It’s crunch time for Utah’s high school football teams now that the calendar has turned to October.
There are but two games left in the Region 11 season, and that means there aren’t many chances left to secure a playoff spot. Tooele knows that all too well, as the Buffaloes go into Friday night’s home game against Bonneville desperate for a victory that would help them gain the upper hand in the race for one of the league’s four coveted postseason berths.
Stansbury has no such worries – the Stallions punched their ticket to the playoffs with their win over Park City last week, with either Bonneville or Tooele destined to suffer their third loss of the region season Friday night. However, the Stallions still need one more win to clinch the Region 11 title, and they have a prime opportunity Friday against winless Ben Lomond.
In Class 3A North, Grantsville goes into this week’s road game against Judge Memorial needing a victory to clinch home-field advantage in its first game of the playoffs. The Cowboys are also locked in a battle with Union for second place in the region standings and a first-round playoff bye, though Grantsville has the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Cougars.
Here’s a closer look at this week’s games.
Bonneville (3-4, 1-2) at Tooele (2-5, 1-2)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Buffalo Stadium, Tooele High School
Last week: Bonneville defeated Ben Lomond, 42-10; Tooele lost to Ogden, 26-15
Details: These two teams are essentially playing a playoff elimination game Friday night. A win would clinch a playoff spot, thanks to the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Bonneville would be eliminated from postseason contention with a loss, having already lost head-to-head matchups with Park City and Ogden. A Tooele loss wouldn’t eliminate the Buffaloes as long as Park City loses to Ogden on Friday and the Buffs beat the Miners next Thursday.
Bonneville’s win over Ben Lomond last week snapped a three-game losing streak for the Lakers. They gave up just 107 yards of total offense, while Bonneville’s Kieran Fry caught three touchdown passes totaling 118 yards in the first quarter alone as the Lakers built a 32-0 lead after the first 12 minutes.
Fry is the primary target in the Lakers’ high-powered passing game, catching 31 balls for 378 yards and five touchdowns in seven games. Quarterback Carter Harwood has completed more than 60 percent of his passes for 990 yards and seven touchdowns against just three interceptions. Mitchell Price (79 carries, 359 yards, four TDs) is the Lakers’ main threat on the ground.
Tooele kept things close against Ogden last week, but was outgained 406-337 in a tough road loss. Nukuluve Helu kept up his impressive junior season, rushing for 129 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Kulani Iongi struggled, completing 7 of his 20 attempts for 140 yards, a touchdown and an interception. However, if Iongi can find the accuracy he showed during the preseason, when he went 40-for-60 (66.7 percent) for 565 yards, four TDs and no interceptions, the Buffaloes should have a good chance in their final home game of the season.
Stansbury (5-2, 3-0) at Ben Lomond (0-7, 0-3)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Ben Lomond High School, Ogden
Last week: Stansbury defeated Park City, 47-27; Ben Lomond lost to Bonneville, 42-10
Details: Stansbury is averaging 45.7 points per game in its three Region 11 games, winning each game by at least 20 points. Ben Lomond has broken the 20-point barrier just twice all season, and has been outscored 150-38 in region play.
Thus, things would seem to bode well for Stansbury, which needs just one more win to clinch the Region 11 championship. The Stallions’ offense has amassed 1,328 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns in the past three games, accounting for almost as many points as Ben Lomond has scored all season.
By the time Friday rolls around, it will have been nearly two years since the Scots last tasted victory – a 55-19 win over Judge Memorial on Oct. 7, 2016. Since then, Ben Lomond has lost its past 20 games, with all seven of its losses in 2018 coming by at least two scores.
Grantsville (6-1, 2-1) at Judge Memorial (0-7, 0-3)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Judge Memorial High School, Salt Lake City
Last week: Grantsville defeated Carbon, 47-23; Judge Memorial lost to Union, 41-22
Details: Since every team in Class 3A makes the playoffs, this game is just for positioning. Grantsville is closing in on a top-two seed and a first-round bye, while Judge Memorial would like to break through for a victory or two before the playoffs get here to build some momentum.
Grantsville demolished Union and Carbon by a combined score of 85-40 in its final two home games of the regular season. Now that the Cowboys are on the road for the next two weeks, expect more of the same. With running back Parker Thomas closing in on 2,000 yards, Grantsville will rely on the running game to control the clock and keep the Bulldogs at bay.
Judge Memorial may be in for a long night, averaging fewer than 200 yards of total offense per game and never having broken the 300-yard mark. As a result, the Bulldogs have scored just 68 points in seven games, while giving up 289 during a trying season.