LAYTON — On Sept. 18, the Layton High football team bagged a result that raised everybody’s eyebrows.
The Lancers, who were winless, went ahead 24-0 at halftime and comprehensively beat then-unbeaten Weber 34-15.
The next day, LHS got word that it had multiple confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in its program, initiating a 14-day shutdown, going from a high moment to a low one.
“It’s one of those things where it’s a surprise to all of us,” Layton head coach Fotu Katoa said.
Layton had gone through a 14-day shutdown in the summer as well, but this time the feeling was different with it coming in the middle of the season. As of the Saturday to end last week, the Lancers came off of quarantine as they prepare to face Northridge this Friday.
“We’re just grateful we’re back and for these kids to finish up — the six seniors to finish up their year,” Katoa said.
Some of the football players went through the spring shutdown, so they knew how fast things could change, but the whole team overall gained an appreciation for the privilege it has to be able to play the sport, Katoa said.
It’s like the old adage of not knowing what you have until it’s gone.
“When you lose something, then you appreciate it,” Katoa said.
Saturday’s practice mood was jolly and the players were excited to be back amongst each other after going stir-crazy at home. The first day of quarantine was fine, Katoa said. The second day, players started asking him what they could do.
“No, there’s nothing we can do, just follow instructions,” Katoa said.
But having a 14-day quarantine in the middle of the football season raises some obvious safety issues pertaining to players’ fitness and their grasp of safe fundamentals.
“Anytime you sit out for 14 days there’s definitely some restoring to do. Some kids did well, some didn’t, some did better than others. For the most part, they all did their part,” Katoa said. “It was (like) we were on a treadmill going a good speed, then all of a sudden we had to jump off it and now we have to jump back on it.”
The Lancers have rescheduled their game with Clearfield from its original Sept. 25 to Wednesday, Oct. 14. Their missed game with Fremont won’t be played.
Despite the 14-day layoff, Layton is well-positioned for a home playoff game.
The Lancers are the No. 14 team in the 6A RPI rankings, with much of that owing to the fact that their six opponents to date have a combined record of 36-9, and a team’s strength of schedule is a huge factor in the RPI rankings.
In Region 5, Viewmont is also returning from quarantine this week, which has come in the midst of an injury filled season.
“But I have been really impressed with the great attitude and physical fortitude the boys have displayed. They just keep working and fighting the best they can,” Vikings head coach Scott Ditty said.
This week, Viewmont will face winless Woods Cross, then the Vikings take on Bountiful on Wednesday, Oct. 14, replacing a previously scheduled game with Ridgeline.
The Roy-Weber rivalry matchup originally set for this Friday is postponed for Roy to enter a team quarantine.
GAME OF THE WEEK: BOX ELDER AT BONNEVILLE
It’s not often that the stars align to put two teams into a winner-take-all region or league championship game in any sport to end the regular season.
As the cosmos would have it, this week’s showdown between Box Elder (4-4, 4-0 Region 5) and Bonneville (7-1, 4-0 Region 5) does exactly that. The winner takes the cake.
They have a combined 54 region championships between them, according to prep football historian George Felt — Box Elder with 36 of them and Bonneville with 18.
Bonneville leads the all-time series between the two schools 27-24, according to Felt.
The Lakers have the longer drought, having last won a region title in 2002 at the tail end of Thom Budge’s coaching career. Box Elder shared a region championship with Roy and Viewmont in 2018.
Both Bonneville and Box Elder have been in some high-stakes games on the region finale in their histories, though many times the games have been for a share of the region title with another team, unlike this year where the Lakers and Bees are the only two left.
Plenty of those high-stakes games have featured Bonneville and Box Elder:
— In 1984, the Bees and Lakers both came in with 3-1 region marks. The Bees won 14-6 and shared the title with Clearfield.
— In 1983, Box Elder and Bonneville were 3-1 when they met for the region title. The Bees won and shared the title with Roy.
— In 1970, Box Elder was 6-0-1 and Bonneville was 6-1 in the region, then the Lakers won 28-20 to win an outright championship.
On their own, each school has played in plenty of de-facto region championship games.
In 1982 as a 3A school, Box Elder beat Bear River 10-7 on a late field goal to win an outright region title.
The Bees went to Logan in 2013 needing a victory to win a share of the title with the Grizzlies and lost 36-15.
In 1973, a 4-1 Bonneville team met 3-2 Sky View in the finale and the teams played to a 7-7 tie, thus wrapping up a Lakers’ region championship.
Just three years ago, a 3-1 Lakers team in 4A Region 11 went on the road to 4-0 Stansbury and got run out 35-10.
The last time Weber County saw a winner-take-all game was in 2014 when Roy and Sky View met for the Region 5 crown, which Roy won with a wild, trick-play-filled comeback in the second half.
UINTAH AT BEN LOMOND
The region gauntlet is finally over for Ben Lomond (2-6, 0-5), which has a winnable Thursday game this week at home to Uintah.
Against this same Utes team last year, Ben Lomond won 6-0 on the road to snap a state-high 31-game losing streak.
But it’s more complicated than simply being a “winnable” game this week: this is Uintah’s last real chance to get a ‘W’ this season and one can bet the Utes will be ready from the first whistle.
OGDEN AT STANSBURY
For the first time since a near postgame brawl last season at home, Ogden (5-3, 2-3 Region 10) will face Stansbury on Thursday, who will be itching to get on the field after having its game last week canceled due to COVID-19 concerns at Mountain View.
Ogden is currently 12th in the 4A RPI standings, which would put them in a home playoff game if it held. The Nos. 11-16 seeds get first-round home playoff games.
SOUTH SUMMIT AT MORGAN
Since 1942, Morgan leads the series 36-24-1, according to Felt.
The last two games, the Trojans (3-2, 2-0 Region 13) have put up 587 and 501 yards of offense to go with 56 and 49 points.
Region 13 shrunk to five teams this year following Judge Memorial’s request to go independent, so a Morgan win in this Thursday matchup would see the Trojans clinch at least a share of the region title.
FREMONT AT DAVIS
Davis (6-2, 4-2 Region 1) has suffered back-to-back losses in close fashion but, should the Darts win Friday, it solidifies a home playoff game and still gives them an outside shot at a first-round bye.
Fremont (3-5, 3-2) is ranked No. 15 in RPI, meaning it needs a win or two in its final two games to keep its home playoff spot, which is where it currently sits.
The Silverwolves have won the last five games in this matchup and lead the series 13-6.
NORTHRIDGE AT LAYTON
The two Layton City schools have played each year since Northridge opened in 1992. The Knights own the series 21-7 and the two play for a traveling trophy called The Sword.
Layton (1-5, 1-3 Region 1) is coming off a 14-day quarantine following positive COVID-19 tests, so the Lancers will either be raring to go or the two weeks of time off will hamper them.
After getting blown out and shut out the first three region games, Northridge (0-8, 0-6) is looking more competitive with losses the last few weeks by 12, 19 and four points — compared to 44, 37 and 48 earlier this year.
CLEARFIELD AT SYRACUSE
Syracuse (2-6, 2-4 Region 1) leads the series 6-1. Clearfield’s (2-6, 1-4) only win in the series was in 2007, the teams’ first meeting.
SKY VIEW AT BEAR RIVER
Though Bear River (4-4, 1-3 Region 11) leads the all-time series with Sky View 18-15, the Bears haven’t beaten the Bobcats since 2004, a streak of six-straight losses.
Bear River did end a long losing streak to Mountain Crest last week, beating the Mustangs for the first time since 1996. Maybe streak-breaking is in the cards.