Box Elder (6-4) at Maple Mountain (9-1)
4A state tournament first round
Friday, 5 p.m.
Parry's Power Guide: Box Elder by 16
All-time series: First meeting
Coach vs. coach: First meeting between Box Elder's Robbie Gunter and Maple Mountain's Brad Burtenshaw
Had Timpview not been forced to forfeit two region victories, Maple Mountain would've finished third in Region 8 and had the unenviable task of opening the playoffs at defending state champion Logan. Instead, the Golden Eagles find themselves at home this Friday and in a great position to win their first game in school history.
CJ Hildebrand poses a threat on both sides of the ball for the Golden Eagles, and will lead the home team as it searches for a win in the first round of the 4A playoffs. Hildebrand has eight rushing touchdowns under his belt, and has shined on the defensive side of the ball by recording 118 tackles with five interceptions.
Quarterback KJ Hall has tossed six TDs this season for Maple Mountain, but has been most productive on the ground with 1,105 yards and 10 touchdowns.
"It's the time of the year when we are grateful to be playing, and grateful to have the opportunity to go down and play Maple Mountain," said Box Elder head coach Robbie Gunter. "They're a newer school, but they are doing great things. They're doing great things with the program, and we're exicted about the opportunity."
Breckin Gunter and Rasten Yeates will be leading the Box Elder defense, and will be looking to capitalize on any chance Hall will give them. Hall already has tossed seven interceptions in 2012, while Gunter and Yeates have combined for 196 tackles they also have three interceptions.
"I think most games come down to who makes the fewest mistakes, and that's what this game is going to come down to," said Gunter. "Whose going to make the fewest mistakes, and if you can capitalize on the other teams mistakes that helps too."
Shad Watson comes into Friday's matchup just 21-yards shy of eclipsing the 1,000 yard passing mark. Watson has heaved eight touchdowns, but has also thrown eight interceptions in the 2012 campaign.
"(Shad) does a great job, and he's excited too," said coach Gunter.
Kyler Allen and Kasen Flinders will be in charge of the ground game for Box Elder, having garnered 14 scores between the pair. While Allen has done the majority of rushing with 712 yards, compared to 306 for Flinders, the juniors should expect a heavy load. Sophomore Matt Williams will surely have his number called on Friday, having rushed for 212 yards and five TDs.
"Advancing in the playoffs is the No. 1 thing. It'd be a great way to keep the season going," said Gunter. "The kids have played hard all year, and have committed to the effort of getting to the point we are at. Right now you can earn a week of practice, and that's what it pretty much comes down too."
For Maple Mountain, a third consecutive trip to the postseason could be the charm as the Golden Eagles are sitting on a 0-2 record in first round playoff games.
Channing Merrill has hauled in five touchdowns from his QB Hall, and Cole Casper fills the role as a second rushing threat with five TDs and 448 rushing yards this season.
Box Elder statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 24.8 ppg
Scoring defense: 14.0 ppg
Passing leader: Shad Watson (64-141, 45.4%, 979 yards, 8 TDs, 8 INTs)
Rushing leaders: Kyler Allen (149 carries, 712 yards, 9 TDs), Kasen Flinders (39 carries, 306 yards, 5 TDs)
Receiving leaders: McKay Parrish (24 rec., 380 yards, 5 TDs)