yards, 9 TDs), Ryder Lish (122 carries, 836 yards, 13 TDs)
Receiving leaders: Jarron Savage (22 rec., 335 yards, 4 TDs), Gavin Turner (20 rec., 349 yards, 5 TDs)
Tackles leaders: Ryker Adams (70 tackles), Sam Hansen (59 tackles)
Sack leaders: Jaxon Larsen (6 sacks), Isaac Rees (6 sacks)
Interception leaders: Tanner Stanley (6 INTs)
Juab statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 34.8 (5th in 3A)
Scoring defense: 13.5 (2nd in 3A)
Passing leader: Alex Jackson (132-212, 62.3%, 1,589 yards, 15 TDs, 7 INTs)
Rushing leaders: Trey Lund (115 carries, 728 yards, 9 TDs), Shan Jackson (89 carries, 517 yards, 5 TDs)
Receiving leaders: Dawson Olsen (20 rec., 318 yards, 5 TDs)
Tackles leaders: Boden Ballow (90 tackles), Teagen Christensen (55 tackles)
Sack leaders: Dominic Davidson (12 sacks)
Interception leaders: Boden Ballow, Louk Stevens, Brayden Lawton, Bodee Blackett (3 INTs)
Felts Facts for Morgan High School
All-time record: 494-340-22 (93 years)
Region championships: 25 (1930 co, 1935, 1939, 1940, 1946, 1947, 1975 co, 1976, 1977 co, 1979, 1980, 1983, 1989, 1991 co, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2005 co, 2008, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2020)
Playoff appearances: 53
All-time playoff record: 61-45
State championships: 7 (1940, 1977, 1979, 1983, 1993, 1997, 2019)
State championship record: 7-6
Felts Facts for Juab High School
All-time record: 311-332-3 (65 years)
Region championships: 11 (1976 co, 1995, 1997, 2005 co, 2006 co, 2008, 2014, 2015 co, 2016, 2017 co, 2019, 2020)
Playoff appearances: 37
All-time playoff record: 27-36
State championships: 0
State championship record: 0-4