GAME PREVIEW CAPSULE
Hurricane (2-9, 1-5) at Pine View (7-2, 5-1), Panther Stadium, today, 5 p.m.
Previous Meeting: Panthers 34, Tigers 31 (Oct. 10, 2013, at Hurricane)
Broadcast: Triplecast! CEC-TV (Baja Ch. 22), STGNews.com, ESPN SportsRadio 106.1 FM, Andy Griffin on play by play
Classification: 3AA, South Region
Coach: Chris Homer (12th year, 87-53 overall)
Last game: Beat Bear River 38-26
Players to watch: You’ve got to hand it to the Hurricane seniors, who held this team together, despite loss after loss at a program that is used to double-digit win totals — guys like RB Cody Lebaron, who had 105 yards rushing vs. Bear River, and QB Adlai Elison who led the team despite a painful hip pointer. Another senior, DB Jack Bussberg had a huge interception vs. the Bears late in the first half, helping the Tigers score two TDs in a 54-second span that changed the game from a 14-9 BR lead to a 24-14 Hurricane advantage. Adlai Elison also had a big second-half INT, as did brother Noah, plus RB Jeremiah Ieremia had three TDs. He had four against Pine View the first time the two teams met.
Trend: Any other year, Hurricane would have missed the playoffs by two spots. But the new order of things has given the Tigers new life. What are they supposed to do, apologize for being 1-9 and give up? Instead, they got on a bus for six hours and then whupped Bear River. This late season surge has put a zip in Homer’s step, especially with PV due up next. The Tigers always compete well with the Panthers (Homer and Hosner have split 12 meetings as head coaches against each other). If last week was HHS’s best game of the year, second place would go to that first Hurricane-Pine View battle in which Ieremia run for over 200 yards. Can the Tigers do it again? Guaranteed, the game plan hasn’t changed : run the ball, run the clock, keep the PV offense off the field.
Classification: 3AA, South Region
Coach: Ray Hosner (13th year, 108-39 overall)
Last game: Beat Payson 32-3 (back on Oct. 16)
Players to watch: The Tigers will definitely be watching WR Jack Bangerter, who burned them for 17 receptions and 268 yards with four TDs. If the Tigers do pay Bangerter extra attention, QB Kody Wilstead will be happy to see the return of WRs Colton Miller and Bladen Hosner from injuries. Plus, Preston Allen and Triston Duran emerged as threats as well. Wilstead passed for a career-high 480 yards in the first meeting with Hurricane. RB Pano Tiatia has played in just five games, but has hit the 100-yard mark three times and has a total of 461 yards (92.2 ypg). DL Xoren Alisa should be 100 percent for the first time in awhile. He will be key against the Hurricane fullback dive.
Trend: Practice, homework, film, school … that’s about it until this week. That’s because PV last played a game 23 days ago (Oct. 16). In truth, though, the Panthers probably needed that time off more than anyone as they had half a dozen starters out with injuries. Most of those guys will be back, so the layoff helped some. Pine View has reeled off four straight wins after the lone region loss to Dixie. No team in 3AA is more committed to the pass than Pine View. Wilstead’s passing yards by game this season (chronologically): 411, 310, 406, 394, 411, 244, 235, 480, 344. He’s thrown at least 29 passes in every game and averages 39 attempts per contest.
Would we be greedy if we asked the football gods for another 34-31 barnburner? History shows that these two teams will give us a great show with the last six PV-HHS meetings being close (three OT games included). The Panthers have been adept at winning close games this year, recording three of their five region wins by a touchdown or less. The Tigers, meanwhile, took two of their five region losses by less than seven points. Both coaching staffs are hyper-aware of their teams’ shortcomings last time around. Hurricane will likely focus defensively on slowing down Bangerter. Pine View certainly will try to contain Ieremia. So it may come down to which team’s other studs step up. For PV, maybe that’s Miller, Tiatia or Bladen Hosner. For Hurricane, perhaps it will be Lebaron, JD Stanworth or Kole Richins. Then again, the best players find a way to dominate, no matter what. Yeah, our money’s on No. 5 (for both teams) being the key to the game.
STGnews (record) PREDICTION
Andy Griffin (43-8) — Pine View
Darren Cole (39-12) — Pine View
Parry’s spread: Pine View by 12
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