4A high school football preview: East at Box Elder

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 31 2012 10:00 p.m. MDT

East (4-7) at Box Elder (7-4)

4A state tournament quarterfinal

Friday, 4 p.m.

Parry’s Power Guide: East by 22

All-time series: East leads Box Elder, 6-2-1

Coach vs. coach: First meeting between East’s Brandon Matich and Box Elder’s Robbie Gunter

Last meeting: Oct. 31, 2003 (4A first round) — East 30, Box Elder 13

BRIGHAM CITY — Robbie Gunter knows his team faces a significant challenge when it hosts top-ranked East in the quarterfinals of the 4A football playoffs Friday afternoon.

The Bees will confront that challenge by doing what's helped them succeed this season — run the football and play physical defense.

"We're just trying to be business as usual," the Box Elder head coach said. "We try not to let (the ranking) come into it. When they get here Friday, they'll be as big as we expect, as fast and as tough."

In fact, Gunter's not sure he's seen a bigger, more talented defensive line than the one his boys will line up against Friday.

"They're an excellent football team," he said. "They're big, strong, very physical and agreesive; they do a great job."

One aspect of his team's preparation that has the coach feeling optimistic is its attitude.

"I've been pleased with their great effort," said Gunter. "Sometimes teams panic a little in the playoffs, but we've had great senior leadership."

The Bees' offense relies on running back Kyler Allen to move the ball, which he's done effectively. He has carried the ball 149 times for 712 yards and 10 touchdowns. Kasen Flinders, Matt Williams and Breckin Gunter each have several hundred yards rushing and multiple touchdowns to give the Bees some variety in moving the ball.

Quarterback Shad Watson has thrown for 979 yards and nine touchdowns. He also has eight interceptions. McKay Parrish is his favorite target with 24 receptions and six touchdowns.

Defensively the team is fundamentally sound, very physical and has 11 interceptions and 16 sacks.

The East coaching staff is impressed at how disciplined, well-coached and unafraid the Bees are. The two teams play a similar style of football in that they rely on the running game.

"Well, I think it's going to be a fast football game," said East head coach Brandon Matich, who will be serving the last of his three-game suspension on Friday. "We both run the football, so before you know it you could be in the fourth quarter with a 14-7 score and no time. You could hit panic mode."

Matich said the Bees, a No. 3 seed from Region 5, will present some very difficult challenges.

"They're a well-coached team, a Wing-T team, and they have great angles on blocks," Matich said. "Coach Gunter does a great job up there. It's old-school football, and then hit you with hitch or a waggle, and catch you sleeping."

East has several options when running the ball, starting with Ula Tolutau, who's amassed 1,012 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns. Preston Curtis and Malaki Solovi are reliable options running the ball as well, with Curits rushing for 514 yards and eight touchdowns and Solovie adding 400 yards and five touchdowns.

Jewka Patetefa is a short-yard option as he has eight touchdowns on just 269 yards, but he is still recovering from an injury suffered against Mountain View and may only play limited minutes.