Powerful Cedar offense struggled against Desert Hills' defense
ST. GEORGE — Cedar's subtle offensive hero all season was fullback Hayden Bishop. While quarterback John Ursua grabbed all the headlines with his ridiculous playmaking ability, Bishop often did all the dirty work in the trenches.
In fact, in Cedar's 48-20 victory over Desert Hills in the last game of the regular season, Bishop was an absolute beast, carrying the ball 39 times for 177 yards and three touchdowns.
In Friday's rematch in the 3A semifinals at Dixie State, Desert Hills was committed to stopping Bishop first and foremost. Ursua still got his yards, rushing for 166 yards and two touchdowns, but Bishop couldn't get anything going with just 29 yards on 11 carries.
"The main thing is they had nine people in the box and were tackling the fullback whenever we even thought of giving him the ball," said Cedar coach Todd Peacock.
Despite Desert Hills committing so many people in the box, Cedar was never able to exploit to the outside. Ursua couldn't get the edge, and on the two occasions Alec Jordan got to the edge the play was called back because of holding.
"Their coaching staff did a good job, their kids played hard and they took it to us," said Peacock. "They put everybody in the box. They were just trying to take that away, and they did a good job containing John on the outside when they did that too. They had so much pressure, we even had a hard time getting the pass off."
Peacock knew Desert Hills would make adjustments, even though he admitted he wasn't exactly sure what they'd be.
All along, though, he was confident his team could still get the job done. The Redmen certainly made their fair share of big plays, but it could never really sustain any drives to take pressure off the Cedar defense.
"We just stuck to our assignments. The first game they didn't stick to our assignments. They kind of didn't believe us as coaches about how well Cedar runs that offense," said Desert Hills coach Jake Nelson.
After getting run ragged in the first meeting, Nelson said his players knew what to expect in the second meeting and did a much better job executing.
"Our assistant coaches came up with a couple tiny adjustments and it worked out huge for us," said Nelson.
For Cedar, despite seeing its season come to an end a week earlier than it wanted, advancing to the semifinals was no small accomplishment for a team that started the year 0-4.
"We never gave up, and we came out every week and kept betting and better each week, and we played for each other, and it really fixed our team up through midseason," said Bishop.