COMMENTARY – The quarterfinals are here for 3A football and like last year, we have three teams from Region 9 still alive.
Of course, a year ago those three teams, Cedar, Desert Hills and Hurricane, all won their quarterfinal games and advanced to the semifinals. Will that happen again? Well now, that’s an excellent question.
It’s actually a rarity for three teams from the same region to make it to the semifinals. Logic and the facts tell us that for that to happen, two of the teams would have to win on the road.
The No. 1 seed (Desert Hills this year) usually has a fairly easy ticket to the semis, needing two win two home games against a four seed and then a three or two seed. This season, the Thunder whipped Payson and will likely beat up on Bear River as well.
The No. 2 seed (Hurricane this year) has more of a challenge as it gets a three seed at home in the forst round, but then has to play a No. 1 seed on the road, which is never an easy task. This year is a classic example of how tough that can be as the Tigers have to play at undefeated Juan Diego.
The No. 3 seed (Dixie this year) has it tough as well, having to play at a two seed in the first round, then going to play at a No. 1 seed in the second round. Dixie did beat second-seeded North Sanpete, but now have to face undefeated Stansbury.
So, can it be done?
Desert Hills should romp past Bear River, which simply doesn’t have the athletes to hang with the Thunder.
The Hurricane-Juan Diego game should be a classic (Isn’t it always when these two teams get together?). Both teams like to grind it out on offense and fly around on defense. I could see a Koy Gubler interception or an Adam Thompson kick return being the difference in that game.
As for the Dixie-Stansbury game, I really like Dixie’s chances. The game presents such a contrast of styles. The Flyers love to pass the ball and rack up huge offensive numbers behind talented senior quarterback Blake Barney. He has a multitude of weapons to use as well, including Drew Batchelor, Lukas Hildebrandt, Mitch Wilkinson, Tanner Webster, Andy Appel, Dakota Bair, Kyle Hansen and a host of others.
The Stallions, meanwhile, are more like Hurricane in that they want to grind it out, use the clock and keep the other team’s offense off the field.
It’s also a contrast in programs. Dixie High has been around since the early 20th century. Stansbury is in its fourth year. Dixie has played 81 playoff games and won six state championships. The Stallions have played three playoff games and have never made the semifinals.
Most of us following high school football in southern Utah have been saying all year that Region 9 is the toughest in the state. To back up those feelings, at least two of the three teams left need to win this week. I think that will happen. In fact, with a break or two, we could get all three.
Here are some appropriate costumes for this year, southern Utah preps style:
Ghost: Adam Thompson – Now you see him, now you don’t.
Houdini: Ty Rutledge – Truly Region 9’s magic man, he did some amazing things with the football this year.
Superhero: Blake Barney – At times this season it seemed like he was flying down the field.
Miser/Scrooge: Snow Canyon girls soccer team – Allowed zero goals in the state playoffs in four games.
Beast: Jared Edwards – Every time Jared runs the ball into the heart of the defense, Jared’s dad, Chris, hollers, “Feed the Beast.”
Frankenstein: Carl Franke – No explanation needed.
Jack the ripper: Jack Bangerter – See above.
Big Bad Wolf: Brad Wulfenstein – See above.
Energizer bunny: Prentiss Miller – Rushed for over 2,000 yards and just kept going and going and going.
Smurfs: Drew Batchelor and Lukas Hildebrandt – Small, fast and blue.
Vampire: Koy Gubler – Sucked the life out of opposing offenses with his penchant for interceptions.
King: Wes Moeai – Has a lion-like mane and was Homecoming King.
Train conductor – Desert Hills volleyball team – Like the little engine that could, the Thunder kept saying “I think I can,” until they reached the top of the volleyball mountain.
Alien: Bridger Cowdin – Just a sophomore, his skills are already other-wordly.
Mummy: Jesse Lambert – Incredibly skilled at wrapping up opponents on defense.
Freak: Kody Wilstead – Though he suffered through some injuries this season, he is freakishly talented and may have James Lark-like junior and senior years.
Cat: Mitch Phillips – Always seemed to land on his feet.
Greased pig: Mason Smith – When he scrambled, it was fun watching defenses try to get a hold of him.
Sheriff Andy Taylor – That would be me. If you’re older than 30, you know why.
Andy Griffin is a sports commentator. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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