Daily Herald Prep Sports Beat Writer and the Great Zuke himself, Neil Warner, and Sports Editor Jared Lloyd take a look at the biggest questions about high school sports in the Utah Valley this week:
1. Maple Mountain lost their first five games of the year but beat Spanish Fork on Friday. Will this win kick off a playoff run for the Golden Eagles?
WARNER: When a team starts the season 0-5, it’s easy for fans and sometimes even players to think the season can’t be saved, but Maple Mountain is 1-1 in Region 8 and that loss was the undefeated Springville. After watching the Golden Eagles beat Spanish Fork 24-9 on Friday, I didn’t feel like this team was lacking in confidence. I think the Golden Eagles will make the playoffs.
LLOYD: A lot depends on the depth of a particular region and while I think Maple Mountain still has a way to go to be as good as it wants to be, there is definitely a playoff spot to take away. The Golden Eagles beat Spanish Fork and I am confident they will beat Payson. That means fourth place after Maple Mountain could come with Uintah, which is happening this Friday. If the Golden Eagles win against the Utes at home, I think they’re in.
2. What do you think of two important soccer games in Region 7 on Thursday evening?
WARNER: Alta will play at Skyridge in a fight for first place. The Falcons will take a first look at Josh Davis, who would get my vote for the best running back in the state. The winner of this game will not take the region’s title but will be suspended from the playoffs. Another critical game with an impact on the playoffs will be Provo at Orem. Both teams are 1-2 so the loser of this game is in trouble.
LLOYD: Provo-Orem is a big game for playoff potential, but I’m more intrigued by the other big game. How shocking would it be for the first year Hawks to shock the Hawks, considered by many to be the second best 4A team in the state? I’d love to see Skyridge come up with such a surprise, but I just don’t see it without a bunch of Alta mistakes. The Hawks did a good job making the moves they had to make to win, but it will take quite a bit of effort to get the top spot in Region 7.
3. Who has the advantage if Lone Peak (3-0) plays at American Fork (2-0) on Friday?
WARNER: I think this has become the hottest football competition in the Utah Valley. Anyone who loses this game can likely kiss the region’s absolute title and say goodbye to Region 4’s coveted No. 1 seed. The matchup depends on how many points American Fork can score in defense of Lone Peak. I think the Cavemen have to score at least 21 points to stand a chance against a defense that has given up three points in the last two games, but both Bingham and Dixie have both scored 21 points or more against the Knights.
LLOYD: Does anyone else wish that this game didn’t take place on the same night as the BYU-Toledo soccer game? I’ll keep an eye on that even when I’m at LaVell Edwards Stadium because I think it could be a very good competition. The knights aren’t as overwhelming as they were last year and I think the cavemen are dangerous. I’ll still be playing with Lone Peak, but I’m looking for a game that could go both ways.
4. Which quarterbacks were the most impressive this year?
WARNER: There may not be a future BYU quarterback in the Utah Valley this year, but I think the quarterback harvest is remarkably deep. I will tell you my top 7 in no particular order because the sample size is still too small: Jordan Mariteragi (Timpview), Cam Cooper (Lehi), Jansten Thorpe (Springville), Jake Jensen (PG), Dakota Hansen (Lone Peak) and Cody Frampton (Skyridge). I look forward to seeing Spencer Jorgensen from Provo and Bronson Barron from American Fork this week.
LLOYD: Over the years I’ve covered high school football in the Utah Valley, I’ve expected excellent quarterback games from Timpview, Lone Peak, and Springville putting them at the top of their rankings in the mix. So I have to highlight Lehi’s Cam Cooper and Skyridges Cody Frampton as the two who caught my eye with their performances. I think these two athletes are talented and have raised the level of their entire team. Both of them have some very challenging games ahead of them so we’ll learn more about how they handle pressure over the next few weeks.
5. The Salem Hills volleyball team is 5-0 in Region 8 and has not lost to a 4A team this year. Will the Skyhawks target region play unbeaten?
WARNER: I think Maple Mountain and Springville are the only teams in the area that could upset the Skyhawks, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. Megan Treanor has the ability to shoulder the team and in case that team has many other options. Salem Hills plays Maple Mountain on Thursday, so it won’t take long to find out.
LLOYD: Even if you are the best team in your region, it is very difficult to maintain a high level of play throughout the season and to remain unbeaten. I really like the talent of the Skyhawks, but I think there will be a disappointment at some point and someone will push it forward. Then Salem Hills learns a lot about the character of this team and how they deal with adversity.