(Mountain Crest) is the real deal. Hopefully we give them a little more competition this go round. We will see on Thursday whether we deserve to play with them or not. —Stansbury head coach Clint Christiansen
Fifty-two to nineteen. That was the final score of the Week 4 contest that pitted the Mountain Crest Mustangs against the Stansbury Stallions. The Mustangs were the victors in that early September contest, the last preseason bout for either team.
The Cache Valley giant dominated the Stallions on said occasion. Quarterback Brady Hall threw for four touchdowns, receiver Beau Robinson hauled in a pair of touchdown receptions, and the Mustangs caused — according to Stansbury head coach Clint Christiansen — seven or eight fumbles.
It was a total and complete victory for Mountain Crest, and it helped propel the Mustangs to one of the finest seasons in 4A.
Following that win, the Mustangs (11-1) went on to defeat Ridgeline, Bear River and Green Canyon during region play, earning the second seed out of Region 12.
More recently, the Mustangs have recorded playoff victories against the likes of Salem Hills and the No. 6-ranked Dixie Flyers.
Mountain Crest has been so impressive, in fact, that Flyers coach Andy Stokes called them “the best team from up in the north.”
“We’re playing pretty good,” said Mountain Crest head coach Jason Lee. “We’re winning. Our kids are playing really hard.”
“We are not satisfied,” Lee added. “The kids have done great things, and we are excited, but the ultimate goal is to go to the state finals and win it.”
The Mustangs are just one game away from the 4A state championship game. To get there, however, they must get through the Stallions one last time.
Mountain Crest and Stansbury will meet on the field at the University of Utah’s Rice-Eccles Stadium Thursday night, in a rematch virtually guaranteed to be a different this time around.
“If you fumble the ball seven or eight times, you aren't going to beat anybody,” said Christiansen. “That is going to be the ticket for us. (Turnovers) have been our Achilles' heel this season. Every game, we would turn the ball over, but we didn’t have one fumble last week (in the 38-7 quarterfinal victory over Ridgeline).
“(The kids) are playing really good football,” added Christiansen. “It has become a player-led team instead of a coaching-led team. The difference between good teams and great teams is the great ones are player-led.”
Mountain Crest (11-1) vs. Stansbury (8-3)
4A state tournament semifinals
Thursday, 6 p.m.
Parry’s Power Guide: Mountain Crest by 15
All-time series: Mountain Crest leads 1-0
Coach vs. coach: Mountain Crest’s Jason Lee leads Stansbury’s Clint Christiansen, 1-0
Last meeting: Sept. 8 (Week 4) – MC 52-19, at Mountain Crest
Indeed, since their embarrassing loss to the Mustangs, the Stallions have become a different team altogether.
First came an undefeated run through Region 11, culminating in the region championship.
After that, all Stansbury has done is defeat Cedar City and Ridgeline in the playoffs.
“Ever since the Tooele game (a game Stansbury won 35-28), our players have done a lot more on their own to prepare for games. They are teaching themselves. It has really changed the dynamic of our team,” said Christiansen.
“I thought we had a chance to be decent at the beginning of the year, but they have slowly gotten better each week, and they are just playing with a lot of confidence.”
“They really believe, and that is half the battle,” Christiansen added. “They are playing really good ball. We are going to need to play really good ball this week.”
Chief among the Stallions who will be needed are quarterback Mitch Lindsay and running back Silas Young. The pair have combined for 27 rushing touchdowns this season, a total that illustrates the difficulty of stopping the Stansbury triple-option scheme.
“It is difficult to prepare for it ′cause you can’t simulate it with your scout team,” Christiansen said of his team’s offensive approach.
Of course, the last time the Mustangs faced off against the Stallions triple-option, they handled it pretty well.
“The last time they played us, they did a pretty good job. We were horrendous. We play like that on Thursday, we are going to be beat just as bad.”
On the other side, Mountain Crest will look to Hall, who has thrown for over 2,500 yards and 29 touchdowns this season, as well as its third-ranked scoring defense (15.2 points per game) to lead the way.
“We have to control their quarterback; he does a lot of things on his feet,” said Christiansen. ”They’ve got their weapons, there is no doubt about it. (Mountain Crest) is the real deal. Hopefully we give them a little more competition this go round. We will see on Thursday whether we deserve to play with them or not.”
Lee perhaps said it best, noting “only time with tell.”
Mountain Crest statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 33.1 (6th in 4A)
Scoring defense: 15.2 ppg (3rd in 4A)
Passing leader: Brady Hall (141-244, 57.8%, 2,727 yards, 29 TDs, 12 INTs)
Interception leaders: Cameron Moser (3 INTs)
Stansbury statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 34.4 ppg (5th in 4A)
Scoring defense: 23.0 ppg (10th in 4A)
Passing leader: Mitch Lindsay (45-105, 42.9%, 957 yards, 9 TDs, 5 INTs)
Receiving leaders: Conner McKay (18 rec., 544 yards, 5 TDs), Tavita Gagnier (14 rec., 296 yards, 3 TDs)
Tackles leaders: Alix Taukeiaho (79 tackles), Conner McKay (65 tackles), Justin Matthews (60 tackles)
Sack leaders: Kyle McKenna (10 sacks), Dallon Brooks (7 sacks)
Interception leaders: Tavita Gagnier (4 INTs), Justin Matthews (3 INTs), Conner McKay (3 INTs)
Felts Facts for Mountain Crest High School
Head Coach: 2016-current — Jason Lee (14-7)
All-time record: 235-149 (35 years)
Region championships: 13 (1991, 1992 co, 1994, 1998, 1999 co, 2001 co, 2004 co, 2005, 2007 co, 2008, 2009, 2010-co, 2012)
Playoff appearances: 26
Current playoff appearance streak: 1 (2017)
All-time playoff record: 45-22
State championships: 3 (1987, 2001, 2005)
State championship record: 3-4
Felt’s Facts for Stansbury High School
Head Coach: 2009-current — Clint Christiansen (63-35)
All-time record: 63-35 (9 years)
Region championships: 5 (2011, 2012, 2014, 2016 co, 2017)
Playoff appearances: 7
Current playoff appearance streak: 7 (2011-2017)
All-time playoff record: 5-6
State championships: 0
State championship record: 0-0