Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Davis (6-4) at Kearns (5-5)
5A state tournament first round
Saturday, 4 p.m.
Parry’s Power Guide: Davis by 9
All-time series: Davis leads 2-1
Last meeting: Oct. 29, 2004 (5A first round) — Davis 48, Kearns 0
This season was a question mark for the Kearns football team after three players and a coach left for Bingham High.
As it turned out, losing those players, plus another transfer to Woods Cross, bonded the team in a way that's helped the team succeed on and off the field.
"They're about as tight as you can possibly get," said Kearns head coach Bill Cosper. "That's why we're being successful. They've worked their tails off. They play for each other because they have to go both ways."
Cosper said the key to Kearns winning this weekend is to overcome Davis' history.
"The thing with Davis is they have tradition," he said. "They expect to win. That's one of the things we're going to have to overcome."
That task gets easier when you have players like senior quarterback Jordan Lloyd and running back James Felila. Lloyd has thrown for 1,816 yards and 11 touchdowns, but Felila gives them versatility in that he has rushed for nearly 1,900 yards and 22 touchdowns.
Felila is one of the state's top rushers averaging just over eight-yards-a-carry. He only played the first half and one series against Northridge and he amassed 174 yards.
"He has six games with over 200 yards rushing," said Cosper.
The Cougar defense is also impressive with athletic, well-conditioned players. They're led by Hetu Mataele, who leads the team in sacks with nine this season.
Davis High had to win a play-in game against Layton on Tuesday, so the Darts are still getting familiar with the Cougars.
"We don't know a ton about them," said Davis head coach Ryan Bishop. "We just got some film late Tuesday, early Wednesday. I know Bill really well But I've never played at Kearns So this will be kind of a new experience."
It doesn't matter to the players who they line up against this weekend.
"Our kids are excited to have that play-in game and have the three seed," said Bishop. "They've (Kearns) done some good things to be able to get that second spot out of that league, and I'm sure they're exciting and feeling good too."
He is impressed not just with the athleticism of Kearns' offensive line, but with how they overcame such a devastating emotional blow before the season even began.
"You can watch them on film for just a minute and their offensive linemen are big and they move their feet well," Bishop said.
The Cougar defense will have it's work cut out for it as the Dart offense is tough and creative. Quarterback Gage Cook is a dual threat with 1,208 yards and 14 touchdowns through the air. But he also leads the Darts with rushing touchdowns — 10 — and he has 366 yards rushing.
Abel Porter has the most receiving yards with 341, and he has five receiving touchdowns.
The Darts' defense sets the tone for the team and as a group, they have 13 interceptions this season.
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