Column by Shain Gillet, Clipper Sports Editor
I watched, from afar, in expectation and disbelief as the East High Leopards took apart the Mountain View Bruins 49-0 Tuesday night.
The win will advance the Leopards into the first round of the 4A playoffs as they travel to Herriman to face the Mustangs, the Region 7 champions.
But is it fair to say that Herriman, which received the No. 1 seed after tying with Olympus and Skyline in the region title race, is clearly the underdog when it faces off against last year’s 4A finalists? Absolutely.
And it isn’t fair.
I believe in the power of second chances, especially when it comes to kids playing a game they love to play. The fact that the Leopards get to play in the playoffs is great. Those who aren’t supposed to be playing now aren’t, but the punishment handed down by the Utah High School Activities Association giving East a No. 4 seed was something I had to scratch my head at.
Yes, the team’s wins over Bountiful, Woods Cross and Clearfield were taken away, but in my opinion, the Leopards’ chances of getting back to the championship game have actually gone up.
Consider the opening game against Mountain View, a team that averaged scoring south of 14 points per game, against East, which scored 43 points per game during the season. A win was a no-brainer, and the Leopards next victim, er ... opponent, will likely go down in the same fashion despite having one of the best offenses in 4A.
That sets up either Maple Mountain or Box Elder, who both have solid defenses. But remember, East put up video game-type numbers against three good Region 6 defenses in Highland, Woods Cross and Bountiful.
So in a matter of two-and-a-half weeks, the Leopards will likely be in the semifinals while taking the “easier road.” And that really isn’t fair to the rest of the teams in the playoffs.
If the UHSAA was going to vacate wins, so be it. But East is ranked as one of the top teams in 4A and the entire state for a reason. By “punishing” them to play as a No. 4 seed from Region 6, all the UHSAA really did was punish the entire 4A bracket and the team’s that will eventually have to face East.
The football players that worked hard to get the team in the playoffs all deserve to play and I’m not going against that, but they should have been a top-seed just like all the other teams that won their region titles this year.
It’s really the only fair decision the UHSAA should have made.