The Grantsville Cowboys come into Friday’s matchup with Emery High School after a loss to Judge Memorial, and it’s given the team a chance to re-focus its big-picture goal of winning the state championship.
Winning the region championship, and eventually the state championship, are still in the cards for the Cowboys (5-1, 1-1 in 3A North), who took a lead into halftime against the Judge Memorial Bulldogs before losing the game in the second half. Now, the Cowboys have their Homecoming game against an Emery team that went 1-3 in its preseason schedule but is currently tied with Grantsville for third place at 1-1 in 3A North.
“They have the classic chip on their shoulder,” said GHS head coach Tony Cloward about the Emery Spartans. “They’re going to give us everything that we can handle Friday night. I’ve been telling the kids that.”
The Spartans enter the contest having rushed for 1,654 yards, an average of 275.6 rushing yards per game. Cloward said to keep an eye on Emery’s Ryan Cox, who leads the Spartans with 740 of those rushing yards.
“They’re not a bad team,” he said. “They’re a scrappy, hard-nosed football team, and if we’re not ready, we could drop two in a row.”
Cloward said the players have worked to get back their intensity after last week’s loss. He said the Cowboys need to get a chip back on their own shoulders.
“When you’re riding a five-game winning streak and you come out the first half and dominate a good opponent … I think our kids kind of got a little big for their britches,” Cloward said. “So that’s been the focus this week is we’ve got to get that underdog, small school ‘Us against the world’ mentality back. Let’s get back to basics. Let’s get back to Cowboy football, which is we play hard for 48 minutes.”
Grantsville is still in control of its 3A state tournament positioning. The top two teams from the two regions will play at home in the quarterfinals, and the Cowboys still have a game against the Morgan Trojans, who are currently tied for first place with Judge Memorial.
“You hate to lose,” Cloward said. “I hate the feeling, and the kids hate the feeling, but sometimes that’s exactly what you need to re-focus. We’ve had a great week of practice thus far because of that. The kids seem to be re-focused.”
The Grantsville defense looks to get back on track to the way it played in the first half of the Judge game and in its three shutouts against Tooele, Juab and Carbon. The defense has given up just 10.8 points and 58 rushing yards per game. So it’ll be power against power when Emery’s rushing attack faces Grantsville run defense.
The Cowboys have also forced 18 turnovers this season, nine fumbles and nine interceptions. And several different players have gotten in to force those turnovers. Wyatt Barrus has two interceptions and two fumble recoveries, Ky Fisher has two interceptions and one fumble recovery, Dylan Winters has two fumble recoveries, Clay Matthews has two interceptions, Dallin Williams has one interception and one fumble recovery, Nick Arbon has one interception and one fumble recovery, Wyatt Smith has one interception, and Mitchell Terrell and Devin Adams each have one fumble recovery.
The Homecoming game against Emery starts Friday at 7 p.m.