The Grantsville football team has been firing on all cylinders in recent weeks, outscoring its opponents 125-21 during a three-game winning streak.
However, the Cowboys can’t let up now. A win Friday night over Emery in the regular-season finale would give Grantsville sole possession of second place in the Class 3A North standings, and a valuable first-round bye.
“(Emery is) a pretty physical team, so we’ve got our work cut out for us,” Grantsville coach Kody Byrd said. “The kids know it’s a big one. The bye is probably the biggest thing because we can maybe get a couple guys back who have been a little banged up, so it’s always good to get a little time off.”
Grantsville (4-4, 3-1 Class 3A North) could also clinch a first-round bye if Union loses to Morgan, but the Cowboys would prefer to remain in control of their own destiny. They lost the region opener to Morgan, but beat Union 43-15 on the road in their next game. Grantsville followed that with a 41-6 win at Carbon, and shut out Judge 41-0 at Cowboy Stadium last week to move into second place with one game left.
The reason for the Cowboys’ success? The running game, led by Gage Schmidt and Parker Thomas, has been dominant. Schmidt rushed for 103 yards against Judge Memorial, and has 372 yards in the past three games. Thomas, a power-rushing complement to the speedy, 5-foot-5 Schmidt, has averaged more than 100 yards per game on the ground, including a 174-yard outing against Judge.
The Cowboys’ ground game has also opened things up for quarterback Coy Johnson, who is an efficient 15-for-27 for 239 yards, five touchdowns and one interception over the past three games.
“A lot of our stuff is build off our running game, with play action and stuff like that,” Byrd said. “People kind of have to honor the pass, so we’re not getting the nine guys in the box like we did early (in the season). It’s all kind of coming together for us at the right time.”
The Grantsville defense has also been overpowering. The Cowboys allowed just 130 yards of total offense against Union, 184 yards against Carbon and 141 against Judge.
“The level of energy — the kids are more comfortable and they know what I want as a defensive coordinator,” Byrd said. “We keep it pretty simple and the boys are responding and flying around. We’re creating turnovers and getting short fields for our offense. It’s been a lot of fun to be a part of these last few weeks, that’s for sure.”
Emery (1-7, 1-3) has struggled defensively in region play, allowing 134 points in its three losses. The Spartans’ lone win was a 19-16 win over Carbon in their second region game of the season, though they lost a narrow two-point decision to Judge Memorial a week earlier. Emery is locked into Class 3A North’s No. 5 seed.
Friday’s game starts at 7 p.m. at Grantsville High School.