RMFL GAME PREVIEW CAPSULE
Zion Lions (4-0, 3-0 in League play) at Utah Shock (3-0)
Today at 4 p.m., at Granger High School, West Valley City, UT
Broadcast: ESPN SportsRadio 106.1 FM with Devin Dixon
Previous Meeting: April 19, 2014 — Dixie Rebels 37, Utah Shock 31 in 2 OT. Rebels escape with victory over Shock on their home field. The Rebels had to overcome five turnovers and a 10-point deficit with three minutes to go in regulation. A field goal and subsequent successful onside kick got the Rebels to overtime. After matching touchdowns in the first OT, FS Shawn Mitchell intercepted quarterback Jordan Wager to preserve the victory in the second OT.
Head Coach: Dale Stott (4-0, 12-2 overall)
Defense: Pro 4-3, Nickel
Last Game: Beat Wasatch Revolution 27-21 on April 11, 2015.
Players to watch: It is rare for someone to lead the league in both passing and rushing, but that is what Misi Tupe has done in the first three weeks. He has 714 yards passing and 289 yards rushing through the first three weeks of league play. He has thrown for 11 touchdowns with only 2 interceptions and is second in the league with a 112.9 QB rating. Running backs Sione Tapuosi and Michael Matalolo are also among league leaders in rushing with 146 and 102 yards respectively. Both average more than four yards per carry. Wide Receiver Dalton Groskreutz (10 catches) is second in the league with 258 yards receiving. Brennan Adams (6 catches for 180 yards), Viliami Hafoka (8-165) and Tanner Wood (9-88) are also targets. The offensive line was shorthanded last week, but did not miss a beat. They will be at full strength this week. “I plan on rotating seven guys,” said Coach Dale Stott. “We are that deep and I want to keep them fresh.” On defense, cornerback Trey Smith and linebacker Andrew Misa lead the team in tackles. Defensive ends Vince Feula and Doug Roberts lead the team in tackles for loss. Strong safety Brandon Thompson leads the team in big plays. Free safety Ryne Wall leads the team in deflections. Wall leads the league in kickoff return average, but lacks the blocking support in punt returns. He and Finau Lomu are probably the most talented special teams duo in the RMFL. And Thompson probably gives the Lions the most talented trio in return skills.
Trend: The Lions got a deserved week off after beating nemesis and arguably the other top team in the league, the Wasatch Revolution. They will now travel for the first time to face another undefeated team. Coach Stott says the team will travel everybody this week. The offense showed that they can put up points against a good defense. The Lion defense came up big in the waning minutes against a very talented Charlie Peterson. Expect some big numbers from Wall, Lomau and Thompson in the return game this week.
Coach: Jared Emerick (3-0, 7-7 overall)
Offense: Shotgun, Spread
Last Game: Beat the Davis Vipers 46-8 on April 18, 2015
Players to watch: The Shock are quarterbacked by Jordan Wager, who has played very well this year. Wager has thrown for 13 touchdowns and only one interception. He is third in the league in quarterback rating at 108.1 and thrown for 524 yards. His favorite targets are former RMFL offensive player of the year, wide receiver Sam Thomas. Thomas leads the league in receiving with 16 catches for 264 yards. Receivers Matt Thornton (10-165) and Chris Hooper (7-41) will also be in the mix. George Allums (34 carries for 230 yards) is second in the league in rushing behind Tupe. Defensively, the Shock are led in tackles by strong safety Matt Peterson and defensive end Troy Peterson (2013 RMFL sack leader). The linebacking corps has newcomer Mike Laumua in the middle. Noseguard Austin Hunt is a load in the middle. Free safety Eugene Hess leads the team in interceptions.
Trend: The Shock had the best 1-7 team in history last year. “That is what everyone told us,” said team representative Kyto Khouangrasvongsay. The Shock have not only won their first three games, but they have won convincingly. However, their first three games have come against lesser-rated competition. Their next three games will come against the Lions, Rev and Stealth and will say much more about their team. They have a very balanced offensive attack. They are also very young and fast on the defensive side of the ball. “We have very few college players on our roster,” said Khouangrasvongsay. “We are proud to have several talented local products and we have competed with the better teams over the last few years.”
Even though the Shock are coming off a 1-7 year, they took Dixie to double overtime last year, and swept the Rebels in two games the year before. They have also fared similarly against the same competition as the Lions this year, though that may be a little deceptive. Coach Stott rested starters on both sides of the ball against both the Vipers and the Cobras shortly after halftime when the game was well in hand. It is hard to fathom what Tupe’s numbers would be if he had three complete games under his belt instead of two (one complete against the Rev and two half games against the Cobras and Vipers). Wager is the only quarterback to play for the Shock so those scores likely are the Shock’s starters for the whole game. However, this is not a team to take lightly either. The Lions have to cut down on the turnovers, which they have been better at lately.
Prediction: Zion Lions 45, Utah Shock 21
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