GAME PREVIEW CAPSULE
Desert Hills (5-2, 2-2) at Snow Canyon (6-1, 2-1), Warriors Stadium, tonight, 7 p.m.
Previous Meeting: Thunder 42, Warriors 0 (Oct. 5, 2012 at Desert Hills)
Broadcast: Triplecast! STGNews.com, CEC-TV (Baja 22), 890-KDXU AM with Devin Dixon and Patrick Blake
Classification: 3AA, South Region
Coach: Carl Franke (2nd year, 13-6 overall)
Offense: Spread, pistol
Last game: Lost to Dixie 27-7 (two weeks ago)
Players to watch: All of the sudden, the pressure is on sophomore QB Nick Warmsley. Early in the year, the 10th-grader handled everything pretty well. But back to back losses and a 3 for 14 game vs. Dixie have turned it up. The defense has still been great (10.7 papg), allowing Dixie less than 300 yards, with LBs Tucker Cowdin and Jake Wagner playing well. Cowdin leads the team in tackles (69) and sacks (6). Braden Reber will likely be an all-stater at DB. He has 6 INTs and covers one on one like Deion. Hunter Staley has quietly had a good year. RB Bridger Cowdin has 573 yards, fourth in 3AA. He had 140 yards against SC last season.
Trend: The 5-0 start is a distant memory for the Thunder, who have lost two straight. Also up in smoke is the region title. Desert Hills looked so good offensively against Cedar and Payson, but anemic the past two weeks. The Thunder had less than 200 yards vs. Dixie and would have had less than 250 vs. Pine View except for a 91-yard catch and run by Bridger. DH scored just two touchdowns combined against PV and Dixie. Again, the defense has kept the Thunder in games. It’s a safe bet that the past two weeks of practice (DH had a bye last week) have been focused on making the offense more efficient.
Classification: 3AA, South Region
Coach: Marcus Matua (1st year, 6-1 overall)
Offense: Single Wing/Spread
Last game: Beat Cedar 29-26
Players to watch: RB Conner Parry seems to be very comfortable running at the QB spot in the Wildcat formation. Parry is tops in the region in rushing with 637 yards despite missing a couple of games. WR Chance Thorkelson is quietly having an excellent year with 263 receiving yards. LB Brady Sargent is really making noise, with a sack and a forced fumble last week to go with his team-leading 62 tackles. Sargent’s forced fumble probably saved the game last week vs. Cedar. Safety Clint gates picked off his third pass last week and DBs Parry and Richmond Anderson both have two interceptions this year. RB Zach Kennedy has 13 TDs — 8 rushing and 5 receiving.
Trend: Snow Canyon isn’t blowing people out, but the Warriors just keep winning. Their average margin of victory during the current four-game win streak is 8 ppg. Snow Canyon’s 21.7 points allowed per game doesn’t sound that great, but it is actually third in the region, ahead of both Pine View and Dixie. Offensively, the ppg average is 31.3 during the win streak. QB Jacob Frei is not going to win any awards this year, but he has done admirably filling in for starter Warner Rigby, who should return soon (perhaps tonight?). SC’s biggest asset on offense, though, is Zach Kennedy.
A year ago, Desert Hills went into the Snow Canyon game with visions of a state title and a chip on its shoulder after a disappointing road loss at Stansbury and subsequently beat SC 42-0. This year, the Thunder have had their confidence shaken with two straight losses, while the Warriors are riding a four-game win streak. So DH will be trying to get its mojo back, and SC should have fire in its eyes and revenge on its mind. Of course, all that goes out the window by the third play. After that, it comes down to execution and talent. This is definitely a great match-up of a powerful SC rushing game against an impressive DH rushing defense. If the game is decided in the teens, DH will win. If it gets into the 20s, advantage Snow Canyon. Incidentally, the top 3 running backs in the region are playing in this game (Parry, Kennedy and Cowdin).
STGnews (record) PREDICTION
Andy Griffin (33-7) — Desert Hills
Darren Cole (29-11) — Snow Canyon
Parry’s spread: DH by 13
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