Juan Diego is the legitimate No. 1 team; there’s a reason why they’re 10-0. They do a lot of good things with their team, in regards to their offense. Their offensive line fire out and get off the defensive lineman and then just drive them. —Snow Canyon coach Marcus Matua
DRAPER — To halt its state-title minidrought, Juan Diego will need to beat at least two and possibly three teams for the power southern region in 3AA.
That quest begins in the quarterfinals Friday, and coach John Colosimo said underdog Snow Canyon is a team his players can’t afford to overlook.
“They’re certainly not taking this team lightly. They were in awe in watching them on film. They understand the tough task ahead of them,” said Colosimo.
Kickoff is set for 4 p.m.
In the new 3AA classification the top two seeds from each region received a first-round bye, which turned out to be a great thing for Juan Diego, with numerous players carrying nagging injuries toward the end of the season.
Colosimo expects his team to be at full strength Friday, even though some might be a bit rusty after having sat out three or four weeks.
Short-handed or not, Juan Diego has been dominant all season, leading 3AA in scoring offense (42.1 ppg) and ranking second in scoring defense (13.5 ppg).
Snow Canyon coach Marcus Matua knows his team has its hands full but is excited to see how the match stacks up.
“Juan Diego is the legitimate No. 1 team; there’s a reason why they’re 10-0,” said Matua. “They do a lot of good things with their team, in regards to their offense. Their offensive line fire out and get off the defensive lineman and then just drive them. The videos we have, it’s like, ‘holy cow,’ they’re just driving them back 7 to 10 yards and then they go.”
In Juan Diego’s veer offense, quarterback Cole Nelson and running backs Chase Williams and Jessie Springer have made the most of those running lanes by combining to rush for more than 2,500 yards this season.
To have a chance, Matua said his defense needs to minimize the number of big plays from Juan Diego’s triple running threat.
Snow Canyon, which finished fourth in the 3AA South region with a 3-3 record, is certainly more capable of a strong defensive performance than it was earlier in the season. Back in week three, Pine View rolled over Snow Canyon 56-28 by outscoring the Warriors 35-14 in the second half.
It was a huge wake-up call for Snow Canyon.
“After that loss to Pine View we met as a coaching staff and we all held ourselves accountable in regards to not preparing our boys and putting a scheme together to make them successful,” said Matua.
The Warriors have won five of seven since, including a 38-9 first-round win over Tooele last week.
Even in losses to Desert Hills (7-3) and Dixie (28-13), Matua said his defense played well.
Offensively, Snow Canyon got a boost with the return of quarterback Warner Rigby last week. He broke his fibula Sept. 20 in a game at Copper Hills but was back under center last Friday and completed 7 of 13 for 204 yards and two scores in the win over Tooele.
“He’s still not 100 percent, but he’s a warrior and wants to be out there competing with his teammates,” said Matua.
Even though Snow Canyon had some success running the ball against Tooele, the Warriors are a run-first team that needs big games from Connor Parry and Zach Kennedy to be successful. The two have combined to rush for 1,489 yards and 18 touchdowns this year.
“It’s going to come down to two power running games, so the team that comes out and defends the best is going to win this game,” said Colosimo.
Snow Canyon statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 25.3 ppg (6th in 3AA)
Scoring defense: 19.6 ppg (5th in 3AA)
Passing leader: Jacob Frei (37-73, 50.7 percent, 738 yards, 5 TDs), Warner Rigby (28-56, 50.0 percent, 552 yards, 4 TDs)
Receiving leaders: Zach Kennedy (29 catches, 645 yards, 7 TDs)
Sack leaders: Brady Sargent (3 sacks)
Juan Diego statistical breakdown
(Note: Does not include week 10 stats)
Scoring offense: 42.1 ppg (1st in 3AA)
Scoring defense: 13.5 ppg (2nd in 3AA)
Passing leader: Cole Nelson (44-82, 53.7 percent, 630 yards, 8 TDs)
Tackles leaders: Jessie Springer (42 tackles), Harry Jones (35 tackles)
Interception leaders: Five tied at 1
Felt’s Facts for Snow Canyon High School
All-time record: 127-80 (20 years)
Region championships: 5 (1995, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2003 co)
Playoff appearances: 12
All-time playoff record: 20-9 (including 2013)
State championships: 2 (1996, 1999)
State championship record: 2-2
Felt’s Factoid(s): Warrior Kyle Coop holds the state record for average rushing yards per game during a season, 236.0, set in 2004. ... Snow Canyon has a perfect playoff record at home — 10-0. Only Skyline has won more on its home field without losing (37).
Felt’s Facts for Juan Diego High School
All-time record: 139-29 (14 years)
Region championships: 10 (2003, 2004, 2005 co, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013)
Playoff appearances: 13
All-time playoff record: 26-7
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 .827. It’s also one of five teams in state history to have a 14-0 record (2008).