The Tooele Buffaloes and Snow Canyon Warriors will meet for the eighth time in history when they face each other in the first round of the 3AA State Tournament on Friday.
The playoff matchup in St. George features two schools that haven’t appeared in the playoffs since 2006. That year, Tooele lost to Delta 18-10 in the first round, and Snow Canyon lost to Bear River in the state championship game. Tooele and Snow Canyon last faced each other in 2004 at Snow Canyon High School with the Warriors beating the Buffaloes 34-0.
This year, Snow Canyon (6-3) enters the state tournament as the 3AA South No. 4 seed. Tooele (3-6) enters the tournament as the 3AA North No. 5 seed. The course of the two teams’ seasons have been similar, but the end results in close games were different.
Both teams played in four games that were decided by 14 points or less. Tooele went 1-3 in those games, whereas Snow Canyon went 3-1. Tooele defeated Uintah, but lost to Stansbury, Bear River and Park City. Snow Canyon lost to Desert Hills, but defeated Copper Hills, Payson and Cedar.
THS coach Kyle Brady said the Warriors do some different things as a whole that makes them a whole different kind of opponent. The key for the Buffs in practice has been to focus on the game film and trust how they’ve been playing as of late.
“We need to eliminate penalties and not turn the ball over on offense, and hopefully we can make a couple of plays on special teams,” Brady said. “We should be OK.”
Brady said the crucial part of the Snow Canyon game will be to score in the red zone.
Even though the two teams have played in close games, Tooele has been on the losing end of more blowouts this year. The Buffs had three games where they lost by 21 points or more. Snow Canyon has just one such loss.
Historically, the Buffs are 0-7 all time against the Warriors; the first meeting between the two teams was Oct. 19, 1995. Snow Canyon defeated Tooele 36-9. But with their last meeting coming in 2004, it’s a whole new opponent for the Tooele players. And now that they’re back in the playoffs, the focus is to win. Brady said the Buffs are happy to be back, but they’re not satisfied by simply qualifying for the postseason.
“I think our players are excited,” Brady said. “We’re focused on winning a football game on Friday. We’re in the playoffs, so we’re not looking at it as being excited to be here. We’re here, and we’re playing our best football right now.”
TOOELE PLAYOFF FACTS
Tooele has played on the road in the first round of the playoffs just eight times since 1985. The Buffs are 5-3 in those eight road games. During that same 28-year period, the Buffs played in St. George for a playoff game only once. That game was a 52-14 loss to Pine View and former BYU quarterback James Lark in 2005.