ST. GEORGE — The match-ups are set for the quarterfinal round of the 3AA football playoffs and some very interesting rivalries will resume this Friday night.
The 3AA South’s top two teams, Desert Hills and Pine View, will be heavy favorites when they host lower-seeded teams Friday. Desert Hills hosts Bear River at 5 p.m. at Thunder Stadium. The 5-6 Bears are coming off a 27-17 win over Snow Canyon last week. The Panthers host Cedar at 7 p.m. Friday night. Cedar, 5-5, knocked off Tooele 34-22 in the Buffaloes home stadium.
The real intrigue features the 3AA North’s top two teams. Stansbury, which is 9-1 and went undefeated in the North, hosts Dixie at 5 p.m. Friday. The 7-3 Flyers are streaking, having won five straight games, including a one-point win over No. 1-ranked Desert Hills. The Stallions, meanwhile, are also red-hot, having won eight straight since a Week 2 road loss at Hurricane.
And speaking of the Tigers, Hurricane travels to Juan Diego for a battle that features a bit of history. The Tigers played Juan Diego in the 3A State Championship game three straight times from 2008 to 2011, losing all three games in the closing seconds (21-18 in ’08, 12-10 in ’09 and 10-7 in ’10). Hurricane finally got its championship in 2011, but Juan Diego lost in the semifinals to Spanish Fork, leaving the Tigers with unfulfilled vengeance issues, or at least a lack of closure, perhaps. The two teams met again in the 2012 quarterfinals, but Juan Diego beat up a down Hurricane team 38-0.
“It’s a blessing and a great opportunity to have a chance to knock Juan Diego out,” Tigers linebacker Jeremiah Ieremia said. “I honestly think we have the senior leadership and the athletes to do it this year.”
Dixie and Stansbury both fell at Hurricane this year. The Flyers dropped a 34-14 decision, giving up 401 yards to the Tigers and committing four turnovers in the game. It seemed to serve as a wake up call to the Dixie defense, which has been very good in the five wins since that game.
The Stallions fell 28-7 to Hurricane back on Aug. 29. Stansbury managed just 216 yards of offense in the game and turned the ball over twice. The Stallions only TD came with just moments left in the game.
The Panthers beat Cedar 46-24 just a month ago and have beaten the Redmen three years in a row. On Oct. 3, Pine View amassed 558 yards of offense against Cedar and started the game with 20-straight points. Kody Wilstead had 380 yards passing and Bladen Hosner and Blake Ence both had more than 100 receiving yards in the game.
The No. 1-ranked Thunder face a Bear River team that is also pretty hot, having won five straight games after starting the year 0-6. The Bears are led by QB Walker Riley and wide receiver Cole Fronk, who leads the 3AA classification with 949 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Desert Hills and Bear River have only met one time since DH’s opening in 2008. In the 2010 3A playoffs, the Thunder traveled to Garland and beat the Bears 15-14 in overtime when Porter Harris hit Tanner Atkin with a 9-yard TD pass. Harris then found Darien Nielson for the two-point conversion and the win.
Bear River and Desert Hills have two common opponents. The Bears beat Snow Canyon by 10 last week and defeated Payson in overtime 17-10 earlier this season. The Thunder edged Snow Canyon 7-3 on Oct. 15 and blasted Payson 54-7 back in September.
This week’s 3AA Quarterfinals (all games are on Friday)
Bear River (5-6) at Desert Hills (9-1), 5 p.m.
Dixie (7-4) at Stansbury (9-1), 5 p.m.
Hurricane (6-5) at Juan Diego (5-4), 5 p.m.
Cedar (5-5) at Pine View (7-2), 7 p.m.
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