They’ll give us all we want (on Friday), and if we don’t play up to our full potential, we’re not going to walk out of here a winner. —Brandon Matich, East head football coach
SALT LAKE CITY — East coach Brandon Matich told his team about the possibilities of shenanigans Friday afternoon in the first-round against Roy.
The Royals, you see, have absolutely nothing to lose. They qualified for postseason play for the first time since 2007 under third-year coach Fred Fernandes. Then, no one expects them to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time since 1983. So, why not play a little charades?
“He’s notorious for running trick plays — he ran a bounce-pass against Sky View last week, which we’ve seen before,” Matich said of Fernandes. “He’s done a double-pass against us in the past at Woods Cross. Even as far back as when I was coaching at Skyline — we’ve gone back as far as that and looked into the bag of tricks because he’s got a lot of them. They practice them well, and to me it’s not a gimmick or a trick play, it’s an identity in their offense.”
Roy (6-3) may be experiencing the playoffs for the first time, but Fernandes certainly is not. He guided Northridge to three straight championships from 2000-02.
“Fred has been there before and he’ll have his kids prepared and he’ll have his kids believing,” Matich said. “That’s a strong thing with a high school kid. They’ll give us all we want (on Friday), and if we don’t play up to our full potential, we’re not going to walk out of here a winner.”
The Leopards (10-0) lead the state in scoring offense, averaging just south of 50 points per outing. The quick-strike offense has produced 27 scoring plays greater than 40 yards this season. Despite their big-play ability, Matich reiterated the importance of ball security.
“We have to take care of the football,” Matich explained. “We have to do what we do: execute, special teams, offense and defense. We have to take care of the football. Turning over the football can make you a very mediocre team in a hurry.”
Roy’s offense has produced lofty numbers by scoring over 30 points in seven of its nine games.
“They scored a lot of points in the losses they had,” Matich said. “First-round games, to me, are always the scariest. I think it does have do with that unfamiliarity and not playing each other. I don’t have any history with Roy, so I don’t know what those kids are like.”
East has led every game this season by double digits at halftime. Matich feels that will change in the postseason. But if Roy has any hope, it has to play well in the first two quarters. Obviously, that’s something 10 teams have failed to do against the Leopards this season.
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Roy statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 37.4 ppg (5th in 4A)
Scoring defense: 29.1 ppg (18th in 4A)
Passing leader: Tyler Skidmore (117-221, 52.9%, 2,317 yards, 25 TDs)
Tackles leaders: Cody Hobbs (53 tackles), Nate Jones (40 tackles)
Interception leaders: Nate Jones (3 INTs)
East statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 49.4 ppg (1st in 4A)
Scoring defense: 15.7 ppg (3rd in 4A)
Passing leader: Isaac Valles (66-107, 61.7%, 1,430 yards, 13 TDs)
Receiving leaders: Joe Tukuafu (33 catches, 600 yards, 7 TDs)
Sack leaders: Christian Folau (8.5 sacks)
Felt’s Facts for Roy High School
All-time record: 219-265-2 (49 years)
Region championships: 7 (1975, 1976, 1980 co, 1983 co, 1989 co, 1990 co, 1991 co)
Playoff appearances: 21
All-time playoff record: 11-19
State championships: 1 (1981)
State championship record: 1-1
Felt’s Factoid(s): Royal Larry Riggs holds the record for longest interception return in a championship game: 88 yards in 1981. Even though Riggs didn’t score, Roy defeated Bonneville 14-13 for the 4A title. ... Roy is one of just eight teams to keep an opponent from gaining a first down in a game (2001 vs. Ogden).
Felt’s Facts for East High School
All-time record: 533-342-31 (100 years)
Region championships: 32 (1917, 1919, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923 co, 1925 co, 1926, 1929 co, 1934, 1935, 1936 co, 1937 co, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1942, 1943, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1960, 1962, 1964, 1966, 1973, 1996, 2006 co, 2007 co, 2011, 2013)
Playoff appearances: 41
All-time playoff record: 49-25-2
State championships: 15 (1917, 1919, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1925, 1926, 1943, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1964, 1974, 1996)
State championship record:12-3-1
Felt’s Factoid(s): East has the most consecutive non-losing seasons with 37, from 1932-1968. ... East also has the most state championships, 15, since state playoffs began in 1919. ... East is tied for the state record (with Skyline) for winning consecutive championship games, five (1919-23).