A high-powered, quick-strike offense will meet a tough, athletic defense in the quarterfinal round of the Class 3A football tournament on Friday.
Something must give, but the question is, which will it be?
On one side is Union's offense. Led by quarterback Rhen Richard, the Cougars are second in scoring (34.64 ppg). On the other is Juan Diego's defense. Led by linebacker Vince Romero, the Soaring Eagle is second in scoring defense (13.09 ppg).
Finding out who prevails at 4 p.m. inside Soaring Eagle Stadium promises to be extremely entertaining, with the winner continuing its season at Rice-Eccles Stadium next week.
Whether Juan Diego can keep Richard, who has thrown for 29 TDs and rushed for eight more, in check will obviously go a long way toward determining who gets to the semifinals.
To that end, Juan Diego coach John Colosimo knows he'll have his hands full.
"Hopefully," Colosimo joked, "Richard misses the bus Friday."
Richard became a known commodity after quarterbacking Union to a Region 10 championship as a sophomore. And although his Cougars struggled mightily a season ago, Richard has emerged as a legitimate 3A MVP candidate this fall.
Juan Diego has slowed down a lot of teams throughout the fall, but, as Colosimo quickly points out, the Soaring Eagle hasn't played against a spread offense like Union's.
"It's a different test for us," he said. "It's uncharted territory. We haven't faced an offense like that."
Richard is the star of Union's offensive show, but he has a talented running back, brother Kaden Richard, behind him, as well as a number of stellar targets to throw to.
In addition to Romero, Colisimo will look to linebackers Aldo Espinoza and Jacob Doughty to lead the charge to slow down Richard.
"They're athletic," Colosimo said of his defense. "There are 11 guys that can really get to the ball."
Going the other way, Juan Diego QB Corey Lever and running backs Tyler Morales and Brayden Dimond will try to pound the ball at No. 3 Union.
Looking at the rest of Class 3A, Judge's trip to Cedar is the classification's other marquee quarterfinal matchup.
Both feature run-oriented offenses but have quarterbacks that can make you pay through the air if you're not careful.
No. 4 Judge and Cedar, the Region 9 No. 1 seed, had starkly different opening-round games. Judge survived an overtime thriller at Morgan, while Cedar took care of business against North Sanpete.
In Class 3A's other two quarterfinal contests, second-ranked Wasatch hosts Emery while Delta travels to No. 1 Logan.Though Emery and Delta are capable of knocking off their respective opponents, it would be a big upset in either case.
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