Saturday afternoon football guide: 1A, 2A state semifinals
The South Summit football team faces one daunting truth heading into Saturday's Class 2A semifinal against San Juan scoring on the San Juan defense hasn't been easy this season.
The Broncos (10-0) have recorded five shutouts and are allowing an average of just 4.6 points a game. The most an opponent has scored on them this season is 13.
"I think it's just discipline," San Juan coach Monty Lee said. "The kids know their assignments and their responsibilities, and if they get beat, someone else is there to pick them up. You don't win defensively with individuals. It's a team and collective group of kids that have one focus in mind."
South Summit (8-2) coach Jerry Parker is well aware of the Broncos' defensive exploits, and he understands the Wildcats will have to take advantage of every opportunity to put points on the board.
"Probably the biggest thing is just making sure we don't turn the ball over," Parker said. "We've got to try to work for field position. San Juan runs a really good defense, and they get tough as you get closer to the goal line."
Parker said that in addition to winning the turnover battle, the Wildcats will have to find ways to help the offense.
"Hopefully we can get one or two big special teams [plays]," Parker said. "We have some really good returners, and we've got to win the special teams battle and score with that part of it."
While the San Juan defense has been one of the most dominant in Class 2A, there will be another factor at play the South Summit offense has been no slouch.
South Summit has averaged 39.2 points this season, and the Wildcats have a number of playmakers on offense, starting with their bruising running game. The Wildcats have a stable of productive backs, starting with Hayden Packard and Jay Reidhead, and six players have rushed for at least three touchdowns.
Quarterback Caden Christianson has been a playmaker as well. The junior has thrown 14 touchdowns to six interceptions and has rushed for more than 500 yards and eight scores.
"We have some weapons. We're not one-dimensional, by any means," Parker said. "We can run outside and inside, and we can throw a little bit."
Parker said he has encouraged his offense to go right at San Juan and make the Broncos "prove it." Lee said the Broncos will be ready and haven't relied on their reputation or the fact that they're the favorite.
"When you get to the playoffs, it's dog-eat-dog," Lee said. "If you don't come to play, then you don't win. Especially when you get to this level. In the semifinals, every team is capable of winning."
The Broncos and Wildcats kick off at 2 p.m. Saturday at Southern Utah University.
In the morning Class 2A semifinal at Southern Utah, Manti will take on Grand. Along with San Juan, Manti (9-1) has been considered a title favorite for much of the season and was dominant in the Class 2A North region. The Red Devils (7-3) will rely on quarterback Koi Cook, who has rushed for nearly 900 yards, to score the upset.
In the Class 1A semifinals at Hillcrest High, Duchesne and Monticello tangle in the 11 a.m. game. Duchesne (10-0) is the favorite, while Monticello (7-4) weathered a late three-game losing streak to reach the semis.
Rich and Altamont meet in the 2 p.m. Class 1A semifinal. Rich (7-3) finished second to Duchesne in the Class 1A North race. Altamont (5-6) upset South winner Diamond Ranch in the quarterfinals.
1A/2A football state semifinals
11 a.m. • Manti vs. Grand
2 p.m. • San Juan vs. South Summit
At Hillcrest High School
11 a.m. • Duchesne vs. Monticello
2 p.m. • Altamont vs. Rich
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