Pine View (5-4) at Spanish Fork (7-2)
4A state tournament first round
Friday, 2 p.m.
Parry's Power Guide: Spanish Fork by 6
All-time series: Spanish Fork leads 3-1
Coach vs. Coach: Pine View's Ray Hosner and Spanish Fork's Matt Christensen, first meeting
Last meeting: Oct. 2, 1992 — Spanish Fork 21, Pine View 7
There isn't a quarterback on the planet that can get it done alone. Not a wide receiver anywhere that doesn't need some help, and no running back can open his own holes. Nope, an offense doesn't go anywhere without the boys up front. That is one of the major reasons that Spanish Fork is confident it can compete when it hosts Pine View to open the 4A state playoffs on Friday.
"Our offensive line has done a great job for us this year," said Dons coach Matt Christensen. "They work well together, have been some of our hardest workers and have brought a different attitude to the offensive line this season than we have had here in a while. We will go as far as they take us."
J.R. Brandon, Matt Graham, Austin Stevenson, Blake Denning and Isaac Asiata have jelled up front to lead the Spanish Fork attack this season and a huge reason why the Dons lead all of 4A in scoring at 42.9 ppg.
"Our offense has kind of led us," said Christensen. "We have a balanced attack, and they have been doing a good job of putting up points."
It has been extra important this season for the line to do its job as the Dons start a sophomore at quarterback in Hayden Neilsen. Of course, Christensen said Neilsen isn't your ordinary sophomore, either.
"No, he certainly doesn't act like one," he said. "From early in the summer we knew he was going to be a good player. He does all the extra things it takes to be a good quarterback. He studies film, hits the weights and overall has shown that he can lead this team. The seniors have taken him under their wing and they will follow him as far as he will take them."
The home playoff game is the first this decade for the Dons, but they have been in the playoffs seven straight years now. But moving on and getting to the turf is the team's next goal.
"They know how to get it done," said Christensen of his opponent. "We want to try to get that kind of tradition here. Our guys have been up in 5A the last couple of years, and they played well against some of the best, so I think that will help to get them ready."
Pine View has been to at least the semifinals in four of the last five seasons, so the Panthers know what it takes to win when it comes playoff time. They are led by quarterback Alec Mecham. Running backs Matt Feula and Braxton Peterson have carried the load. A balanced receiving corps has led to seven different players catching at least 10 balls this season, and Connor Murdock leads the way with 27 catches while Cole Wilstead has seven touchdown grabs.
"We will need to play a good, solid football game and do the things that got us this far if we want to beat them," added Christensen. "We are excited, and know that it is going to be a lot of fun, but tough."
Pine View statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 23.6 ppg
Scoring defense: 21.7 ppg
Passing leader: Alec Mecham (120-228, 52.6%, 1,550 yards, 18 TDs)
Rushing leader: Matt Feula (66 carries, 363 yards, 3 TDs)
Receiving leader: Cole Wilstead (22 catches, 290 yards, 7 TDs)
Tackles leader: Will Bangerter (83 tackles)
Interceptions leader: N/A
Spanish Fork statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 42.9 ppg
Scoring defense: 23.0 ppg
Passing leader: Hayden Neilsen (107-172, 62.2%, 1,745 yards, 22 TDs)
Rushing leader: PJ Inoke (91 carries, 763 yards, 10 TDs)
Receiving leader: Travis Still (38 catches, 720 yards, 11 TDs)
Tackles leader: Uili Makai (63 tackles)
Sacks leader: Uili Makai, Travis Still (4 sacks)
Interceptions leader: Merik Richardson (4 interceptions)