ST. GEORGE — The stage is set for Friday night lights, playoff style.
First round games in the 4A state football championship kickoff Friday with three local teams playing at home.
Region 10 champion Desert Hills (9-1 overall) earned the No. 1 seed in the tournament and got a bye in the first round.
By the time the Thunder plays the winner of the Snow Canyon and Pine View first round matchup, 17 days will have passed since Desert Hills last won the Region 10 title at Pine View.
“I’ve been outspoken about this: I’m not a big fan of the RPI system,” Thunder head coach Rick Berry told St. George News. “I don’t know if it’s an advantage to have 17 days off rather than continuing to play.”
Berry added that he doesn’t like how the system puts a majority of Region 10 teams on the same side of the bracket. The Thunder is guaranteed at least one Region 10 rematch in the playoffs.
“I’d like to go back where we were before with playoff games across regions,” Berry said. “We could end up playing Pine View again, that was the last team we played. Or Snow Canyon, we played them a couple weeks ago. It’s basically a second round of region play.”
The Thunder have remained healthy for most of the year and are staying focused despite not playing for a while.
“We’re taking the time now just to make sure we stay in shape and do the small things we need to get better,” Berry said. “We can only do so much against each other. It will be nice to know who our next opponent will be for next week.”
Region 11 squads Ridgeline (10-0) and Green Canyon (7-2) earned the second and third seeds, respectively, and byes in the first round.
Berry said that Desert Hills didn’t play any Region 11 teams this season, but he’s seen film on Ridgeline and called the Riverhawks well balanced and well coached.
“They’ve beaten their opponents by 30 points a game,” Berry said. “There’s always good talent that comes out of Cache Valley. Our two regions definitely compete well against each other.”
Dixie (6-3) finished second in Region 10 and earned the No. 4 seed in the tournament. The Flyers host No. 13 Bear River (0-9) at 4 p.m. Friday.
Berry was defensive coordinator for Dixie before moving across town to coach Desert Hills this year.
“Dixie is playing really well right now,” Berry said. “They’ve got (quarterback Bronson) Barben back. I expect Dixie will take care of business.”
No. 8 Snow Canyon (5-4) hosts No. 9 Pine View (5-4) Friday at 6 p.m.
The game is a rematch between the Region 10 teams of their game Oct. 8, a 44-43 overtime thriller that Snow Canyon rallied to win.
“Two closely matched teams,” Berry said. “If they play like they did that first time, the fans are in for a great game.”
The other local 6 p.m. contest Friday is at Crimson Cliffs, where the No. 6 Mustangs (6-4) host No. 11 Mountain Crest (2-8).
The remaining Region 10 teams are on the road for the first round. No. 10 Cedar (2-7) is at No. 7 Logan (5-4) at 4 p.m. while No. 12 Hurricane (2-8) is at No. 5 and defending state champion Sky View (6-4) at 4 p.m.
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