The footballs were flying around the yard Friday night — even in Hurricane — on the final Friday before the 2014 prep football season begins as teams scrimmaged in front of fans and prepared for their first-game opponents.
It’s no secret that Pine View is going to pass the ball, returning one of the most prolific passers in Utah state history, and it showed in the Panthers’ scrimmage with Kody Wilstead hooking up with a veteran receiving corps led by Colton Miller and Bladen Hosner. But Hurricane and Snow Canyon, two teams that historically have run the ball a majority of the time, also aired it out at their final scrimmage of the summer.
“We do work on the passing game, contrary to popular belief,” Hurricane head coach Steve Pearson said. “We do throw it when we have to and sometimes when we want to.”
The Warriors look for more balance this season with new offensive coordinator Tim Nowatzke and veteran quarterback Jacob Frei.
“I thought our passing game looked really good,” SC head coach Marcus Matua said. “Jake has a great command of the offense and he is a natural leader. We’re going to be able to mix it up a little more this year.”
Over at Pine View, Wilstead looked comfortable as he ran the spread with Miller, Hosner, Blake Ence and Preston Allen cutting the new Panther Field into ribbons. Pano Tiatia, PV’s starting running back, will be around for the full season after missing more than half the year last year as a junior boxer representing the United States in international competition in the Ukraine. Instead of splitting time with football and boxing, Tiatia will be splitting time between offense and defense.
“You look at Pano Tiatia and what he’s able to do,” PV head coach Ray Hosner said. “He’s starting on defense for us. he’s starting at running back for us. The kid is a playmaker. You watch him in the scrimmage and he’s spinning and making cuts and doing all sorts of things. To have that on the field at all times, you just never know when he’s going to break it.”
Hurricane has narrowed its starting quarterback competition down to two candidates, senior Kaden Langston and junior Cole Stratton. Both showed lively arms at the scrimmage, with Pearson even breaking out a little bit of spread offense on certain occasions.
“Langston and Stratton took equal reps tonight,” Pearson said. “They both did some great things … they’ve been neck and neck in practice the last couple of weeks and we’ve got a tough decision coming up for Friday.”
The Tigers open the season next Friday with a home game against 4A Skyline, a perennial powerhouse from the east side of Salt Lake Valley.
Snow Canyon also opens at home as the Warriors will battle 5A Copper Hills next week.
“We learned a lot of things this week and at tonight’s scrimmage,” Matua said. “We had a lot of miscues with alignment and assignments — a lot of penalties. But those are things we can identify on film and address with the players. We’ll be ready for Copper Hills next Friday.”
Pine View, which opens on the road at Judge Memorial next week, is hoping to move the ball with great efficiency.
“I feel great,” Hosner said. “We’ve worked hard the past couple of weeks. You never know for sure until you play an opponent and see. You’ve just been hitting each other.”
Cedar also scrimmaged Friday evening in anticipation of next week’s opener at home against Grantsville. Payson scrimmages Saturday at 7 p.m. as they open the season next week at home vs. Provo. Dixie and Desert Hills, neither of which scrimmaged this weekend, also open next week. Dixie is home vs. Springville and Desert Hills is at Orem.
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