Stansbury (7-3) will look to even the score against Desert Hills (8-2) and move on to the state semifinals for the first time in school history.
The two powerful 3AA football teams will meet Friday at 5 p.m. in a 3AA quarterfinal game at Stallion Stadium. The winner will advance to the semifinals Friday, Nov. 15 and face the winner of the Dixie-Cedar quarterfinal.
The Thunder improved to 2-1 in games against Stansbury with a 12-0 triumph over the Stallions at Desert Hills High School in St. George in the first game of the season back on Aug. 23.
The Stallions had a difficult time moving the football on the Thunder and barely gained 100 yards in the game. Desert Hills has been outstanding on defense all season and leads 3AA football in points allowed. The Thunder give up an average of nine points per game.
Stansbury defeated Desert Hills 12-7 in a mid-season game last year thanks to a pair of field goals from Darius Johnson and a 10-yard TD run by quarterback Chase Christiansen.
In 2011, Desert Hills defeated Stansbury 26-7 in the 3A quarterfinals at Stallion Stadium.
“We need to find a way to penetrate their defense,” said Stansbury coach Clint Christiansen. “They’re really good up front and have great linebackers. They have really good athletes overall.”
Coach Christiansen said if Stansbury can put up three touchdowns on the scoreboard, they should have a solid chance of winning the game.
“They’re solid on offense, but haven’t’ been scoring a ton of points. If we can keep our offense on the field and score three touchdowns we should win this game. It would be great to get over the hump and finally reach the semifinals at Rice-Eccles,” the coach said.
Stansbury lost two top players at Park City when Hudson Conrad and Spencer Wihongi went down with season-ending injuries, but senior quarterback Chase Christiansen will start against Desert Hills after missing eight games.
“He’s (Chase) 100 percent and ready to go. He’s been practicing the last two weeks. Even when he was out he still practiced throwing the ball,” the coach said. “He has a chip on his shoulder and still has that nasty taste of that first game down there (at Desert Hills).
Coach Christiansen said he felt his team tried to run away from Desert Hills’ defense the first game of the season, but this time they will go right after them with the option run attack.
“We’ve tweaked a few things with our blocking scheme and have seen where we made mistakes on offense and could have moved the ball better in that first game,” Christiansen said. “We want to run right at them. We’re a physical team and they’re a physical team. We want to do what we do best and match them hit for hit.”
With Chase Christiansen at full steam, the Stallions should show off a formidable rushing attack. The senior quarterback also will be able to give the ball to speedy running backs Alex Mackay, who has gained more than 1,000 yards rushing this season, and Josh Mulivai, who showed off his skills late in the season.
Junior Gage Manzione, who has filled in for Chase Christiansen this season at quarterback, will move over to the tight end position.
Friday’s other 3AA quarterfinal games include Snow Canyon at Juan Diego, Hurricane at Pine View and Cedar at Dixie.