GAME PREVIEW CAPSULE
Hurricane (1-8, 1-4) at Desert Hills (6-2, 3-2), Thunder Stadium, tonight, 7 p.m.
Previous Meeting: Thunder 46, Tigers 38, 3 OT (Oct. 11, 2012 at Hurricane)
Broadcast: ESPN SportsRadio 106.1 FM, with Andy Griffin on play by play
Classification: 3AA, South Region
Coach: Chris Homer (12th year, 86-52 overall)
Last game: Lost to Logan 45-14
Players to watch: Even with the big loss to Logan last week, Hurricane’s rushing game is starting to look like the Tigers of old. The trio of RBs, Jeremiah Ieremia, Tyson Yardley and Cody Lebaron, combined for 165 yards and two TDs. The week before, Hurricane had more than 300 yards rushing. Playing for a team that doesn’t pass much, WR Noah Elison has put together decent numbers with 22 catches for 368 yards and a TD. He also has three interceptions. Matt Olsen leads HHS with 2.5 sacks.
Trend: It’s a five-game losing streak for the Tigers, but the attitude is still upbeat in H-town and why shouldn’t it be? Two of those losses were by less than a touchdown and the Tigers were in the game vs. Dixie and Snow Canyon. Plus, Hurricane is in the playoffs (at worst, a play-in game, anyway), so regardless of tonight’s results, Hurricane has a future to look toward. That said, this young Tigers team has got to figure out a way to get over the hump. With the offense starting to produce, the onus falls on the D now.
Classification: 3AA, South Region
Coach: Carl Franke (2nd year, 14-6 overall)
Offense: Spread, pistol
Last game: Beat Snow Canyon 7-3
Players to watch: Last week say RB Bridger Cowdin reach the 100-yard plateau for the first time since the preseason. He now has 673 yards and nine touchdowns on the season, plus 20 receptions for 228 yards and two scores. He averages six yards a carry. LB Tucker Cowdin averages 10 tackles a game and has six sacks, just ahead of Jake Wagner’s 5.5 sacks. WR/DB Braden Reber has only caught seven passes this year, but averages an astounding 37.3 yards per catch. That’s some fast and furious speed.
Trend: For a lot of DH fans, it didn’t feel like a win against Snow Canyon with only seven points scored. But it was a win, and a big one at that. The Thunder essentially clinched third place and a home playoff game next week against a weak 3AA North team. Of course, there is concern over the offense, which averaged 25.4 points a game during the 5-0 start and has scored just 8.0 ppg in the three games since. One constant remains: DH plays some fierce defense, with only league-leader Dixie topping 20 points on them in eight games. And someone once said defense wins championships.
It looks like a mismatch on paper, but the Tigers have been better lately and the Thunder have struggled a bit. Both teams lost to Pine View by less than a touchdown and Dixie by three touchdowns. Desert Hills is certainly the favorite, especially playing at home. But this game will likely be close. Look for the Thunder to try and establish a dominant running game with Cowdin, Nick Warmsley and Gabe Sewell. The Tigers, obviously, are all about the rushing game. When the wing-T gets clicking, it can be a bit dizzying. But for it to work, the fullback has to have success up the gut. Expect heavy workloads for Cowdin and Ieremia.
STGnews (record) PREDICTION
Andy Griffin (37-7) — Desert Hills
Darren Cole (32-12) — Desert Hills
Parry’s spread: DH by 13
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