COMMENTARY — The 3AA South Region football season kicked off Friday with some fireworks and a couple of surprises. That other kind of football, soccer, begins region play tonight with the rest of the region trying to catch up with the amazing Dixie Flyers, who went 11-0-1 in Region 9 last season en route to the 3A Championship.
Desert Hills, picked by the coaches to win the 3AA South in football, started their state title defense in fine fashion, beating up on Orem on a soggy Friday night in Pleasant Grove. Bridger Cowdin rushed for 155 yards and two TDs and looks even faster and more athletic than he was during his 1,000-yard junior season. Insiders say to watch out for sophomore running back Nephi Sewell as well. The 5-11, 180-pounder had 70 yards on just eight carries against the Tigers — a whopping 8.8 yards per carry.
Snow Canyon also opened the year with a win, beating Copper Hills 42-35 in overtime. Receiver Chance Thorkleson was electric, catching nine passes for 247 yards and four touchdowns, including the game-winner in OT. Thorkleson and QB Jake Frei seem to have a telepathic connection. Thorkleson was our Region 9 Round Tableplayer of the week. We also saw the explosiveness of junior running back/linebacker Josh Barnes, who rushed for 54 yards and matched that number with an interception return for a touchdown.
Cedar was the only other winner from the 3AA South in Week 1. The Redmen avenged last year’s 21-7 loss to Grantsville by rallying for a 20-16 win over the Cowboys. Cedar’s triple option offense lives and dies with the quarterback and Brecken Lewis was good enough to help CHS get the job done. The senior rushed for 97 yards, including a 1-yard plunge in the fourth quarter that capped a big rally. Cedar had trailed 16-7.
Pine View lost a close one to Judge Memorial as the Panthers just missed a field goal in the closing seconds of an 18-16 loss. PV had plenty of offense, racking up 393 yards, including 110 receiving yards from Preston Allen. The Panthers missed a lot of opportunities in the game, losing two fumble, failing on fourth down three times and letting the clock run out in the first half at the Judge 14-yard line. Even with all that, Pine View still had a chance to win, but a field goal try with 16 seconds left sailed wide. Judge is no slouch, returning as the defending state champ in 3A.
Dixie also squandered some opportunities and lost to Springville 37-30 despite a spectacular day from Ammon Takau. The senior quarterback had 283 passing yards and ran for 73 more. After a McLane Keenen 42-yard field goal, the Flyers led 30-29 late in the game. After a defensive stop, Dixie had the ball near midfield with just under four minutes to play. A couple of first downs would have iced the game, but a penalty and two losses forced a punt and the Red Devils responded with the game-winning drive.
In Hurricane, the Tigers were within 21-14 late in their ballgame with Skyline. But the Eagles took over with 6:24 left to play and ran nearly five minutes off the clock. The 13-play drive ended with a field goal with 1:31 to play and essentially clinched the game. Hurricane was outgained in the game, but did some nice things with only one turnover and a couple of good drives. The biggest problem was that the Tigers were abysmal on third down, converting just 3 of 18 of them.
Payson also dropped it opener. The Lions moved the ball pretty well, but managed just a single touchdown. Preston Little had over 100 yards receiving, but perhaps the most impressive number was put up by middle linebacker John Harmon, who record 18 tackles against the Provo Bulldogs in the 19-8 loss. Little had 10 tackles of his own.
But there’s no time to celebrate victories or mope about losses as all seven 3AA South teams are in action again this Friday. Here’s the rundown:
3AA South Week 2
Canyon View at Cedar, 7 p.m.
Cottonwood at Snow Canyon, 7 p.m. (TripleCast)
Dixie at Lehi, 7 p.m.
Parowan at Diamond Ranch, 7 p.m.
Stansbury at Hurricane, 7 p.m. (890-Am KDXU)
Pine View at Agassi Prep, 8 p.m.
Desert Hills at Foothill, Nev., 8 p.m.
In soccer, Dixie opens up its title defense at Hurricane tonight. The Tigers finished in last place a year ago, so it looks like a mismatch. But high school sports has so much turnover year in and year out that you never know. The Lady Flyers beat Hurricane twice last season by identical 3-0 scores.
Cedar was the runner-up in region last season and will start tonight with a road game at Desert Hills. The Lady Reds went 9-3-0 in region in 2013 and eventually lost to Juan Diego 1-0 in the state semifinals. The Lady Thunder were 5-5-2 in Region 9 a year ago, losing to Bear River 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs.
Also tonight, Snow Canyon hosts Canyon View. The Warriors were third in region last year, going 6-4-2. SC knocked off higher-seeded Ben Lomond in the first round of the playoffs last year, but lost to Juan Diego in the state quarterfinals. Canyon View was sixth in region last year with a 2-8-2 record, though the Lady Falcons did force a tie with SC last October.
Volleyball starts region play a week from today with Hurricane looking for a 3A repeat. The Tigers upset Desert Hills in the state championship match.
“This Week in Region 9” is a weekly column written by Andy Griffin exploring the happenings in Region 9 at all sports venues. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. George News.
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