BY SHAIN GILLET
Clipper Sports Editor
BOUNTIFUL — In a key game that will likely decide who wins the Region 6 football crown, the 4A top-ranked East High Leopards will invade Bountiful to take on the No. 4-ranked Braves Friday night at 7 p.m.
The Braves, who have won four straight games entering Friday, are in a tie for first place with the Leopards. Both teams are 3-0 in region play and have a combined record of 12-1.
Bountiful had the second-most difficult preseason schedule this year and beat defending 5A champion Lone Peak to open the season. Unlike year’s past, the Braves’ quarterback position has been heavily involved.
After Trevor Lloyd was lost to a season-ending injury, Jordan Hayes has taken the reins and controlled the offense, going 5-1 as a starter as a result.
Hayes stepping into the offense wasn’t anything Bountiful wasn’t prepared for, said Bountiful coach Larry Wall. Wall said after Lloyd’s injury that Hayes “is just as prepared to play quarterback as anyone else,” and has roamed the sidelines watching Hayes succeed in the role.
With last Friday’s game, the quarterback has completed 70 percent of his passes for 796 yards and six touchdowns against four interceptions. Not afraid to run with the ball either, Hayes’ has more than 200 rushing yards on 44 carries.
However, the staple of the Braves’ offense continues to be running the football. Bountiful has four rushers, including Hayes, that have rushed for more than 200 yards this season. The team was led by Jakob Hunt, the senior running back who has 758 yards with 16 touchdowns on the ground this season. Overall, 22 of the team’s 31 offensive touchdowns have come from the backfield.
The defense for Bountiful is one of the best in 4A, allowing 37 points in region play (second to East) and 107 points overall through seven games. Of the 22 teams in 4A, Bountiful ranks seventh in points allowed this season.
The Braves defense is led by linebacker Rylee Gautavai, who leads the team in tackles and has 3.5 sacks to his credit. Junior Hamilton is still anchoring the defensive line, leading the team in sacks with 4.5.
Despite losing its No. 1 overall ranking in football, the East High Leopards are still ranked No. 1 in 4A thanks to a strong running game and solid defense.
Led by quarterback Isaac Valles, the Leopards already have over 1,000 yards rushing as a team and have scored 28 rushing touchdowns through six games. Carrying the load behind Valles are Ula Tulutau, Preston Curtis, and Jewka Patetefa, who combined have over 1,100 rushing yards and 18 of the team’s rushing touchdowns.
Defensively the Leopards are the best team in the state, allowing a state-wide low 26 points through six games this season. As a unit the Leopards have 20 sacks and four interceptions as Korey Rush, Sione Leaaetoa and Jake Baptiste accounting for 12 of the team’s sack totals. Preston Burnett, with only nine tackles this season, also has half of the team’s interceptions this season.