Semi-pro football: Logan Stampede comes to town to take on Zion Lions

Logan Stampede (1-2) at Zion Lions (5-0, 4-0 in League play)
Tonight 7 p.m., at the Sun Bowl, St George, UT
Previous Meeting: April 28, 2012 Dixie Rebels 35, Logan Stampede 22 The reigning champion Rebels overcome surprising battle from Stampede. Tight end Andy Stokes scores two touchdowns.
logooHead Coach: Dale Stott (5-0, 13-2 overall)
Offense: Multiple
Defense: Pro 4-3, Nickel
Last Game: Beat Utah Shock 31-7 on April 25, 2015..
Players to watch: The offense continues to roll. Misioala Tupe leads the league in passing and rushing. He does not have to rely on one or two receivers but has several in the stable. Dalton Groskreutz, Brennan Adams, Villiami Hafoka, Tanner Wood and newcomer Josh Ford can all catch, separate and score. Sione Tapuosi and Michael Matalolo join Tupe among league leaders in rushing. The unheralded offensive line is hands down the best in the league in both run and pass blocking. As good as the offense is, they are second fiddle to the defense. The first team D is rarely scored on with the Lions yielding most of the opponents’ yardage and scoring with the second and third teams. Bookend DEs Vince Feula and Doug Roberts wreak havoc in the backfield. Kaleo Teriipaia leads the linebackers. The defensive secondary of Trey Smith, Dom Vargas, Brandon Thompson and Ryne Wall have been outstanding. On special teams the biggest hits of the year have been by Nick Hafen.
Trend: Last week was supposed to be a tough contest on the road against a good team. The Lions won by 24. This week Zion faces a lower-division team that lost to the Davis Vipers (who the Lions crushed by 32 points). The Lions have very few weaknesses. But the most glaring one is the depth at quarterback, not because Rob Nadalsky is bad, but because Tupe is exceptional. Tupe’s only shortcoming in the passing game has been completion percentage. And that is misleading as more than 50 percent of those are attributed to drops. But Stott is good about getting the backups plenty of experience with reps against other teams top defenses. Expect Nadalsky to get plenty of reps the next two weeks.

Stampede_logo_largeCoach: Rob Riddle (1-2, 5-6 overall)
Offense: Spread, No Huddle
Defense: Multiple, mainly 4-3
Last Game: Lost to the Davis Vipers 29-26 on May 5, 2015
Players to watch: Logan is led at quarterback by newcomer Nick Blackmon, a Snow College alum. Last year’s quarterback Mike Jenkins will see his first action this year against the Lions. “Mike had other responsibilities for the first few games,” said Stampede general manager Dan Curtis. “We are going to see both of them today and see who is better at moving the offense.” His favorite targets are tight end Tanner Smith and wide receivers Brennen Alleman and Jesse Yarger. Jordan Smith leads the team in rushing but will be unavailable tonight. Free safety Alphonso Thompson leads the team in tackles and interceptions. The linebackers are led by Will Bruce. The front four of Andrew Espinoza Dan Curtis and the Ausgustus brothers, Dan and Andrew, have been key this year. “They have big boys up front,” said Stott. “Plus they have great athleticism to go with their size.”
Trend: The Stampede have struggled offensively this year, averaging less than 100 yards per game. They are getting ready to face the top defense in the league. They have stayed in most games this year and last against the non-elite teams (Lions, Rev, Stealth and Shock). Their schedule had a brutal beginning with four of their first five on the road. “We will be missing some starters,” said Curtis. “But the last time we traveled to St. George (2011) we only had 20 guys and only lost by a touchdown. We don’t give up. We may surprise some people.”

Let’s not mince words. This will be a blowout. This is not a short road trip for the Stampede, but even if they did travel well, with a full team, they would lose by 30-plus points. And that is only because Stott will have the subs in midway through the third quarter. The Stampede will increase competitively year by year, but this year it will be an accomplishment for them to finish in the top half of the league.
Prediction: Zion Lions 56, Utah Shock 14

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