ST. GEORGE –The Utah Stealth own the RMFL championship trophy and, make no mistake, the Dixie Rebels want it back.
Saturday the Dixie Rebels will host the Utah Stealth for the championship of the Rocky Mountain Football League. The teams will meet at Walt Brooks Stadium at 7 p.m. It’s a match-up between the past two champions. The Stealth were crowned champions last year, snapping a two-year championship run by the Rebels.
The Rebels were expected to be in the championship game, defeating the lower-seeded Wasatch Revolution 28-3 this past Saturday. The Stealth upset the higher-seeded Utah Shock last week to advance.
The Rebels appear not to be taking the Stealth lightly, however.
“The Stealth is much better than their record indicates,” said Rebel coach Andy Stokes. “They started the year out slowly and barely squeaked into the playoffs. But they appear to be gelling at the right time.”
“We have not been healthy all year,” said Jason Hermansen, Stealth public relations director. “This past week (against the Shock) was the first time that we had our entire starting offensive and defensive lines healthy enough to play. If you look at our season, we have been competitive in every game. A couple of bounces in our direction, we could have won 3-4 more games.”
In two previous meetings this season, the Rebels beat the Stealth on their home field, 21-10, and were also victorious at Walt Brooks Stadium, beating the Stealth 28-16.
“The scores are not indicative on how the games played out,” Stokes said. “At their place we were down 10-0 going into the fourth quarter. We stepped up, had some bounces go our way and were able to get out of there with a win.”
In the second game, the Stealth could only travel with 18 players.
“We will have a few more players this weekend,” Hermansen said. “This is the game everybody wants to see. We expected to play them in last year’s championship. Statistically, these are the top two teams and the teams that should be playing for the championship.”
The Stealth offense is led by the QB/WR duo of Steve Vincent and Sam Thomas. Thomas leads the league in receiving by 13 receptions and over 500 yards over the nearest receiver.
“Thomas is a tough cover,” said Rebels coach Wayne Alofipo. “He does the short, medium and long routes all very well.”
The Stealth defense is led by LB Justin Walker, who leads the league in tackles for loss.
“He is big and fast, and they utilize him well in the blitz.” said Olafipo.
The Rebel passing attack is led by QB Chad Draper. Draper has several weapons at his disposal. Wide receivers Tanner Wood and Brennan Adams and slotback Justin Cummings are among the league leaders in catches and yardage. Balanced by the league-leading running attack of Sione Tapuosi and Chase Loveridge, the offense led the league in scoring.
“Our offenses are pretty similar, both statistically and variability of attack.” said Hermansen. “Both offenses are capable of big games in the air or on the ground.”
The Rebel defense shut down the Wasatch Revolution in the semifinal game, holding them to a field goal.
“Our defense had their best game of the season,” said Stokes. “They shut down a very good offensive team. The Stealth offense will be a good match-up for them. I expect their outstanding play will carry over from last week. “
Prior to the game, from 6 to 7 p.m., Abby Doman, a young local girl who received a heart transplant and has been a cause taken up by the Dixie Rebels, will participate in a book signing at the stadium, outlining her story.
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