4A high school football preview: Box Elder at Olympus

By Steve Mundee

Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 26 2011 11:23 p.m. MDT

Olympus players celebrate during a 42-35 win in overtime against rival Skyline earlier this season.

Jeffrey D. Allred

Enlarge photo»

Box Elder (5-4) at Olympus (8-1)

4A state tournament first round

Friday, 4 p.m.

Parry's Power Guide: Olympus by 2

All-time series: Series tied 2-2

Coach vs. coach: First meeting between Box Elder's Robbie Gunter and Olympus' Aaron Whitehead

Last meeting: Oct. 30, 2004, Box Elder 27, Olympus 22 (4A first round)

Olympus is fresh off a victory over Skyline in a game that determined the Region 7 championship and is riding a six game win streak into the playoffs. The Titans look to be serious contenders for the state title.

Olympus was not highly touted in the preseason and was picked to finish fourth in region. The Titans are no longer flying under the radar after putting together an 8-1 record this season.

"We have high expectations." Said Olympus head coach Aaron Whitehead. "Our kids deserve it (the number one seed) with how hard they have worked."

The Titans will face a tough test in their first round matchup with a gritty and hard-nosed Box Elder team. "Everything about Box Elder is excellent," claimed Whitehead. "We will have to play our perfect game."

Box Elder is going into Friday's matchup with a 6-4 mark, but they have two overtime losses. The Bees could easily be an 8-2 team, which is why Olympus is being careful not to overlook them. Box Elder Coach Robbie Gunther says that his team is "grateful to be in this situation and to get to play at least one more game."

The Bees are also un-phased by Olympus' resume. "Our kids compete no matter who we play." Said Gunther. "Makes it a lot of fun to coach these guys.

If Box Elder plans to win they will have to find a way to deal with a more athletic Olympus team, including their "tremendous" quarterback Scott Porter. Porter has completed 129 passes on 236 attempts for 2,109 yards and 21 touchdowns.

Calvin Escobedo has been Porter's favorite target grabbing over 36 recptions for over 700 yards and 8 touchdowns.

On the other side of the ball for the Titans Matt Bourne promises to cause some problems for the Bees. To date, Bourne has recorded 10 sacks. The playmaking cornerback Cole Benson, who has four INTs this season, will also be a factor in the game.

Box Elder's team is very balanced with not many stars. "We just have a bunch of guys who play hard together," said Gunther.

The Bees do have strong offensive and defense line play thanks in large part to Riley Reeves. Reeves made a seamless transition to the center position halfway through the season and has also been a solid run stopper on defense.

Olympus will be playing only their second game of the season on their new home stadium due to its construction. It has been eight years since Olympus' last home playoff game, as well as their last home playoff victory. "There is a lot of electricity in Olympus," is what Whitehead said about the atmosphere around the school regarding Friday's upcoming game.

Box Elder statistical breakdown

Scoring offense: 22.9 ppg

Scoring defense: 15.8 ppg

Passing leader: Britton Gunter (61-115, 53.0%, 867 yards, 6 TDs, 11 INTs)

Rushing leaders: Britton Gunter (101 carries, 645 yards, 8 TDs), Breckin Gunter (81 carries, 350 yards, 5 TDs)

Receiving leaders: Dallin Stewart (11 receptions, 223 yards, 4 TDs), McKay Parrish (12 receptions, 174 yards, 1 TD)

Tackles leaders: Breckin Gunter (77 total tackles), Taylor Wilding (69 total tackles)

Sacks leaders: 3 tied with 1

Interceptions leader: Britton Gunter (4 interceptions)

Olympus statistical breakdown

Scoring offense: 28.4 ppg

Scoring defense: 17.9 ppg

Passing leader: Scott Porter (129-236, 54.7%, 2,109 yards, 21 TDs, 5 INTs)

Rushing leaders: Brandon McBride (107 carries, 657 yards, 10 TDs)

Receiving leaders: Calvin Escobedo (36 receptions, 711 yards, 8 TDs), Nate Sorenson (28 receptions, 518 yards, 5 TDs)

Tackles leaders: Brandon McBride (46 total tackles), Scott Jeppson (45 total tackles), Nate Watchman (44 total tackles)

Sacks leaders: Matt Bourney (10 sacks)

Interceptions leader: Cole Benson, Chandler Thornton (4 interceptions)

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