ST. GEORGE – Semipro football can be a cruel mistress, sometimes bringing a high level of football and other times teams struggling to be able to get enough bodies on the field just to compete.
In Saturday night’s regular-season finale for the Zion Lions (8 p.m. against the Utah Wildcats at the Dixie Sunbowl), Zion coach Dale Stott is calling for all hands on deck. The Lions are hurting.
“It should be interesting this week, especially on offense,” Stott said. “I’ve never entered a game without a starting quarterback or running back – or their backups.”
That’s right, the Lions will be without starting quarterback Josh Ford (injury, out for the season), starting running back Sione Tapuosi (suspended for one game), backup quarterback Misi Tupe (coaching commitments elsewhere), backup running backs Rimo Mapu (injury) and Matt Feula (other commitments) and starting slot Bailey Glass.
“It’s going to be interesting,” Stott said. “But the defense is mostly intact, so our game plan is to rely on our defense and run the ball. If we can keep from turning the ball over on offense, we should win.”
With the exception of Ford, most of the missing players will be back for what Stott hopes will be another playoff run to the championship game, but the Lions have to get to that point first.
The QB spot will be filled by two guys – AJ Martinez is a passer who doesn’t run much and Michael Matalolo is a runner who doesn’t pass much. Martinez has had more reps in practice and will likely start, but with a run-based offense, Matalolo should see time early on.
At running back, Stott said Matt Mitchell, who played in the Arena League as a slotback, will see time, as will Viliami Hafoka, who was a running back at Pine View High School, but has not played the position for years.
“Hey, it could be an unmitigated disaster,” Stott said. “I don’t think it will, but you never know. The Wildcats are battling for a playoff spot, so they’ll be ready.”
The Utah Wildcats are 3-4 and will likely miss the playoffs of they lose today. The ‘Cats gave the league-leading Wasatch Revolution a game earlier in the year (31-22), but are coming off a 30-12 loss to the Vegas Trojans.
The Wildcats, based in Layton, are led by quarterback Jordan Hernandez (855 passing yards, seven TDs) and running back Kingsley Moungaloa (350 rushing yards, four TDs).
For the Lions, a win would mean a bye week next week in the first round of the playoffs. That would be huge for a team faced with mounting injury problems. Zion, 5-2, would host a semifinal game in two weeks if the Lions can beat the Wildcats.
A loss today would put Zion into a first-round game against perhaps the Wildcats or the Brigham Sting. The Sting handed the Lions one of their two losses this season.
The RMFL Big 9 South Conference championship is June 25 and will likely be at Weber State University (Zion could host if the Revolution lose in the playoffs).
This week’s RMFL B9 South games
Wildcats at Lions @ 8 p.m.
Trojans at Vipers @ 4 p.m.
Hawks at Sting @ 4 p.m.
Raiders at Revolution (Raiders have folded, Rev win 2-0 on forfeit)
RMFL B9 South Standings
1. Wasatch Revolution 6-1
2. Zion Lions 5-2
3. Vegas Trojans 5-2
4. Utah Shock 5-3
5t. Davis Vipers 3-4
5t. Utah State Wildcats 3-4
5t. Brigham Sting 3-4
8. Vegas Hawks 2-5
9. Las Vegas Raiders 0-7
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