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. —Logan High head coach Mike Favero
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.
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.
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.
“I don’t know who they’re going to play or if they’re going to rotate quarterbacks. They do a lot of different things offensively, and they’re gonna cause problems for our defense, so we’ve got a pretty big task ahead of us. But we’re not that bad of a team ourselves. I feel very fortunate to be with this group of kids. They refuse to back down to anybody and we hope to keep it going.
“If we play sound football, I think we have a chance for success," Whitehead said. "We have a great defense and, up until last week, we were giving up a little over 14 points per game this season, and our offense is averaging a little over 35 points. We have a pretty strong running game, and I think our quarterback (Chase Manning) is a little underrated. He has thrown for around 1,100 yards passing and 15 touchdowns this season."
Along with Manning, the Titans’ other top performers on offense are running back Coleman Meier, who has carried the ball 127 times for 1,176 yards and 15 touchdowns; Ben Seagle, with 104 carries for 697 yards and 6 TDs; and Cooper Draper, who has 50 carries for 522 yards and 7 scores. Their top receivers are Connor Haller and Meier, who have combined for 48 catches good for nearly 600 yards and eight touchdowns. The Olympus defense is led by James Fox, Michael Ninivaggi, Jeff Faletoi, Miles Henry-Davis and Haller.
Olympus, the Region 7 co-champion, comes into Friday's game off an emotion-charged 43-37 first-round playoff victory over Springville in which the Titans pulled a miraculous trick play out of their bag to score the game-winning touchdown with just 1.8 seconds remaining.
Coming off that dramatic win, the Titans face a Logan team which is riding a wave of emotion of entirely different kind on Friday afternoon.
“I like the balance that we have offensively,” Whitehead said. “But, that being said and watching the film we have on Logan, we’re going to be playing a team that’s motivated. They feel like they’re going to be out to play and prove that they belong. Mike Favero has done a heck of a job up there and made them one of the top programs in entire state.
"You take out one player — and he is a special player — but they still have a lot of great athletes. ... We’re preparing for their best, so we can hopefully rise to it."
Favero has guided the Grizzlies’ program to four state championships — 2000, 2005, 2007, 2011 — and would sure like to get a chance at a fifth one this year. But first, they’ve got to find a way to get past a very good Olympus team, and try do it without their best player in Nelson.
Favero sees the Titans’ ground game and their defensive effort as keys to the game.
“They’ve got two real good runners, and they’re real good on defense,” he said. “They run a wing-T offense with some spread, and they’ll give you a little bit of everything. They run it well and do some good wing-T stuff. They’re effective at both running and throwing the ball.
“They’re 10-1 and they lost that one game by one point (17-16), and you don’t win 10 of 11 games without being a real good football team.”
Olympus statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 35.7 ppg (5th in 4A)
Scoring defense: 16.5 ppg (4th in 4A)
Passing leader: Chase Manning (88-147, 59.9%, 1,094 yards, 15 TDs)
Interception leaders: Connor Haller (7 INTs)
Logan statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 40.4 ppg (4th in 4A)
Scoring defense: 17.8 ppg (6th in 4A)
Passing leader: Chase Nelson (227-338, 67.2%, 3,150 yards, 41 TDs)
Rushing leaders: Chase Nelson (177 carries, 1,133 yards, 9 TDs)
Felt’s Facts for Olympus High School
All-time record: 349-251-9 (61 years)
Region championships: 10 (1964, 1977, 1982, 1983, 1986, 1998, 2001 co, 2003-co, 2011, 2012 co, 2013 co)
Playoff appearances: 32
All-time playoff record: 28-29 (including 2013)
State championships: 2 (1984, 1998)
State championship record: 2-2
Felt’s Factoid(s): Olympus holds the championship-game record for most takeaways. The Titans recovered four fumbles and intercepted seven passes (also a state title-game record) in capturing the 1984 Class 4A title over Alta.
Felt’s Facts for Logan High School
All-time record: 496-350-24 (95 years)
Region championships: 25 (1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1931, 1932, 1947, 1956, 1958, 1961, 1966 co, 1967 co, 1978, 1979 co, 1985 co, 1986 co, 1988, 1989, 1993, 2000, 2001 co, 2005, 2007, 2010 co, 2011, 2013)
Playoff appearances: 47
All-time playoff record: 50-39 (including 2013)
State championships: 7 (1978, 1988, 1989, 2000, 2005, 2007, 2011)
State championship record: 7-8
Felt’s Factoid(s): Logan holds the season total offense record of 6,587 yards (2005). ... Brothers Riley and D.J. Nelson rank No. 1 and 2 in season total offense: Riley accumulated 5,815 in 2005 and D.J. totaled 5,096 in 2011. D.J. also set the state record for single-game total offense, with 606 yards in the 2011 4A semifinals against Bountiful. ... Logan is the only school to score more than 600 points in a season two times — 2005 and 2011. ... Logan is one of five teams in state history to have a 14-0 record (2011).