Emery (6-4) at Manti (8-1)
2A state tournament first quarterfinal
Friday, 7 p.m.
Parry's Power Guide: Manti by 17
All-time series: Series tied 10-10
Coach vs. coach: Manti's Cole Meacham leads Emery's Jim Jones, 2-1
Last meeting: Sept. 2, 2011, Manti 28, Emery 0 (At Manti)
Of the 16 teams in 2A, second-ranked Manti is arguably the most physical of them all. It's a big reason why the Templars are regarded as the biggest threat to prevent San Juan from winning its third straight state championship.
A potential San Juan-Manti championship game is still several weeks away though. First Manti most take care of business against a confident Emery team in the quarterfinals Friday at 7 p.m.
Emery is coming off a 20-18 victory over Enterprise last week in which it held the high-scoring Wolves to just six points in the second half.
"We're just happy to still be playing," said Emery coach Jim Jones. "Manti is a good football team. They have big, strong, solid kids. That's the hardest part for us to deal with. It's an opportunity though, we're still playing."
These two region foes are very familiar with each other. Back on Sept. 2 in the first region game of the season, Manti capitalized on six Emery turnovers en route to the 28-0 victory. It led 14-0 just two minutes into the game and never looked back.
That was the first of seven straight victories for Manti, which has dominated this season with an outstanding offensive line.
"Our offensive line has really stepped it up. They're playing really, really well together. We've got a little bit of depth, we've got seven kids who can play there, and that's been a huge part of our success," said Manti coach Cole Meacham.
Manti's skill position players have benefitted from that line play as Zane Stevens has rushed for 624 yards and nine TDs this year, while four other rushers have eclipsed 200 yards this season.
As for Emery, it's been dealing without the services of leading rusher Jesse Winn, who was lost for the season with a neck injury against Millard on Sept. 23. He was leading the team with 562 yards and eight touchdowns at the time, but Cory Cox and Marco Mota have done a good job picking up the slack in his absence.
Even though Manti won the first meeting quite comfortable, Emery is much more suited to compete in the playoff rematch.
"We're a better ball club. We start as many sophomores as we do seniors, and I think the kids have grown up over the year. I think we're a better ball club in a lot of ways," said Jones.
Minimizing the turnovers will be vital if Emery hopes to pull off the upset.
Emery statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 25.3 ppg
Scoring defense: 20.2 ppg
Passing leader: Spencer Labrum (32-78, 41.0%, 505 yards, 7 TDs)
Receiving leaders: David Dyer (12 receptions, 253 yards, 5 TDs)
Sacks leaders: Not provided
Interceptions leader: Bailey Faimalo (8 interceptions)
Manti statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 31.6 ppg
Scoring defense: 13.6 ppg
Passing leader: Brady Aste (42-75, 56.0%, 500 yards, 5 TDs, 4 INTs)
Interceptions leader: Brady Aste (3 interceptions)