It took 59 minutes, 43 seconds for the Stansbury football team to finally gain the upper hand on Mountain Crest in last week’s thrilling 28-24 win in the second round of the Class 4A state playoffs.
While the Stallions (8-3) had their hands full against the Mustangs last week, this week’s opponent figures to be an even bigger challenge. Dixie (8-2), the No. 3 seed in the Class 4A playoff bracket, will play host to No. 6 Stansbury in a quarterfinal game in St. George that will feature two of Class 4A’s top offenses — and two of its best defenses, as well.
Here’s a closer look at Friday’s matchup.
Class 4A Quarterfinal
No. 6 Stansbury Stallions
No. 3 Dixie Flyers (8-2)
Where: Dixie High School, 350 E. 700 South, St. George
When: Friday, 4 p.m.
Last week: Stansbury beat No. 11 Mountain Crest 28-24; Dixie beat No. 14 Ridgeline 38-7
All-time series: Dixie leads 2-0
Last meeting: Dixie 49, at Stansbury 42; Nov. 7, 2014 (Class 3AA quarterfinal)
The scoop: The last time these two teams met, Dixie erased a 28-point deficit on Stansbury’s home field to eliminate the Stallions from the postseason. But that was five years ago, before anyone on either roster was in high school, so this year’s Stansbury squad is eager to write its own story.
Last week, the Stallions had to overcome an early two-touchdown deficit, and did so thanks to a solid defense and an offensive attack led by quarterback Kru Huxford and running back Tommy Christopherson. Huxford threw for 271 yards and three touchdowns and Christopherson ran for 180 yards and a score. Meanwhile, the defense forced a key turnover on downs late in the game, and the Stallions’ special teams blocked a field goal, forced a short punt and saw another Mountain Crest field-goal attempt fall short to give Stansbury a chance.
The Stansbury defense, led by the likes of Payton Didericksen, Andrew Hanson, Kyler Kolb and Dillon Carpenter, is ranked seventh in Class 4A, allowing 22.7 points per game. The Stallions will have to be at their best against a Dixie offense that ranks second in Class 4A with 41.8 points scored per game. Flyers quarterback Reggie Graff has completed 63.3% of his passes for 1,997 yards, 23 touchdowns and just five interceptions, and he also leads the team in rushing with 1,151 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Treyce Simmons is Graff’s favorite target, catching 49 passes for 562 yards and 12 scores, and Keaton Schweitzer had 32 receptions for 482 yards and three TDs. Preston Moore has 847 yards and seven TDs on just 115 rushing attempts.
Dixie’s sixth-ranked defense (19.7 points per game) will try to slow down Stansbury’s fourth-ranked offense (37.5 points per game). Huxford has thrown for 2,056 yards, 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions, and he ranks second on the team in rushing with 664 yards and seven TDs. Christopherson has a team-high 1,493 rushing yards and 22 TDs.
With leading receiver Gabe Harris having missed the past four games with an injury, Jordon Snow, Lawson Wihongi and Cayden Clark have stepped in to fill the void. Wihongi has 25 catches for 376 yards and a TD, Snow has 22 catches for 328 yards and five TDs and Clark has 15 catches for 235 yards and five TDs.
The Stallions will have to try to slow down Kaiden Faumuina, who leads the Flyers with nine sacks, and they will also have to be careful with Hunter Knighton and Macao Matalolo, who have combined for seven interceptions.
The winner of Friday’s game will face either No. 2 Sky View or No. 7 Mountain View in a state semifinal game Nov. 15 at 6 p.m. at Rice-Eccles Stadium on the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City.