TWIR9: Hurricane Tigers flying high, but tough games remain

COMMENTARY — If w take a stroll back through the STGNews sports section archives, we find a few pages back an artticle entitled “Media touts Pine View, coaches tab Desert Hills during 2014 football media event.” Scanning through the story, we see that the media covering the preseason “Region 9 Media Day” event picked Pine View to win the region and Desert Hills to place second. Dixie and Snow Canyon are tabbed third and fourth. In the coaches preseason poll, the Thunder are chosen to win it all, with Pine View second.

As for the Hurricane Tigers, who were coming off a 2-10 season and featured a brand new head coach, well they didn’t get much love. The media put Hurricane at fifth and the coaches predicted a third-place finish.

Of course, the preseason polls are just for fun and are, in large part, based on how a team finished the previous season. But the Tigers, who sit atop the region at 4-0 (5-2 overall), have pretty amazing. From road wins at Cedar (in overtime) and Snow Canyon, to a shellacking of Dixie (34-14), Hurricane has been perfect in region play. But, nobody’s mailing out the region trophy just yet and Tigers coach Steve Pearson is fully aware that the hardest part of his schedule lies just ahead.

Steve Pearson
Steve Pearson

“We’re not baking any cakes or throwing any parties here,” he said. “I’m realistic in knowing our toughest games are coming up. But to do what we’ve done so far is huge for us and for this community.”

What the Tigers have done is pretty darn good. At 4-0 in region, they’ve clinched at the very worst, third place and a home playoff game.

“That’s a really big deal for this program and this community,” Pearson said. “This community loves home playoff games. It’s a magical time in late October and early November.”

Hurricane sits atop the region, a game ahead of both Desert Hills and Pine View, but a glance at the HHS schedule shows that the last three weeks of the season will be tough. The Tigers play at Pine View this week (all football games are Thursday night this week and Wednesday night next week). Hurricane then gets its region bye and will travel to the always tough 4A Logan (5 p.m. kickoff). The season ends Oct. 24 for Hurricane with a battle at home against defending state champ Desert Hills.

As Pearson said, it’s premature to plan any parties in Hurricane, but folks around town should at least have a little skip in their step as the Tigers, for now, are back on top.

One of the reasons Hurricane is in first place all alone was the stunning 17-16 Dixie win over Desert Hills. It was not a beautiful game, with 31 penalties, six punts and four turnovers. The two teams combined to go 6 for 24 on third down conversions (25 percent) and 1 for 6 on fourth down tries (16 percent).

It was mildly surprising that Dixie won the game. It was incredibly surprising the way the Flyers won the game — with defense. Before last Friday, Dixie had given up 253 points in six games, a whopping 42 points a game, to the likes of Canyon View and Lehi.

The problem had been the rush defense where teams were regularly racking up more than 400 yards on the Flyers (Riverton had 500). But against the Thunder, Dixie allowed just 191 rushing yards and 238 yards overall.

RJ Wilgar (1) and Jaden Harrison (6) celebrate the Flyers victory over the Thunder, Dixie vs. Desert Hills, St. George, Utah, Oct. 3, 2014 | Photo by Robert Hoppie,, St. George News
RJ Wilgar (1) and Jaden Harrison (6) celebrate the Flyers victory over the Thunder, Dixie vs. Desert Hills, St. George, Utah, Oct. 3, 2014 | Photo by Robert Hoppie,, St. George News

So what changed? It’s hard to say, though increased playing time for Region 9 Round Table player of the week Emilio Gutierrez helped. Desert Hills helped out as well, committing 20 penalties for 190 yards. The return of RJ Wilgar also was inspiring for Dixie. Wilgar, who has been battling some health issues, had the game-clinching interception with 1:52 left.

The Flyers still have a lot of work to do at 1-2 in region (3-4 overall), but the win last Friday has Dixie headed in the right direction.

Pine View, which hosts Hurricane Thursday, got things turned around with the 46-24 win over Cedar, a week after a heartbreaking loss to Desert Hills. PV led 20-0 in the first quarter and the teams basically traded scores the rest of the game. Kody Wilstead, the BYU commit, leads the state (all classifications) in passing touchdowns (25) and passing yards (2,287) and two of his receivers, Blake Ence and Bladen Hosner, are among the top 10 in Utah in receiving yards (Ence has 729, Hosner has 671).

It should be an incredible game when the rush-minded Tigers meet the pass-minded Panthers Thursday night.

Leader watch —  Along with Wilstead and his receivers, some other state leaders include Bridger Cowdin of Desert Hills, who leads 3AA in rushing yards (1,025) and rushing TDs (10), Panther Pano Tiatia, who is second in rushing yards (836), SC’s Jake Frei, who is second in passing TDs (13), and DH’s Tucker Cowdin, who is third in the state in tackles with 92.

3AA South Standings

3AA South
Hurricane 4 0 113 54 1.000 5 2 169 113 .714
PV 3 1 168 123 .750 5 2 267 155 .714
DH 3 1 150 52 .750 6 1 255 79 .857
SC 1 2 57 86 .333 3 4 154 207 .429
Dixie 1 2 67 92 .333 3 4 229 269 .429
Payson 0 3 33 115 .000 0 7 68 221 .000
Cedar 0 3 38 104 .000 3 3 131 146 .500

This week’s 3AA South Football games
Hurricane at Pine View
Snow Canyon at Cedar
Dixie at Payson
Desert Hills at Tooele


Tuesday night’s games went a long way in determining the region’s seedings heading into next week’s playoffs. Desert Hills beat Dixie, giving the Thunder a good shot at second place and even an outside shot at the region title. The Thunder have woin five straight going into Thursday’s season finale against Hurricane.

Dixie, meanwhile, is tied in points with Snow Canyon, but the Warriors (9-3-0) have completed their season after Tuesday’s 2-1 win over Cedar. If the 9-2 Flyers can beat last-place Canyon View Thursday, they will win the region title again (last year Dixie was 11-0-1).

Cedar, which has lost three straight and is 7-4-0, will likely have to settle for fourth place.

Pine View, 4-7-0, ckinched a playoff spot with its 2-0 win over Hurricane — sort of. The fifth-place team from the region gets a play-in game Saturday against Region 12’s fourth-place team (Juab or Carbon). The time and location (which will be neutral) have yet to be determined.

Region 9
Snow Canyon 9 3 0 26 8 27 11 5 0 35 21 33
Dixie 9 2 0 24 8 27 11 4 0 30 17 33
Desert Hills 8 3 0 27 11 24 10 4 0 33 14 30
Cedar 7 4 0 41 16 21 9 6 0 57 23 27
Pine View 4 7 0 15 16 12 5 9 0 19 21 15
Hurricane 1 9 1 5 40 4 2 11 2 15 46 8
Canyon View 0 10 1 2 41 1 2 12 1 14 49 7

Thursday’s games
Dixie at Canyon View, 4 p.m.
Hurricane at Desert Hills, 7:30 p.m.
Pine View at Cedar, 4 p.m.


Snow Canyon seems to be back to its dominant self with junior outside hitter Alexsa Parker leading the way. “Crash” Parker had 13 kills in a three-game sweep of Pine View Tuesday (25-14, 25-15, 25-16).

Desert Hills and Hurricane have now split two matches after Tuesday night’s 3-1 win for DH (25-19, 25-17, 22-25, 25-9). Alex Garrett continues to show she’s one of the top players in the region. She had 22 kills vs. Hurricane.

Dixie is hoping for that fourth playoff spot as the Flyers beat Cedar 3-0 Tuesday (25-12, 25-8, 25-22). Dixie is now 3-6 in region play.

Reg 9
SC 8 0 1.000 13 1 .923
Hurricane 7 2 .777 16 4 .800
DH 7 2 .777 14 11 .560
Dixie 3 6 .333 7 13 .350
Pine View 3 6 .222 8 15 .304
Cedar 2 7 .111 7 11 .389
Canyon View 0 8 .000 0 10 .000

Upcoming Region 9 games:

Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014
Canyon View at Dixie, 7 p.m.
Pine View at Desert Hills, 7 p.m.
Hurricane at Snow Canyon, 7 p.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2014
Cedar at Snow Canyon, 7 p.m.
Hurricane at Canyon View, 7 p.m.
Pine View at Dixie, 7 p.m.

“This Week in Region 9″ is a weekly column written by Andy Griffin exploring the happenings in Region 9 at all sports venues. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • Frank October 9, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    I wish we had another shot at Hurricane. We would win this time.

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