GAME PREVIEW CAPSULE
Snow Canyon (7-3, 3-3) at Juan Diego (10-0, 6-0), Soaring Eagle Stadium, today, 4 p.m.
Previous Meeting: Surprisingly, this is the first meeting between the two teams (JD opened in 2000, SC in 1994)
Broadcast: 97.7 FM and 1210 AM, Mike McGary on play by play
Classification: 3AA, South Region
Coach: Marcus Matua (1st year, 7-3 overall)
Offense: Single Wing/Spread
Last game: Beat Tooele 38-9
Players to watch: QB Warner Rigby did all right in his return from injury after six weeks off. He passed for 204 yards vs. the Buffaloes. As has been the case most of the year, SC running game was huge last week as well, with RBs Trevor Horlacher, Zach Kennedy and Conner Parry combining for 291 yards and three scores. Kennedy also had 95 receiving yards. On defense, Horlacher and Brady Sargent had a field day, combining for 33 tackles and three sacks. Parry also had a key block on an extra point. Parry has 800 rushing yards on the year and Kennedy has combined rushing/receiving yardage 1,334 and 15 touchdowns. Chance Thorkleson is second on the team in receiving with 17 catches for 454 yards and 2 TDs, including a 93-yarder last week.
Trend: SC has never lost a home playoff game and Matua was happy and relieved to keep that streak alive last week. It was also a good bounce back win after consecutive losses to Dixie and Desert Hills. The offense struggled in those two losses, but looked pretty sharp vs. Tooele with nearly 500 yards. Certainly having Rigby back creates some interesting speculation. He looked good throwing the ball, but he clearly doesn’t have his speed back from before the injury. Parry will likely continue to be used in a sort of Wildcat offense at certain times during the game.
Classification: 3AA, South Region
Coach: John Colosimo (14th year, 129-29 overall)
Offense: Triple option
Last game: Beat Park City 52-7
Players to watch: Juan Diego’s plan is to cram it down your throat, so to speak. The Soaring Eagle uses a trio of runners, QB Cole Nelson (868 yards, 17 TDs), FB Chase Williams (911, 8) and Jessie Springer (756, 8). Nelson doesn’t throw it much, but he’s effective, averaging 70 yards and a TD a game. he’s only thrown 2 INTs this year. Semisi Bloomfield has been a beast on defense, with eight sacks and 38 tackles from the defensive line spot. LB Springer is also the leading tackler with about five a game. PK Andrew Montoya is excellent with six field goals and 53 PATs this year.
Trend: An undefeated team has a trend of winning, but even more than that, Juan Diego is winning big. JD has scored at least 40 points in half its games this year and the Soaring Eagle’s margin of victory in region games was a whopping 38 points. They’ve only had one semi-close game since the preseason and it was a non-league match-up vs. Springville (the Red Devils were within 41-33 going into the fourth quarter, though the final was 51-33). In that game, Juan Diego did not complete a single pass, though they rushed for nearly 500 yards. All-totaled, JD has rushed for nearly 3,500 yards in 10 games.
The Soaring Eagle had a tougher non-league schedule, but breezed through a fairly weak region slate. SC was just the opposite. So which team will be more prepared for this dogfight? It’s pretty safe to compare Juan Diego to Dixie, Pine View and Desert Hills in talent and skill level. Unfortunately, SC was 0-3 against those teams, though they were close in all of them. With Horlacher and Sargent playing so well defensively, this feels like it will be a low-scoring game, perhaps similar to the SC-DH 7-3 affair. One thing about Juan Diego, they don’t care much about the pass and they don’t care if you know it. They run the ball so well and use the triple option as a sort of passing game. Like the Hurricane teams of past years, JD just wants to grind it out, use the clock and score.
STGnews (record) PREDICTION
Andy Griffin (43-8) — Juan Diego
Darren Cole (39-12) — Juan Diego
Parry’s spread: Juan Diego by 10
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