GAME PREVIEW CAPSULE
Hurricane (1-9, 1-5) at Bear River (7-3, 4-2), Bears Stadium, today, 5 p.m.
Previous Meeting: Tigers 42, Bears 10 (Playoffs first round, Oct. 28, 2005 at Hurricane)
Classification: 3AA, South Region
Coach: Chris Homer (12th year, 86-53 overall)
Last game: Lost to Desert Hills 32-10
Players to watch: All eyes will be on QB Adlai Elison, who left last week’s DH game with an injury. He will play, but is only about 80 percent, according to Homer. The passing game has to be a threat or the Bears will put nine in the box. If RB/LB Jeremiah Ieremia can play ironman football, the Tigers are a better football team. WRs Jay Williams and Noah Elison made some nice catches last week. They’ve got to step up again this week. Noah Elison also leads the team with three interceptions. The Bears average 30 pass attempts a game, so the Elison brothers and the other defensive backs will have their hands full.
Trend: Never has a team been more gratefull for region to end and the playoffs to start. Hurricane had some close losses in region and a couple of not-so-close losses. But the old cliche, “Everyone’s 0-0 now,” is huge for a team that has been in every game, but hasn’t been able to finish. The Tigers have lost six straight, but have to be encouraged with their performance against Pine View and in the first half vs. Desert Hills. It’s been a vicious cycle for HHS: Offense struggles, puts defense in bad situations, other team scores, offense struggles again, etc.
Classification: 3AA, North Region
Coach: Chris Wise (12th year, 75-59 overall)
Last game: Beat Uintah 32-27
Players to watch: QB Jardee Nessen has passed for 2,486 yards and 23 TDs this season. His favorite targets are WRs Colton Jensen (46 catches, 1,027 yards and 6 TDs) and Cole Fronk (25-423-6) and running back Taylor Lund (27-305-4). Nessen has also rushed for 8 TDs. RB Jeremie Selman is the top Bears rusher with 722 yards and 10 TDs. Defensively, McKade Mitton has had a monster year, with 133 tackles, 4.5 sacks and an interception. Fronk and Tanner Porter have combined for nine INTs.
Trend: Bear River went into the year with high hopes of competing with the big boys in the 3AA North, but lost badly to Juan Diego (45-13) and couldn’t keep up with Stansbury (34-22). After that 1-2 start in region, the Bears feasted on Payson, Park City and Ben Lomond, teams that have a 4-26 combined record. BR then finished the year with a closer than expected 32-27 win vs. Uintah. The Bears have topped 60 twice and have scored at least 40 in six of 10 games this year.
Battling a painful hip pointer, Adlai Elison may well be the key to this game. Besides his QB skills, he is also one of the Tigers best defensive backs, which is key vs. a pass-heavy Bear River team. It’s very telling that prep expert Nolan Parry is favoring the 1-9 Tigers by a touchdown. The sixth-place team from the South shouldn’t be favored over the third-place team from the North, should it? The Tigers are battle-tested and have a lot of pride. The Bears will try and throw it, a lot. If Hurricane can execute its game plan — run the ball and the clock — it should be a great game.
STGnews (record) PREDICTION
Andy Griffin (40-7) — Bear River
Darren Cole (35-12) — Hurricane
Parry’s spread: Hurricane by 6
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