4A high school football playoffs: Mountain Crest is clicking offensively
Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
HYRUM — To say the Mountain Crest offense is explosive may be like saying the sun will rise in the east.
It is a fact — period.
The Mustangs have averaged 40.5 points a game this season. But that number is even higher during their run to the 4A state championship game. In the three playoff games, they have scored 52, 56 and 42 points respectively, and that's against playoff-caliber opponents.
"I think our guys have realized that they can make plays, and then they are going out and making them," said Mountain Crest coach Mark Wootton. "I don't know that there was any one thing that really clicked to have things start going the way it has, but the guys have been making plays.
"A perfect example of it is (Nate) Rigby's play on the last touchdown against Bountiful," Wootton added. "He made a catch, and then he just ran the ball as hard and as well as he has all season. It was one of the best plays we've had from him all year."
Mountain Crest runs a spread attack with a one-back, and sometimes no-back formation. Wootton said it is an offense that he has developed over many years, beginning with his time as an assistant under coach Perry Christensen, continuing when he was the head man at North Sanpete and still perfecting since he took over in Hyrum.
"I've worked on it for a while, making adjustments here and there," he said.. "Originally it was a counter because we never really had a lot of size so it helped to come at them from an angle. It would be nice to have a bunch of big guys up front, line up and then run right over them, but this gives us some other advantages and we use them.
"It uses a lot of misdirection," he added. "The main thing is we try to take what the defense gives us. If they stack eight guys in the box, we will throw on them. If they try a three-man front, like we have seen a little of lately, then we will run. We try to get our guys in some mismatches and get them out in space."
Wootton calls his own plays. That is, at least, when quarterback Alex Kuresa doesn't check out of them. The fourth-year starter has the green light to do so anytime he sees a defense that he thinks he can exploit, although Wootton says that he has only done so a handful of times this year. One thing that Kuresa has been adept at is making pre-snap reads and making the right decision once the play begins.
"Every play has several options in it, and Alex is as good as I've seen at making the right reads and getting the ball to the right player," Wootton said. "He takes everything into account and seems to find the right guy."
Just because a play may not work the first couple of times it is run, that doesn't mean there isn't a reason behind it continuing to be called.
"Every play has a counter to it," Wootton said. "Most of the plays we run, we do so with something in mind for later. We may call a certain run a few times just so later in the game with can run a bootleg off it.
"We run something a few times just to see how the defense plays it," he continued. "We want to see how they try to defend it and then we can make adjustments and try to counter what they are doing."
Regardless of whether it is simply trying to set something up for later, or getting the job done then, one thing is certain — it's working. Wootton and the rest of the Mustangs are clicking offensively and it will be up to Highland to try to stop them.