Following Tooele’s 51-0 victory over Judge in the region season finale, head coach Kyle Brady took a scouting trip south to watch the Class 3AA South matchup between Pine View and Cedar City, then another trip down to see the Panthers beat Ben Lomond 58-21 at home on Friday.
He didn’t necessarily like what he saw.
“They have a really good running back, I think he’s really explosive, probably one of the better running backs we’ll see all year,” Brady said. “One of our goals is the same as every week, just to shut their run down. But their pass game is pretty good too.”
Pine View finished the region season with a 8-2 record after the 18-13 win over Cedar on Oct. 21 that gave them a 3-2 league mark.
Led by junior quarterback Ryan Javines’ nearly 1,800 yards and 18 touchdowns this season, as well as junior running back Jacob Mpungi’s almost-1,200 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns, the Panthers have as powerful an offense as Tooele has seen all season.
Brady said Pine View’s spread offense is pretty balanced, with more than one good receiver — he said the slot receivers are shifty while the outside receivers are big and can get open really well downfield.
“We’re going to have our work cut out for us defensively, but we feel we have a good game plan going in,” he said. “We’ve just got to execute and eliminate mistakes.”
Stat-wise, the Buffaloes don’t have any standouts on defense and rely on players to swarm to the ball. Junior linebacker Jeno Bins leads the team in total tackles with 51 to senior Cody Whitehouse’s 49. Five other players have totaled 39 or more this season.
But senior defensive end and captain Jaren Wilson has seven sacks this season and serves as the point of the spear.
“They’re a really good team, they’re definitely going to give us a really hard game,” Wilson said. “We just need to practice well and be prepared because they if we don’t come out and play well, they could beat us.”
Tooele’s offense looks basically the same as it has for the past few seasons. The Buffaloes don’t pass the ball all that often, but they run effectively due to a bunch of talented running backs on the depth chart — and of course, the lineman who clear the way for them.
Senior Lincoln Powers leads the team in most categories, racking up nearly 1,500 yards with nine 100-yard games and 14 touchdowns. He is complemented by Bins and fellow seniors Pete Smith and Mike Dunn, who combine for another 188 yards per game.
Despite the heavy dose of rushing, Tooele has only lost four fumbles, according to team statistics found online.
“We’re going to do the same thing we’ve done all year,” Brady said. “Our M.O. is to make people stop us. We feel like we have one of the best offenses in the state.”
It remains to be seen how well Tooele will be able to run against Pine View’s defense, which is led by junior linebacker Christian Reis and senior Zach Spendlove, who have 141 tackles — 19.5 of those for a loss — and six sacks between them so far this season. The Panthers also have a pair of defensive backs with five interceptions each: Mpungi and senior Dylan Hendrickson.
“We just need to play to the best of our ability and hopefully we’ll come out with the ‘W,’” Wilson said, “if we can just play our scheme and play Tooele football.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Friday at Tooele High School.