Slowing Scott is the key to the game for Desert Hills, but Nelson knows he can't overload the middle of the field defensively.
DESERT HILLS (9-3) VS. HURRICANE (12-0)
Friday, 6:30 p.m. Rice-Eccles Stadium (field turf)
Ticket Information: Avoid lines, purchase tickets at uhsaa.org
TV KJZZ. Webcast Live stream at deseretnews.com. Parrys Power Guide Hurricane by 11
SALT LAKE CITY — When it comes to the playoffs, one should never make assumptions based on previous meetings. Desert Hills proved that last week.
Three weeks after Desert Hills was embarrassed 48-20 by region foe Cedar on the final day of the regular season, Desert Hills returned the favor last Friday with a 23-21 win over Cedar in the 3A semifinals.
In Friday night's 3A state championship game at Rice-Eccles Stadium at 6:30 p.m., Desert Hills will try and avenge another loss.
No. 1 Hurricane dominated Desert Hills 35-8 back in Week 9 this year, and many expect a similar lopsided victory. Don't count Hurricane coach Chris Homer among those expecting a blowout.
"I definitely don't expect it to be near as easy as it was the first time. There's no way that's going to happen," said Homer.
Hurricane played nearly flawless the first time around, including 10 of 10 passing and rushing for 288 yards. Conversely, the Tigers' defense held Desert Hills to just 92 yards rushing.
Taylor Parker completed 9-of-9 passes in that game, but he said that game has no bearing on tonight's title tilt.
"We just need to forget about the last game and the score, 'cause it's a different time of year. Everything is different. We just need to come out and focus and execute," said Parker.
Desert Hills certainly needs to focus and execute better than it did in Week 9.
"They didn't make a single mistake in that game, they got us, they kicked our butts pretty well," said Jake Nelson, who's been Desert Hills' head coach in three of the four years since the school opened in 2008.
For Hurricane, this is its fourth straight championship game appearance, but nemesis Juan Diego isn't standing in the way.
"Not playing Juan Diego is almost an odd feeling, but I'm as stressed out and anxious," said Homer.
Juan Diego lost to Spanish Fork in the quarterfinals, which then lost to Hurricane in the semifinals.
In last week's semifinal victory, Hurricane fullback Brian Scott was a beast, rushing for 220 yards and three touchdowns on a whopping 36 carries. He's eclipsed 1,500 yards this year with 28 TDs.
Slowing Scott is the key to the game for Desert Hills, but Nelson knows he can't overload the middle of the field defensively. Otherwise, wingbacks Weston Yardley and Adam Thompson could have a field day as the two have combined for 1,445 yards and 22 TDs.
"You have to pick your poison with them," said Nelson.
Desert Hills' defense did a fantastic job stuffing Cedar fullback Hayden Bishop in last week's semifinal win, and it will need a similar effort against Scott.
Desert Hills features a power back of its own in Mike Needham. Even though he's been hobbled in recent weeks with a sprained ankle, it didn't slow him down last week as he rushed for 165 yards on 32 carries. Hurricane can't afford to overload the box to slow Needham either because quarterback Porter Harris is pretty dangerous running and passing.
A LITTLE BIT OF HISTORY
Hurricane leads the all-time series 3-1, including a 35-8 victory in Week 9 this year. … Hurricane is 0-6 in state championship games, including three straight losses to Juan Diego from 2008 to 2010. … This is Desert Hills' first title game appearance since the school opened four years ago. … This is the first time since 2005 that a 5A, 4A or 3A championship game has featured teams from the same region, with Skyline beating Brighton that year. … It's the first all-Southern Utah title game since 1998 when Dixie beat Cedar.
Desert Hills coach Jake Nelson: Has been Thunder head coach for the past three years, compiling a 22-11 record. This is his first time coaching in championship game.
Hurricane coach Chris Homer: Now in his 10th year at Hurricane, coach Homer has guided the Tigers to four straight state championship games. His all-time record at Hurricane is 75-42.
DESERT HILLS THUNDER DEPTH CHART
QB PORTER HARRIS 14
Nate Brinker 13
RB MIKE NEEDHAM 34
Kevan Webb 21
RB KEVAN WEBB 21
WR COLTON KENNEY 29
Cole Kiser 18
WR TY RUTLEDGE 1
Bud Pope 5
TE JOSH ANDERSON 85
RT GUNNER FORSYTH 69
RG NICH CONTRYS 77
C TY SHELLEY 51
Robert Tauoa 56
LG BROCK DOMAN 57
LT MCKAY ERICCSON 50
KR MIKE NEEDHAM 34
KR TY RUTLEDGE 1
K GUSTAVO MORALES-ALEGRIA 7
DE JOSH ANDERSON 85
DT KALOB STEVENSON 68
DT TY SHELLEY 51
Brock Doman 57
DE NATE BRINKER 13
McKay Ericcson 50
OLB KEVAN WEBB 21
Mike Needham 34
MLB PETER BROWN 31
OLB BROCK JOHNSON 10
CB BUD POPE 5
CB BRAD WULFENSTEIN 8
SS TY RUTLEDGE 1
FS PORTER HARRIS 14
PR BUD POPE 5
PR MIKE NEEDHAM 34
P PORTER HARRIS 14
HURRICANE TIGERS DEPTH CHART
QB TAYLOR PARKER 7
FB BRIAN SCOTT 8
HB WESTON YARDLEY 5
Zach Prince 6
HB ADAM THOMPSON 10
TE COLTON MARSHALL 84
Kellen Seely 22
WR BRADEN CHURCH 2
Koy Gubler 11
LT BRYAN LEE 71
Jacob Nielson 78
LG THURMAN JOE 53
Sean Hafen 55
C KALE PORTER 50
RG ALEX SEFITA 54
Sino Sefita 63
RT KEVIN MORTENSEN 56
KR WESTON YARDLEY 5
KR ADAM THOMPSON 10
K ETHAN STRATTON 33
Koy Gubler 11
DT BRYAN LEE 71
Zach Wright 64
NG SEAN HAFEN 55
Patrick Sanders 53
DT KEVIN MORTENSEN 56
Jacob Nielson 78
OLB COLTON MARSHALL 84
ILB BRIAN SCOTT 8
Andy Perkins 34
ILB JARED EDWARDS 28
OLB KELLEN SEELY 22
Sino Sefita 63
CB WESTON YARDLEY 5
CB ADAM THOMPSON 10
Koy Gubler 11
S TAYLOR PARKER 7
Zach Prince 6
S CAMERON HATANAKA 36
PR WESTON YARDLEY 5
PR ADAM THOMPSON 10
P TAYLOR PARKER 7
Cody Lebaron 3
DESERT HILLS STATS
Scoring offense: 26.5 ppg
Scoring defense: 19.0 ppg
Passing leader: Porter Harris (108-178, 60.7%, 1,386 yards, 12 TDs, 8 INTs)
Rushing leaders: Mike Needham (164 carries, 1,257 yards, 14 TDs), Porter Harris (145, 590, 7)
Receiving leader: Ty Rutledge (40 rec., 580 yards, 8 TDs), Josh Anderson (31, 359, 1)
Tackles leader: Peter Brown (100 tackles)
Sacks leader: Nate Brinker (8.5 sacks)
Interceptions leader: Bud Pope (5 INTs)
Scoring offense: 40.8 ppg
Scoring defense: 15.3 ppg
Passing leader: Taylor Parker (47-72, 65.3%, 729 yards, 5 TDs, 1 INT)
Rushing leaders: Brian Scott (184 carries, 1,530 yards, 28 TDs), Adam Thompson (72, 753, 12)
Receiving leader: Colton Marshall (18 rec., 269 yards, 1 TD), Weston Yardley (8, 124, 2)
Tackles leader: Jared Edwards (108 tackles)
Sacks leader: Bryan Lee (4 sacks)
Interceptions leader: Weston Yardley (9 INTs)
DESERT HILLS GAME-BY-GAME
Aug. 19 … Syracuse 14, Desert Hills 12
Aug. 26 … Desert Hills 24, Moapa Valley 0
Sept. 2 … Desert Hills 46, North Sanpete 14
Sept. 9 … Desert Hills 39, Canyon View 2
Sept. 16 … Desert Hills 21, Pine View 14
Sept. 23 … Desert Hills 41, Dixie 38
Oct. 7 … Desert Hills 24, Snow Canyon 21
Oct. 13 … Hurricane 35, Desert Hills 8
Oct. 20 … Cedar 48, Desert Hills 20
Oct. 28 … Desert Hills 34, Park City 14
Nov. 4 … Desert Hills 26, Stansbury 7
Nov. 11… Desert Hills 23, Cedar 2111 comments on this story
Aug. 19 … Hurricane 33, Skyline 14
Aug. 26 … Hurricane 48, West Jordan 36
Sept. 2 … Hurricane 52, Tooele 7
Sept. 9 … Hurricane 29, Cedar 20
Sept. 16… Hurricane 51, Dixie 21
Sept. 23 … Hurricane 42, Snow Canyon 7
Sept. 30 … Hurricane 35, Pine View 21
Oct. 13… Hurricane 35, Desert Hills 8
Oct. 20 … Hurricane 44, Canyon View 7
Oct. 28 … Hurricane 42, Wasatch 7
Nov. 4 … Hurricane 41, Grantsville 0
Nov. 10… Hurricane 38, Spanish Fork 35