Ravell Call, Deseret News
Viewmont (2-8) at Syracuse (9-0)
5A state tournament first round
Friday, 3 p.m.
Parry’s Power Guide: Syracuse by 41
All-time series: Series tied 2-2
Last meeting: Sept. 3, 2010 — Syracuse 28, Viewmont 10
We've always heard that defense wins championships.
If that's true, Syracuse High has a heckuva shot at taking home this year's 5A state football title.
After all, the Region 1 champion Titans have given up a total of just 70 points in nine games this season. For the mathematically challenged, that's an average of 7.8 points allowed per contest.
They've posted three shutouts and have not allowed any opponent to score more than 14 points all season long.
And when you play that kind of defense, well, you're in every game and always have a chance to win.
That will certainly be the Titans' mantra when they begin their 2012 postseason quest on Friday with a home game against Viewmont.
"They just fly to the football," Syracuse coach Russ Jones said of his dynamic "D." "They run hard everywhere on the field; they go hard and hustle in everything that they do. We play a basic, simple defense and everybody knows their assignments and just tries to do their job.
"We've been watching a lot of film on (Viewmont), and I think our defense can hold 'em down."
But coach Jones is quick to point out that his undefeated team is much more than just a one-trick pony.
"Our offense has clicked pretty good this year, too," he said. "We've got some good skill kids on the offense, and they haven't had any real major turnovers.
"So give a little credit to the offense, too. They've helped us move the football and they've sustained drives and stayed on the field, which has helped our defense stay off the field and get the rest it needs."
The man who guides the Syracuse offense is senior quarterback Brock Anderson, who has thrown for 1,469 yards and 20 touchdowns. What's more, he has rushed for 339 yards and four more TDs.
But perhaps the most impressive of Anderson's statistics is the number one — that's how many interceptions he has thrown in 168 aerial attempts.
"That's not bad," Jones said in an obvious understatement. "He always thinks about ball security and taking care of the football, and he makes great decisions instead of always trying to make a play.
"He's a cool, calm and collected kid during the game — nothing seems to rattle him much."
The Titans' other top weapons on offense are running back Mason Woodward (599 yards rushing with six touchdowns, plus a couple of receiving TDs), and receivers Kiwa Mo'o and Diante Mitchell, who have combined for over 50 catches for 670 yards and nine touchdowns.
But with all that said, Coach Jones expects the visiting Vikings to give his team a tough tussle.
"They seem to have some pretty good speed and fairly good size, but they're fairly young at some spots," he said of Viewmont. "Watching them play, they've got kids flying around on defense, and I know they'll man up and play us tough. I think they're a better team than their (2-8) record."
Syracuse went into last year's state playoffs as the fourth-place finisher from Region 1, then shocked a lot of folks by using — no surprise here — a fierce defensive effort to notch road wins over Alta and West.
That put the Titans in the state semifinals, where they dropped an overtime heartbreaker to league rival Fremont.
But this year's team won't be able to sneak in under the radar like the Titans did last year. They're ranked No. 2 in the state by the Deseret News and are one of the top contenders for the title.
Jones admitted that last year's underdog role was more to his liking.
"I like our record better this year, for sure, but I like flying under the radar," he said. "We want to come out and play a good game every time, but I'd just as soon be the underdog as the top dog.
"Last year there was not a lot of pressure on us, but I don't see our kids under a lot of pressure this year, either. I don't see it in our kids at all. They're humble and hungry to play the next game, and even though they're undefeated, they don't have a big head and don't trash talk at all. They're just what you want out of your guys.
"They're really good kids who work hard. Now we just want 'em to keep our heads on straight and stay the course."
Viewmont, meanwhile, started its season with six straight losses, then won two league games. But the Vikings, who have only scored more than 16 points in a game once all season, have lost their last two.
And their weakness — scoring points — plays right into the Titans' strength — not allowing many, if any.
So Syracuse will be heavily favored to win. And to possibly live up to that age-old adage. You know the one — something about defense winning championships.
Viewmont statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 11.9 ppg
Scoring defense: 28.0 ppg
Passing leader: Not provided
Rushing leaders: Not provided
Receiving leaders: Not provided
Tackles leaders: Not provided
Sack leaders: Not provided
Interception leaders: Not provided
Syracuse statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 31.0 ppg
Scoring defense: 7.7 ppg
Passing leader: Brock Anderson (115-168, 68.5%, 1,469 yards, 20 TDs, 1 INT)
Rushing leaders: Mason Woodward (135 carries, 599 yards, 6 TDs), Brock Anderson (80 carries, 339 yards)
Receiving leaders: Kiwa Mo’o (23 rec., 361 yards, 5 TDs), Diante Mitchell (28 rec., 309 yards, 4 TDs)
Tackles leaders: Wyatt German (82 tackles), Kavika Fonua (68 tackles)
Sack leaders: Jace Purser (7.5 sacks), Cardon Malon (7 sacks)
Interception leaders: Diante Mitchell (4 INTs), Kavika Fonua (3 INTs)
Felt’s Facts for Viewmont High School
All-time record: 207-285-2 (49 years)
Region championships: 4 (1972, 1973, 1974 co, 2011)
Playoff appearances: 23 (Including 2012)
All-time playoff record: 15-21
State championships: 1 (1971)
State championship record: 1-1
Felt’s Factoid(s): Viking Cole Miles returned a missed field goal 99 yards in 2003 to set a record for the longest missed field goal return.
Felt’s Facts for Syracuse High School
All-time record: 41-23 (6 years)
Region championships: 1 (2012)
Playoff appearances: 5 (Including 2012)
All-time playoff record: 5-4
State championships: 0
State championship record: 0-0
Felt’s Factoid(s): Syracuse is one of just 11 schools to have a perfect playoff record on its home field (2-0).