4A high school football: Nelson's absence, four Olympus interceptions doom Logan
LOGAN — There's no question Logan's offense wasn't as productive without starting quarterback Chase Nelson, but the Grizzlies still had opportunity to change the outcome of the 23-21 loss to Olympus in the second round of the 4A state playoffs Friday.
Nelson was suspended for misconduct in Logan's first-round playoff win last week against Bountiful.
"(Nelson is) our very, very best player, responsible for 85 percent of our offense," Logan head coach Mike Favero said after the loss. "To not have him, it's devastating."
Junior quarterback Kincade Wildman handled passing duties for Logan, but his four interceptions were what Olympus head coach Aaron Whitehead said was the difference between a win and a loss — Wildman's screen pass on the first play of the game was intercepted by Olympus defensive end Jeff Faletoi and returned 18 yards for a touchdown.
"I'm just going to say it was our athleticism," Faletoi said. "We got to the ball, we read the quarterback, we did our assignments and did what we did to come out with the win. It wasn't really that easy when (Wildman) scrambled a ton."
Olympus senior defensive back Spencer Williams intercepted another Wildman pass three plays later on the Logan 18-yard line. The turnover led to Olympus' second score in the first two-and-a-half minutes, this one a 3-yard dive by senior running back Coleman Meier to make it 13-0 after a missed point-after attempt.
Olympus senior Cooper Draper ripped off a 57-yard run in the second quarter that led to a four-yard touchdown scamper by Meier to make it 20-0 with 7:57 left in the half.
Logan finally rubbed the sleep out of its eyes about five minutes before halftime. The Grizzlie defense forced Olympus to punt from its end zone, and a shanked kick gave Logan the ball at the Titan 43-yard line with 3:11 to play.
Wildman marched the Grizzlies down the field with screen passes and draws, capping the drive with a 26-yard pass to a wide-open Chad Artist in the end zone to make it 20-7 with 1:30 left in the half.
Logan forced another punt, and Wildman's Hail Mary toss fell incomplete, and the half ended 20-7.
"They did a great job," Whitehead said. "There's a reason that team is undefeated coming into this. Coach Favero does a tremendous job. There's a culture for winning at football in Cache Valley, especially here at Logan. You look up there at those state championships, they're up there for a reason."
Helped in part by a trio of Olympus defensive penalties — one erasing another would-be interception — Wildman led the Grizzlies into the end zone on their first drive of the second half with a nine-yard pass to receiver Taylor Compton to make it 20-14.
"I was frustrated like crazy that we couldn't run the ball in the second half," Whitehead said. "At the same time, you look at the touchdowns they've got and (Wildman) is a warrior."
Defensive back James Fox joined the Olympus interception club as the third quarter expired, giving Wildman his third turnover of the day — the second giving the Titans the ball in the red zone — but Olympus settled for a field goal to make it 23-14.
Senior defensive back Connor Haller had another interception deep in Olympus territory to give the Titans the ball back with about two minutes left in the game, but Logan's defense forced a three-and-out to get the ball back on its own 35-yard line with 1:41 left.
Wildman took a sack on first down, ran for 12 yards but didn't get out of bounds to stop the clock on second down. A quick snap allowed him to sneak across the Logan 47 for a first down to give the Grizzlies first and 10 with about 30 seconds left.
After spiking the ball at the Olympus 44 with 10 seconds left, Wildman took a sack as time expired, giving Olympus the 23-21 win.
"We're fortunate," Whitehead said. "We can't really be too excited about this for too long, because we have a monster on our hands."
Olympus improved to 10-1 with the win and will face the winner of the Corner Canyon at East matchup in the 4A semifinals.
Tavin Stucki is a senior journalism student at Utah State University and editor in chief of USU's campus newspaper, The Utah Statesman. Twitter: @StuckiAggies