For the third consecutive year, there will be a Top of Utah football team playing in the state 5-A championship game. Whether it's two-time defending Region 1 champion Fremont (9-2 overall) or No. 4-seeded Syracuse (8-3) will be determined today at the University of Utah.
"We're excited to still be playing," Fremont coach Kory Bosgieter said. "We're two similar teams, each a 4-3 defensive team. You keep it simple so your kids can run around, play hard and fast."
In what has become a common theme for the Silver Wolves -- who are riding a seven-game winning streak -- in the 2011 state playoffs, it's another rematch of a regular-season game.
"It's not a family reunion, but it doesn't happen very often that you play two teams you have already played," said Bosgieter, who is 75-59 in 13 years.
First, it was Brighton in the first round, and now, the Titans in the 5-A semifinals at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
The Silver Wolves slogged past Syracuse 15-3 on Oct. 7 at Plain City. Cousins Nick Vigil and Jake Gallegos accounted for Fremont's two touchdowns.
"It was a rainy, muddy mess and the weather affected both teams," Bosgieter said. "Anytime you hold an opponent without a touchdown, you have to feel good. But Syracuse's defense is very good. They haven't allowed an offensive touchdown in the playoffs so far.
"Obviously, we're preparing for them. After last week, we need to do better this week as a team," he said. "We have to take better care of the ball, and we need to be a lot better on special teams. We have to be better overall on special teams and in the kicking game.
"Defensively, we have to continue to tackle well, run to the ball and get 11 hats to the ball," Bosgieter said. "We need to force teams to put drives together and eliminate big plays. I anticipate a tough, physical football game."
Prior to the season, Bosgieter said any of four Region 1 teams could play on the final day.
"Region 1 is a good quality football region," he said. "Syracuse is as good as anybody we've played on defense. It will be a close, hard-fought game."
For the state 5-A runner-up Silver Wolves, nothing changes in their quest for success.
"We have to take care of the football, score in the red zone, play great defense and have good special teams. It's not rocket science," Bosgieter said. "We can't leave points out there, and with that being said, we can't give up big plays."
Fremont leads Syracuse 3-2 in the all-time series.
The three points scored by Titans in their Region 1 game versus the Silver Wolves last month were a season low.
"It wasn't the weather. We just didn't execute real well," Syracuse coach Russ Jones said. "When we played the first time, we had a lull there. Our kids have to step up, play hard and physical. When an opportunity comes, we have to capitalize. We can't have turnovers and penalties."
Jones says the familiarity factor between the two teams is a wash.
"I think anytime you learn from a loss it will help you," he said. "I think we learned something out there; it was our last loss.
"Our kids played hard, we just didn't execute the way we should have. We both have to play early (11 a.m.), so the kids have to wake up and get going," said Jones, who is 57-50 in 10 seasons.
"We have to have a hell of a performance by our defense again. On offense, we have to move the ball and put some points on the board. If we could, it would be great to get three or four touchdowns instead of scoring 16 and 10 points. I think it will be fairly low scoring with good defenses both ways.
"We know each other well," Jones said. "So, we'll show up and play. It will come down to execution. The kids feel comfortable playing on the road (where the Titans were 5-1 and 1-0 on a neutral field). Practice has been good this week. The kids have stayed focused with a lot of energy. We work on staying focused, taking it one day at a time."
* WEEK 13 NOTES: Not since 2006 have all three defending champions in the state 5-A, 4-A and 3-A ranks been eliminated before the semifinals. Of the 12 semifinal teams, seven have never won a state football title, including three 5-A teams and all four 3-A teams. Last week, the three 5-A teams -- Fremont, Syracuse and Lone Peak -- dusted Bingham, West and Northridge, which have won a combined 17 state championships. ...
Bosgieter and Jones are tied 3-all, including a 1-1 split in 2001 and 2002 when Bosgieter was at Weber High and Jones at Viewmont. ... This is only the Silver Wolves' third semifinal-round appearance in the last 10 years. Fremont has advanced to the state 5-A championship game twice, in 2010 and 1995. The Silver Wolves are 20-14 in the playoffs -- 15th appearance in 18 seasons -- and 2-4 in the semifinals. ... A Fremont win secures a 10-victory season for the second straight year and third time in school history. ...
Syracuse's only semifinal-round appearance came in 2008, where the Titans fell to eventual 5-A champion Alta 42-14. Syracuse is 5-3 in the playoffs -- fourth appearance in five seasons -- and 0-1 in the semifinals. ... The Titans are the first No. 4 seed to make the semifinals since Judge Memorial last year. But in the 5-A ranks, Syracuse is the first since Skyline did in 2005 and swept the state 5-A title. ... The Titans have allowed more than two touchdowns in a game just twice this year, to Northridge (28 points) and winless Weber (21). ...
Undefeated Duchesne leads Layton Christian 7-1, with the northern Eagles' lone series win coming in 2008 at Duchesne. The eastern Eagles won 56-12 in Week 6 at Layton Christian. ... Defending 1-A champion Duchesne has the state's longest current winning streak, 21, and 13th longest in state history (tied with Delta and East). Layton Christian started 1-5 before winning its last five games. ...
Duchesne is playing in its third straight title game and fourth in six years. It is the northern Eagles' first state championship game, with Layton Christian 2-3 in the playoffs. ... The eastern Eagles are averaging 55.5 points in the state playoffs. ...
If Layton Christian wins, it would be just the third team to win a state title with five losses. With a victory, the northern Eagles become the first championship team that failed to make the playoffs the previous year since Grand in 2005. ... Duchesne has shut out four of its last five opponents, and has won its 11 games by a state-leading average of 34.36 points per game.