ST. GEORGE — On paper, it looks like the Hurricane football team has no chance against third-ranked Pine View.
Luckily, high school championships aren’t decided on paper.
Still, Hurricane head football coach Chris Homer isn’t under any illusions about what the Tigers face Friday night at Pine View High.
“We’re still 2-and-9, but we have been getting better,” Homer said. “I like our matchup. It’s interesting.”
While the Tigers surprised everyone by traveling to Garland to upset Bear River last weekend, the Panthers have been enjoying some time off as the top teams had byes into the postseason.
“Going up and beating Bear River, for our seniors especially, it meant a lot,” Homer said. “And they’re really thinking, ‘We’re 1-0 now with another opportunity.’ ”
The two teams actually met earlier this season with Pine View edging Hurricane by three points.
While Pine View head coach Ray Hosner sees his team’s experience with the Tigers as a positive, he’s not so sure that the bye is much of a blessing.
“It’s not ideal,” he said. “I don’t think it helps you. We haven’t played football in 25 days. Staying in game shape, having that focus, it’s tough to try and simulate that game intensity. It’s a disadvantage, but we’ve got to make the best of it. I’m not complaining about anything. Whatever they give us, we’ll make the best of it. We’re one of the few schools with the opportunity to keep playing.”
Hosner said the most difficult thing about facing Hurricane is their offense isn’t something they see very often.
“They run an offense, it’s kind of a misdirection offense that we don’t see anywhere else down here,” he said. “It’s helped that we can show the kids film of themselves against it. That has some advantages.”
Pine View was also missing four defensive starters the last time the two teams met.
“We have everybody back this week,” he said.
The Panthers are led by quarterback Kody Willstead and receiver Jack Bangerter, who’ve teamed up for 12 touchdowns this season. Senior center Guillermo Fierro is also critical to the Panthers’ success.
“Everyone’s planning to move on to the semifinals,” Hosner said. “We want to win.”
Homer said his team feels fortunate to be in the playoffs after a rough season with very few bright spots.
“We played really well,” Homer said of the Bear River victory. “Our offense hasn’t clicked like that this season. Our offense is getting better and better.”
Homer admits the Tigers didn’t have much of an answer to Bangerter last time the two teams played.
“We struggled with (him) and he had a million receptions,” Homer joked. “We’re going to try and do some things differently.”
The biggest difference is that the Tigers are playing with more confidence than they’ve had this season.
“Not very many teams with our record are still playing,” he said. “If it’s 3A instead of 3AA, we’re not going to get this shot. We feel lucky.”
Hurricane statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 18.6 ppg (11th in 3AA)
Scoring defense: 30.9 ppg (11th in 3AA)
Passing leader: Adlai Elison (65-127, 51.2%, 980 yards, 3 TDs)
Rushing leaders: Jeremiah Ieremia (107 carries, 559 yards, 9 TDs), JD Stansworth (70 carries, 313 yards, 4 TDs)
Receiving leaders: Noah Elison (25 catches, 395 yards, 1 TD)
Tackles leaders: Charlie Sefita (64 tackles), Jeremiah Ieremia (53 tackles)
Sack leaders: Matt Olsen (2.5 sacks)
Interception leaders: Noah Elison (4 INTs)
Pine View statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 32.1 ppg (4th in 3AA)
Scoring defense: 20.1 ppg (7th in 3AA)
Passing leader: Kody Wilstead (224-355, 63.1%, 3,235 yards, 17 TDs)
Rushing leaders: Pano Tiatia (89 carries, 461 yards, 2 TDs), Triston Duran (63 carries, 458 yards, 6 TDs)
Receiving leaders: Jack Bangerter (74 catches, 1,185 yards, 12 TDs), Colton Miller (39 catches, 633 yards, 4 TDs)
Tackles leaders: Kaden Creager (90 tackles), Thor Katoa (85 tackles)
Sack leaders: Thor Katoa (3.5 sacks), Liahona Tiatia (3 sacks)
Interception leaders: Jaden Ah Quin (5 INTs)
Felt’s Facts for Hurricane High School
All-time record: 294-300-12 (64 years)
Region championships: 10 (1965 co, 1980, 1982, 1989 co, 1990, 2005, 2008, 2009 co, 2010 co, 2011, 2012 co)
Playoff appearances: 33
All-time playoff record: 27-31 (including 2013)
State championships: 1 (2011)
State championship record: 1-6
Felt’s Factoid(s): Hurricane made the most improvement in one season in state history, going from 1-8 in 2004 to 12-1 in 2005. Tiger Lance Gubler holds the career interception record, 34, set from 1980-82.
Felt’s Facts for Pine View High School
All-time record: 187-125 (31 years)
Region championships: 9 (1985-co, 1986, 1993, 1994 co, 2001, 2003-co, 2004, 2007, 2008)
Playoff appearances: 22
All-time playoff record: 17-21
State championships: 0
State championship record: 0-4
Felt’s Factoid(s): Panther Riley Stephenson kicked a state-record 194 extra points during his career from 2002-05.
Twitter: adonsports Email: email@example.com
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company