5A high school football preview: Granger at Northridge

Published: Thursday, Oct. 25 2012 12:25 p.m. MDT

Kearns and Granger play Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012 at Kearns.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

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Granger (7-3) at Northridge (8-2)

5A state tournament first round

Friday, 6 p.m.

Parry’s Power Guide: Northridge by 31

All-time series: Granger leads 1-0

Coach vs. coach: First meeting between Granger’s Cecil Thomas and Northridge’s Erik Thompson

Last meeting: Nov. 7, 1997 (5A quarterfinal) — Granger 39, Northridge 26

A year ago, the Northridge High football team suffered a 24-point loss to Mountain Crest in its regular-season finale — then turned right around the following week and crushed Cottonwood in the opening round of the 5A playoffs before giving eventual state champion Lone Peak all it could handle in the quarterfinals.

Well, a year later, the Knights are again coming off a 24-point setback against Mountain Crest — it was 31-7 this year, 38-14 last year — and in 2012 would like nothing better than to duplicate or surpass those superb performances they put together during their 2011 postseason run.

They'll get an opportunity to find out whether it's deja vu all over again on Friday evening when they take on a high-scoring Granger team in the first round of this year's playoffs at the 'Ridge.

This shapes up as one of the most promising matchups of postseason play's opening weekend. The two teams have 15 wins between them, and Granger comes in with one of the highest-scoring ballclubs in the state, averaging around 35 points-per-game, while Northridge's offense isn't too shabby, either, piling up around 30 ppg.

Much like last year, running back Davy Adams is the man who makes the Knights' offense go for coach Erik Tholmpson. Adams has 960 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns, averaging over 6 yards per carry on the ground, and has hauled in 42 passes for another 549 yards — that's 13-plus yards per catch — and four more TDs.

Quarterback Nate Kusuda has done a nice job for the Knights, too, throwing for 1,839 yards and 14 touchdowns. Along with Adams, Kusuda's favorite target is Zach Hayes, who has 41 catches for 612 yards and six TDs.

They'll be hoping to light up an often porous Lancer defense which has allowed an average of almost 29 points-per-game.

The Northridge defense, meanwhile, is led by Austin Ricks, Eliyah Mayberry, Dayan Lake, Hayes, Dallin Isaacson and Braxton Bergman.

And they'll be severely tested by a Granger offense which has piled up a ton of points in its victories this season, winning by scores like 56-35, 53-22, 49-21, 41-38, 41-21 and 35-7 under first-year head coach Cecil Thomas.

Heck, the Lancers even scored 34 points in a loss last week to Kearns.

Their offense is led by running back Tani Lehauli, who has carried the ball 171 times for 1,560 yards — an average of over 9 yards per carry — and 14 touchdowns, while James Elkins had 96 carries for 775 yards — more than 8 yards per pop — and 13 more TDs. Robbie Elkins is the Lancers' leading receiver with 24 catches for 570 yards and five touchdowns.

So the scoreboard operator had better be on red-alert when these two teams tangle Friday evening. Because it sure looks like he's gonna be a mighty busy man.

Granger statistical breakdown

(Note: Does not include Week 10 stats)

Scoring offense: 34.9 ppg

Scoring defense: 28.9 ppg

Passing leader: Jairo Tarver (43-77, 55.8 percent, 771 yards, 9 TDs, 6 INTs)

Rushing leaders: Tani Lehauli (171 carries, 1,560 yards, 14 TDs), James Elkins (96 carries, 775 yards, 13 TDs)

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