It’s early October and the end of the football and girls soccer regular seasons are almost upon us.
Region 1 football has been a maelstrom since August. With two games left, Syracuse, Weber and Davis are tied for first place at 4-1 while Roy and Fremont are one game behind, tied for second at 3-2.
Region 5 football appeared to be cruising toward an undisputed Farmington region title until Viewmont put down a spike strip to cause a three-way tie with Farmington and Bonneville at 2-1 with two games left.
It’s all still exciting, wondering who will emerge from Region 1 and Region 5’s football mess with the region trophy.
But, the introduction of an all-comers tournament and a Rating Percentage Index (RPI) system that seeds the playoff teams changes the vibe a little bit. No longer is it enough to simply beat team A, beat team B and hope team C loses to team D in order to get a high playoff seed.
Now, a team has to do that and hope 25 other results across the state break a certain way. So there’s a, “Yeah, but,” factor to the region races.
What are we supposed to make of these tight, exciting region races when they don’t tangibly translate to a high seed? Is it less exciting and important who wins a region title?
Farmington, Bonneville and Viewmont — tied for first place in Region 5 — come in at Nos. 5, 14 and 17 in the current 5A football RPI rankings thanks to varying degrees of non-region success.
Is there a chance Bonneville wins the last two games, wins Region 5 and is seeded something like 10th where Farmington splits the last two games and finishes eighth? Sure is.
Syracuse, Weber and Davis come in at 10th, 12th and 15th, respectively in 6A football. The winner of the region title might get something like a No. 8 seed, which means you’re still behind the 8-ball because your second-round matchup is against somebody like Bingham, East or American Fork.
There’s so many unknowns and what ifs at play, and maybe that’s why so many coaches have publicly and privately expressed concern about the new system this fall. Sixty percent of a team’s RPI score is based on what other teams do.
With that in mind, what is supposed to be made of the rankings so far? Probably nothing.
Will there be instances where a team beats one team and is still ranked lower? Most likely. The 6A football rankings have Davis at No. 15 and Roy, whom the Darts beat 34-20, one spot ahead at 14.
Clearfield beat Northridge, but the Falcons are two spots behind the Knights.
Last year’s theoretical 6A football playoff bracket, had RPI been used to seed that specific tournament, seeded Region 1 champion Weber one spot below Fremont, whom the Warriors beat head to head.
But if there’s one takeaway from the early ranking releases, it’s that the RPI appears to reward legitimately good teams.
In 6A football, 15 of the 27 schools have a winning record and those 15 make up the current top 15-ranked teams in the RPI. The top 15-ranked RPI teams in the 5A rankings also happen to the be the 15 teams that have a winning record in 5A.
The eight 4A football schools and the eight 3A football schools with a winning record are the top 8-ranked as well in their respective classifications.
The rankings get tricky in a sport like volleyball, which has a sample size problem. The 6A rankings as of Wednesday morning, for example, are composed of teams that have played anywhere between six matches (Jordan High) and 22 matches (Northridge). It’s a similar story across all classifications.
The only time the rankings will mean anything is when the final set is released and the playoff fields are set.
The goal of the RPI rankings is to create a more “true” state tournament that accounts for unbalanced regions, both in numbers and in competition.
Many hope that the rankings do indeed sort themselves out by tournament time.
WEEK 8 SCHEDULE
GAME OF THE WEEK: Farmington at Bonneville
Region 1’s had the Game-of-the-Week honor a few times and since there’s still so many moving parts in Region 1, it’s hard to pin down a single game as THE game.
Well, here we are in Region 5 where, just like everyone thought, the Bonneville Lakers (4-3, 2-1 Region 5) and Farmington Phoenix (5-2, 2-1) are tied for first place with the winner getting a leg up in the region title race.
They’ll both enter Friday’s game on the back of wildly different outcomes. The Lakers upset previously 5-1 Woods Cross and the Phoenix lost a stunner on its home field to previously 2-4 Viewmont.
Bonneville has offensive and defense balance, but its key to victory has been big, early leads. Against Bear River, the Lakers had 14 first-quarter points. Against Mountain Crest, Bonneville led 21-6 after the first. The Lakers led 21-0 on Viewmont and 20-3 against Woods Cross at halftime.
Farmington’s success has been predicated on being difficult to stop offensively, something no one had a blueprint for until Viewmont held the Phoenix to nine points. For FHS to get back in the win column, the Phoenix needs to get its running game going so that teams can’t drop seven or eight players back in pass coverage.
DAVIS AT WEBER
Historically, Davis (4-3, 4-1 Region 1) has owned Weber (5-2, 4-1). Lately, the Warriors have won two straight by a combined 85-9 scoring margin. Think of this game as a Region 1 semifinal. The winner keeps its region title hopes alive while the loser plays exclusively for playoff seeding the following week.
NORTHRIDGE AT SYRACUSE
Syracuse (5-2, 4-1 Region 1) has the leg up for the Region 1 “title” thanks to head-to-head tiebreakers even if it ends up being a shared title. Quarterback Bridger Hamblin has 30 total touchdowns this season, which ranks second in the state. In five region losses, Northridge (1-6, 0-5 Region 1) has either trailed or been tied at halftime, but the Knights have not yet led going into the break.
FREMONT AT LAYTON
Layton (2-5, 1-4 Region 1) has beat Fremont just once since 2009, but the Lancers finally have some wind behind their backs following a 36-point win last week over Clearfield. Silverwolves (3-4, 3-2) quarterback Mitch Stratford ranks fourth in the state in passing with 2,131 yards and is one of only four quarterbacks who’s averaging more than 300 passing yards per game.
ROY AT CLEARFIELD
Roy (4-3, 3-2 Region 1) has won the last seven meetings with Clearfield (1-6, 1-4) by a combined score of 240-81. Royals running back Izzy Gordon has only played four games due to various injuries, but he averages 121.3 yards per game on 8.7 yards per carry with four touchdowns. Clearfield is 3-3 in its last six games played on Oct. 4, which includes a win against Roy in 1996.
OGDEN AT CEDAR VALLEY
It goes without saying that this is a first-time matchup between Ogden (2-5, 1-3 Region 10) and Cedar Valley. After a total of four catches for 71 yards last year, Tigers receiver Cooper Crabtree has 31 catches for 623 yards and four touchdowns.
BEN LOMOND AT PARK CITY
Injuries have cut down Ben Lomond’s (0-7, 0-4 Region 10) numbers even further. To make matters more bleak, the Scots face the clear 4A state title favorite, Park City, this week.
BOX ELDER AT WOODS CROSS
On paper, this is straightforward for Box Elder (3-3, 1-2 Region 5): defend the pass, because the Wildcats (5-2, 1-2) throw the ball almost two-thirds of their plays and haven’t ran particularly well the last two weeks. In reality, Box Elder’s going to need its offense to come alive because WX will most certainly pick itself up offensively after a two-week lull.
JUAN DIEGO AT MORGAN
For all of Morgan’s (6-0, 2-0 Region 13) perennial success, the Trojans are 1-5 all-time against the Soaring Eagle (not Soaring Eagles). This game is a rematch of the 2017 and 2015 state title games.
MOUNTAIN CREST AT
Bear River (3-4, 2-1 Region 11) is either up or down. The Bears’ two region wins were followed by last week’s 35-0 shutout loss to Green Canyon. Mountain Crest’s run-heavy attack, similar to what GC does, is on the docket for BR to stop this week.
VIEWMONT AT BOUNTIFUL
If Viewmont (3-4, 2-1 Region 5) wins and gets help from Farmington, then guess who’s in line for a fourth-straight outright or shared region title? Yes, the Vikings. Bountiful (2-5, 1-2) is hoping for a better outcome against Viewmont than the last two games, which have gone the Vikes’ way by a total score of 49-7.
LAYTON CHRISTIAN AT DUCHESNE
Layton Christian (2-3, 1-1 2A North) has had a bye, a win and a bye in the last three weeks. The Eagles are rested and back on the road to head to Duchesne, whose mascot is also the Eagles. Duchesne has scored 60-plus points its last two outings, but also has the honor of winning a game 11-0 earlier this on Aug. 29 against Carbon.