Heaps on Utah Rivalry

It's been four days now since BYU beat Utah in overtime at LaVell Edwards Stadium, but the Beehive State is still buzzing with talk about events that unfolded during and after the game. Having just beaten a rival high school of his own, the nation's top quarterback Jake Heaps missed the BYU vs. Utah action as it unfolded but was able to later watch the game at home.

Senior Cougar quarterback Max Hall has accomplished quite a lot this season. He ranks number one in the MWC in pass efficiency, completion percentage, total passing yards, passing yards per game, total offense and points responsible for per game. Hall also set a MWC single-season record with eight 300-yard passing games, beating former BYU quarterback John Beck's previous mark. Finally, Hall beat Ty Detmer's all-time winning record with 31 victories.

Hall has set the bar high, and if there is anyone who figures to reach such lofty heights it will be incoming true freshman quarterback Jake Heaps of Skyline High School. Skyline just beat Bothell High School 31-21 in the semifinals.

"I didn't find out the results about the [BYU-Utah] game until I came home and watched it alone," said Heaps. "I was just so stoked that they changed everything up and went retro to honor the national championship team. It was a lot of fun and really cool to see that. To think that I'll be a part of this team and tradition is an honor, and to think I'm going to be a part of that rivalry is going to be a lot of fun and I'm excited about it. To think I'm going to be standing on those sidelines next year is just awesome to think about."

Heaps will now face Ferris High School on Dec. 5 for the state title. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Northwest at 7:30 PST.

So what did he think of the BYU vs. Utah game?

"It was great to see both the offense and defense go out there with some passion," Heaps said. "There had been a few games where that wasn't the case and it wasn't the best sight to see, so it was a lot of fun to see the Cougars go out with a lot of passion, have a lot of fun and get up on [Utah] early. At that point I was thinking, ‘Okay, we got out early and put up some points. Now let's just keep adding on the points and lets make this game look ugly.' With a rivalry, you learn really quickly that it never ends up like that. They always seem to be a close game."

And this recent grudge match was no different. BYU was able to pull off an overtime victory when Hall hit tight end Andrew George over the middle for the game-winning touchdown. The game will follow a line of Cougar heart-ripping victories over Utah that will further add to an already great rivalry.

"When I saw that I jumped up for joy," said an excited Heaps about the game-winning touchdown. "I was just screaming and was so pumped. You know, [after] all the adversity Max was facing and the offense [too], it was just awesome to see these guys just battle all the way through to get the win. I was so happy to see George come up with the final game-winning catch. You always think it would be number-32 [Dennis Pitta] that would be the one to do that because he's received every recognition he's deserved, so it was great to see his counterpart Andrew George – who would be most teams' number-one tight end anywhere in the country – get that catch for the winning touchdown. I was just so happy to see that knowing all the guys there at BYU, and it was really a personal moment for me."

The annual contest between these two universities has become one of the more emotionally charged and electrifying rivalries in the country.

"There's no doubt about that," Heaps said. "No doubt. When I first started learning about BYU I didn't realize how major this rivalry really was, and so after I committed I started to learn more about how great this rivalry really is. I grew up with the heated rivalry of the Apple Cup between Washington and Washington State, so I understand the whole state boundaries and all that stuff. So I know the rivalry between BYU and Utah is big given the fact that the two universities are only 45 minutes away from each other. Everything is a lot closer and everybody interacts with each other for the most part, and so it's crazy and more intense with a lot of these kids, for the most part, being offered by the same two schools."

Heaps received a call from a friend and fellow Cougar commit in attendance at LaVell Edwards Stadium during the game.

"Kyle [Van Noy] called me after that and was just so excited," recalled Heaps. "He just told me how awesome the environment was down there and how exciting the atmosphere is with the fans and everything. It really got me pumped up and got my juices flowing. I'll be heading down there in a couple of months and I'm really excited."

Hall's negative postgame remarks about Utah created a lot of controversy and have been the subject of much debate. Seeing how personal and heated this rivalry can get, Heaps knows exactly what he's getting himself into.

"This game and this rivalry is huge and it's tremendous," Heaps said. "You have to face the moment and have fun representing your team and your area and everything that stands in the rivalry. It's definitely one part of town verses another part of town and things can get heated and sometimes out of hand. I've definitely experienced that with a couple of harsh rivalries here at Skyline High School where I'm playing now. You just kind of have to have fun with it and ignore all the negative things they're saying and go along with it. I think that's one thing that makes rivalries so much fun. The fans are going to say things and it's up to you to go out and have fun with it and hopefully your team comes out on top. That's kind of how I approach it and really the way it should be approached."

Following the Cougar's victory over Utah, BYU jumped up five spots to be ranked No. 14 in the BCS standings. There's the possibility that BYU could be ranked even closer to the top 10 with a victory in a bowl game, which excites Heaps.

"There's always some big upsets in the top 10 as those teams begin playing their own rivals in conference," said Heaps. "If we pulled out a bowl win we could definitely be top 10, which would be huge."

True freshman Ute quarterback Jordan Wynn ended up grabbing the starting spot late in the season and played against BYU. With Hall moving on after this season, there will be a changing of the quarterback guard at BYU and a possibility that another talented true freshman could receive some playing time. In the near future, these two very good quarterbacks could face off.

"Yeah, [Wynn's] a warrior," said Heaps. "He's going to get his and takes hits and goes through adversity but kept battling back. He never took himself out of the game, and what I mean by that is he never took himself out mentally. He always kept himself in check no matter what. Things are going to happen and things are going to click. The thing that you have to do is stay positive and things will eventually go right, and [Wynn] was eventually able to lead his team eventually towards the end of the game. I really respect him for what he's done, definitely."

Next year, Heaps will be standing along the sidelines among a sea of red at Rice Eccles Stadium in the heart of the University of Utah. However, he's seen how Wynn handled himself in a similar circumstance and was impressed by the poise of the true freshman.

"To see him come in and battle in a harsh environment and be able to survive and make plays and do the things he did definitely gives me confidence," said Heaps. "Here's a kid that has come out and is doing the things I've dreamed of doing and will strive to do. He definitely has given me hope that I could come in and do the things I need to do if I practice the way the coaches want me to and called upon. We'll see here soon if I'm that guy if the team needs me, and if that happens to be the case down the road I'll definitely look back on that moment and know that he did it. Hopefully I'll carry it well."

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