HOLLADAY — The last time these two teams met, Olympus was a team trying to find itself while Cottonwood was at its best. The result was a predictable 41-0 tailkicking administered by the Colts.
Since that time, the Colts have maintained their offensive juggernaut of a season with only a wake-up loss at East interupting what pretty much everyone at Cottonwood feels is their season of destiny.
Olympus, on the other hand, has apparently learned something since that drubbing. The Titans have won five of their last seven games and now find themselves in the 4A quarterfinals where they will seek a little retribution for that 41-point drubbing suffered seven weeks ago.
"The biggest difference," Olympus coach Mark Smith said, "is that we've gotten better since then. We've got a few starters back that we didn't have the first time we played Cottonwood and each week, we're becoming a better football team."
The Titans, with Spencer Young back at quarteback after missing the first few weeks of the season while his broken leg healed, have had success establishing a dependable ground game behind Ryan Roundy and Zack Taylor.
That hasn't gone unnoticed in the Cottonwood coaching office.
"I've noticed that they have been very strong in the run game," Colts coach Tom Jones said. "We'll need tolimit their running game and keep them off the field."
The Colts will be lead by their star-studded lineup featuring running back Stanley Havili, quarterback Alex Cate and a NFL-sized defensive line. Havili has hit the end zone 26 times and is averaging 9.44 yards per carry. His total of 1,038 rushing yards would be considerably higher had the Colts not had one game canceled and also sent several starters to the bench for the fourth quarter in some of their blowout victories.
"Obviously," Smith said, "it's a typical David versus Goliath scenario. They've got all sorts of talent. For us to have a chance we have to hold onto the ball and not turn it over."
The Titans worked on that plan last week against Provo. Passing only when necessary, Olympus ate huge chunks of clock with drives lasting as long as nine minutes.
"That's the best way to stop their offense," Smith said. "We have to keep the ball out of their hands and keep them off the field."
Cottonwood's beefy defensive line will focus on plugging the holes Roundy, Taylor and Young enjoy running through while also working on getting the ball back into the capable hands of Cate.
After entering the season with all sorts of expectations, the Colts must avoid looking past the team they had no problems with seven weeks ago.
"There's a lot of risk of that happening," Jones said. "We're a very confident team. But if we don't play our best we can be beateb. And there's a lot of teams out there that would be happy to do it."
Olympus, naturally, is one of them.
"Right now, our focus is about when we have to do," Jones said. "We've got to stay grounded."
In other 4A quarterfinals:
EAST (8-3) AT TIMPVIEW (8-2), Friday, 4 p.m.: No team can strike as quick as the T-Birds, and they'll need to do it early against the Leopards to force them out of their clock-eating offense. Quarterback Ben Bateman will need to be on top of his game and force the Leopards to come after him. Running back Jackson Owen could be key in keeping East's defense off balance, so receiver Preston Phillips and David Jackson can get open. The Timpview linebackers will need to force East to throw the ball by stopping the run.
East is a double-barrelled team, but lives mainly by the run. Jake Cook carries the ball for about 132 yards per game and has scored on the ground 13 times this season. Travis Cornell, averaging about 70 yards per game and with 12 TDs, gives the Leopards a second running threat. Quarterback Mitch Curtis has 12 passing TDs, with five of those going to receiver Sam Baldwin. The Leopards score about 32 points per game and give up 16. Linebacker Paul Tuakalau anchors East's defense.
SPRINGVILLE (4-6) AT MOUNTAIN CREST (9-1), Friday, 2 p.m.: Just like in their first-round win over Box Elder, the Red Devils need to play a flawless game. Springville needs the same balanced offensive attack they used to beat the Bees, with Trenton Raught needing to have another good passing game and Brennan Foster needing a big game catching the ball. Daryk Smith must make the Mustangs defend the run. On the other side of the ball Springville's pass defense will be tested much more this week. The Red Devils will also need a big effort from their line and linebackers.
The high-scoring Mustangs have 22 passing touchdowns and 30 rushing touchdowns. Mountain Crest features one of the state's most versatile backs in Brady Wootton, who has 13 rushing TDs and nine receiving TDs, and rushes for nearly 140 yards per game. Quarterback Brady Zimmerman throws for about 200 yards per game, and has seven TDs rushing. Receiver Cameron Webb has 36 receptions. The Mustangs scored more than 34 points per game while holding opponents to less than 14 points per game.
Contributing: Jim Rayburn