3A high school football championship: There will be not many surprises in Juan Diego vs. Hurricane
There will be not many surprises in this third championship matchup
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Their first meeting in the 3A championship game two years ago ended with a score of 21-18.
Their second meeting in the 3A championship game a year ago ended with a score of 12-10.
What will the score be when Juan Diego and Hurricane meet to decide the 3A championship for the third year in a row at 11 this morning inside Rice-Eccles Stadium?
On paper, it's difficult to imagine it being anything other than extremely close — yet again.
Certainly, both previous championship-game encounters were extraordinarily close — Juan Diego ultimately prevailed on both occasions — and all signs point to another defensive-minded slugfest when Juan Diego and Hurricane tangle for a third straight time.
"I can't imagine this not being a defensive struggle," said Hurricane coach Chris Homer, whose team was beaten by Juan Diego last year on a Hail Mary with no time on the clock. "If you look at the two games before, some people might call them boring. But I'm telling you what — they've just been hard-hitting, good defensive games.
"It's been hard for really good offenses to get off the ground, so I wouldn't be surprised if you see another low-scoring affair."
One thing is certain — there will no secrets when these 3A football powers meet in today's rubber match.
Both teams have been remarkably consistent in what they have done over the past several years — both play smash-mouth defense, while Hurricane's offense always attacks with a Wing-T and Juan Diego's offense always attacks with a triple-option — and they'll be doing what they have been doing for years again today.
"We could've probably played the game on Monday because we know each other so well," cracked Juan Diego coach John Colosimo.
Homer shared such sentiments.
"I pulled out my last two years of scouting reports (against Juan Diego), compared them to this year, and I said, 'Those guys are consistent. They do the same thing every year, and they do it well,'" said Homer.
Accordingly, both coaches believe today's championship game boils down to one thing — execution.
"At this point in the season, we've both got good football teams," said Homer. "Who can outexecute the other? Can they do their thing? Can we do our thing? Can we stop what they do best and vice versa? That's the key — limit mistakes and execute in all three phases of the game."
It should be fascinating to watch.When Hurricane has the ball, Juan Diego faces the unenviable task of trying to slow down a Wing-T attack that's been steamrolling opponents in the postseason. Running backs Jarom Healey, Brian Scott and Trey Smith are all incredibly dangerous, QB Adam Long is very good, his receivers are good and the Tigers' O-line is stellar, too.
Add it up, and Colosimo feels his defense has its hands full.
"They're a dangerous team offensively," he said. "Either we defend them, or we're sitting around waiting to pick up our second-place trophy."
When Juan Diego has the ball, Hurricane will have to find ways to stop an offense that has struggled at times this fall but should be bolstered by the expected return of starting QB Nathan Elorreaga, who missed last week's semifinal round because of a concussion.
"We know we're gonna get challenged big-time, and what's nerve-racking is we're facing another option team," said Homer. "For me as a coach, I can't help but flash back to what Cedar did to our defense.
"Hopefully I can coach better and hopefully we can play better than that night, but that's the kind of offense that tore us up that one time this year. We've gotta be ready for that."