Hurricane (9-1) at Juan Diego (11-0)
3A state tournament quarterfinal
Friday, 5 p.m.
Parry’s Power Guide: Juan Diego by 1
All-time series: Juan Diego leads 3-0 (all three in state championship games)
Last meeting: Nov. 19, 2010 (3A championship) — Juan Diego 10, Hurricane 7
DRAPER — The anticipation for the 3A quarterfinal matchup between Juan Diego and Hurricane (insert screeching brakes sound effect here).
Wait. What? Juan Diego and Hurricane playing in the second round? Get out of here.
In most cases if anyone strung together quarterfinals with the two most dominate programs in the 3A classification during the same sentence they’d quickly be provided a cold rag, a glass of water and a dose of aspirin for the apparent head injury.
That isn’t the case this season because of Hurricane’s triple-overtime loss that paved the path for the Tigers (9-1) as the No. 2 seed from Region 9. Therefore, two programs that have a combined record of 117-9 — discounting games against each other — since 2008 will play for a berth in the semifinals at Juan Diego Friday.
“Second round games are usually pretty competitive, but this (game) does have a history that pretty much everybody is familiar with that’s involved in high school football in Utah,” Hurricane coach Chris Homer said. “We’re trying to downplay; basically it’s just a football game, and we just have to execute and do our thing. It’s two good programs (and) I’m sure it will be a well-played game. There’s a lot of respect both ways. It could be really exciting.”
Juan Diego coach John Colosimo noted that games of this magnitude don’t happen often this early in the playoffs.
“In 2008 we played Logan in the quarterfinals; they were the defending state champs, No. 1 team,” he said. “That was a great game, but I think this has to match it. I think this game is very similar; the No. 1 team gets upset kind of in a freaky manner and falls to us in the quarterfinals. I would rank both those games equal in terms of the matchup.”
The Soaring Eagle (11-0) and Tigers played three consectuive years in the state championship from 2008-10. Juan Diego won all three meetings by a combined eight points, two of which were on the last play and the first with 3.2 seconds left in regulation. But, last year, the Tigers capped an undefeated season with their first state championship in school history after Juan Diego fell, ironically, in the quarterfinals.
“I think both of us will use that to our advantage,” Colosimo said about bulletin board material. “We’ve talked about (having) the opportunity to play the defending 3A state champions on our home field. I think they’ll talk about (losing) three straight in a heart-breaking manner, and it’s time to win one for all those graduates. I think we’ll both use our history a little bit to motivate our kids.”
Through 11 games, Juan Diego’s defense has been stingier than a malfunctioning vending machine, allowing 7.4 points per game — including only 24 points collectively in the past seven games. Those gaudy statistics will be put to the test against Hurricane’s law firm backfield Edwards-Thompson.
“Those two are really good,” Colosimo said. “Thompson is so elusive, and trying to reenact that in practice, we don’t have anybody like him. We just have to try to bottle him up — make him go east and west — and if we can do that, hopefully the cavalry will get there and we’ll be able to tackle him up, but he’s a fine running back. As far as Edwards go, they always have a top-notch fullback, and this kid is no exception.
“They get you so concentrated inside because of the fullback and what he does, that then they get out on the perimeter. That’s always true with Hurricane; you have to defend from inside-out,” he continued. “We can’t be so concerned that we let the fullback run wild. They’ve got us kind of in a quandary of what to do. We’re just pulling our hair out, what left I have of it, trying to see how we can get to Thompson without compromising our interior defense.”
Hurricane will face the same dilemma of stopping Juan Diego’s offensive production. Chase Williams (886 yards and 16 TDs) and Jessie Springer (800 yards and seven TDs) lead the charge along with quarterback Nick Markosian, who has the ability to attack downfield aerially, too. In play-action situations, tight end Dakota Cox literally scores 50 percent of the time with seven touchdowns on 14 receptions this season.
“What’s scary is how well they throw. They can spread you out and beat you that way, too,” Homer said. “They’re going to take what you give them, and we know we got to stop Springer and Williams first, (but) Markosian is a scary, scary passer. We got a game plan in place, we hope it works.”
Hurricane’s quarterback Adlai Elison, in his second start behind center after spelling original starter Zac Prince from injury, went 3-for-3 for 118 yards and two touchdowns in the first round win against Delta, but he has yet to face a unit as talented as the Soaring Eagle.
“In watching both their quarterbacks they’re very similar. If they don’t have it on the pass they scramble, and (Elison) has some good speed,” Colosimo said. “But having said that, here’s a kid playing in a big game, and we’re going to try and disrupt what he does. Their quarterbacks are more managers than anything else; they just got to get the ball to the right people. We’re going to try and disrupt them, but that would be true whether it was (Elison) or Prince.”
For the junior, still relatively untested, his ability to manage the offense and avoid costly mistakes could ultimately determine the outcome.
“For him its more of a make sure you make the right reads, make sure you stay calm and be poised in the pocket and hit the open guy,” Homer said. “We like Adlai — he’s more of a threat to run. He needs to stay calm, basically.”
Hurricane statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 35.1 ppg
Scoring defense: 18.8 ppg
Passing leader: Zac Prince (48-68, 70.6%, 785 yards, 6 TDs, 1 INT)
Sack leaders: Bennett Heyrend (2.5 sacks)
Interception leaders: Koy Gubler (5 INTs)
Juan Diego statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 36.6 ppg
Scoring defense: 7.3 ppg
Passing leader: Nick Markosian (34-70, 48.6%, 703 yards, 10 TDs, 3 INTs)
Rushing leaders: Chase Williams (136 carries, 886 yards, 16 TDs), Jessie Springer (118 carries, 800 yards, 7 TDs)
Receiving leaders: Dakota Cox (13 rec., 307 yards, 7 TDs)
Sack leaders: Dakota Cox (4 sacks)
Felt’s Facts for Hurricane High School
All-time record: 292-290-12 (63 years)
Region championships: 10 (1965 co, 1980, 1982, 1989 co, 1990, 2005, 2008, 2009 co, 2010 co, 2011, 2012 co)
Playoff appearances: 32 (including 2012)
All-time playoff record: 26-30
State championships: 1 (2011)
State championship record: 1-6
Felt’s Factoid(s): Hurricane made the most improvement in one season in state history, going from 1-8 in 2004 to 12-1 in 2005. ... Tiger Lance Gubler holds the career interception record, 34, set from 1980-82.
Felts Facts for Juan Diego High School
All-time record: 128-28 (13 years)
Region championships: 10 (2003, 2004, 2005 co, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012)
Playoff appearances: 12 (including 2012)
All-time playoff record: 25-6
State championships: 5 (2002, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2010)
State championship record: 5-1
Felt’s Factoid(s): JD has the best all-time winning percentage in the state at .819. It’s also one of five teams in state history to have a 14-0 record (2008).