4A football finals: Grizzlies get a crack at a healthy Leopards squad in title game
EAST (12-1) VS. LOGAN (13-0)
Friday, 11 a.m. — Rice-Eccles Stadium (field turf)
Ticket Information: Avoid lines, purchase tickets at uhsaa.org
TV — KJZZ. Webcast — Live stream at deseretnews.com. Parry's Power Guide — Logan by 13
SALT LAKE CITY — There's simply no other explanation. It is what it is and it's time to call the kettle black.
The outcome on the final week of the regular season back on Oct. 19 between Logan and East was flat-out ugly and hard to watch.
The Grizzlies (13-0) dominated in every facet of the game and crushed the Leopards, 46-14, in what was supposed to be an epic matchup between undefeated programs.
However, for fans attending the 4A state championship rematch at Rice-Eccles Stadium at 11 a.m. Friday morning — don't expect the same result. As the old saying goes — it's hard to beat a team twice in one season; something Logan head coach Mike Favero is fully aware of.
"That's an insignificant game … a poor barometer," he said. "It's terrible to try and compare a non-region game with the state championship game. We know that East will be a huge challenge for us. The whole dynamic of the game is different.
"I think they are as (good of a) triple option team as we've seen. Brandon Matich has done a great job with that wherever he has been," he continued. "Any time you're playing someone who is as good at what they do as they are; you're going to have your hands full."
The game didn't go without an intriguing amount of controversy. East (12-1), stemming from back-to-back physical games with region rivals, came into the game limping. Therefore, Leopards coach Brandon Matich elected to rest several starters in anticipation for the playoffs.
"We were very beat up. I'm not talking your typical end-of- the-year stuff. I'm talking high ankle sprains and cracked ribs – things of that nature," Matich said. "Playing in a game that meant something in terms of pride but didn't mean anything in terms of region place; let me back that up by saying, 'I'm a firm believer if you have them on the schedule, you play the game.' But I didn't expect on a Wednesday night, short week game, at the end of the season that we'd be limping in as badly as we were."
The decision and situation is something that Matich wishes he had handled differently.
"They didn't get us at our best. I don't think we had the right mindset and that falls on my shoulders. It was a really, really hard game for me. I think for all of our kids and community alike. There's no excuse, they came out and competed harder than we did and took it to us," he said. "They beat us down. I think if we had to do it again — knowing the way they were approaching it — I think our kids would have a different mindset.
"I'm not saying the outcome would be any different. I'm not saying it would be close or anything else, but I do think that if our kids and coaches would have approached it a little differently, I think that we would have been more competitive," he added. "We looked like a poor team that night. I'm not saying that we're gonna come out and Logan's not going to make us look like a poor team again. But I think we'll be a little more competitive."
Now that both teams are healthy, rested and ready — past storylines are out the window. Will Logan fans be able to say, "half or full strength; regardless we're better?" Or can East put the blowout loss into a distant memory that's easily forgotten with a state championship victory?
For both programs it won't be easy.