Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Timpanogos (7-3) at Mountain Crest (8-2)
4A state tournament first round
Friday, 4 p.m.
Parry’s Power Guide: Mountain Crest by 33
All-time series: First meeting
Coach vs. coach: Mountain Crest’s Mark Wootton leads Timpanogos’ Ed Larson, 1-0 — meeting occurred in 2005 when Larson was at Ogden
Seven weeks ago, the Mountain Crest football team was staring at a frustrating 1-2 start, wondering what it needed to do to win a ballgame and seemingly headed nowhere fast.
Seven weeks -- and seven straight wins -- later, the Mustangs are stampeding into the 4A state playoffs with more momentum than a herd of wild horses headed for a watering hole in the mountains.
"I've been really proud of these kids," Mountain Crest coach Mark Wootton said. "They've been really focused and have worked really hard to get to where they are now.
"It's been a pretty long process. I don't think we were a very good team early in the year, and the kids have really bought in and played and practiced hard. And as a result, they've turned themselves into a pretty good team, which makes you really happy as a coach.
"Hopefully, they'll keep getting better. We didn't want to come in here and not improve," Wootton said following last week's road win over a strong Northridge team. "We wanted to feel like after this week we were a better team than we were last week, and hopefully next week we'll be better than we were this week."
One of the keys has certainly been the Mustangs' defense, which has allowed only one opponent to score more than 13 points over the last six weeks. They stopped strong teams from Box Elder (20-13) and Logan (17-10) during that span and clobbered a couple of other league foes (42-0 over Bonneville and 38-6 over Roy) on their way to sweeping the Region 5 title.
"They've got some confidence, and our defense has just been fantastic the last three or four weeks," Wootton said, crediting assistant coach Rob Thomas for a job well done on that side of the ball. "The kids are playing with a lot of confidence and playing with a lot of passion and having a lot of fun."
One of the catalysts in the Mustangs' resurgence has been senior running back Eddy Hall, who has 176 carries for 1,260 yards rushing -- more than seven yards per carry -- and 15 touchdowns.
"He's a very strong, physical kid," Wootton said of Hall, "and he's been getting some offers to play in college. He should be able to go play after this year."
Gaje Ferguson, who injured his knee last week against Northridge, has averaged over six yards per carry with six rushing touchdowns, and quarterback Jamison Webb has four TDs on the ground to go along with 1,624 yards passing and 16 scores through the air.
"The Ferguson kid got hit in the knee, and we're hoping that's not anything serious," Wootton said after beating Northridge. "He's one of our biggest horses on defense and then he plays fullback for us and is a great lead blocker for Eddy."
Hall and Ferguson have combined for 40 receptions, good for over 400 yards and five touchdowns, and the Mustangs' big-play receiver has been BYU-bound Faimafili Laulu-Pututau, who has hauled in 38 passes for 654 yards -- averaging over 17 yards per catch -- and eight touchdowns.
Timpanogos, the fourth-place finisher out of Region 8, has some playmakers of its own in quarterback Kaden Bramall, running back Jacob Hougaard and receivers Jaxon Beck and Dyson Rivers, while Tyler Day, Riley Schwenke and Beck spearhead the Timberwolves' defense.
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