Who Will Reign in Region Play?
BY Rustyn Burnside, ESPN 977
Football fans around Utah are heavily anticipating the college football season to begin this weekend on September 3rd, with BYU and Utah having high preseason hopes. Fans around the world are eagerly anticipating The NFL to kickoff in a highly touted contest between the Buffalo Bills and the defending Super Bowl Champion LA Rams, next Thursday September 8th. But for us here in St. George we have had access to football for nearly a month by now. High School football is in full swing and set to start up Region Play this Friday, September 2nd. With the most intense part of the season looming, there is no better time to review how the preseason went for our seven Region 10 squads. The list below is not a projection of how region will finish, but rather where these teams were projected during the preseason media poll.
- Desert Hills Thunder (2-1)
The Thunder got off to an electric start with a lighting delay up in Brighton for a week one televised clash to kick off Utah High School football. With all eyes on Desert Hills, the Thunder delivered by taking down the Bengals 28-21, thanks to a dominant first half.
The Thunder seemingly had all momentum coming off a huge win, before it all came to a screeching halt. Star Quarterback, Noah Fuailetolo, was unable to go for week two due to a sustained injury in the Brighton game. Beau Wall was named the starter. The Thunder had to rally not only as a group in the locker room, but on the field as well. They took on the Cedar Valley Aviators in their first home game and looked all out of sorts. The Aviators jumped to a 21-0 lead by halftime. Desert Hills came out of the locker room a new squad and would rally to win the game in Overtime 31-28.
Desert Hills traveled up North for the second time this season, but unlike the first there was no victory to be had. Despite the Thunder striking first with a field goal, The Spanish Fork Dons applied a lot of pressure and stymied the Thunder offense without their star QB. Desert Hills would only find the end zone one time as the home team Dons rushed over 200 yards and handed the Thunder their first defeat at 26-13.
Team Leaders: https://www.maxpreps.com/ut/st-george/desert-hills-thunder/football/stats/#Player
First Region Game: September 2nd, Home against Crimson Cliffs (2-1)
- Snow Canyon Warriors (1-2)
Talk about a hot start. The Warriors exploded onto the scene in an offensive onslaught with 41 points in the first half, all while giving up zero to the Northridge Knights. Snow Canyon would score one more time in garbage minutes, while the Knights eventually found the endzone for a final of 48-7. The most impressive stat of the night was the Warriors passing attack averaging a touchdown pass nearly every 4 attempts.
The hot start would cool in week two, thanks to an out of state opponent in Arbor View. The Aggies based out of Las Vegas, Nevada and currently sit #4 on MaxPreps rankings of Nevada High School football. With such a tall task on hand, the Warriors held their ground in a defensive slugfest, until the closing seconds when Arbor View was able to scamper into the end zone on short run. The Warriors showed a lot of heart, but fell 7-0.
The non-region slate did not get any easier the following week. Snow Canyon found themselves matched up against defending 4A champion, Ridgeline. The Riverhawks stifled the Warriors offense and took control of the ball game en route to a comfortable 24-8 victory.
Team leaders: https://www.maxpreps.com/ut/st-george/snow-canyon-warriors/football/stats/#Player
First Region Game: September 2nd, on the road at Cedar (1-2)
- Dixie Flyers (2-1)
The runway was closed for the Flyers in their first game of the season against 5A darling, Springville. The Red Devils had a size advantage in nearly every position and it showed. Dixie hung tough for a quarter only trailing 7-0 after one. Yet, Despite Dixie getting into their spots defensively, the Devils proved to be too much to bring down, literally. Springville took a 28-7 lead into half and rolled into a 41-14 victory at DHS.
After a tough go in week one, the Flyers found themselves face to face with another large opponent, this time a 6A school. But despite being the smaller school for the second week in a row, the result would be different this time around. The Riverton Silver wolves ran into a very different Dixie defense than what Springville experienced. After one, only one score was on the board and it was the home team Flyers leading 7-0. Riverton would find a small rhythm in the 2nd quarter scoring 13 unanswered points. The Flyers would respond with a touchdown strike of their own in the third. The Dixie defense would put the bow on this game by holding Riverton scoreless in entire 2nd half, and winning 17-13 for their first win of the season.
Feeling good after a big bounce back victory, Dixie would hit the road and head into the golden state to face off against Palm Desert. These teams would exchange blows the entire first half, with the visiting Flyers possessing a 3-point lead at halftime. The second half was a familiar scene as Dixies defense refused to bend, and Palm Desert would not see the end zone the rest of the day. Dixie moved to 2-1 with the 24-14 win.
First Region Game: September 9th, Home against Pine View (0-2)
- Crimson Cliffs Mustangs (2-1)
A highly anticipated matchup between the Mustangs and the preseason Region 11 favorite, Green Canyon Wolves, did not disappoint. If you are a fan of defensive football, this was your game. Back and forth this teams went with no one giving ground. The Wolves got close enough to knock through a field goal in the first, and Crimson would score the only touchdown of the game in the second quarter. It proved to be enough as the young Mustang defense locked up the Wolves attack on their way to a 10-3 win.
Unfortunately for the Spanish Fork Dons, that Mustang defense carried over from week one. Spanish Fork struggled to move the ball effectively, and would have one lone score on the day. On the flip side, big play after big play just seemed to happen for Crimson Cliffs as the night went on. The Mustang offense found its groove by having 21 points at half, and scoring twice more in the second half to make a final of 35-7.
Despite the hot start to the season, Crimson Cliffs had their toughest challenge yet in the Timpview Thunderbirds. The T-birds had yet to have a game within 20 points and that would not change at nights end. Timpview jumped to a 21-0 lead after one and never looked back. The Mustangs hit paydirt twice, but it was ultimately null, as Timpview took home a 49-14 win.
First Region Game: September 2nd, AT Desert Hills (2-1)
- Pine View Panthers (0-2)
Like Region rival, Desert Hills, the Panthers started the season by heading up north for a televised tilt. Pine View would take on 5A powerhouse Stansbury. The Stallions had control at kickoff. 42 points is what the Stallions had put on the scoreboard by the end of the first quarter. Pine View had scored once by halftime for a 56-7 hole. The final was 72-13 at the end of it all, and to this day Stansbury has not stopped scoring by posting totals of 72, 42, and 68 this season in three wins.
After a bye week, the Panthers played their first home game of the year against Salem Hills. Pine View jumped on the Skyhawks first with an 81-yard Touchdown strike. Salem Hills would answer in the second with back-to-back scores of their own to take a 14-7 halftime lead. The Panthers defense held stout in the Third and only allowed a Field goal, and trailing 17-7, Pine View would capitalize one more time in the redzone to cut it within three early in the fourth. Salem Hills would remain unfazed however and put the game on ice by scoring twice more afterwards for a final of 31-14.
First Region Game: September 2nd, AT Hurricane (0-3)
- Cedar Reds (1-2)
Spanish Fork may as well be another region 10 team, as they have faced Desert Hills, Crimson Cliffs and Cedar in their three games this year. The Reds kicked off the season at home against Dons in a grind it out game. Neither team had struck gold until the 2nd quarter when Spanish Fork got on the board to take a 7-0 halftime lead. The dons hit a field goal in the third as well. Cedar would make it a one score game later in the fourth with a field goal of their own, but ultimately fell short 10-3.
Another game at home for Cedar, this time against a very good 3A Juab team. The Wasps had just put up 59 against Emery and were rolling. Cedar and Juab traded scoring blows the whole first half. Anytime the Reds would take a lead, the Wasps immediately answered. After a 14-14 half, this trend would continue to start the third with the Reds getting into the endzone, and then Juab kicking a field goal. With the score resting at 20-17. The vaunted Juab offense would come alive with Twenty unanswered points before the end of the game, to put it away at 37-20.
Canyon View has not been in region for a couple of years, but you cannot go a football season in Iron County without having these rivals face off. Cedar welcomed the Falcons, and in doing so, welcomed in their first win of the ear. The Reds got off to a hot start by scoring 28 straight before Canyon View could get into the endzone before the end of the second for a 28-7 halftime lead in favor of Cedar. The Reds would have to hold on in the second half, as the Falcons kept them from adding to the lead while scoring twice themselves. Despite the score becoming a one possession game with just under ten minutes left, the Reds were able to hold off the Canyon View comeback attempt for win number one.
First Region Game: September 2nd, Home against Snow Canyon (1-2)
- Hurricane Tigers (0-3)
Fellow 4A foe, Mountain Crest, traveled down from up North to H-Town to take on the Tigers. The Mustangs scored once every quarter, and did not allow Hurricane to put up six a single time. Turnovers and a great Mountain Crest defense plagued the Tigers in a 27-0 opening loss.
The Tigers would head out of state to Moapa Valley, Nevada to take on the Pirates for week two. Hurricane fans worried a bit as the Pirates raced out to a 13-0 lead after one. That worry was put to rest as the Tigers began to turn the tide in the second by outscoring Moapa 8-7 in quarter two and 14-6 in quarter three. With the game sitting at 26-22 in favor of Moapa there was an opportunity. The Tiger defense held on and came up with pivotal stops, but the offense was never able to land the finishing blow. After a scoreless 4th, Moapa claimed victory, 26-22.
The first 5A opponent of the year for Hurricane was Timpanogos, as the Tigers went north to face the Timberwolves. The T-wolves were coming off a 57-point performance, so when the score was tied 0-0 after one, you had to tip your hat to the Tiger defense. Timpanogos would not be held down long however as they squeezed in three scores before half for a 21-7 lead. Hurricane would have a nice third quarter with a safety, and a long Touchdown strike, but allow the T-Wolves to score twice in that same time span making it 35-16 headed into the 4th. Hurricane would make it as close as 35-22 before the T-Wolves closed the game with another score for a total of 42-22 in favor of the home team.
First Region Game: September 2nd, Home against Pine View (0-2)
With Region Play now in the picture, these records and stats go out the window. Preseason is a good barometer to see where a team stands and where they could use improvement. All of these teams have experienced tough defeats and trials that are bound to make this a very interesting battle to see who comes out on top. Despite individuals having their favorite to go all the way, no one here is unscathed, meaning that teams are still confident the region is there for the taking. I am expecting the best football of the year to be played in the race for the Region 10 crown.
Statistics Courtesy of MaxPreps, Box Scores via Deseret News