Game Preview Capsule: West at Desert Hills

GAME PREVIEW CAPSULE

West (0-2) at Desert Hills (0-1)

PANTHERS
Classification: 5A, Region 2
Coach: Keith Lopati (first year, 0-2 overall)
Offense: Wishbone, wingback
Last week: Lost to East 48-9
Players to watch: So far, West’s run-pass ratio is about 5-1. They like to pound the ball with the triple-option. The triggerman for the option is QB Alex Espinosa. He keeps the ball about half the time, so stop him first. When he does give it up, it’s usually to Lorenzo Vaafuti. Senior tackle Mafi Mounga is a beast on the offensive line.
PPG: 9.5
PAPG: 34.5
Trend: Starting with Highland and East is no easy task, but let’s face it, Region 2 will be even tougher. So West, who was picked second or third in the region, needs to step up its play. But making a 300-mile trip and playing in the heat after coming off a tail-whupping by your rival makes a difficult task even harder for the Panthers.

THUNDER
Classification: 3A, Region 9
Coach: Carl Franke (first year, 0-1 overall)
Offense: Spread
Last week: Bye
Players to watch: Ty Rutledge could have a huge night if he can get some protection in the pocket, although he’s a good enough athlete to make things happen on his own. RB Bridger Cowdin, just a sophomore, needs some blocking as well. TE/DE Josh Anderson could be a difference-maker.
PPG: 13.0
PAPG: 38.0
Trend: A bye week after just one game gives us very little to go on. It’s doubtful that West is as physical as Syracuse was. The Titans beat DH 38-13, but the Thunder still had plenty of yards and moved the ball well. Stopping the power game of West will be tough.

GAME OUTLOOK
An ambitious schedule for Desert Hills, featuring two 5A schools to open the season, means the Thunder may take their lumps. But if they can stay healthy, it should bode well for the region schedule. The mindset of West will be hard to figure. Long bus ride, hot weather, shaken confidence – these are all things that could hurt the Panthers and, consequently, help the Thunder.

STGnews PREDICTION
Andy Griffin — Desert Hills
Jeff Ames — West

Twitter: @STGnews

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