3A football playoffs: Tigers believe fourth time is the charm
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Losing a state championship game of any kind is tough. Losing two in a row is brutal. And losing three in a row is utter misery.
For Hurricane, all of the above certainly applied the past three years.
However, coming into the 2011 football season there was a sentiment circling southern Utah that this might finally be the year the Tigers got over their state championship jinx.
A big reason why was the return of fullback Brian Scott, a 220-pound bruiser who is a two-time state champion wrestler. Along the way though, Scott got some company in the Tiger backfield. Between Scott, Adam Thompson and Weston Yardley, the trio have evolved into a three-headed monster that nobody's slowed all year.
Hurricane has featured a good collection of backs in the past, but nothing like what coach Chris Homer has been blessed with this year.
"I feel we're more balanced than we've ever been. All three of them do their job so well in our offense it makes us really difficult to stop," said Homer.
Having played two fewer games to this point than Hurricane's previous three runner-up teams, the trio of Scott, Thompson and Yardley have already eclipsed the production of past Tiger fullbacks and wing backs.
In fact, heading into this Friday's 3A state championship game against Desert Hills at Rice-Eccles Stadium, they've combined for a staggering 2,975 yards and 50 touchdowns. A year ago Hurricane's trio of primary backs only scored 37 touchdowns.
It all starts with Scott, who's rushed for 1,530 yards and 28 touchdowns on 184 carries this year.
"Usually you have that 150-pound kid that has that huge heart, and you wish you could put him in the body of that big strong kid. With Brian he has the same amount of heart of the 150-pound slow kid," said Homer.
Hurricane's coach said it usually takes two or three tacklers to bring down Scott, and by then the damage has already been done as he's averaging 8.3 yards per carry.
With Hurricane usually leading by two or three touchdowns in the fourth quarter this year, Scott has often watched the final minutes tick away from the sideline. In last week's semifinals against Spanish Fork though, he dominated in the fourth quarter.
In a game in which he carried the ball 36 times for 220 yards and three touchdowns, 11 of those carries came in the fourth quarter as the Tigers held off the Dons for the 38-35 victory.
Yardley and Thompson have benefited immensely from Scott's dominance. With opposing defenses often committing nine guys in the box to slow Scott, Thompson has rushed for 753 yards and 12 touchdowns while Yardley has added 692 yards and 10 TDs.
"Weston has probably been the biggest surprise with the playmaker he turned out to be. He's in a great realm now. He makes so many things happen for us," said Homer.
Thompson's emergence despite his 150-pound frame has been equally as surprising.
"He's the fastest kid on our team probably by a long way. His difficulty is at 150 pounds, he goes down easier than those other two, but if he gets any space at all he's scary fast," said Homer.
Desert Hills knows all about that speed. In Hurricane's 35-8 victory over Desert Hills back on Oct. 13, Thompson rushed for 108 yards on nine carries. In that same game Yardley added 84 yards and Scott had 78 yards.
Running behind what Homer called Hurricane's best offensive line from tackle to tackle in the past four years, the three-headed monster is poised for one more dominant game in hopes of finally getting the Tigers over the hump.
"It's a new team this year, we knew there was something special about our group. All year we've had a good time as seniors and as a team," said Yardley. "We're confident we can put the past behind us and get it done this year."
Friday at Rice-Eccles Stadium
Fremont (10-2) vs. Lone Peak (13-0), 2:30 p.m.
Logan (13-0) vs. East (12-1), 11 a.m.
Hurricane (12-0) vs. Desert Hills (9-3), 6:30 p.m.
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