Getting to know the foes as 4A playoffs down to 8 teams


4A State Quarterfinals (all games Friday)

Game 1
Mountain Crest at Dixie, 6 p.m.

Mountain Crest Mustangs (Hyrum)
Record: 10-1
Region 12 Record: 4-1 (2nd)
Streak: 5 wins
Strength of Schedule (out of 10): 7
2016 Result: Went 3-6, missed playoffs
Current Ranking: No. 4
Points per game: 34.5
Points allowed per game: 15.0
Signature win: 22-21 over 5A Highland
Bad loss: none
4A 1st round: Defeated Salem Hills 44-34
Assessment: MC’s first round win over Bear River was unimpressive, with the Bears pulling to within four late in the game. The Mustangs are one play away from being undefeated and ranked No. 1, losing to Sky View on the last play of the game. MC is decent on offense behind QB Brady Hall (2,567 passing yards, 28 TDs) and a trio of good receivers (Nick Nethercott, Beau Robinson and Cameron Moser. But the real strength is the defense, with Joshua Powell (111 tackles, five sacks) leading the way.

Dixie Flyers (St. George)
Record: 10-1
Region 9 Record: 6-0 (1st)
Streak: 6 wins
Strength of Schedule (out of 10): 9
2016 Result: Lost to Pine View in 3AA semifinals
Current Ranking: No. 2
Points per game: 37.7
Points allowed per game: 18.8
Signature win: 44-30 over 6A Lone Peak
Bad loss: none
Assessment: Dixie played one of its worst games of the year in the first round, beating Park City by 24. But the Flyers made statements early in the season with wins over Springville and Lone Peak and then swept through Region 9. With a healthy QB in Jacob Barben (2,788 passing yards, 35 TDs) and perhaps the best player in the state in RB/WR Hobbs Nyberg (1,783 combo yards, 24 TDs), Dixie has scored 35 or more in seven games (and 42 or more four times). Payden Harrah is also a top-flight receiver and Tyson Fisher is a sack-master.
4A 1st round: Defeated Bear River 44-34
Game projection: These are two pretty good defenses – Dixie 24, Mt. Crest 21

Game 2
Ridgeline at Stansbury, 4 p.m.

Ridgeline RiverHawks (Milville)
Record: 7-4
Region 12 Record: 3-2 (3rd)
Streak: 2 wins
Strength of Schedule (out of 10): 6
2016 Result: Lost to Desert Hills in 3AA quarterfinals
Current Ranking: No. 10
Points per game: 28.2
Points allowed per game: 22.8
Signature win: Beat Bear River 23-21
Bad loss: 42-0 to Sky View
4A 1st round: Defeated Spanish Fork 25-22
Assessment: Good upset win on the road at Spanish Fork in the first round. TheRiverHawks’ four losses were all blowouts, including 42-0 to Sky View. But RHS has a decent running game with QB Brady Stuart and RB Skylar Averett (1,446 yards and 16 TDs combined). But Stuart would rather not throw the ball and averages just 84 yards a game. Ridgeline had a good bounce-back win at Park City after the fiasco at Sky View just five days earlier.

Stansbury Stallions
Record: 7-3
Region 11 Record: 5-0 (1st)
Streak: 6 wins
Strength of Schedule (out of 10): 5
2016 Result: Lost to Desert Hills in 3AA semifinals
Current Ranking: No. 8
Points per game: 34.0
Points allowed per game: 24.6
Signature win: 35-10 over Bonneville
Bad loss: 52-19 to Mountain Crest
4A 1st round: Defeated Cedar 28-20
Assessment: The close game against fourth-seeded Cedar further shows that Region 11 was pretty weak this year. But the Stallions bullied Region 11 (average score 36-15), despite falling flat against good teams like Sky View and Mountain Crest. SHS is all about running the ball with Silas Young (1,237 yards, 19 TDs) and pass for less than 100 yards a game. The Stallions give up way too many yards and points to go very far in the tourney (back in September, Mt. Crest had 510 yards on Stansbury).
Game projection: Someone’s got to go to the semifinals between these two: Stansbury 22, Ridgeline 19

Game 3
Pine View at Sky View

pine view high utah sportsPine View Panthers (St. George)
Record: 8-3
Region 9 Record: 4-2 (2nd)
Streak: 5 wins
Strength of Schedule (out of 10): 6
2016 Result: Lost to Desert Hills in 3AA championship
Current Ranking: No. 5
Points per game: 39.2
Points allowed per game: 16.0
Signature win: Beat Desert Hills 42-14
Bad loss: none
Assessment: It’s hard to ignore the red-hot Panthers, who racked up nine touchdowns against Tooele. The Panthers went from a balanced team early on to a run-heavy squad late in the season. But it works well, with Dallin Brown at QB (940 rushing yards, 20 TDs) and breakaway runner Jacob Mpungi at running back (1,401 yards, 18 TDs). Michael Moten (584 receiving yards, 6 TDs) is a threat when they do pass. Since two losses to start Region 9 play, the Panthers have been as hot as anyone, winning five straight by an average score of 43-7.
4A 1st round: Defeated Tooele 63-14

Sky View Bobcats (Smithfield)
Record: 10-0
Region 12 Record: 5-0 (1st)
Streak: 10 wins
Strength of Schedule (out of 10): 8
2016 Result: Lost to Lehi in first round of 5A playoffs
Current Ranking: No. 1
Points per game: 36.7
Points allowed per game: 13.1
Signature win: 16-13 over Mt. Crest and 33-14 over Springville
Bad loss: none
4A 1st round: Defeated Mountain View 50-14
Assessment: The first round win over Mt. View was merely a practice game. The Bobcats are the real deal, despite losing a chunk of their team to new school Green Canyon. Clearly the best players stayed at SV as the GC Wolves went 3-7 this year. Sky View has balance on offense, running 242 times and passing 199. QB Jackson Siddoway completes more than 60 percent of his throws and has 1,983 yards and 26 TDs. Siddoway and RB Cole Stokes have combined for more than 1,100 rushing yards. But the strength of this team is defense. Led by linebacker Koebe Wilson, the ‘Cats have allowed no opponent more than 22 points all year.
Game projection: Man, what a matchup. Should be a semifinal game at the U … Pine View 24, Sky View 20

Game 4
Desert Hills at Orem, 4 p.m.

desert hills high school sportsDesert Hills Thunder (St. George)
Record: 6-4
Region 9 Record: 4-2 (3rd)
Streak: 2 wins
Strength of Schedule (out of 10): 9
2016 Result: Won 3AA state championship
Current Ranking: No. 7
Points per game: 33.5
Points allowed per game: 23.2
Signature win: 28-21 win at Snow Canyon
Bad loss: 42-14 to Pine View
4A 1st round: Defeated Bonneville 45-13
Assessment: DH’s run game was on full display against the Lakers in round one. The Thunder are not as good defensively as last year’s championship team and are a bit one-dimensional on offense. That being said, they had 5A Jordan beat (up 17 in the fourth quarter) and had four blowout victories. Noah Sewell is the QB, but has run for almost as many yards as he has passed (1,012 rushing, 1,223 passing). The 1-2 punch of Sewell and speedy RB Brock Parry (1,190 yards, 11 TDs) is tough to stop. The DH defense has recorded an amazing 39 sacks this season.

Orem Tigers
Record: 9-2
Region 10 Record: 5-0 (1st)
Streak: 7 wins
Strength of Schedule (out of 10): 8
2016 Result: Lost to Springville in first round of 4A playoffs
Current Ranking: No. 3
Points per game: 38.8
Points allowed per game: 16.3
Signature win: 35-20 over Spanish Fork
Bad loss: none
4A 1st round: Defeated Bear River 36-7
Assessment: An uninspiring win over a four-seed was the first-round result for Orem. The Tigers have one of the top offenses in the state, averaging 38.8 points a game behind QB Cooper Legas (3,273 passing yards, 39 TDs). Puka Nacua is his favorite target, grabbing 68 catches for 1,291 yards and 19 (!) touchdowns. Legas has also rushed for 948 yards and four TDs. But, truthfully, Orem played in a weak region. DH will give the Tigers a test they haven’t seen since early losses to Bingham and Corner Canyon.
Game projection: Slowing down Legas and Nacua will be the key. Desert Hills 31, Orem 30

4A football playoff bracket

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