TWIR9: Football questions that must be asked, plus the start of volleyball

The 3AA South Region season starts in 10 days. Sure, there is one more week of non-region games (see schedule below), but there are some real questions that are begging to be asked. In this week’s “TWIR9,” we’re going to ask those questions. We’ll also take a look at Region 9 volleyball, which starts region play Thursday night. And we’ll also preview the week in girls soccer.

Football

Two games in and as many questions — or maybe more — remain surrounding the 3AA South football teams as region play inches closer. Here’s a question or two for each team, plus who they’ve beaten, who they play next and who they’ll face in their region openers.

Desert-Hills-smDesert Hills (2-0, beat Orem and Foothill; plays Legacy this week; opens region at home vs. Cedar Sept. 12) — The defending state champions won two blowouts and may get another one this week. The defense has allowed just two touchdowns and Bridger Cowdin is averaging more than 150 rushing yards a game. Big question: Is this defense that good, or have the opponents been sub-par? Answer: Orem scored 36 with 450 yards of offense last week on a good Highland, Ida., team (compared to 220 yards and 13 points vs. DH), so I would say that defense is THAT good.

Pine-view-smPine View (1-1, lost to Judge and beat Agassi Prep; plays Lehi this week; opens region at home vs. Snow Canyon Sept. 12) — Last week’s easy win over Agassi Prep was expected, but that loss at Judge Memorial was a surprise. Folks say PV easily could have won with a field goal at the end, but why did Pine View only have 16 points against a team the Panthers scored 38 on last year? Big question: Is Pine View’s storied offense, which set records last year, going to struggle this year without star receiver Jack Bangerter and speedy Triston Duran? Answer: My thinking is that it was just a slow start for a team that has a lot of new moving parts, plus PV will likely pass less this year with Pano Tiatia playing well at running back.

dixie-smDixie (1-1, lost to Springville and beat Lehi; plays Riverton this week; opens region at home vs. Pine View Sept. 19) — The Flyers can score, putting up 79 in two games, with a spectacular Ammon Takau doing an excellent Blake Barney impersonation. But Dixie has given up 85 in those same two games, including 48 to a Lehi team that is breaking in a new offense. Big question: Are the Flyers, who had to replace virtually their entire front seven on defense, going to struggle all year trying to stop opponents? Answer: There’s no way to teach experience — it was to be, well, experienced. So Dixie will likely continue to struggle early to stop teams, but progress as the season advances and those new linemen and ‘backers gain on the job training.

hurricane-smHurricane (1-1, lost to Skyline, beat Stansbury; plays at Moapa Valley this week; opens region at home vs. Payson) — The Tigers opened the season with a 10-point loss to Skyline and, after last year’s 2-10 campaign, looked like it could be another tough year in H-town. But a dominating win over Stansbury has Tiger fans thinking the old Wing-T offense may be back to its old self. Big question: Which Hurricane team will we see this season, the one that gave up 33.5 points a game last season or the one that went to the playoff eight straight years and won the 2011 state championship? Answer: With a defense that features a plethora of speed (Noah Elison, JD Stanworth) and a wealth of strength (Charlie Sefita, Jeremiah Ieremia), this defense is pretty darn good. Skyline put up 45 on Juan Diego last week.

snow-canyon-smSnow Canyon (1-1, beat Copper Hills, lost to Cottonwood; plays at Juan Diego this week; opens region at Pine View Sept. 12) — Like Dixie, the Warriors are struggling to stop people, allowing 70 points in two games. The Warriors have some studs on defense (Brady Sargent, Brock Staheli) and Jake Frei is really growing into his role as quarterback, especially with buddy Chance Thorkleson as his favorite target. But the D right now lacks consistency. Big question: Can Snow Canyon play enough defense to give the team a chance to win in region and can Frei develop a groove with his other receivers as Thorkleson draws double-teams? Answer: As far as the defense, yes, the ability is there, though the Warriors are also having to gain experience as they take hard knocks. As for Frei, he did look to other receivers (especially Jake Rhea)  vs. Cottonwood as Thorkleson got tons of attention.

cedar-smCedar (2-0, beat Grantsville, beat Canyon View; plays at Skyline this week; opens region at Desert Hills Sept. 12) — The jury’s still out on Cedar, which played a weak Canyon View team and what’s looking like a weak Grantsville team. The Redmen have some excellent athletes and usually keep games close with a stubborn defense and hard to stop option offense. Brecken Lewis seems to be the right man at QB with his experience and throwing arm. Big question: How good is Cedar, with nothing to compare them with at this point? Answer: We will find out this Friday as CHS battles Skyline, which narrowly beat Hurricane and blasted Juan Diego. If Cedar can give Skyline a game, we’ll know the Redmen are contenders.

payson-smPayson (0-2, lost to Provo, lost to Salem Hills; plays Spanish Fork this Friday; opens region at Hurricane Sept. 12) — With returnees at most of the skills positions, it wasn’t a stretch to believe that Payson could win a couple of games against teams they battled closely last year. But after a disastrous start in which rivals Provo and Salem Hills have outscored the Lions 61-15, it’s clear there are some big issues at PHS. Payson has only gained about 400 yards in two games and scored just two TDs. Big question: With the 3AA South looking even stronger this year, will the Lions win even one game? Answer: Probably not in region. Last year, their close region games were with Cedar and Hurricane, both of which are better than they were a year ago.

This week’s schedule:

Friday, Sept. 5, 2014
Cedar at Skyline, 7 p.m.
Legacy, Nev. at Desert Hills, 7 p.m. (890-AM KDXU)
Lehi at Pine View, 7 p.m. (TripleCast — TV, radio and internet)
Riverton at Dixie, 7 p.m.
Snow Canyon at Juan Diego, 7 p.m.
Hurricane at Moapa Valley, Nev., 8 p.m.
Spanish Fork at Payson, 7 p.m.

Soccer

The season is well under way with three teams jumping out quick (see related post: Girls soccer: Top teams all score shutout wins; STGNews photo gallery). Dixie is coming off the state championship and will be the team to beat until someone knocks the Lady Flyers off their perch.

This week’s girls soccer schedule
Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014
Canyon View at Hurricane, 7:30 p.m.
Dixie at Snow Canyon, 7:30 p.m.
Pine View at Desert Hills, 7:30 p.m.

Volleyball

Region 9 play begins Thursday night with defending state champ Hurricane hosting Dixie. For those who don’t remember, Hurricane upset heavily-favored Desert Hills in the state championship match last November at Utah Valley University.

This week’s volleyball schedule
Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014
Cedar at Desert Hills, 7 p.m.
Dixie at Hurricane, 7 p.m.
Snow Canyon at Canyon View, 7 p.m.

“This Week in Region 9″ is a weekly column written by Andy Griffin exploring the happenings in Region 9 at all sports venues. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. George News.

Email: sports@stgnews.com

Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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