In its nine-year history, the Stansbury football team has established itself as a run-first team — and, for that matter, a run-second and run-third team.
However, in recent games, the Stallions have added a dangerous aerial attack to their arsenal, including a 259-yard, three-touchdown outburst in last week’s 28-20 win over Cedar City in the opening round of the Class 4A state playoffs. They’ll look to keep another opponent off-guard Friday, when they play host to Ridgeline in a state quarterfinal game.
“One team gets to play again and the other one’s going home — that’s all that matters right now,” Stansbury coach Clint Christiansen said. “They’re another team that will come up with another scheme to try to stop us from running the ball, so we’ll have to see what we can do.”
With running back Silas Young having racked up 1,237 yards and 19 touchdowns on the ground this season, and quarterback Mitch Lindsay and A-back Jet Richins also posing a threat in the backfield for a team that has scored 37 of its 48 total touchdowns on the ground, teams have begun to put eight defenders in the box to try to stifle Stansbury’s triple-option attack and make the Stallions beat them with the pass. In recent weeks, that approach has backfired, as Lindsay went 15-for-29 for 429 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions in wins over Bonneville and Cedar City.
Conner McKay has been a dangerous deep threat for Lindsay, catching six passes for 289 yards and three TDs in the past two games after posting just 114 receiving yards in six prior games. Stansbury (7-3) hopes it can continue to keep defenses honest with a successful passing game, opening up holes in the rushing game for Young and the rest of the Stallions’ arsenal of talented athletes.
Ridgeline (7-4) also will look to control the clock with its rushing attack. The Riverhawks, who finished third in Region 12 and edged Region 10 runner-up Spanish Fork 25-22 in last week’s first round, are led by the two-headed monster of Skylar Averett (98 carries, 730 yards, eight TDs) and Brady Stuart (120 carries, 716 yards, eight TDs) on the ground. However, Ridgeline’s passing attack is no slouch, with quarterback Stuart completing nearly 64 percent of his passes for 933 yards and 15 touchdowns with just three interceptions. As a team, Ridgeline has thrown for more than 1,500 yards and 21 touchdowns, with Sam Weda leading the Riverhawks with 39 catches for 556 yards and nine scores.
“We played them last year, and we tried to play them at camp and never got a shot at them,” Christiansen said. “We’re excited and we’ll be ready to play. It’s tough (for visiting teams) to win here. Our kids play big in front of this crowd, so to come in here and beat us — you’ve got to be pretty good to beat us on our home field.”
The Riverhawks have been ballhawks on the defensive side, particularly in the passing game, where Hayden Williams has intercepted six passes this season. That means Stansbury will have to be particularly careful when it comes to ball security, which has been an issue for the Stallions all season.
Friday’s game is schedule for a 4 p.m. start at Stallion Stadium at Stansbury High School. The winner will advance to play either Dixie or Mountain Crest in a Class 4A semifinal game Nov. 9 at 6 p.m. at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City.