4A high school football preview: Olympus at Logan

Titans-Grizzlies matchup will not include suspended Nelson

Published: Thursday, Nov. 7 2013 6:35 a.m. MST

Olympus High's Coleman Meier, center, celebrates his game-winning touchdown with 1.8 seconds left on the clock during a football game against Springville at Springville High School in Springville on Friday, Nov. 1, 2013.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Enlarge photo»

LOGAN — You can’t blame the Grizzlies for feeling like they’ve been given a raw deal.

And how they respond to it will likely determine the outcome of Friday’s 4A quarterfinal playoff matchup between Logan and Olympus.

Logan High starting quarterback Chase Nelson, who between his accurate passing arm and swift-running legs has accounted for nearly 4,300 yards of total offense and a whopping 50 touchdowns this season, has been suspended for Friday’s game after getting ejected in last week’s first-round playoff win over Bountiful.

So the undefeated Grizzlies (11-0), and especially Nelson himself, are feeling mighty frustrated, irritated, aggravated, agitated and annoyed. Probably even downright angry and outraged.

And Friday’s clash with the Titans could very well hinge on the way in which they channel all of those emotions — good or bad.

“We’re looking forward to the game,” Logan High head coach Mike Favero said. “The game goes on, and we’re excited about it and fired up about it. We’re certainly going to give it our best effort. It’s a second-round state playoff game, so that should provide enough emotion in itself.

“But the best way to honor your teammate who’s not able to play is to go out there and play your best. That’s the best way for us to support Chase. He got on the wrong side of a bad deal, so now we need to do our best to win so he can play again.

"It’s a team game, and we still have a lot of other guys that are real good players, too," Favero said. "But there’s a reason the starter’s the starter — because he’s your best player — and Chase has played his whole life for this opportunity.”

As of Tuesday evening, Favero would not divulge who his starting quarterback would be for Friday’s quarterfinal game.

“I’m not sure yet,” he said, pointing out that he’d been having four different players take snaps in practice since the team learned that Nelson would be ineligible this week.

Those four potential signal-calling starters include senior Kyler Freeman, junior Kinkade Wildman and sophomores Eric Love and Hunter Horsley.

Whoever winds up taking the snaps for the Grizzlies’ offense, he’ll be surrounded by plenty of potent offensive weapons who have helped Logan score an average of over 40 points per game this season — the fourth-highest 4A output in the state.

Sure, Nelson has been a huge part of that high-powered attack. The speedy southpaw has not only thrown for 3,150 yards and 41 touchdowns, but has rushed for a team-leading 1,133 yards and nine more scores.

But the Grizzlies’ quick-moving, big-play scheme features a trio of talented receivers who have given opponents fits this season. Taylor Compton has 81 catches for 1,112 yards and 14 touchdowns; while Hartman Rector and Tanner McIntire have combined for 81 receptions good for 946 yards and 17 more TDs.

Defensively, Region 5 champion Logan is also strong, thanks to the play of Bracken Williams, Jaden Connor, Sam Bennion, Compton, Wildman and McKay Johns, among others.

Regardless of who starts under center for the Grizzlies, Olympus head coach Aaron Whitehead figures his team will still have its hands full — but he likes the Titans’ chances, too.

“We can’t control who they play, all we can control is how we prepare,” Whitehead said. “They’re definitely not a one-man team; they’ve got a great team with a lot of great players, a great coach and a great program. They’ve had a lot of success, not because of one player, but it’s because of (Favero’s) system. So regardless of who they put in that (QB) position, we’re still preparing to face a very strong Logan team.