SALT LAKE CITY — Seven weeks into the high school football season, four teams have staked their claim as the best the 4A classification has to offer, though a few additional teams certainly belong in the conversation.
Sky View, Snow Canyon, Park City and Pine View are the sole remaining unbeaten’s in region play. They are a combined 24-3 on the year, and each team boasts either one of the best five offenses in the classification or a one of the best five defenses.
In the case of Sky View, it is a little of both and no team has been more impressive thus far than the defending state champs. At 7-0, the Bobcats are in the midst of a 19-game winning streak and it was more of the same Friday night against the Mountain Crest Mustangs.
Sky View topped Mountain Crest 29-0 (Box Score), smothering the Mustangs’ attack all night long. Quarterback Kasen Carlsen threw a pair of touchdown passes, one to Sam Thatcher, the other to Walter Collins, and also rushed for two scores.
Once again, however, it was far from a perfect game. The Bobcats struggled offensively in both the second and third quarters, and if not for some strong special teams play — much of the game was a battle of field position — and consistent pressure on Mountain Crest quarterback Zeb Benson, the final score may have read differently.
“Special teams did a great job of creating really good field position for our defense,” Sky View head coach Chris Howell said. “We forced Mountain Crest to drive the ball the length of the field and we were able to put consistent pressure on their quarterback throughout the night.
“Our offense was good early, but we struggled in the second and third quarters. We were able to get things going in the fourth and I’m really proud of how we were able to overcome some adversity and get a big region win.”
Speaking of big region wins, Snow Canyon picked up one of the biggest to date with a 35-33 win over Dixie (Box Score).
It was the Warriors’ first win against the Flyers since 2015 and signaled to anyone who still had doubts that Snow Canyon is for real in Region 9 this year.
Running back Bretton Stone was a workhorse and rushed for 237 yards and touchdowns — he also caught a touchdown pass — while quarterback Landon Frei threw for two scores and rushed for another.
The game was decided on the defense, as Snow Canyon stymied a Dixie two-point conversion try with 4:48 left in regulation, halting a desperate Flyers fourth quarter rally in its tracks.
“Overall, very proud of our teams effort,” Snow Canyon head coach Mike Esplin said. “We had some very high highs and some tough stretches against a well coached, good Dixie football team. When it counted, we were able to find a way to finish.
“We played physical, specifically our offensive line. It’s been a long time since we beat Dixie. It is great to see our kids hard work and dedication pay off.“
Watch replay: Snow Canyon 35, Dixie 33
Also in Region 9, the Pine View Panthers kept up their winning ways. After losing their season opener against Ridgeline, a game that stands as one of the best of the year, all the Panthers have done is win and the Crimson Cliffs Mustangs were their latest victim.
Pine View defeated Crimson Cliffs 21-7 (Box Score), improving to 6-1 on the season. It was a defensive slugfest, not the usual for the Panthers. Pine View held the Mustangs scoreless through three quarters, while only scoring a single touchdown in any quarter.
Quarterback Brayden Bunnell threw a touchdown pass and rushed for another, but the story of the game was the Panthers’ defense, led by Tasi Lolotai, Byron Cullison and Rick Muae, who combined for 21 tackles and a sack.
“Our offense has been carrying us the last few weeks, so it was good to see our defense play hard tonight,” Pine View head coach Ray Hosner said. “Proud of the boys. Homecoming is always a hard week.”
Watch replay: Pine View 21, Crimson Cliffs 7
Defense was difficult to spot when Park City took on the Mountain View Bruins in Region 10 action.
In the first quarter alone, the team’s combined for 32 points. Powered by dominant second and third quarters, the Miners handled the Bruins, though, to the tune of 60-30 (Box Score).
Wide receiver Carson Tabaracci was the standout for Park City, with five touchdowns scored, four on the ground, another through the air.
“We kind of have the embarrassment of riches, but I’ll be honest with you, he played out of his mind tonight,” Park City head coach Josh Montzingo told the Deseret News.
Montzingo added that he has complete confident in his offense, but the win was a team win, as the Miners’ defense made the adjustments necessary to shut down a potent Bruins attack.
“It was a great win tonight,” he said. “Very proud of the team for getting another region win. Offensive did a great job and the defense made some key adjustments.”
While the Bobcats, Warriors, Panthers and Miners stand atop their respective regions — in the case of Snow Canyon and Pine View it is a tie, one that will be broken this upcoming week — Ridgeline and Stansbury made sure they wouldn’t be forgotten any time soon.
Both the RiverHawks and the Stallions suffered heartbreaking loses a week ago, to Sky View and Park City, respectively, only to bounce back in what can be described as ridiculous fashion.
Ridgeline pummeled Logan 52-22 (Box Score), leaving little to no doubt that the RiverHawks are the second best team in Region 11 and a legitimate 4A title contender.
Ridgeline outscored Logan 38-0 in the first half alone, shutting down a Grizzlies’ attack that had gained steam in recent weeks.
RiverHawks quarterback Kaden Cox continued his strong play this season, and threw for three touchdowns. Jaden Harris was a recipient of one of those strikes and also rushed for three scores.
“I thought we played a great game,” Ridgeline head coach Travis Cox said. “Our offensive line and our running back, Noah White, really set the tone early. Defensively, we played well throughout the game and were able to shut down a good offense.”
You would be hard-pressed to find an offense that struggled more Friday night than the Ben Lomond Scots’ and credit for that belongs to the Stansbury Stallions.
The Stallions dominated the Scots from start to finish, possibly taking out the frustrations of their last second loss to Park City a week ago.
Stansbury crushed Ben Lomond 70-7 (Box Score), holding the Scots scoreless through three quarters. The Stallion led 21-0 after the first the quarter, 49-0 at halftime and 56-0 at the end of the third.
It was a bounce-back win if ever there were one.
Stansbury quarterback Kru Huxford led the way offensively. He threw two touchdown passes and rushed for three additional scores.
“After a heartbreaking loss las week, I am really proud of the way our kids responded,” Stansbury head coach Eric Alder said. “That was a really good performance tonight.”
Other good performances on the night belonged to Cedar City, Desert Hills, Cedar Valley, Ogden and Green Canyon.
All five came out on top in their respective games, some in dominant fashion, others in nail-biters.
The Reds defeated rival Canyon View 64-16 (Box Score), a win head coach Josh Bennett attributed to taking care of the football.
“Our goal this week was too take care of the football and play a clean game with no turnovers,” he said. “We were able to do that. Our defensive coaches made some good adjustments at halftime and we were able to hold the scoreless in the second half.
We must continue to play turnover free and not give up the big play to continue to win games. I’m proud of our coaches and players tonight.”
Watch replay: Cedar City 64, Canyon View 16
Also down south, Desert Hills defeated Hurricane 34-20 (Box Score). The victory was the first for the Thunder in Region 9 this season, after they faced and fell to Pine View, Dixie and Snow Canyon in the first three weeks of region play.
It was a much needed win for Desert Hills, a very welcome one.
“I’m proud of our guys,” Thunder head coach Mark Murdoch said. “They got better on all sides of the ball. Hopefully, we peak at the right time and make a run for these last few games. They are getting better every week and that is really all you can ask for as a coach.”
Cedar Valley improved to 3-1 in Region 10, with a hard fought 23-21 victory (Box Score) over Tooele.
Special teams were vital to the victory, per head coach Weston Zabriskie, which tested the character the Aviators.
“This was a huge character win tonight,” Zabriskie said. “Our special teams came up huge. We face some adversity, but the boys came out and made plays when we needed them. Big win for the team.”
Ogden, meanwhile, topped Uintah 28-21 (Box Score) in a marathon game, arguably the longest of the night. The Tigers controlled the game early, scoring 21 first half points, and a 25-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Jaice Holt to Enrique Gomez with two minutes left in the fourth quarter was the game-winner.
The Tigers now stand at 5-2 overall, 2-2 in Region 10.
Last but not least, the Green Canyon Wolves pulled out yet another clutch last second victory, this time around defeating Bear River 27-26 (Box Score).
The Wolves scored the game-winning touchdown with eight seconds remaining, after executing a three-minute drive down the field with the untold pressure on their shoulders. Quarterback Jake Lundin found Caden Stuart for a 4-yard touchdown on the final play — it was Lundin’s fourth touchdown pass of the night — lifting the Wolves past the Bears.
“The boys stayed calm and always believed,” Green Canyon head coach Craig Anhder said. “Bear River is a great team, but tonight I was proud of the ways our boys kept with it and battled to the end.”
Watch replay: Green Canyon 27, Bear River 26