‘They came out swinging and we never recovered,’ Snow Canyon beats Cedar on senior night

ST. GEORGE — Cedar and Snow Canyon were battling for the fourth place spot in Region 9 and the possibility of a home playoff game. With those playoff implications on the line, Snow Canyon came out to play on their senior night.

It seemed like everything was going Snow Canyon’s way.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Bennett said. “From play one, just kind of a snowball effect. Occasionally we have games like that. I haven’t had a game like that as a head coach in four years, so it’s a good learning opportunity for me. We’ll come back Monday and we’ll bounce back.”

Snow Canyon head coach Mike Esplin was genuinely surprised with how the game went.

“Not at all what we expected,” Esplin said. “We played really well, and also had breaks, which is what you pray for. Everything did come together.”

The Warriors scored first on a Landon Frei five-yard rush, and they didn’t look back from there. They scored three unanswered touchdowns, the Frei run, a Stone nine-yard run and a Warner pick six.

Warner, a senior, celebrated by dunking the ball through the uprights after he crossed the goal line. The game had a loose feel for Snow Canyon.

Turnovers had a major effect on the game, as Snow Canyon capitalized on Cedar’s mistakes. Bennett said the Warriors took advantage of their mistakes, and they were unable to recover.

Cedar at Snow Canyon, St. George, Utah, Oct. 4, 2019 | Photo by Ryne Williams, St. George News / Cedar City News

“We practice for it,” Esplin said. “Everyday we have turnover sessions. How you practice is how you play. This week we practiced great, and we played great.”

Landon Frei looked poised in the pocket, with plenty of time to make decisions. He did just that, and made the right decisions, finishing the night 7-7 with three passing touchdowns. One of them was a 62-yard bomb to Cole Warner, who had an impact on both sides of the ball.

Frei was shocked to find out he was a perfect 7-7 on the night.

“Really,” Frei said. “Wow, I didn’t know that. That was awesome. I credit the receivers because they found ways to get open tonight. That wasn’t all just throwing the ball, that was all receivers tonight. I came into this week and we had good practices, so I think it just transferred to the game.”

Esplin said he expected this out of his quarterback, and saw him find his rhythm.

“This is what we kind of expected. His rhythm kept getting better, and when you’re doing a lot of option things and you’re making a lot of decision, it takes time to make the right one often,” Esplin said. “He’s been getting better, and better, and better every week.”

Cedar at Snow Canyon, St. George, Utah, Oct. 4, 2019 | Photo by Ryne Williams, St. George News / Cedar City News

Cedar broke through with 37 seconds left in the first quarter on a Kas’n Crandall 38-yard pass to Kolby White, making it 21-7, but that was the Reds lone touchdown of the night.

The difference for Snow Canyon this week was the fact that they didn’t let up on Cedar like they did last week against Crimson Cliffs.

“We talked about specifically and that was a huge point,” Esplin said. “We can’t score 21 and be calm, let them claw back in, you have to fight. Let’s make sure we stop them. A lot of it was momentum, a lot of it was we were just in a groove, and this is the time of year that we need to stay in that groove.”

The Warriors scored four more touchdowns in the second quarter, and that proved to be it for the game.

Snow Canyon added one more touchdown, a 36-yard pass from Frei to Anderson, while Cedar kicked a late field goal, with the final being 55-10.

Senior Brock Nowatzke returned from injury on his senior night and looked great on defense.

“It feels awesome, just hitting people again feels great. After being out for so long I missed it so much,” Nowatzke said. “It was huge. This is really what we needed for the team. It’s going to help us for the rest of the season, just rolling on.”

Cedar at Snow Canyon, St. George, Utah, Oct. 4, 2019 | Photo by Ryne Williams, St. George News / Cedar City News

For Cedar, they just didn’t come ready to play, and this is something Bennett focused on. If the Reds can get a victory next week at home against Crimson Cliffs, they could possibly get a home playoff game.

Next week, the Warriors will play against Canyon View, and that will be an important game for the Warriors.

“We do have to play Canyon View next week, and that’s going to be a big game because that’s what the momentum will carry into the playoffs,” Frei said. “Tonight was a little laid back because it was senior night, so it was all fun, but we have to lock in this week.”

With the win, Snow Canyon is now in fourth place and 11 in the Class 4A RPI rankings. No one has these RPI rankings down completely, but it’s looking like Snow Canyon will host a playoff game if they close out the season with a win against Canyon View.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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