On paper, tonight’s Class 4A state semifinal playoff game appears to be a difficult challenge for the Stansbury football team.
After all, the Stallions are facing a Mountain Crest squad that’s already beaten them once — and soundly, I might add. The Mustangs handed the Stallions a 52-19 defeat in Week 4 as part of Stansbury’s 1-3 start to the season. And the last time Stansbury was here at Rice-Eccles Stadium, it got blown out by as more-heralded program from a more-heralded region in Region 9’s Desert Hills. Mountain Crest was the second-best team in Class 4A’s best league, Region 12, this season.
But a lot has changed since Week 4. For one, the Stallions haven’t lost since that game. Their passing attack, which accounted for 233 yards in the first meeting, isn’t merely something they turn to in desperate times anymore — instead, it has become a regular part of their offense, making the Stallions a multi-dimensional threat.
And Stansbury’s defense has buckled down, allowing 16 points per game during a seven-game winning streak.
The Stallions are coming off their best game of the season, a 38-7 win over one of Mountain Crest’s Region 12 rivals in Ridgeline. Stansbury dominated both sides of the ball in that one, more than doubling the Riverhawks’ offensive output in terms of yards and playing a punishing, physical style that saw Ridgeline have to turn to its third-string quarterback before the end of the game.
Now, Mountain Crest is a different beast, to be sure. The Mustangs beat Ridgeline 38-20 earlier this season to go along with their big win over Stansbury. They held a high-powered Dixie team to just 17 points in last week’s quarterfinal win on the road. There’s no doubt the Mustangs are good — their 11-1 overall record, with the lone loss coming by three points against top-ranked Sky View, speaks for itself.
Will it be difficult for the Stallions to win this horse race against the Mustangs? Absolutely — but that’s to be expected in a state semifinal game. There are no cupcakes this time of year. These aren’t the teams you’d be scheduling for your homecoming game if you expected to win it, that’s for sure.
But is beating Mountain Crest an impossible task? I think not. This one could come down to the wire.
Darren Vaughan is a veteran sports writer from Moab, Utah. He is looking forward to Thursday’s game under the bright lights at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Email him at email@example.com.