COMMENTARY — The football season has flown by, with Week 10 and the end of the regular season upon us. Of course, that means the playoffs are looming large. So who’s in, who’s out and where are they going? Let’s take a look at the playoff scenarios:
Pine View (7-2, 5-1) — The current region schedule set-up has the Panthers with a bye in Week 10 for the second straight year. And the current playoff set-up has the top two teams in region earning a first-round playoff bye. And also for the second straight year, Week 9 games were played on a Wednesday due to UEA weekend. So, like last year, Pine View will once again have 23 days between games. The Panthers have clinched a tie for first and will get the top seed if Hurricane beats Desert Hills Friday, or the second seed if the Thunder win. Playoff bottom line: First or second seed, Friday night spectators for a couple of weeks.
Desert Hills (8-1, 4-1) — A win at Hurricane Friday makes the Thunder co-region champs, but their head-to-head win over Pine View would give DH the top seed heading into the playoffs (and an accompanying first-round bye next week). If the Thunder lose to Hurricane Friday, things could get dicey as D-Hills would fall to the fourth-seed if Dixie also beats Snow Canyon. Desert Hills would still get a home playoff team against Uintah or Bear River, but would probably have to play at a decent Stansbury in the quarterfinals. Playoff bottom line: Win Friday, DH is No. 1 and gets a bye, lose Friday and the Thunder play a first-round home game next week.
Hurricane (5-4, 4-1) — A win Friday at home vs. Desert Hills means a co-region championship and a bye in next week’s first round of the playoffs. If the Tigers lose to Desert Hills, they will be the No. 3 seed regardless of who wins the Dixie-Snow Canyon game. Dixie, with a win vs. SC, could tie Hurricane for third place in that scenario, but the Tigers beat the Flyers, so Hurricane would still get the third seed. If Hurricane ends up No. 3, it would likely host a terrible Park City team. Bottom line: Tigers are No. 2-seed if they beat D-Hills Friday and get a first-round bye, but a loss Friday makes them No. 3 and play a home playoff game next week.
Dixie (5-4, 3-2) — Dixie can’t get a first-round bye, but could climb to the No. 3 spot if the Flyers beat Snow Canyon and Hurricane beats Desert Hills. A loss to Snow Canyon would drop Dixie to the fifth-seed, which would send the Flyers on the road in the first round of the playoffs and set up a potential second round game at Desert Hills or Pine View. Dixie ends up fourth with a win and a D-Hills win at Hurricane. Playoff bottom line: A win Friday makes Dixie third or fourth and earns a home playoff game. A loss Friday makes the Flyers fifth and sends them on the road in the first round.
Snow Canyon (4-5, 2-3) — With wins over Cedar and Payson, SC is solidly in the playoffs. If the Warriors defend their home turf against Dixie Friday night, they get the fourth-seed and a home playoff game next week. But if SC loses to Dixie, it will have to settle for fifth, which means a road game next week and a potential second-round road game at the South’s top seed. Playoff bottom line: Beat Dixie for a home playoff game. Lose to Dixie and the Warriors have to hit the road.
Cedar (3-5, 0-5) — Not too many people predicted Cedar would be winless in region at this point, especially after an excellent preseason. Still, the Redmen can get a playoff spot with a win at home vs. Payson Friday night. That would make them the sixth seed and earn a trip to Tooele. A loss to Payson would end a shocking region season for Cedar. Playoff bottom line: Win Friday and Cedar is in. Lose to Payson and the season would reach a merciful end.
Payson (0-9, 0-5) — OK, it’s true that there should be no playoff scenarios for teams that are winless, but this is the way the current system is set up. So, Payson gets the sixth seed if it can beat Cedar Friday night. Given their competitiveness with Snow Canyon and Bear River, it’s possible the Lions give Cedar a game. A loss to Cedar would send Payson to its 12th-straight 3AA South loss. Playoff bottom line: A win vs. Cedar means playoffs for PHS. A loss means no playoffs and an ohfer season.
Pine View (5-1, bye) — 1 or 2 seed, first round bye for 3AA’s top passing team
Desert Hills (4-1, at Hurr.) — 1, 3 or 4 seed, possible bye for 3AA’s top defensive team
Hurricane (4-1, vs. DH) — 2 or 3 seed, possible bye for first-year coach Steve Pearson
Dixie (3-2, at SC) — 3, 4 or 5 seed, home game possible for team with rejuvenated defense
Snow Canyon (2-3, vs. Dixie) — 4 or 5 seed, home game possible for injury-riddled squad
Cedar (0-5, vs. Payson) — 6 seed or no playoffs for Todd Peacock’s squad
Payson (0-5, at Cedar) — 6 seed or no playoffs for tough-luck Lions
It’s worth mentioning that Desert Hills’ Bridger Cowdin is third in the state (all classifications) in rushing yards with 1,320. Pine View’s Kody Wilstead is second in the state (all classifications) in passing yards with 2,790. Both players are tops in the 3AA classification. Bridger’s twin brother, Tucker, is as dominant on defense as Bridger is on offense. Tucker is third in the state in tackles (112) and second in sacks (13.5) in all classifications. That makes him second in 3AA in tackles and first in 3AA in sacks.
And don’t forget about the kicker — Pine View’s Ethan Baer is tied for No. 1 in the state in kicking points scored with 69. Baer also missed one game or his points would be even higher.
Other leaders from the 3AA South:
- After a monster game last week (283 yards), PV’s Pano Tiatia is second in 3AA in rushing with 1,223 rushing yards.
- Hurricane’s Jeremiah Ieremia is tops in rushing TDs with 12.
- Wilstead has 29 passing TDs, first in 3AA by 13 TDs.
- PV’s Blake Ence is tops in 3AA with 9 receiving TDs. Bladen Hosner and Bret Barben are tied for second with 8 each.
- Hosner leads 3AA with 849 receiving yards and Ence is second with 810.
- DH’s Nephi Sewell has 5 interceptions, tops in 3AA.
- Baer leads 3AA in kicking, with Dixie’s McLane Keenan second with 52 points.
Dixie, Desert Hills and Cedar emerged from the first two rounds of the 3A playoffs, giving Region 9 three of the four teams in Friday’s state semifinals at Jordan High School (Juan Diego is the fourth team).
Dixie is the favorite, looking to defend its 2013 state championship. The Flyers battle Cedar at 3:45 p.m. Friday in what should be a heck of a grudge match. Cedar went on the road and defeated a two-seed in Park City Wednesday (2-1), then a No. 1-seed in Payson Saturday (3-0). The Flyers and Redmen split two games this year, each winning on the other team’s home field. Cedar beat Dixie 3-0 back on Sept. 9. The Flyers returned the favor Oct. 2, 1-0.
The other semifinal is a bit of a surprise with two No. 2-seeds battling for the right to play in the state championship. Desert Hills spotted Bear River a 2-0 halftime lead, then roared back for a 5-2 win, despite playing with just nine players after a red card in the first half. DH battles Juan Diego, which finished second in Region 10. The Soaring Eagle eliminated Snow Canyon in a penalty kick shootout and then dominated North Sanpete 7-0. Juan Diego’s only other experience against Region 9 teams was a preseason 3-1 win at Cedar.
The 3A title game is Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy with kickoff at 4:30 p.m.
Snow Canyon had cruised along without losing a match until Tuesday night’s surprising defeat at home to Desert Hills. Even with the loss, the Warriors can clinch first place with a win Thursday night against Dixie. Still, the loss was shocking in that SC had only lost one game all year in region, and that came in a 3-1 victory over Desert Hills at the Thunderdome.
DH, the defending region champ, could still tie for first with a win over Canyon View and an SC loss Thursday. Whether that happens or not, DH seems to be peaking at the right time, with the state tournament beginning next Wednesday.
And don’t forget Hurricane, which will likely end up as a third seed. The Tigers are the defending state champs.
Desert Hills is the odds-on favorite to win the boys cross country title and defend its 2013 title at this week’s cross country meet at Sugarhouse Park in Salt Lake City. The 3A boys run at 2:30 p.m. today with the girls going a little earlier at 1 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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