COMMENTARY — I never liked the term preseason when applied to high school football.
The NFL has a preseason and it is a joke. In the NBA, they call their preseason “exhibition” games. MLB has Spring Training.
I guess I don’t like the term preseason because it implies to me that the outcome doesn’t matter. Anyone who’s been at a prep football game the past three Fridays and watched these young players give their all on the field knows the games matter very much. So I prefer to call the non-league or non-region games.
Of course, if we’re talking about qualifying for the state playoffs, I guess the win-loss record in the non-region games doesn’t matter. Payson went 0-3 in non-league games, but the Lions are 0-0 in 3AA South Region play, just like everyone else.
One thing the non-league slate does provide for us is a glimpse into how good these teams really are. We might get confirmation that a team is excellent, like Desert Hills with their 3-0 record and stout defense that only allowed 9.0 point per game against Orem, Foothill and Legacy. We might find that a team is better than we anticipated, like Cedar with its 3-0 non-region record and impressive win at Skyline.
Other things we learned from the non-region slate:
- Pine View runs the ball more than most people thought they would (the Panthers have 109 passes and 70 rushes so far, a 60-40 pass-rush ratio). Most of those runs are by Pano Tiatia, who is averaging 7.1 yards per carry.
- Snow Canyon and Dixie both have dynamic offenses, but so far have struggled on defense. The Warriors are averaging 30.0 points per game, but have given up 32.7 against Copper Hills, Cottonwood and Juan Diego. The difference is ever more pronounced for the Flyers, who are scoring 35.7 ppg, but allowing 49.0 ppg in games vs. Springville, Lehi and Riverton.
- Hurricane might be the biggest enigma so far. The Tigers hung with Skyline in a 24-14 loss, then beat up Stansbury 28-7, then lost last week to Moapa Valley. The Pirates always have a good football program, but can’t usually compete with the athleticism and discipline of the Washington County 3AA schools.
- Payson looked pretty bad the first to games of 2014, but actually competed with Spanish Fork last Friday. It’s doubtful that the Lions will win a region game, but they put it together just enough last week to make me think that they are dangerous. Teams that leave their “A” game on the bus may get smacked in the mouth by Payson.
The rushing race in region should be fun. DH’s Bridger Cowdin is well ahead of the pack with 436 yards, but the region has some dynamic runners, any one of whom could go off in any game, including Tiatia (335 yards), Jeremiah Ieremia of Hurricane (150, averages 8 yards a carry), Josh Barnes of Snow Canyon (205) and dual-threat Ammon Takau of Dixie (158 yards, poised for big game in non-league tilt vs. Canyon View this week).
In seven weeks, we’ll replace all this region talk with state playoff talk and region will be history. The race TO the playoffs starts now.
This Friday’s 3AA South football games
Cedar (3-0) at Desert Hills (3-0), 7 p.m. (890-AM KDXU and 590-AM KSUB)
Payson at Hurricane, 7 p.m.
Snow Canyon at Pine View, 7 p.m. (Triplecast — TV, radio and internet stream)
Dixie at Canyon View, 7 p.m.
Cedar is hoping to that that next step and become a championship soccer team and the Lady Reds took a big step toward that goal with a 3-0 win at Dixie Tuesday night. Shay Bauman has been spectacular in goal with five shutouts already this year. Dixie didn’t lose a single region game last season.
Thursday girls soccer matches
Snow Canyon at Cedar, 4 p.m.
Dixie at Desert Hills, 7:30 p.m.
Pine View at Hurricane, 7:30 p.m.
It looks like a three-team race at the top, even though it’s early. Defending region champ Desert Hills looks sharp early on, while defending state champ Hurricane has also started well. But don’t forget about Snow Canyon. The Lady Warriors are not far removed from their dynasty and coach Alaina Parker has SC playing well, too.
Thursday night Hurricane hosts D-Hills in the two teams’ first meeting since the Lady Tigers pulled the shocking upset in the state championship match. The Tiger’s Den should be rocking!
Thursday’s volleyball matches
Cedar at Dixie, 7 p.m.
Desert Hills at Hurricane, 7 p.m.
Pine View at Snow Canyon, 7 p.m.
“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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