COMMENTARY — Someone asked me what the odds were that a Region 9 team would win all four of the team state championships being handed out Saturday. What a great question, and to be honest, I don’t have an easy answer.
Given recent history in baseball, it seems likely that either Desert Hills or Pine View will have an excellent chance of bringing home the gold hardware. Cedar and Canyon View, the second and third seeds from the region, are not to be forgotten, but with each team losing once last week, their roads are much more difficult. More on that in a moment.
In boys track and field, Desert Hills won region in record fashion and is the defending state champ. DH coach Dace Goulding said his team is an underdog, though, with Richfield showing a strong team this year. The Wildcats, who moved up from 2A in the offseason, won Region 12. But I still like the Thunder’s chances.
In girls track, Park City is the defending champion, but the Lady Miners are down from last year and barely won Region 10 by a single point. Cedar took second last year and has a very strong team again. This could be the year for the Lady Reds. D-Hills should also contend on the girls side.
So, that’s pretty good chances in three of the sports heading into the final weekend of the season. But what about softball?
It’s been seven years since a Region 9 team won a state softball title and seven years before that since a St. George team won it. The past two years, southern Utah didn’t have a team even make it to the last day. There’s no doubt Region 9 teams can put up some big run totals, but the pitching by the northern teams has been key later in tourneys, especially when teams are forced to turn away from their No. 1 starter due to fatigue or other factors. Region 11 has shown itself to be the top region the past few years. Last week, the R11 contingent of Tooele, Grantsville, Stansbury and Bear River went 4-1, compiling a composite score of 63-18 in those five games. The four wins were all mercy-rule shortened games.
So softball may be the weakest link when it comes to getting a Region 9 state title. But Cedar and Canyon View are capable and neither has a loss yet. Snow Canyon, also still alive, has its work cut out for it. In the one-loss bracket after and opening 2-1 loss to Juab, the Warriors stayed alive by beating Morgan 7-6. But SC will have to win seven straight to take the title, a difficult task to be sure.
Of course, we’ll know the answer to these questions Saturday. Check back often on STGNews.com for stories, video, photos and results.
A hearty congratulations to Dixie, which took it’s hot streak all the way to Rio Tinto Stadium and captured the 2014 state title. Coach Burt Myers was the coach of the boys and girls soccer teams this school year for the Flyers, both of which won state. To my knowledge, no coach has ever done that, at least not recently. If any readers are aware of another coach accomplishing this amazing feat, we’d love to hear about it.
It was also an impressive feat to see Cedar in the championship as well, and three of the four semifinal teams being from southern Utah, with Region 9 champ Pine View and Juan Diego bowing out in that round.
This is a tricky topic as rugby is not an officially sanctioned event, but is really gaining a following in southern Utah and throughout the state. And since it not UHSAA sanctioned, the local ruggers don’t play in Region 9. The funny thing is, most rugby coaches and fans don’t want to become an “official” sport in Utah, because with that status comes a whole slew of restrictions and limitations.
“I believe we do a pretty good job of governing ourselves,” said Snow Canyon coach Jay Day, whose team plays in one of Saturday’s semifinal matches against Olympus (the other semi pits Herriman vs. East).
The Warriors, technically a club at Snow Canyon (“like chess club,” Day says), have been very good under the tutelage of Day and Michael Puriri. SC is currently ranked fifth in the nation by one of the top trade magazines.
SC plays the Titans of Olympus at 6 p.m. Friday evening at the University of Utah’s soccer stadium. Herriman and East play at noon. The winners will face off for the Utah Youth Rugby Single School State Championship Saturday at 3 p.m.
3A State Baseball
In the no-loss bracket, or quarterfinals, Desert Hills and Pine View will meet Thursday morning with the winner just two more victories from the state championship. The two teams split a two-game series this year, with the Panthers winning 6-4 at their ballpark and D-Hills capturing a 5-0 win at its home.
With the loser facing a five-wins-in-two-days scenario to come back and win the title, it’s a near certainty that the two teams and their respective coaches will pull out all the stops to try and get a win Thursday. That means the Thunder will throw ace Dylan File and the Panthers will counter with sophomore stud Dakota Donovan. Runs will be at a premium with those two on the mound, but strikeouts should be plentiful.
The other two teams with no losses are Juan Diego and Grantsville. The Soaring Eagle edged Region 9’s second seed, Cedar, 3-2 Saturday night. The Cowboys won their home pod, beating Morgan and Carbon. Canyon View, Region 9’s second seed, was a surprise first-game loser to Carbon, 2-0. The Falcons stayed alive by beating Morgan 3-0, but must win two on Thursday, two on Friday and three on Saturday to win state. Cedar faces the same daunting task, and one of those teams could meet the loser of PV-DH along the way.
Needless to say, it’s a killer road if you lose a game early in these double-elimination tournaments. It is worth noting that Snow Canyon did win three games on championship Saturday last season, though they had stayed in the no-loss bracket until then.
I am proud to say that Devin Dixon and I will be broadcasting all of the Pine View and Desert Hills games as coaches Mike Gargano and Jerry Beck try to win a state title for their schools. For the record, Pine View has won state in baseball (most recently in 2003 with Jonathan Howell as head coach) and Jerry Beck was the head coach at Snow Canyon when the Warriors won the title in 2002.
THURSDAY’S BASEBALL (at Utah Valley’s Brent Brown Ballpark)
Desert Hills vs. Pine View, 11 a.m.
Juan Diego vs. Grantsville, 1:30 p.m.
Carbon vs. Uintah, 11 a.m. (Spanish Fork’s Swenson Park)
Cedar vs. Richfield, 11 a.m. (Spanish Fork’s Swenson Park)
Park City vs. Juab, 1:30 p.m. (Spanish Fork’s Swenson Park)
Canyon View vs Stansbury, 1:30 p.m. (Spanish Fork’s Swenson Park)
The Lady Reds and the Lady Falcons are in good shape headed into the three-day championship portion of state softball at Spanish Fork’s softball complex. Cedar plays a very good Stansbury team at 3 p.m. and Canyon View battles Uintah at the same time.
As for the Snow Canyon Warriors, they’ll play the loser of Payson and Grantsville in an elimination contest at 5 p.m. In fact, the rest of the season is win-or-go-home for SC. The magic number for the Warriors is seven — that’s how many victories are required over the three days for SC to gain that state title.
Track and field
As previously mentioned, the tracksters in Utah will meet up in Provo (yep, all five classifications) for the state track meet at BYU’s Robison Stadium. It’s a very compelling event and one of the few sports in which it is easy to compare the small schools and the large schools. They don’t race against each other, but everything is measured and timed and the numbers don’t lie.
It should be mandatory for every young sports writer to cover this event at least once and for every sports fan to experience it live. It is an amazing example of organization and controlled chaos.
The tentative schedule is included in this pdf (scroll down to pages six and seven).
Also, results will be posted (hopefully in close to real time) on runnercard.com
This Week In Region 9 is written by Andy Griffin and provides a glance at prep sports in southern Utah. Click the email below for submissions and to provide updates from your favorite sports that we might have missed.
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