Mike Terry, Deseret News
Cedar (4-5) at Judge (7-3)
3A state tournament first round
Friday, 5 p.m.
Parry's Power Guide: Cedar by 2
All-time series: Judge leads 3-1
Coach vs. coach: Judge's James Cordova leads Cedar's Todd Peacock, 2-1
Last meeting: Oct. 30, 2010, Judge 24, Cedar 21 (3A first round)
Judge and Cedar are two teams seemingly headed in opposite directions heading into the 3A playoffs.
Cedar is playing its best football of the season, winning four of its last five games, including a 48-20 thrashing of Desert Hills. Judge, meanwhile, is trying to pick up the pieces from a 34-0 shutout loss to rival Juan Diego.
When the teams meet at Judge in the opening round of the state tournament this Friday at 5 p.m., there's no telling what might happen.
This the second straight year Cedar and Judge are meeting in the first round. A year ago, Cedar earned the No. 1 seed from Region 9 and hosted Judge, the No. 4 seed from Region 10. Judge rallied for the 24-21 victory.
"They've had our number. They really took it to us last year, we were ahead and they just kept playing," said Cedar coach Todd Peacock.
This year both teams finished second in their respective regions, but Cedar was in a three-way tie for second in Region 9 and lost the coin flip to enter the playoffs as the No. 3 seed.
"They went into the coin toss and I was hopeful, and then I was disappointed. I've played Cedar three of my eight playoff years, and it's turning into a grudge match here," said Judge coach James Cordova. "They're a great team. They have an outstanding offense and defensive line, and a great fullback and quarterback combination."
That duo of quarterback John Ursua and fullback Hayden Bishop is a particularly scary combination a week after Juan Diego ran all over Judge's defensive line. Ursua has racked up 928 yards and 10 TDs this year, while Bishop has rushed for 661 yards and six TDs.
Bishop is coming off his most successful game of the season, as he rushed for 177 yards and three touchdowns on 39 carries last week.
A week after Juan Diego rushed for 289 yards against Judge, Cordova is optimistic his team can get things sorted out defensively.
"Defensively we were misaligned 63 percent of game. Which is not like us. Juan Diego's played in plenty of big games, and Judge hasn't. We weren't really focused on the small things, and they were, and That hurt us," said Cordova.
"We got to get off the ball, we really did a poor job against Juan Diego."
Judge needs to get Miles Ellis involved in the offense as well. He's been a sparkplug in Judge's option offense this year with 540 yards and 10 TDs, but Juan Diego limited him to virtually nothing.
For a Cedar team that started the year 0-4, it enters the playoffs with a 4-5 record and is playing as well as anybody. Those opening four losses were to American Fork, Highland, Skyline and Cedar, and that tough competition prepared the Redmen for the rest of the season.
"I don't think we'll play anybody any better than we've played. I think Hurricane's the best team we've played to be honest with you. I think we've played a tough, tough schedule. Our record isn't real glossy though," said Peacock.
Solid defense and the continued emergence of Ursua at quarterback have been a reason for the turnaround.
Cedar statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 29.2 ppg
Scoring defense: 26.9 ppg
Passing leader: John Ursua (49-98, 50.0%, 815 yards, 9 TDs, 8 INTs)
Rushing leaders: Hayden Bishop (147 carries, 661 tackles, 6 TDs), John Ursua (112 carries, 928 yards, 10 TDs)
Tackles leaders: David Cardon (51 total tackles), Nick Sorsensen (44 total tackles)
Sacks leaders: Bryson Haynie (3.5D sacks)
Interceptions leader: John Ursua (3 interceptions)
Judge statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 34.9 ppg
Scoring defense: 17.8 ppg
Passing leader: Jack Barnett (24-51, 47.1%, 440 yards, 5 TDs, 1 INT)
Rushing leaders: Miles Ellis (104 carries, 450 yards, 10 TDs), Christian Weidle (47 carries, 622 yards, 10 TDs), Jack Barnett (67 carries, 516 yards, 8 TDs)
Receiving leaders: Elliot McGill (10 receptions, 137 yards, 2 TDs), Christian Weidle (8 receptions, 184 yards, 2 TDs)
Tackles leaders: Carson Jones (58 total tackles), Elliott McGill (40 total tackles)
Sacks leaders: Elliot McGill, Haydon Richardson (3 sacks)
Interceptions leader: Christian Weidle (3 interceptions)
Note: Does not include stats from Week 9 and 10.