SOUTH JORDAN — Jaxson Dart made the most out of playing on ESPN on Friday Night.
The Corner Canyon senior threw for six touchdowns in another incredibly efficient performance as his team used a big second half to pull away from Bingham for the 42-20 win to improve to 3-0 this preseason. (Box Score)
“This is a high school football player’s dream to play on ESPN. It was a great opportunity for us, and I think we lived it up pretty good,” said Dart.
The game was originally supposed to be played on Thursday on KMYU, but as more and more states postponed their season to the spring, it left ESPN looking for replacement games and a showdown between Corner Canyon and Bingham stood out on the Week 3 schedule.
Oregon commit Jackson Light, whose a key start contributor on the offensive and defensive lines, said it was fun too be playing meaningful football in the second half after leading by 40-plus points by halftime in the first two weeks.
“They’re a physical, hard team. They’re a great team. They showed up this week, and it was a funner game for us too,” said Light.
Bingham kept it close only trailing 21-13 at the break, but Corner Canyon scored on its opening drive of the third quarter to stretch it to 28-13, and then after a Bingham fumble it scored on the very next play stretching the lead to 35-13.
“It was a fun one for sure. We feel super fortunate to be playing right now with the circumstances going on. Just getting out there playing,” said Dart.
Corner Canyon improved to 3-0 with the win, as did the other five teams in Region 4 — American Fork, Lone Peak, Pleasant Grove, Skyridge and Westlake.
The potential is there for a tremendous Region 4 slate in September and October.
Of all the Region 4 winners on Friday, Skyridge’s 35-14 triumph over defending 5A state champion Orem might’ve been the most impressive.
The dagger actually came with in the final two minutes of the second quarter as Skyridge sophomore quarterback McCae Hillstead hit Jack Hadfield on a 72-yard TD pass to stretch the lead to 28-0 heading into the break. (Box Score)
It was one of three touchdowns through the air for Hillstead.
“He’s a sophomore, so a lot of people don’t see that coming,” Skyridge coach Jon Lehman told the Deseret News about Hillstead’s strong start to the season. “He has a lot of good tools and a really good mindset.”
As strong as the offensive played, Skyridge’s defense has only allowed 34 combined points the first three weeks against Alta, Bingham and Orem.
A week ago Skyridge matched East’s physicality in a big preseason win, and on Friday night it was Lone Peak’s turn.
The Knights kept East out of the end zone until an 82-yard TD run in the final three minutes as they rolled to the 32-8 victory (Box Score)
“Defense played well again. It’s a game of discipline when you play an offense like East’s. So I was proud of how the defense executed the defensive game plan,” said Lone Peak coach Bart Brockbank.
“Luke Romney is starting to settle in and the confidence in the offensive system and his playmakers is starting to come together. The lines on both sides of the ball was the difference in the game. We controlled both and that generally results in points on offense and stops on defense,” said Brockbank.
The oft-forgotten “other” team in Region 4 continued to hum along as well on Friday.
Brayden Ross threw three touchdowns, and the Westlake’s defense corralled Hunter’s running game on night as it matched its big-name Region 4 counterparts by starting the year 3-0 with a 25-14 win over Hunter. (Box Score)
“Overall a great win, first time since 2012 that Westlake has won its homecoming game, and first time since 2013 that Westlake has won three games in a row. Those are great accomplishments but our guys aren’t satisfied. We know the road is only going to be tougher from here on out,” said Westlake assistant coach Mark Ercanbrack.
“Offensively we moved the ball pretty consistently all night, what held us back were critical dropped passed and penalties. We had another big performance from our defense, they have been great all season and it was no different last night against a really good Hunter team. Hunters record doesn’t show how good they really are, they are going to be a dangerous team in Region 2. Overall our message to our team was, we have to learn from this game, get better, because from here on out every opponent only gets better and better.”
Since bumping up to the state’s largest classification in 2013, Westlake has never won more than five games in a season as it’s always lumped into the toughest football regions in the state.
Westlake faces Herriman and Bingham the next two weeks and then dives into the brutal Region 4 slate to close out the regular season. With the confidence the team has built in starting with three straight wins, it should be more competitive over the next seven weeks than it has been in the past against those same teams.
While Region 4 continues to lead the way with its combined 18-0 record, several other teams have quietly put together an undefeated start to the season, including Kearns.
Kearns played lights-out defense for a third straight week as it held on to beat visiting Olympus 14-7 on Friday night. (Box Score)
Offensively, Naki Leha led the way for the Cougars with over 200 yards of total offense.
“He’s a workhorse. The kid is tough as nails,” Kearns coach Matt Rickards told the Desert News after the game. “Super proud of his effort and the way he played.”
Eight-team Region 1 was the first to kick off league play on Friday, which included Davis and Roy continuing their strong starts to the season to improve to 3-0.
Syracuse’s 24-14 win over Layton was arguably the most notable.
Many believe the Titans would contend for the Region 1 title this year, but after dropping their first two region games they were essentially written off as contenders. There’s still a lot of work to do, but a 24-14 win over Layton in the region opener on Friday was a great start. (Box Score)
“It was a great team win. We had big plays in all three phases. I’m proud of the kids and coaches who have worked hard to get the win. It was a total team effort. It was instrumental moving forward in region play,” said Syracuse coach Mike Knight.
Herriman quietly picked up its first win of the season on Friday with a 17-14 win over West Jordan. (Box Score)
With mostly new starters all over the field this year, the Mustangs were realistically always going to struggle out fo the gate this year. By keeping West Jordan scoreless in the second half though and then scoring the game-winning touchdown midway through the fourth quarter on a Cody Lazenby to Michael Falatea 20-yard TD pass, Herriman start to show signs of life in the Week 3 win.
It hosts up-and-coming Westlake next week with a chance to get its record back to .500.