In the final game of the 2A regular season back on Oct. 13, two-time defending state champion Beaver limped to the finish line, narrowly beating Enterprise 12-8. This was the same Enterprise team that two weeks prior lost to Grand by 27 points.
Beaver coach Jon Marshall was naturally concerned about the mentality of his team heading into a playoffs.
Turns out he didn’t have anything to worry about. In the 2A quarterfinals last weekend, Beaver crushed American Leadership 56-3 to march into the semifinals.
“It was a great effort by our kids, I thought we played very well on both sides of the football,” said Marshall. “Kind of woke us up a little bit and helped us to get a little more focused, and we came out and overall that was probably our best effort of the year on both sides of the football.”
Beaver will try to build on that momentum against Delta in the semifinals this Saturday at Weber State at 2:30 p.m. In the first semifinal at noon, top-ranked South Summit faces Grand.
Beaver and South Summit are favored and poised for a third-straight state championship showdown next weekend in Cedar City.
Undefeated South Summit would be the big favorite in such a rematch after beating Beaver 30-7 earlier this season. South Summit coach Mike Grajek isn’t getting caught up in worried about past meetings with anyone.
“There hasn’t been a whole lot of talk about the games in the past, we just try and keep the focus on the game at hand and the game that’s in front of us,” said Grajek.
The focus is on Grand in the semifinals, the first meeting between the programs since the 2013 championship game also at Weber State.
South Summit heads into the semis with 2A’s top-ranked scoring offense and defense, and an average margin of victory of five touchdowns.
Grand’s offense and defense ranks second in 2A, and to have any chance its power running game needs to control time of possession.
“They run an offense that we haven’t seen all year with a single wing which is kind of like a rugby scrum. They bring some things that we haven’t see,” said Grajek.
Grand’s lone loss this year was a 33-28 setback to Beaver back in Week 8. It has suffered some key season-ending injuries in the latter half of the season and faces an uphill climb against juggernaut South Summit.
While the first semifinal pits unfamiliar opponents, Beaver and Delta are very familiar after squaring off in Week 3. Beaver outscored Delta 20-0 in the second half of that game to pull away for the 34-21 win.
“We have to play good. They’re a good football team for sure, but I think if we play well, we can play with them and hopefully have a chance in the end,” said Delta coach Russ Fowles.
Delta running back Dallen Draper leads 2A with 1,296 yards and 16 touchdowns, and getting him going is vital for the Rabbits’ success. He only had 86 yards in the previous meeting with Beaver, which did a great job bottling him up in the second half.
“When you’ve played a team once already, I think the team that’s able to make those adjustments and be able to be more effective with them is the team that’s going to have the advantage,” said Marshall.