ST. GEORGE – Today the Zion Lions travel north to play the Wasatch Revolution in the Rocky Mountain Football League’s annual Stars & Stripes Academy (SASA) games.
SASA was created in 2012 by former Big 12 Conference officials to train and develop game officials for Division 1 football.
Because the RMFL’s season differs from the standard, it gives the Academy valuable off-season training. The RMFL provides eight games over a two-day period from both their upper and lower divisions. The Lions-Rev matchup will highlight the event as the marquee matchup Saturday night between the top two teams.
“We look forward to the SASA games,” said Revolution head coach Eric Drage. “The games are well run and have great officiating crews. It should be a great weekend of football.”
Normally, when the Lions meet the Rev in the season, one team is about to experience its first loss. But this year both teams have already suffered their first setback. The RMFL world was rocked when the two teams that have battled for the league championship the last two years both lost on the opening weekend of the season.
Wasatch fell 21-14 to newcomer Las Vegas Trojans in its opener. The Rev have since won four straight, including a 40-7 drubbing of the Utah Shock in their last outing. The Lions fell 10-7 to the Brigham Sting in their opener in a game in which the Lions committed five turnovers. They have also reeled off four straight, including last week’s big win over the then league-leading Trojans, 23-14.
“(Wasatch) is the two-time defending champions,” said Lions head coach Dale Stott. “Charlie Peterson is a great veteran quarterback and continues to help them be dominant in the league. We have beaten them in the season matchups, but have fallen to them in the championship games.”
Once again, the two teams lead the league offensively. The Lions have a potent ground attack while the Rev are led by aerial wizard Peterson. Zion leads the league, scoring 39 points per game while averaging 345 yards offensively. The Rev score 31 points per game and average 346 yards per game.
Defensively, both teams are just as stingy as they are proficient offensively. The Lions are second in scoring defense, allowing 10 points per game. The Rev are fourth in the league, allowing 15 points per contest.
The Lions are quarterbacked by Josh Ford, who converted from wide receiver. Ford has thrown for 604 yards and leads the team in rushing with 338 yards. Also among the league leaders in rushing are running backs Rimo Mapu (227 yeards), Sione Tapuosi (169 yards) and Matt Feula (132 yards).
Defensively, safety Dave Bishoff leads the league with five interceptions, including two that have been returned for touchdowns. Defensive tackle Tui Tuiasosopo is third in the league with six sacks. Linebacker Brandon Thompson has 4.5 sacks, five tackles for loss, and one forced fumble.
For the Rev, Peterson leads the league with 1225 passing yards. His top receivers are Joe Mapson (309 yards receiving) and Delric Ellington (297 yards). Defensively, they are led by big tackles Dustin Reid and Ian Eyre. Linebacker Jason Mapu has four sacks and five tackles for loss.
“The key to stopping them is to pressure Peterson and don’t get beat on the long ball,” said Stott. “Offensively, we need to limit our turnovers and control the line of scrimmage. Our best unit this year has been our offensive line. We believe we can run the ball on anyone. But we have also made teams pay that load the box.”
“We are looking forward to another epic battle with the Lions,” said Drage. “It seems like every time we play them, it come down to one or two plays that determines the outcome.”
Below is the schedule for this Saturday’s games:
Saturday, May 14th, Viewmont High School (120 W. 1000 N. Bountiful, UT)
Noon — Great Falls Gladiators vs. Uintah Basin Oilers
3 p.m. — Billings Xtreme vs. Nevada Warriors
6 p.m. — Flathead Monsters vs. Wyoming Outlaws
Saturday, May 14th, Woods Cross High School (600 W. 2200 S. Woods Cross, UT)
Noon — Las Vegas Raiders vs. Utah Wildcats
3 p.m. — Las Vegas Hawks vs. Utah Shock
6 p.m. — Zion Lions vs. Wasatch Revolution
Email: [email protected]
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.