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5A high school football preview: Taylorsville vs. Fremont could be a high-scoring matchup


Taylorsville (5-6) at Fremont (9-1)

5A state tournament quarterfinals

Friday 3:30 p.m.

Parry’s Power Guide: Fremont by 24

All-time series: Fremont leads 2-0

Coach vs. coach: First meeting between Fremont’s Kory Bosgieter and Taylorsville’s Rod Wells

Last meeting: Sept. 10, 2004 – Fremont 50-7

PLAIN CITY — The scoreboard operator had better not blink in this game, or he might miss something.

Like another touchdown, or maybe two.

Two of the state's most prolific offensive powerhouses, Fremont and Taylorsville, tangle Friday on the Silver Wolves' field in a 5A quarterfinal matchup that promises to be a high-scoring shootout.

Chances are, the team who has the ball last wins.

Fremont's stellar 9-1 season has been fueled by a high-scoring offense featuring its three-headed monster of quarterback Saxton Morby, running back Austin Freeman and receiver/return specialist Haze Hadley.

Morby has completed over 73 percent of his passes for 1,939 yards and 25 touchdowns with just two interceptions, and he has nearly 700 yards rushing and 12 more TDs.

Freeman has accounted for almost 1,200 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns, churning for nearly nine yards per carry, and he's also got a couple hundred receiving yards and another score. The star soccer player has also kicked 51 PATs for Fremont this season. Hadley has almost 1,000 receiving yards and has scored 19 TDs, and he's a threat to take one all the way back as a kick returner, too.

Add in Jay Scott (329 yards rushing, 9.7 yards per carry and five TDs) and Colter Wilde (396 receiving yards and five TDs), and it's obvious the Silver Wolves have plenty of offensive firepower in their arsenal. They've averaged 40.9 points per game, scoring 35-plus eight times, including seven games with 41 or more points.

Coming up with a game plan to try to slow down the Silver Wolves will be a challenge, but Taylorsville co-head coach Rod Wells feels like his team is up to the task, especially after they knocked off Region 2 co-champion Davis 28-27 last week by rallying from a 15-point, fourth-quarter deficit. It was Taylorsville's first state playoff victory since 1999.

"I think it's a good matchup," Wells said of this week's promising Wolves-Warriors tussle. "They've got some talent, their quarterback (Morby) is talented, the Hadley kid is amazing, just an amazing athlete. He reminds me a lot of that kid that played at Timpview, Britain Covey. He's shifty, quick, smart and man, he's tough. It's gonna be a tough matchup for us.

"Obviously it's the state playoffs and we've got to play the very best we can. Fremont has a talented group of kids and coach (Kory) Bosgieter always does a great job. I have the utmost respect for him, he just runs a solid program. They capitalize on their opponents' mistakes and you just can't make any. ... Our defense can play tough, but one thing about Coach Bosgieter is he can exploit things when you make a mistake.

"The biggest key will be turnovers," Wells said. "If we can avoid turnovers and have our defense make some plays. I'm confident in our quarterback, our running back and our receivers, too."

Indeed, the Warriors' offensive personnel possesses many of the same stellar qualities as those of their Fremont counterparts. Wells' co-head coach, Pala Vaitu'u, sees a lot of similarities in the two teams.

"We've got two dual-threat quarterbacks (Morby and Taylorsville's Dane Leituala), and we've each got a dynamic guy (Hadley and the Warriors' Jace Simons) that can make big plays. That Hadley kid, whooh, he's good either coming out of the backfield or in the slot. And we've got a guy in Simons who's fourth in the state in receiving yards (1,192) and first in touchdowns (18). Either one of those guys can catch a little bubble pass and turn it into a long touchdown.

"We've got a big tight end (Chase Hess) who can catch the ball, just like they do (Colter Wilde)," Vaitu'u said. "It's crazy how similar our teams are. They're big, they're disciplined on both sides of the ball, and they have athletes. It should be a good game, a challenging game. Both teams have got some offensive firepower."

One key for Taylorsville will be that the team is finally healthy after losing several key players, including four co-captains, to injuries. Star running back Paster Jones Lewis missed three games, and defensive leader Dylan Apelu lis back after suffering a broken collarbone in the season opener. The Warriors (5-6) are 5-2 in their last seven games after starting the season 0-4.

"He's been the leader of our defense since he came back," Vaitu'u said of Apelu. "He's not only the leader of our defense, he's basically the captain of our team."

Leituala has been huge for the Warriors all season long, as he's thrown for 2,414 yards and 31 touchdowns and has run for 750 yards and five more scores. Against Davis, he completed 33 of 40 passes for 346 yards and three TDs, along with two gigantic two-point conversions in the Warriors' fourth-quarter rally.

Lewis has 1,287 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns despite missing three games, and Hess has 576 receiving yards and four TDs for an offense which averaged over 47 points in the five games Taylorsville won and, unbelievably, piled up 83 points against Jordan — and yet lost 91-83.

"Their quarterback (Leituala) is a heck of an athlete," Bosgieter said. "They've got a couple of receivers that are very good; their running back is a concern, and their size is a concern. They've scored some points this year, so there's plenty to be concerned about, that's for sure.

"They're good on both sides of the ball. On offense they've scored a lot of points this year, those players have put up some good numbers. Defensively, they run around, they're athletic, they're skilled, and their DBs and their linebackers are long. So they're a good team. They wouldn't still be playing if they weren't. There's something to be said for going into Davis and beating Davis at home. Their kids just battled.

"It's gonna go 48 minutes, that's for sure," the Silver Wolves' coach said. "Our key is to just keep doing what we've been doing — take care of the ball, hope we play good defense and win the special teams battle. I know we've got to tackle better than we did last week (a 27-7 first-round win over Pleasant Grove). And we can't leave any points out there. We left some points out there last week, so those are the things that we need to do better this week than we did last."

Fremont's defense has allowed only 17.4 points per game this season, and while Taylorsville might be able to match the Silver Wolves' offensive outbursts, the Warriors' defense has been shaky at times, allowing an average of 38.6 points per game to their opponents.

Coach Bosgieter knows his team could have its hands full, but he's hoping the Wolves have what it takes to advance to another 5A semifinal appearance.

"We've got some kids that have played a lot of plays for us through the years, so it'd sure be nice," he said, "but we've got a big obstacle in the road this week, so we've got to take care of business.

"We did some good things last week but, believe me, there's plenty to work on this week. It's not like we're so good we don't need to practice or anything like that. We're relatively healthy, so it should be a fun matchup."

And it'll no doubt keep the scoreboard operator mighty busy.

Taylorsville statistical breakdown

Scoring offense: 27.9 ppg (4th in 5A)

Scoring defense: 38.6 ppg (26th in 5A)

Passing leader: Dane Leituala (146-243, 60.1%, 2,414 yards, 31 TDs, 8 INTs)

Rushing leaders: Paster Jones Lewis (158 carries, 1,287 yards, 15 TDs), Dane Leituala (123 carries, 750 yards, 5 TDs)

Receiving leaders: Jace Simons (71 rec., 1,192 yards, 18 TDs), Chase Hess (41 rec., 576 yards, 4 TDs)

Tackles leaders: Josh Sterzer (67 tackles), TJ Hazel (53 tackles)

Sack leaders: Josh Sterzer (11 sacks), TJ Hazel (11 sacks)

Interception leaders: Eddi Ah-Mu, Dane Leituala (2 INTs)

Fremont statistical breakdown

Scoring offense: 40.9 ppg (3rd in 5A)

Scoring defense: 17.4 ppg (4th in 5A)

Passing leader: Saxton Morby (152, 208, 73.1%, 1,939 yards, 25 TDs, 2 INTs)

Rushing leaders: Austin Freeman (133 carries, 1,194 yards, 13 TDs), Saxton Morby (89 carries, 691 yards, 12 TDs)

Receiving leaders: Haze Hadley (76 rec., 966 yards, 19 TDs), Colter Wilde (28 rec., 396 yards, 4 TDs)

Tackles leaders: Heston Hobbs (98 tackles), Noah Stanger (71 tackles)

Sack leaders: Colter Wilde (13 sacks)

Interception leaders: Haze Hadley, Saxton Morby (2 INTs)

Felt’s Facts for Taylorsville High School

All-time record: 115-232 (36 years)

Region championships: 2 (1999 co, 2013 co)

Playoff appearances: 14

Current playoff appearance streak: 1 (2016)

All-time playoff record: 4-12

State championships: 0

State championship record: 0-1

Most played rivalry: 30 meetings with Kearns dating back to 1981. Taylorsville leads 17-13.

Felt’s Factoid(s): Warrior Isaiah Tafua (1998) is one of just eight players to return a fumble 99 yards. … Ryan Filipe holds the record for longest kickoff return - 99 yards - in a championship game (1999).

Felts Facts for Fremont High Schooll

All-time record: 152-97 (23 years)

Region championships: 7 (2002 co, 2005, 2006, 2010, 2011, 2014, 2016 co)

Playoff appearances: 18

Current playoff appearance streak: 3 (2014-2016)

All-time playoff record: 24-17

State championships: 0

State championship record: 0-3

Most played rivalry: 23 meetings with two schools, Northridge and Weber, both dating back to 1994. Fremont leads Northridge 13-10 and Weber 18-5.

Felt’s Factoid(s): Fremont’s Austin Raught (2003-05) holds the state record for career reception yards, 3,445, and career receptions, 231. He also has the career TD reception record (tied with Jordan’s Cody Raymond), 41.