BOUNTIFUL — The Woods Cross Wildcats (9-1) have only won two playoff games in the last decade and are eager for their third when they take to the field to face the Box Elder Bees (6-4) in the first round of the 4A playoffs Friday night.
The ‘Cats are led by there leading rusher and tackler Braxton Gunther and quarterback Clay Kidman.
Gunther has rushed for 589 yards and seven TDs on 70 carries to power the run game, while Kidman has thrown for 1,101 yards and 12 touchdowns with just three interceptions to lead Woods Cross.
“Braxton has had kind of a breakout year offensively. At the beginning of the year, he was kind of behind some other guys, but they got hurt and he had to emerge as one of our threats,” said Woods Cross head coach Justin Spencer. “Clay continues to do well and throw the ball down field, and we are definitely going to need that. It’s going to be up to those guys to make big plays.”
Box Elder stacks up pretty well in the run game, however. Riley Burt, Breckin Gunter and Shad Watson have all rushed for more than 500 yards and combined for 24 rushing touchdowns on the year. Gunter also leads the Bees with 117 tackles and three interceptions.
“They (Burt, Gunter and Watson) have done a lot for us all year long. They have been great for us on offense and defense,” Box Elder head coach Robbie Gunter said. “We just expect Breckin to do what he does. He plays hard and we’ve got a lot of guys who play great, which leads to him getting some of those numbers that he gets. It’s a great team thing, but he just happens to get more numbers.”
The two teams are both big and hard-hitting and like to power their way to victory. It should be a heavyweight, 48-minute slugfest for the ages, with one team moving on to the second round of the Class 4A playoffs and one team ending its season.
“We’ve just got to do the basic, simple things to be successful. We just have to play Box Elder football,” Coach Gunter said. “We’ve got to be very aggressive, play hard and play great defense. If we can do those things, we will have a chance at least.”
“It’s going to be tough. It’s two, pretty evenly matched teams. They are coming off a battle-tested year, and we feel like we were battle tested coming out of our region,” Spencer added. “We play the same style of football. We play aggressive, and we play kind of a hard-hitting, smash-mouth brand of football. The team that can make the most big plays and turnovers will be the team that comes out on top.”
The Wildcats and Bees will kick off at 3 p.m. Friday.
Box Elder statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 33.1 ppg (7th in 4A)
Scoring defense: 22.1 ppg (11th in 4A)
Passing leader: Shad Watson (92-148, 62.2 percent, 1,090 yards, 8 TDs)
Rushing leaders: Breckin Gunter (119 carries, 682 yards, 6 TDs), Shad Watson (78 carries, 523 yards, 10 TDs), Riley Burt (71 carries, 501 yards, 8 TDs)
Receiving leaders: Keegan Hubbard (29 catches, 450 yards, 3 TDs)
Tackles leaders: Breckin Gunter (117), Hunter Morgan (70)
Sack leaders: Robbie Gathercole (5)
Interception leaders: Breckin Gunter, Keegan Hubbard (3)
Woods Cross statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 32.5 ppg (8th in 4A)
Scoring defense: 16.2 ppg (4th in 4A)
Passing leader: Clay Kidman (70-123, 56.9 percent, 1,101 yards, 12 TDs), Luke Jowers (30-60), 50.0 percent, 407 yards, 5 TDs)
Rushing leaders: Braxton Gunther (70 carries, 589 yards, 7 TDs), Lawrence Brown (57 carries, 309 yards, 4 TDs)
Receiving leaders: Xequille Harry (23 catches, 548 yards, 6 TDs), Sean Gallagher (19 catches, 411 yards, 6 TDs)
Tackles leaders: Deion Saumalu (49), Braxton Gunther (48)
Sack leaders: Tomasi Giles (9)
Interception leaders: Xequille Harry (3)
Felt’s Facts for Box Elder High School
All-time record: 543-311-25 (97 years)
Region championships: 35 (1919, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1926, 1928, 1930, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1941, 1945, 1946, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1957, 1960, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1966 co, 1968, 1982, 1983 co, 1984 co, 1992 co, 1995, 1996, 2001 co, 2003, 2004 co, 2010 co)
Playoff appearances: 57
All-time playoff record: 42-48-1
State championships: 8 (1926, 1928, 1935, 1945, 1946, 1946, 1957, 1960, 1995)
State championship record: 8-10-1
Felt’s Factoid(s): Box Elder’s 93 meetings with Bear River is the longest uninterrupted active rivalry in state history, having been played every season since 1923. The winner has taken home a traveling trophy, the Golden Spike, since 1959. ... Box Elder holds the record for most consecutive undefeated, untied regular seasons with four (tied with two others). The Bees didn’t lose a regular-season game from 1933 through 1936.
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Felt’s Facts for Woods Cross High School
All-time record: 142-218 (37 years)
Region championships: 2 (1988 co, 2012 co)
Playoff appearances: 15
All-time playoff record: 10-14
State championships: 0
State championship record: 0-0
Felt’s Factoid(s): When Kitt Rawlings rushed for 423 yards in a game in 1989, no one knew if that was a state record or not — prompting research that led to compiling a history and records of Utah prep football. Incidentally, Rawlings missed the record by 11 yards and now ranks third.