All three Tooele County high-school football squads are playoff-bound. It’s just a matter of where they will end up in their respective brackets at this point.
Tooele officially joined the postseason party with its win over Bonneville last week, picking up its second region victory and clinching the tiebreaker over the Lakers. However, the Buffaloes still have a chance to finish as high as second in Region 11 if they beat Park City on Thursday night and Ogden loses to an improving Ben Lomond squad.
Stansbury has less to worry about, having already wrapped up the region title and the No. 1 seed before Thursday night’s game at Bonneville. However, the Stallions would like to bounce back from a frustrating outing against Ben Lomond last week in which Stansbury had to come from behind in the fourth quarter to beat a winless team. A return to form before next week’s bye would be a huge momentum boost for the Stallions going into the Class 4A playoffs.
Grantsville has all but wrapped up the No. 2 seed from Class 3A North, and the first-round playoff bye that goes with it. However, to make it official, the Cowboys have to beat Emery on the road Friday night, or have Union lose to region champion Morgan. Grantsville would much rather take care of business itself and wrap up its best regular season since 1998 — the last time it won eight of its first nine games.
Here’s a closer look at this week’s games.
Tooele (3-5, 2-2)
at Park City (5-3, 3-1)
When: Tonight, 7 p.m.
Where: Park City High School
Last week: Tooele defeated Bonneville, 41-21; Park City defeated Ogden, 58-21
Details: The Buffaloes put together their best game of the season last week when they needed it most — on Senior Night with a playoff spot on the line. Now that their postseason status is no longer in question, the Buffs come into tonight’s road game in frigid Park City looking for more.
It won’t be an easy task against a tough Miners squad that has some impressive wins on its schedule, including last week’s demolition of Ogden — a team that had just beaten Tooele a week earlier. The combination of quarterback Jack Skidmore and receiver Mark McCurdy will test the Buffaloes through the air, while an army of ballcarriers will look to control the game on the ground.
Tooele will counter with a swiftly improving running game of its own, led by Nukuluve Helu (80 carries, 692 yards, 14 touchdowns) and Austin Meoño (32 carries, 321 yards, 1 TD). Quarterback Kulani Iongi has thrown for 1,122 yards and 11 touchdowns against just three interceptions, with Meoño serving as his primary target (30 catches, 420 yards, 5 TDs).
Stansbury (6-2, 4-0)
at Bonneville (3-5, 1-3)
When: Tonight, 7 p.m.
Where: Bonneville High School, Washington Terrace
Last week: Stansbury defeated Ben Lomond, 35-28; Bonneville lost to Tooele, 41-21
Details: Neither team has anything to play for in terms of the standings. Stansbury has clinched the No. 1 seed from Region 11, and Bonneville will miss the postseason after losing last week’s game to Tooele, guaranteeing that the Lakers would lose any tiebreakers against three-loss teams from Tooele or Ogden.
Still, both teams will be motivated. Bonneville would love to spoil Stansbury’s perfect region record, and Stansbury wants to finish the regular season with a strong performance after an unremarkable effort against Ben Lomond last week.
The Stallions ran for 530 yards and five touchdowns last week, but also threw an interception and fumbled the ball away three times. That’s the kind of statistic that drives coaches crazy, and there’s no doubt that it has been a point of emphasis for coach Clint Christiansen and the Stansbury offense this week.
Grantsville (7-1, 3-1)
at Emery (1-7, 1-3)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Emery High School, Castle Dale
Last week: Grantsville defeated Judge Memorial, 44-21; Emery lost to Union, 42-7
Details: Both teams are jostling for playoff positioning. Grantsville can clinch second place and a first-round playoff bye with a win, while Emery can clinch fourth place and a home game in the first round if the Spartans win and Carbon loses to Judge Memorial.
On paper, this should be a relatively easy game for Grantsville, as Emery has scored just 16 points in its past three games — all losses. The Spartans’ only win is by a single touchdown over winless Judge Memorial, a team Grantsville hung 28 points on in the first quarter last week on its way to a blowout victory.
But the Cowboys can’t take anything for granted. It’s a long bus ride from Grantsville to Castle Dale, and it’s also Emery’s Senior Night. If the Cowboys are looking past the Spartans at all, the playoffs might be coming to Grantsville a week earlier than they would like.