ST. GEORGE — The Mustangs and Riverhawks are in the ultimate rubber match.
Crimson Cliffs’ Mason Topalian runs against Ridgeline in this file photo. The Mustangs and Riverhawks play in the 4A state semifinal, Friday, Oct. 10, Salt Lake City, Utah | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News
The high school football teams from Crimson Cliffs and Ridgeline will play Friday night in the 4A state semifinals for the third year in a row.
In 2021 at Ridgeline, the Riverhawks piled up 497 yards of offense and beat the Mustangs 49-34. Ridgeline went on to defeat Dixie and won the 4A state championship.
In 2022 at Cedar City, quarterback Steele Barben threw for 218 yards and three touchdowns in a 27-13 victory that sent the Mustangs to the state title game, where they fell to Desert Hills.
The third installment of the rivalry between North and South kicks off Friday at 6 p.m. at Rice Eccles Stadium on the campus of the University of Utah.
Region 11’s Ridgeline is 10-2 and earned the No. 6 seed in the state tournament. The Riverhawks beat Stansbury 52-21 and defeated Payson 45-6 en route to the semifinal matchup with Crimson Cliffs.
Quarterback Nate Dahle keys the Ridgeline offense, throwing for 2,992 yards and 27 touchdowns.
Receiver Graham Livingston is his favorite target, catching 77 passes for 1,161 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Like Crimson Cliffs, Ridgeline relies on two stout running backs – JT White and Jackson Lindsay – to carry the load in the backfield.
Region 9 champion Crimson Cliffs (11-1) earned the No. 2 seed in the tournament and is the highest remaining seed after previously unbeaten and No. 1 Sky View was shocked by Green Canyon.
The Mustangs beat two familiar region rivals – Cedar (56-0) and Desert Hills (41-16) – to advance to the semifinals.
Crimson Cliffs’ Jace Sweeten reaches for a ball against Ridgeline in this file photo. The Mustangs and Riverhawks play in the 4A state semifinal, Friday, Oct. 10, Salt Lake City, Utah | Photo by E. George Goold, St. George News
Quarterback Steele Barben put up a monster of a season, piling up 3,003 passing yards and 41 touchdowns.
Ty West leads a speedy receiving corps with 1,161 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Running backs Mason Topalian and McCord Christiansen have explosive breakaway speed for Crimson and each is a threat to score.
While both offenses have racked up huge numbers this season, Ridgeline and Crimson Cliffs share an identity that starts with defense.
Both head coaches in the game, Wayne Alofipo at Crimson and Travis Cox at Ridgeline, specialize in a 3-4 defense that mixes blitzes and looks to confuse offenses and force turnovers.
The game will be broadcast live at The Fan Sports Network with Devin Dixon on the call, and follow St. George News for complete coverage of the 4A state football playoffs.
Green Canyon and Park City play Thursday night in the other 4A semifinal.
The 4A state championship will be decided Friday, Nov. 17, at 11 a.m. at Rice Eccles Stadium.
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