We hurried him, we sacked him, we hit him, that’s what we have to duplicate. We have to get pressure on the quarterback, otherwise he’ll pick you apart. —Grantsville coach Tony Cloward, on Juab junior quarterback Nick Robins
NEPHI — The blueprint for beating Juab’s football team is quite simple — harass junior quarterback Nick Robins.
Nobody knows that better Grantsville.
The blueprint to beating Juab exists because the Cowboys harassed the heck out of Robins back in Week 4 on their way to an impressive 14-0 victory. Grantsville sacked Robins six times and intercepted him twice in that game, limiting him to only 95 passing yards.
“It was probably the best individual defensive performance I’ve ever witnessed since I’ve been at Grantsville,” said Grantsville coach Tony Cloward.
When the team’s meet again this Friday at 6 p.m. in the 3A quarterfinals, Grantsville knows exactly what’s necessary to pull out the road victory.
“We hurried him, we sacked him, we hit him, that’s what we have to duplicate. We have to get pressure on the quarterback, otherwise he’ll pick you apart,” said Cloward.
Since that surprising shutout loss, Juab has won five of six games and the maturation of Robins is a big reason why. In the past six weeks, Robins is averaging 212 passing yards to go along with his 18 touchdowns and just three interceptions.
Robins will need to continue that efficiency if Juab hopes to advance to the 3A semifinals.
“When we played Grantsville the first time, that was probably the best defense we’d seen,” said Juab coach Mike Bowring. “I think (Robins) really grew up in that game, he was kind of rattled. There was a lot of pressure coming at him, and having seen that, I hope we can make the necessary adjustments to take advantage of their pressure.”
Grantsville will definitely bring the pressure again in the playoff rematch, and it’s up to Juab’s offensive line to keep Robins on his feet. If that doesn’t happen, a Cowboy defense that only allows 10.7 points per game could have another field day.
“The main thing is we have to avoid negative yard plays. We got ourselves in some long downs and distances that really hurt us and they bring a lot of pressure, that’s sometimes tough to combat,” said Bowring.
That was particularly evident in Week 4 when Juab had a first and goal at the two yard line after a pass interference penalty. The Wasps methodically went backward and eventually turned the ball over on downs after facing a fourth down and 30.
Cloward acknowledges that duplicating that perfect Week 4 defensive performance is going to be difficult, and knows his offense will need to score more than 14 points to beat Juab.
If his offense cuts down on turnovers, he’s confident they can be successful. In that 14-0 victory, Grantsville had a fumble and interception inside Juab’s 10-yard line, and Cloward believes collectively his team left 21 points on the field.
“We felt we were able to move the ball, we just shot ourselves in the foot offensively, so we have to execute and avoid turnovers,” he said.
Just like the previous 10 weeks, Ky Fisher will be the focal point of Grantsville’s rushing attack. The senior has rushed for 762 yards and 14 touchdowns on 147 carries this season. Wyatt Smith and quarterback Neophi Meono are also dangerous runners.
“Fisher is the guy they go through. We just can’t let him get going. They run the veer, speed option and the main thing we can’t allow big plays. We have to make them sustain drives,” said Bowring.
Grantsville statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 24.4 ppg (6th in 3A)
Scoring defense: 10.7 ppg (2nd in 3A)
Passing leader: Nephi Meono (54-101, 53.5%, 676 yards, 3 TDs)
Juab statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 34.6 ppg (3rd in 3A)
Scoring defense: 20.5 ppg (5th in 3A)
Passing leader: Nick Robins (122-198, 61.6%, 1,825 yards, 27 TDs)
Sack leaders: Macoy Fuller (4.5 sacks)
Felt’s Facts for Grantsville High School
All-time record: 372-426-21 (97 years)
Region championships: 9 (1960, 1967 co, 1973, 1978, 1984 co, 1985, 1986, 1991 co, 1998)
Playoff appearances: 37
All-time playoff record: 39-33
State championships: 3 (1992, 1996, 1997)
State championship record: 3-5
Felt’s Factoid(s): Grantsville holds the state record (tied with Clearfield) for season interceptions with 33 set in 1997. ... Cowboy Alan Mouritsen holds the season all-purpose yardage record, 3,287, set in 1997, and the career rushing TD record, 70, set from 1996-98. He also holds the record for career TDs, 77, and season TDs, 42 (1997).
Felt’s Facts for Juab High School
All-time record: 246-310-3 (58 years)
Region championships: 6 (1976 co, 1995, 1997, 2005 co, 2006 co, 2008)
Playoff appearances: 30
All-time playoff record: 15-29
State championships: 0
State championship record: 0-2
Felt’s Factoid(s): Juab played four overtime games in 2010, the most in a season. The Wasps went into OT three consecutive weeks. ... Juab shares the single-game safety record (tied with two others) of three, set in 1995 against Morgan.