Westlake (3-6) at Mountain Crest (6-4)
4A state tournament first round
Friday, 3 p.m.
Parry's Power Guide: Mountain Crest by 13
All-time series: First meeting
Coach vs. coach: First meeting between Westlake's Jason Walker and Mountain Crest's Mark Wootton
The Mustangs might appear poised to go on a first-round stampede when they play host to a Westlake squad whose 3-6 record is the worst mark among the 16 teams in this year's 4A playoff field.
But Mountain Crest head coach Mark Wootton definitely isn't taking anything for granted.
"I think they're a scary team," he said of the Thunder who'll make the long bus ride north to Hyrum on Friday afternoon. "They're as big, physical and athletic as any team in the state. They've got some big kids who can really run. They were picked to win their region this year, and they've got nine starters back on defense, so their record is very deceiving."
Mountain Crest will test that Thunder defense with an offense that's ignited by quarterback Eddy Hall, who had the unenviable job of taking over the Mustangs' reins from four-year starter Alex Kuresa this season.
Hall certainly didn't disappoint, either, throwing for nearly 1,800 yards and 17 touchdowns along with almost 500 yards rushing and eight more TDs.
"He's just a real team leader for us," Coach Wootton said. "He has really high expectations for himself, and he's one of those kids that can lift the entire team around them.
"I don't think he ever thought that he was replacing somebody, he just came out and worked hard and played very hard and he's focused. Alex spent a lot of time with him to show him some things, doing drills with him, and I really haven't seen him feel any pressure that way."
Running back Joseph Carlson has nearly 700 combined rushing and receiving yards and six touchdowns for the Mustangs, and leading receiver Famafili Laulu Pututau has not only hauled in 42 receptions for 650 yards and four TDs, but he's also picked off six interceptions on defense. Tanner Richardson leads Mountain Crest's defensive effort.
After suffering back-to-back league losses — one against undefeated Region 5 champion Logan, the other a stunning upset against a struggling Roy squad — the Mustangs bounced back last week and gained some vital postseason momentum by knocking off Northridge, the second-place finisher from Region 1, by a convincing 38-14 margin.
"We just used the practice time we had and practiced real hard both days," Wootton said of the short UEA work week. "We didn't do anything to try and save our kids.
"Northridge had just played their most emotional game of the season against Davis the week before, so they may have been a little flat.
"But we did play very well, and hopefully we can carry that effort into the playoffs," Wootton said.
Mountain Crest's impressive victory over Northridge certainly wouldn't bode well for Westlake, which lost to Northridge by three touchdowns, 36-15, in the fourth week of the season back on Sept. 9.
Josh Sorensen has been Westlake's primary weapon on offense, throwing for 778 yards and four touchdowns and rushing for another 693 yards and seven more TDs. Addison Bates and Derek Parker spearhead the Thunder defense.
Westlake statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 19.8 ppg
Scoring defense: 25.4 ppg
Passing leader: Josh Sorensen (56-118, 47.5%, 778 yards, 4 TDs, 3 INTs)
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