UTAH 4A FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS: KNOW YOUR ENEMY
7 teams entered from region 9, only one remains in the hunt for the 2023 state championship.
If you’ve been following region 9 football throughout the season you likely won’t be shocked to see the team out in Washington Fields still standing.
The Crimson Cliffs Mustangs have scored 560 points this year and allowed 135. To say it’s been lopsided for Crimson Cliffs against fellow 4A teams is a bit of an understatement.
The Mustangs went 6-0 in region play and had an average margin of victory at 45.1 points during that time span.
In the postseason the Mustangs have put up 97 points in two games.
You likely knew that the Mustangs were that good. You’ve likely heard of the Barben’s, Alofipo’s, Christiansen’s, Wright’s, Phillips, Andrus and West types of players who dominate the headlines.
You are also likely aware that the further a team advances into the postseason the more difficult the games become. Crimson beat Cedar 56-0 in their first contest, but ran into a more stellar test in a 41-16 win over Desert Hills.
Although not necessarily close, it was the tightest game the Mustangs have dealt with since week 2 of the regular season. Will the trend of games getting more competitive continue for Crimson or will they keep rolling?
In order to feel like we can attempt to answer that question, it is essential to know the Mustangs next opponent.
The Ridgeline Riverhawks (Millville) come out of Cache Valley as the 2nd best team in region 11. The Riverhawks earned the #6 seed in the RPI.
Ridgeline is 10-2 on the year, 4-1 in region 11 play. Their two losses were at the hands of eventual #1 seed Sky View by a single point, and to 5A Orem.
The Riverhawks offense was good for 35 points per contest, and their defense held teams to about 21.8 points a game.
Ridgeline had one common opponent between themselves and Crimson Cliffs in the Stansbury Stallions.
The Riverhawks beat Stansbury 28-27 in the regular season and then throttled them in a second-round playoff rematch to the tune of 52-21. Crimson Cliffs beat Stansbury 62-20 in the regular season.
Other than beating down Stansbury, Ridgeline also trounced the Cinderella team in Payson by 39.
The Riverhawks postseason run has them with a 97-27 advantage in two games. That’s the same offensive output as Crimson’s playoff performance for comparison’s sake. Both offenses have been lights out.
Crimson’s defense however has given up less with 0 allowed to Cedar and 16 to Desert Hills.
Per Deseret News, here’s your Ridgeline top performers this season:
Ridgeline quarterback, Nate Dahle, is second in the 4A classification in touchdowns thrown with 29. His 2,992 yards thrown qualifies him for third in 4A.
Graham Livingston takes home top honors for the Riverhawks receiving corps with 12 touchdown receptions, 4th best in Utah 4A. Livingston’s 1,250 yards through the air is the highest yardage in 4A. That's came on a 4A high of 85 receptions.
Carson Cox isn’t far behind with 8 touchdowns grabs of his own, tied 7th in the state.
Defensively, Trace Dustin has patrolled the skies with 8 interceptions which is tied 2nd in 4A. Aidan Anderson has 4 to his name, tied for 6th.
In the pass rush, Cooper Clark and Krew Jones both have 7 sacks a piece for a top ten spot.
Aaron Young has knocked through 5 field goals and 48-point afters for the special team’s unit. His 63 points is 2nd in the state at the 4A level.
According to MaxPreps, Ridgeline is putting up 254.2 passing yards a game and 162.6 yards on the ground each time they take the field.
The statistics tell us this could be Crimson Cliff’s most intriguing matchup of the season not named Bingham. Crimson hasn’t blinked in a long time and they don’t intend to now, but Ridgeline comes in as a respectable adversary.
Take this data as you will, after all games are played on the field not on paper, right? Either way we could be primed for one of the best matchups of the postseason.