After years of relying primarily on its running game, the Stansbury football team has taken to the air with greater frequency this season, hoping to catch defenses on their heels.
While the Stallions won’t remind anyone of the New Orleans Saints and quarterback Drew Brees, or even the Washington State “air raid” attack that will be on display at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday afternoon, Stansbury’s passing game has become a weapon that opposing defenses can’t sleep on in recent weeks.
Over the past three games, Stansbury quarterback Mitch Lindsay has completed 18 of his 37 passing attempts for 552 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions. In eight previous games, the Stallions had thrown for just 652 yards, two touchdowns and eight interceptions. Their total of 1,236 passing yards has shattered the school’s single-season record, and Lindsay set the school’s single-game passing record with 233 yards earlier this season against tonight’s opponent, Mountain Crest.
Lindsay’s two favorite targets are Conner McKay (18 receptions, 544 yards, six touchdowns) and Tavita Gagnier (14 catches, 296 yards, three TDs). Both are big-play threats, with McKay scoring a 90-yard touchdown in the Stallions’ 28-20 win over Cedar City in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs two weeks ago and Gagnier scoring from 77 yards out against Mountain Crest in Week 3.
Thus, while the rushing game remains Stansbury’s bread and butter — and understandably so, with Region 11 Co-Offensive Player of the Year Silas Young leading a talented stable of running backs — the Stallions have given opposing defenses something more to worry about this season with their passing game.
No longer can defenses merely stack eight players in the box near the line of scrimmage in an attempt to stifle the Stallions’ rushing attack. If they do, Lindsay, McKay and Gagnier will go to work and try to stretch the field.