The preseason has reached its halfway point, meaning high school football teams across Utah are starting to get a feel for what they need to improve upon going into the upcoming region season.
The teams from Stansbury, Tooele and Grantsville are no different, as all are in the process of fine-tuning things as they hope to make a run at their respective region titles. All three will be tested in this week’s games, as Stansbury welcomes Class 6A Taylorsville on Thursday night, while Tooele travels to Region 9 powerhouse Dixie and Grantsville plays the first road game of its season against Manti on Friday.
Here’s a look at this week’s matchups:
at Stansbury (1-1)
Where: Stallion Stadium, Stansbury High School
When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
Last week: Taylorsville lost to Lehi 37-6; Stansbury defeated Hurricane 67-8
Details: Stansbury is coming off its largest margin of victory in school history last week, though the Stallions will be facing a much tougher opponent this time around. Taylorsville beat the Stallions 55-36 last year behind a huge game from quarterback Dane Leituala, who is looking for a repeat performance.
Last season, Leituala threw for 306 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while rushing for 164 yards and four more scores against a Stansbury team that went on to play in the Class 4A semifinals. However, Taylorsville didn’t score until the very end of last week’s game against Lehi, and lost its opener to Snow Canyon when Leituala threw a 100-yard pick-six in overtime after racking up 443 yards of total offense through regulation.
Stansbury got back to what it does best last week, running for 470 yards in the win over Hurricane. The week before against Sky View, the Stallions never got their rushing attack going, and coach Clint Christiansen was disappointed in his own playcalling. However, if the Stallions can run the ball effectively again this week against Taylorsville, and, more importantly, win the time-of-possession battle and keep Leituala off the field, they will have a chance.
at Dixie (1-1)
Where: Dixie High School, St. George
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Last week: Tooele lost to Sky View 38-14; Dixie beat Legacy (Nevada) 27-7
Details: Tooele didn’t get its offense going until it found itself on the wrong side of a five-touchdown deficit last week, and is hoping to avoid a similarly slow start against another one of Class 4A’s traditional powerhouses.
Tooele managed just 239 yards of total offense, 94 of which came on the ground. That’s not the kind of effort the Buffaloes expect from their run-first, Wing-T attack, and it will have to be better to compete against the Flyers. On the bright side, quarterback Kulani Iongi was 9-for-12 for 145 yards and two scores through the air, connecting with Austin Meono and Conway Hogan for touchdowns in the second half.
Dixie may have lost a number of its top contributors from last season, but it appears the Flyers merely reloaded instead of rebuilding. Starting quarterback Reggie Graff has thrown for 438 yards and four touchdowns through the first two games, and has a team-high 115 yards rushing. Keeping him and top receiver Nate Mahi in check will be crucial for the Buffs if they hope to avoid making the long trip to St. George feel even longer.
at Manti (2-0)
Where: Manti High School
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Last week: Grantsville beat Summit Academy 35-24; Manti beat Delta 33-0
Details: Watch Grantsville running back Parker Thomas — there he goes. Can anyone stop him? Nobody knows.
That has been the story through Grantsville’s first two games of the 2018 season. Thomas has 417 yards and five touchdowns on the ground already, including a school-record, 313-yard outburst against Summit Academy, widely considered to be among Class 3A’s top programs. But Thomas isn’t the only reason the Cowboys are off to a 2-0 start. The defense, led by Isaac Riding’s five tackles-for loss and two sacks, has been dominant in its wins over North Sanpete and Summit Academy.
Manti will be far from a pushover in this one. The Templars have scored 73 points in their first two games and yielded just 15, though their competition — Carbon and Delta — hasn’t been as strong. Nevertheless, the Cowboys will have to try to slow down Manti quarterback Kyle King, who threw for 256 yards and four touchdowns on just nine completions against Carbon and added four more TD passes against Delta.
A victory would help solidify the Cowboys’ position among the top teams in Class 3A going into next week’s county rivalry game against Tooele.