With three weeks of preseason under their belts, Friday night’s games felt a little more … intense. That’s because these games were the real deal, the 3AA South Region-openers for six of the seven teams. The playoff race has officially begun.
Surprisingly, none of Friday night’s contests were especially close, with the home teams romping to big early leads and cruising to the final gun. STGNews writers Andy Griffin and Darren Cole, photographers Dave Amodt and Robert Hoppie and videographers Dallas Griffin and Samantha Tommer hustled around the region to give us this breakdown of the first night of region play. Here are our reports:
Desert Hills 45, Cedar 7
Written by Darren Cole
ST. GEORGE – Two teams entered this battle undefeated. One came away with a satisfying Homecoming win. The other left with a lot of questions after a terrible defeat.
The Thunder took the first possession of the game and scored quickly on a Nick Warmsley 39-yard touchdown pass to Stetson Wood. On the ensuing possession, the Redmen went backwards and on a fourth and 13, the snap from center went over the Redmen punter’s head and out of the end zone for a safety.
The resulting free kick set up another Thunder touchdown, this time a Cody Ricketts sweep around the left side. After one quarter, Desert Hills led 15-0. In the second quarter, the Redmen defense got a heavy dose of Bridger Cowdin. The senior running back sandwiched a Christian Cottle 39-yard field goal with two touchdown runs. The first was a 2-yard plunge. The second was a 71-yard run that saw Cowdin break two tackles and reverse direction twice before sprinting 60 yards to paydirt.
Despite the Cowdin theatrics, the star of the first half was the Thunder defense, holding Cedar to only 22 first-half yards.
“We stayed disciplined and hit our assigned gaps,” said Thunder senior defensive lineman Ethan Del Toro. “They run a lot of inside and misdirection. We were prepared.”
The Redmen finally got on the board when Brock Oldroyd ran off-tackle untouched for 89 yards in the third quarter.
“We had some defensive breakdowns,” said Franke. “But they were few. The defense played very well against a good team tonight.”
The Redmen were unable to sustain any other drives beyond one first down the rest of the night. Linebacker Hunter Staley played his first complete game after having had surgery to repair his knee.
“It was good to get back,” said Staley. “I played a little last week, but to be out there and be making a difference on this great defense we have was great.”
Warmsley and Cowdin added two more big plays for touchdowns. Warmsley ran for 40 yards and a score in the third. Cowdin added a 54 yarder in the final stanza.
For the game, Cowdin had 284 yards on 18 carries. Warmsley had 153 yards through the air, completing 8 of 13 passes with one touchdown and two interceptions. For the Redmen, Oldroyd carried the ball 21 times for 149 yards.
Tucker Cowdin led the DH defense in tackles with 13. Del Toro and Staley had eight tackles apiece.
Desert Hills will take its undefeated record to Payson next week. The Cedar Redmen will host Hurricane, who beat Payson tonight 45-20.
Stats: Thunder 45, Redmen 7
Highlights produced by Samantha Tommer
Pine View 59, Snow Canyon 28
Written by Andy Griffin
ST. GEORGE — It was a game that was a blowout. And then it wasn’t. And then it was again.
The Panthers built a 38-0 lead, allowed Snow Canyon to within 45-28, then closed out the game with a pair of TDs to seal the deal.
“Snow Canyon is a good football team,” PV coach Ray Hosner said. “That team, you can’t give them any momentum. You give them a little momentum and now, all of a sudden, they’re back in the game. We had to step on the gas pedal again to try and get the momentum back.”
Pine View had built that lead with the perfect combination of smothering defense and pinpoint offense. The Panthers gained 379 yards in the first half and allowed just 44 yards until the final minute of the second quarter. With the ball and that big lead, QB Kody Wilstead ran on an option-read play and gained 12 yards, but fumbled the football. Snow Canyon recovered at the PV 27 and scored in four plays with just seconds left until halftime, cutting it to 38-7 at the break.
Though the win was not likely in danger, the Panthers definitely lost some steam with the turnover.
“I fumbled. It was bad. I shouldn’t be making mistakes like that,” Wilstead said. “Especially as a senior, I need to play perfect and that wasn’t perfect. We let them score and gave them momentum coming out and I blame me for the points they scored.”
Where there was no room to run or pass in the first half. the Warriors found a sliver of hope in the second. In fact, Sam Slivers helped lead a bit of a comeback for SCwith a 33-yard TD grab off a Jake Frei pass that made it 38-14.
Pano Tiatia momentarily stemmed the tide with a 1-yard dive early in the fourth quarter to push the lead to 45-14. SC countered with back to back scores on TDs by Frei (a 4-yard run) and TJ Taimi (a 37-yard pass from Frei) to pull within 45-28 with 3:57 to play.
Pine View put the game away with a pair of TD hookups between Wilstead and Bladen Hosner. The first came on a 30-yard throw that Hosner snagged from high in the air at the back of the end zone, deftly tapping his toes down in bounds with 3:24 left. After a Warriors turnover, Hosner scored again as he was wide open on a 40-yarder from Wilstead with 1:44 left.
“Coach said at halftime that we’ve got to come back with full momentum,” Bladen Hosner said. “Hundred percent, hundred percent. That’s just how we’ve been taught.”
In the first half, Pine View had the ball on seven possessions. The Panthers scored on six of those with the Wilstead fumble being the seventh. On the six scoring drives, PV went 76, 46, 60, 75, 44 and 63 yards. During that same stretch, Snow Canyon had five punts and an interception.
“Our defense was great,” Bladen Hosner said. “They might be small, but they don’t give up. They fly around. They hit people. It doesn’t matter what they do.”
Along with the 87 points, the game featured 933 yards of offense and 42 first downs. Wilstead alone had 388 passing yards and Tiatia rushed for 164 yards and a TD. Bladen Hosner had 169 yards on 6 receptions, with 3 TDs. Blake Ence had his second straight 100-yard game with 127 on 6 catches as PV ended with 604 yards of total offense. Steve Bangerter also caught two TD passes in the game.
Snow Canyon got some good play out of Slivers, who had 47 rushing yards and 69 receiving yards. Frei was 16 of 34 for 196 yards and two scores.
PV, 3-1 overall and 1-0 in region, plays at Dixie next Friday. SC, 2-2 and 0-1, has a region bye and plays a non-league game vs. Ruben S. Ayala from California.
Stats: Pine View 59, Snow Canyon 28
Highlights produced by Dallas Griffin
Hurricane 45, Payson 20
Written by Andy Griffin
HURRICANE — First-year Tigers coach Steve Pearson said his team grew up a lot with last week’s loss at Moapa Valley and it showed against Payson Friday night.
After squandering a 14-0 lead against the Pirates, eventually falling 28-14, Pearson said his Tigers needed to learn how to play a complete game.
“It was good to have this in contrast to last week,” Pearson said. “We wanted to compete for a full four quarters, not just two. Last week, we played like this in the first half, but not the second. Tonight, we did a good job in all three phases of the game.”
Jeremiah Ieremia had 98 rushing yards and a TD, and was also a disrupting influence from his linebacker spot on defense.
“Our linebacking corps played a really good game tonight,” Pearson said. “We’ve really had four solid games from our defense. The Ieremia brothers (Jeremiah and Quando) had some great stops against a pretty good Payson offense.”
The Tigers opened the game in typical Hurricane fashion, with a defensive stop and then a nearly eight-minute drive that ended with a Cole Stratton 23-yard field goal.
After another Payson punt, Hurricane possessed the ball for four more minutes, with Jeremiah Ieremiah taking it into the end zone for a 4-yard TD run making it 10-0 with 8:57 left in the half. Payson momentarily got up off the mat with a 7-yard TD pass from Easton Smith to Preston Little that capped a 10-play, 80-yard drive. That made it 10-6 after the blocked PAT with 5:42 to go in the half.
Hurricane responded with a 7-play drive that covered 66 yards. Kaden Langston hit Kole Richins with a 53-yard TD pass just before halftime to make it 17-6.
“Kaden played really well tonight,” Pearson said. “I think our offensive line is starting to get it, too. We’ve had a lot of young guys step up and we’re starting to gel.”
The third quarter started with more typical Hurricane offense, an 11-play, 66-yard drive that took more than five minutes of clock time and ended with a 1-yard TD drive by Nick McDaniel. That made it 24-6.
Payson cut it to 24-12 on a short Smith pass to Stephen VanMoos, but Hurricane answered tight away when Langston hit Josten Tafili from 24-yards out and the rout was on at 31-12. Tyson Yardley added two late TD runs to cap the Hurricane scoring.
Langston ended up 7 of 9 for 143 yards and 2 TDs. Richins had 67 receiving yards and rushed for 25 more as the Tigers improved to 2-2 overall and 1-0 in region.
“Payson’s got a good quarterback with a strong arm,” Pearson said. “With the spread offense, you always have a lot of pressure on the secondary to hang in there. But we were able to put a lot of pressure on their QB and that helped.”
Hurricane had four sacks in the game. The Tigers also racked up 485 yards on offense.
Hurricane plays at Cedar next week. The Lions, 0-4 and 0-1, dropped their 13th game in a row. They host No.1-ranked Desert Hills next week.
Stats: Hurricane 45, Payson 20
Dixie 55, Canyon View 30
Written by Darren Cole
CEDAR CITY – While every other team in the 3AA South battled each other, the Dixie Flyers traveled north to face former Region 9 rival Canyon View. The Flyers pulled out a win in what is becoming typical for Dixie — an offensive shootout, 55-30.
“We had some really big plays tonight,” said Dixie head coach Blaine Monkres. “But then Canyon View would respond most of the night nickel-ing and dime-ing us all the way down the field. Our defense is going to have to learn to stop those nickels and dimes if we want to be successful in region.”
Dixie quarterback Ammon Takau found his receiver Bret Barben on a 14-yard pass to open the scoring, 7-0. The Falcons responded with a sustained drive, culminating in a 3-yard run by Michael Musto. The two point PAT was successful and the Falcons led 8-7.
Dixie pulled away by scoring three touchdowns in a four-minute span. Tre Miller started the spurt with a 77-yard run. After getting the ball back, Miller took a Takau pass for a quick 56-yard touchdown pass to put the Flyers up 21-8. The Falcons would get down the field quickly on the ensuing possession and score on a 4-yard Brendan Bradshaw run. On the ensuing kickoff, Konner Aitken returned the ball 99 yards for a special teams touchdown, making it 28-14.
Bret Barben would catch his second touchdown of the night, this one an 18-yarder from Takau to put give the Flyers a 35-16 halftime lead.
The Falcons answered, coming out of halftime scoring on a Braxton Higgins 9-yard run for touchdown.
Takau would put the game out of reach with two successive touchdown runs in the third quarter. The first went for a whopping 77 yards. The second was for 23. At the end of three, the score was 48-22.
“Ammon Takau played very well tonight,” said Monkres. “He is making good reads and utilizing all of his weapons, rather than focusing on one or two receivers.”
Both teams added a score in the final stanza. Canyon View’s Bradshaw had his second touchdown on a 10-yard run. Wide receiver Logan Schweitzer scored Dixie’s final touchdown on a 60-yard sweep.
Dixie moves to 2-2, while Canyon View remains winless on the season at 0-4. Next week, Dixie will begin region play by hosting Pine View, winners over Snow Canyon Friday night.
CV, 0-4, plays at home against Richfield next week.
Stats: Dixie 55, Canyon View 30
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