North Sanpete (4-6) at Grantsville (6-4)
3A state tournament first round
Friday, 7 p.m.
Parry's Power Guide: Grantsville by 8
All-time series: Grantsville leads 13-2-1
Coach vs. coach: First meeting between Grantsville's Tony Cloward and North Sanpete's Steve Coburn
Last meeting: Aug. 27, 2010, Grantsville 28, North Sanpete 7
Grantsville has looked very strong in the second half of the season, but will face a tough test in their first round matchup with North Sanpete.
The Cowboys started off the season with an 0-3 mark, but have won six of their last seven games since.
Grantsville head coach Tony Cloward says that is typical of his teams. "We play our best football towards the end of the season as we learn and get better."
Grantsville is the favorite to win, but Cloward expects the game to be a dog fight. In fact, Cloward says that he sees a lot of similarities between the two teams.
"They (North Sanpete) play like us. They have that small town mentality and they play with a chip on their shoulder." Cloward also complimented North Sanpete's coach Steve Coburn saying, "He's done a great job with that program."
Coburn echoed that sentiment saying, "Grantsville is a strong running team, and is very physical on D, which is what we want to be."
North Sanpete is back in the playoffs for the first time in several years. "We're excited to be in the playoffs" said Coburn. "It's a big step for our program. The players are starting to believe and starting to expect to win."
North Sanpete will have to find a way to deal with Grantsville's leading receiver, tight end Dalen Erickson. Erickson could cause some headaches for the Hawk defense with his 6-foot-4, 195 pound frame. The senior is averaging nearly 20 yards per catch and has caught 25 passes this season for 481 yards.
However the strength of the Cowboys is their suffocating defense, led by middle backers Ky Fisher and Skyler Cloward. Fisher is the leading tackler on the team with 88 on the season and five sacks. Skylar isn't far behind his teammate, notching 82 tackles and six sacks.
The Hawks, "Feel confident" going into the game as they will also be bringing an impressive defense to the game. The Hawks have 31 sacks and 12 interceptions as a team. Junior Oliver Silva leads the team individually in both categories with six sacks and two interceptions.
North Sanpete will also benefit from the return of senior leader Rhett Bird.
Coach Cloward doesn't think either team will have the upper hand when the two schools square off Friday and coach Coburn expects there to be a lot of hard hitting and the for the stands to be packed on both sides.
The game takes place this Friday at Grantsville High School, 7 p.m.
North Sanpete statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 14.1 ppg
Scoring defense: 21.7 ppg
Passing leader: Brady Wheeler (83-197, 42.1%, 910 yards, 6 TDs, 11 INTs)
Receiving leaders: Aaron Lee (20 receptions, 309 yards, 2 TDs)
Sacks leaders: Oliver Silva (6 sacks)
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