Football fans in southern Utah were hoping for some close games in Week 5 after big blowouts last week and in two of the three 3AA South Region games, the teams delivered. In a contrast of styles, Pine View outpaced Dixie in a shootout and Hurricane survived a trip to Cedar City in a defensive war. Meanwhile, undefeated Desert Hills continues to roll along and Snow Canyon stepped out of league play and battled a tough Ayala High team from Chino Hills, Calif.
STGNews writers Andy Griffin, Darren Cole and AJ Griffin, photographers Dave Amodt and Robert Hoppie and videographers Dallas Griffin and Samantha Tommer hustled around the region to give us this breakdown of Week 5 of the prep football season. Here are our reports:
Pine View 42, Dixie 36
Written by Darren Cole
ST. GEORGE — Pinned deep in their own territory at the 2-yard line and facing a third and 21 due to penalties, the Pine View Panthers held onto a not-so-safe one touchdown lead with 9:56 to play. That’s when most coaches would run the ball to make a little room and then punt it away. Not Pine View.
Panther quarterback Kody Wilstead was flushed out of the pocket and rolled right in the back of the end zone. Receiver Bladen Hosner broke off his route and came back toward Wilstead. The senior QB then pointed up field and Hosner reversed course and Wilstead found him in stride for a 98-yard back-breaking play to put Pine View up 42-28. The lead was enough for Pine View to escape with a 42-36 win.
Wilstead had a night that most quarterbacks can only dream of having. The Panther signal-caller completed 23 of 37 passes for 501 yards and five touchdowns. Eleven of those passes went to Blake Ence, starting for the injured Colton Miller. Ence, a former Region 9 Round Table player of the week, had 201 yards receiving.
“We learned Colton (Miller) could not play earlier this week,” said Wilstead. “Blake stepped in nicely. We are deep at receiver though and I get just as many reps with the backups as I do the starters.”
Dixie quarterback Ammon Takau led a more balanced Dixie attack. Dixie’s offense had 301 yards passing and 243 yards on the ground. But it must have been maddening for Dixie, which chased PV most of the night, never seeming to catch up.
The Flyers did get on the board first when Takau found Bret Barben with a 64-yard touchdown pass. The Panthers answered immediately with a 73-yard drive. Running back Jaden Peterson scored on a 2-yard plunge. And so it began.
After a Flyer turnover, Wilstead capitalized with an 11-yard strike to Ence for seven to give the Panthers their first lead, 14-7, with 3:24 left in the first quarter.
Takau answered with a sustained Dixie 11-play drive. Konner Aitken swept around the right side for a 1-yard touchdown to knot the score 14-14 with 9:29 left in the half.
It took Pine View less than 90 seconds of game clock to regain the lead. Wilstead again found Ence, this time from 20-yards out to go up 21-14.
“In the first half they loaded the box,” said Panther head coach Ray Hosner. “We wanted to play more balanced, but their defense necessitated the huge disparity.”
The third quarter was dizzying as each team punched and counter-punched with big play after big play. What would turn out to be crucial was Pine View receiving the kickoff. Having the first possession with a 7-point lead allowed them to put more distance between the two teams with each score. On the Panthers first drive, Ence took Wilstead’s pass in the flats, slipped one tackle and eluded two others to race 78 yards up the sideline for a touchdown.
Flyer running back Tre Miller then rushed for a 78-yard touchdown on the second play of the ensuing drive to pull Dixie back to within seven, 28-21.
Wilstead then found Hosner for his first touchdown of the night on a 64-yard bomb to put the Panthers back up by two scores, 35-21. Before the quarter would end however, Takau found wide receiver Logan Schweitzer for a 62-yard pass to again put the Flyers within striking distance.
After Hosner scored his second touchdown on the 98-yard TD pass, the Flyers rebounded and scored on their next possession. The drive proved costly however, as Takau was knocked from the game and the Panthers forced the Flyers to use 16 plays and over five minutes of game clock to score. Barben had his second touchdown of the game with a 35-yard reception from backup quarterback Jaden Harrison. Konner Aitken scored the two point conversion with a sweep around the right side. The Flyers trailed 42-36 with 4:10 to play.
With the Panther “good hands” kickoff receiving team in, Dixie elected to kick the touchback and rely on its defense to get the ball back. Pine View ran the ball six straight times for 42 yards and three first downs, forcing the Flyers to use their remaining timeouts. With 1:24 to play, Wilstead knelt down the final two plays to run out the clock.
“For the first time in the game, they did not bring so many in the box,” said Hosner. “Pano (Tiatia) finally got some good yardage on the ground.”
Pine View moves to 4-1 overall, 2-1 in region play. The Panthers will travel to Desert Hills for a rematch of last year’s state championship game next Friday. Dixie falls to 2-3, 0-1 in the 3AA South. They will travel to Hurricane next week.
Stats: PV 42, Dixie 36
Hurricane 13, Cedar 7 (OT)
Written by Andy Griffin
Fifty miles southwest of Cedar City, Dixie and Pine View were running up and down the field like mad men in a perfect example of modern spread football and video game-like scoring. But for the Tigers and Redmen, playing on lush grass in the cool air of Iron County, it was old-school all the way.
With only seven completed passes combined between the two teams and two rip-snorting defenses causing havoc for the offenses, touchdowns were a rare commodity and yards weren’t much more common. Nick McDaniel’s 25-yard sprint to paydirt in overtime was only the third TD of the game, but it provided the winning score for the visiting Hurricane Tigers in this classic Wing-T battle.
“Whenever we play Cedar, that’s what we expect and that’s what they expect,” said Hurricane coach Steve Pearson. “Cedar’s a great team and they’re coached very well and we have to play well to keep up with them. Our defense is extremely stingy right now. Our linebacker corps is second to none.”
The Tigers held Cedar to 197 yards in the game, just over three yards per play. In fact, Cedar had 11 drives in the game and all but one of those ended in frustration. The only Redmen score came midway through the first quarter when Brecken Lewis hit a wide open Dallin Grover on a play-action 16-yard TD pass.
Hurricane dominated the rest of the half, tying the game at 7-7 on a 6-yard TD run by Jake Carr. The sophomore running back, who finished the night with 122 yards on 19 carries, was the workhorse all night.
“I’m a sophomore and I’ve got to work hard to earn my reps,” Carr said. “I think I worked hard tonight. I just go out and push it, work hard and play with brothers and have fun.”
It looked like Hurricane would grab the lead just before halftime, driving down to the Cedar 24-yard line. But Langston was intercepted with 1:14 to go in the half and Cedar ran out the clock to send the game to halftime at 7-7.
The intermission lasted more than a half-hour as the extended Homecoming halftime show was followed by fireworks. Cedar’s administration shut down the stadium lights for the halftime show and it took more than 10 minutes to get the banks of lights back up to a playable illumination.
The Redmen pretty much owned the third quarter, statistically, but turned the ball over twice on downs deep in Hurricane territory.
Hurricane put together a pair of drives in the fourth quarter, but both ended on sour notes. The first concluded with a punt after driving 42 yards. The second, beginning with 7:10 to play, lasted nine plays and covered 59 yards. The Tigers got it down to the Cedar 20-yard line, but fumbled the ball away with 2:21 left in the game. Cedar tried to move the ball late, but ended up punting with 58 seconds left.
In the OT, Cedar gained three yards the first two plays. On third-and-7, Jeremiah Ieremia and Charlie Sefita stuffed Lewis for no gain, bringing up a fourth down situation for the Redmen. Lewis faked a handoff and fired a pass to the left side that was just a bit too far for his intended receiver, with Ieremia defending on the play.
Hurricane then got its chance and McDaniel was not going to be denied.
“Our coaches just told us to give 100 percent effort and if we really want it we’ll get in the end zone,” McDaniel said. “He called Rocket Pitch to the right and I was just like, ‘All right, I’m going to give 100 percent.’ I just saw the hole and I just shot for it and it happened to be my play.”
McDaniel finished with 66 rushing yards on just six attempts. He had also made a big play earlier in the gamer on a fourth-and-1 play on the same Rocket Pitch right.
The game featured a combined 98 passing yards as Lewis was 5 of 15 for 57 yards and Langston was 2 of 6 for 41 yards. The Tigers out-gained Cedar 260-197, but committed three turnovers to none for Cedar.
Hurricane, 3-2 overall and 2-0 in region play, will host Dixie next Friday in a spread vs. Wing-T contrast of styles. Cedar, 3-2 and 0-2, will try and fix its offense during a bye next week. The Redmen are at Pine View Oct. 3.
Desert Hills 54, Payson 7
Written by AJ Griffin
PAYSON — The Thunder took a little while to get their groove on. But when they did, the Lions were helpless to stop the onslaught.
Although, Payson moved the ball well in the first half, PHS was unable to convert against the Thunder in the red zone and fell victim to turnovers and mistakes. DH signal-caller Nick Warmsley threw for 3 TDs and 180 yards offensively, while Tucker Cowdin and Hunter Staley each recorded 3 sacks to lead DH defensively. Staley also had a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
In the first half, DH had its hiccups, but the Thunder defense held stout on several occasions. The Thunder fumbled on their opening drive and set up Payson with a short field at the DH 30. Desert Hills, however, was able to force a turnover-on-downs after Payson fourth down attempt came up short.
“Our team has history of playing well on big downs,” Tucker Cowdin said. “Fourth downs and when the opponent is near the end zone is when we really bring the heat. We were really anxious and fired up and we were freaking out because we didn’t want them to score.”
Desert Hills then stalled and punted before getting the ball late in the first quarter in the scoreless contest. Warmsley found Mason Palmer for a 60-yard strike to draw first blood for the Thunder at 7-0.
Payson responded by putting a solid drive together including an excellently drawn-up screen play from Easton Smith to Dalton Baker that went for 60-yards. Ultimately this drive was shot down after DH forced a fumble that Hunter Staley was able to recover to keep Payson off the board.
Desert Hills capped the ensuing drive again with a pass from Warmsley. He found Bridger Cowdin from 17 yards out to put DH up 13-0. With just under four minutes to go in the half, Warmsley also ripped off a 63-yard scamper to set up another TD pass for the Thunder, as he found Brady Kiser for a 23-yard TD.
Near the end of the half, Payson had the ball twice in the red zone, but was denied both times. Payson nearly scored in the second quarter when they were down, 13-0, but fell short on fourth down again. Later, with the half winding down and Payson down 20-0, it looked as though the Lions would finally get on the board with the ball inside the DH 10 yard-line. DH pressured QB Smith and came away with two consecutive point-saving sacks to end the half by Badge Morris, and Tucker Cowdin respectively.
“Coach Franke had been telling me all week that I would need to have a big week,” Cowdin said. “Coach said that their QB was a great athlete. I owe it to my linemen, though, because they are the decoys, taking the blocks and allowing me to run free and my defensive linemen are the ones taking the hits so I can get free and make the sacks.”
After a few halftime adjustments, the Thunder came out with flair and extended their 20-0 lead to 34-0 and the rout was on. Nephi Sewell brought a punt return to the house from 40 yards out and later Warmsley walked into the end zone untouched from 5-yards out.
“We came into halftime knowing we weren’t playing our best ball,” Cowdin said. “And we came off the bus lackadaisical and complacent. After halftime, we came out fired up and ready to play our best ball.”
Payson finally got on the board in the third quarter when Smith found Dannel Brown all alone in the left corner to make it 34-7. The Thunder responded with a Bridger Cowdin 68-yard kickoff return that set up DH with prime field position. Cowdin later finished the job when he ran it in from 13-yards making the score 41-7.
The Thunder defense scored the final two touchdowns when Gabriel Sewell scored on a 38-yard pick-six and Zak Fuchs scooped Hunter Staley’s forced fumble and ran it in from 12-yards out. With the Lions demoralized at 54-7, DH was able to run out the remainder of the fourth quarter.
“That’s Nephi’s third punt return for a touchdown,” Franke said. “He is dangerous to kick to. We pride ourselves in being multifaceted on offense, defense and special teams and that’s how we beat Dixie last year in the semifinals, with a kick return and a punt return. We work really hard in those things. I told Gabe that they are going to keep trying to hit the tight end on that seam and to be patient and then when a pass was a little high he was able to pick it off. With the ball in his hands he is just as dynamic as the other Sewells and he took it back for a touchdown.”
Desert Hills finished the evening with 367 yards of total offense compared to the Lions 214. Desert Hills also made big plays defensively with 6 total sacks, an interception, and two fumble recoveries.
With this road win, Desert Hills stays perfect at 5-0 and will return home for a huge match-up against rival Pine View. Payson falls to 0-5 and will make the trip south to play at Snow Canyon next week.
Stats: DH 54, Payson 7
Ayala, Calif. 23, Snow Canyon 7
It was a frustrating night for Snow Canyon, which managed just 99 yards of offense against the visitors from Chino Hills, Calif.
The Warriors defense played well, rebounding from a rough outing last week to surrender just 250 yards to the Bulldogs. But Ayala scored on a kickoff return, forced four sacks and two turnovers and generally kept Snow Canyon from gaining any kind of momentum or rhythm in the game.
In fact, the Warriors only had one sustained drive the entire game and it came on the first drive of the game. Snow Canyon marched promptly up the field and it looked like it may be a big night for QB Jake Frei and receiver Chance Thorkelson. The two hooked up for a 27-yard TD pass to open the scoring in the first quarter.
But on the ensuing kickoff, Ayala returner James Carter fielded the kick at the 18-yard line, found a hole and sprinted 82 yards for the tying score.
After an SC turnover, the Bulldogs grabbed the lead for good when Michael Morales hit Jaime Valle from 26 yards out to make it 13-7. The score stayed that way until midway through the third quarter, when Jordan Charles capped a long Ayala drive with a 3-yard dive into the end zone, making it 20-7.
The Bulldogs, 3-1, tacked on a a Brian Papazian field goal in the fourth quarter for the final tally.
Frei went 12 of 31 for 110 yards and an interception. Thorkelson had 77 of those yards on six receptions, but no other SC receiver had more than 15 yards in the game. The Warriors, playing without star running back Josh Barnes, had no rushing attack to speak of. Factoring in Frei’s four sacks for minus-27 yards, SC ended up with a negative-11 yards rushing in the game.
Snow Canyon, 2-3 overall and 0-1 in the 3AA South, will try and get back on the winning track next Friday with a home game against the Payson Lions.
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