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High school football: 4A quarterfinal preview, Mountain Crest at Orem

Mountain Crest (7-4) at Orem (9-2)

4A state tournament quarterfinal

Friday, 5 p.m.

Parry’s Power Guide: Orem by 20

All-time series: Orem leads 1-0

Coach vs. coach: Orem’s Jeremy Hill leads Mountain Crest’s Jason Lee, 1-0

Last meeting: Nov. 17, 2017 — Orem 26, Mountain Crest 0 (4A championship)

Twenty-six to zero.

That was the final score of the last year’s 4A state championship game, played between the Orem Tigers and the Mountain Crest Mustangs.

The Tigers were victorious in that contest and walked out of the University of Utah’s Rice-Eccles Stadium riding a wave of success that has continued throughout this 2018 season, and has them standing as the prohibitive title favorite yet again.

The Mustangs, meanwhile, have flown a tad bit under the radar since last season’s championship game loss.

Mountain Crest finished third in Region 12, behind Sky View and Logan, with a 2-3 record that included loses to those aforementioned teams, as well as a heartbreaking defeat to Ridgeline.

Overall, however, Mountain Crest finished the regular season 6-4 despite losing 18 seniors from its 2017 team.

“We have a great junior class that’s helped us out and brought along the rest of the kids,” Mountain Crest head coach Jason Lee told the Deseret News. “I don’t know how you replace the 18 great kids that we had last year, but these kids have been working their guts out.”

After their 31-24 first-round victory over Desert Hills, the Mustangs appear to be playing their best football, just in time too as they’ll face off against the Tigers yet again, this time in 4A quarterfinals Friday afternoon.

“Mountain Crest is a good team,” Orem head coach Jeremy Hill said. “There is a reason they were in the championship last year, and I think they are just as good, if not better, than they were last year.”

Leading the way for the Mustangs this season has been quarterback Brady Hall. The dual-threat signal caller has accounted for nearly 2,000 yards of offense, including 1,010 yards through air and 799 on the ground. Hall has 14 touchdowns to his name as well, seven passing and seven rushing.

“He is a quarterback who is a dual threat guy, and that creates issues for you defensively,” Hill said.

The Orem head man also noted the strength of the Mustangs' line, both on offense and defense.

“They have physical guys up front on both sides of the football. That’ll be a test for us.”

The defensive line in particular has helped Mountain Crest become stout defensively, as the Mustangs boast the second best scoring defense (14.9 points per game) in the classification.

The real test, however, will come from the Tigers.

For all the strengths the Mustangs possess, Hill believes they are as good as any team remaining in the playoffs. “This a game that isn’t a gimme by any means,” he said. “Usually your opponent in Round 2 isn’t as good as the team you might see in Round 3 or 4, but I think they are just as good as any opponent we’ll face from here on out.”

Orem is first in 4A in scoring offense, at 52.1 points per game, led by the duo of Cooper Legas (75 carries, 871 yards, 12 TDs) and Puka Nacua (85 rec., 1,945 yards, 21 TDs). Throw in running back Noah Sewell (326 yards and 10 touchdowns) and the Tigers have been nearly unstoppable.

That was the case in the first-round contest against Tooele, against which Orem dropped 68 points.

Perhaps more impressive, however, was the Tigers' defensive showing. The Buffaloes mustered just 12 points in the contest, while Orem scored five defensive touchdowns.

“We are playing really well,” Hill said. “Obviously we are coming out of a region that isn’t as strong as some of the other ones, but we kept playing our game and kept getting better each week. The boys have done exactly what I’ve asked them to do, and I think we are playing pretty good football on both sides.

“You look at the last game, five offensive touchdowns and five defensive touchdowns. You can’t really script it much better than that. We played pretty balanced football.”

Both teams understand that their most recent clash will be completely different from what they’ve faced so far this year, playoffs included.

“This game isn’t a gimme,” said Hill. “Mountain Crest has been here before. They know how to win in the playoffs.”

“They understand what is at stake,” Lee added. “They’ve worked hard to get here.”

…….

Mountain Crest statistical breakdown

Scoring offense: 24.3 ppg (15th in 4A)

Scoring defense: 14.9 ppg (2nd in 4A)

Passing leader: Brady Hall (62-142, 43.7%, 1,010 yards, 7 TDs, 6 INTs)

Rushing leaders: Brady Hall (144 carries, 799 yards, 7 TDs), Hunter Schroeder (126 carries, 551 yards, 10 TDs)

Receiving leaders: Jace Dart (16 rec., 312 yards, 3 TDs)

Tackles leaders: Hunter Schroeder (104 tackles), Camden Olsen (97 tackles)

Sack leaders: Edgardo Huerta (6 sacks), Hunter Schroeder (5 sacks), Elijah Jackson (5 sacks)

Interception leaders: Elijah Jackson (3 INTs)

…….

Orem statistical breakdown

Scoring offense: 52.1 ppg (1st in 4A)

Scoring defense: 18.3 ppg (5th in 4A)

Passing leader: Cooper Legas (181-262, 69.1%, 3,415 yards, 35 TDs, 9 INTs)

Rushing leaders: Cooper Legas (75 carries, 871 yards, 12 TDs), Noah Sewell (30 carries, 326 yards, 10 TDs)

Receiving leaders: Puka Nacua (85 rec., 1,945 yards, 21 TDs)

Tackles leaders: Noah Sewell (81 tackles), Ethan Slade (78 tackles)

Sack leaders: Terrance Faumui (5.5 sacks), Rylen Su’a-Filo (4 sacks)

Interception leaders: Ethan Slade (7 INTs), Jakob Robinson (4 INTs)

…….

Felt’s Facts for Mountain Crest High School

Head coach: 2016-current — Jason Lee (22-12)

All-time record: 243-154 (36 years)

Region championships: 13 (1991, 1992 co, 1994, 1998, 1999 co, 2001 co, 2004 co, 2005, 2007 co, 2008, 2009, 2010-co, 2012)

Playoff appearances: 27

Current playoff appearance streak: 2 (2017-2018)

All-time playoff record: 47-23

State championships: 3 (1987, 2001, 2005)

State championship record: 3-4

…….

Felt’s Facts for Orem High School

Head coach: 2016-current — Jeremy Hill (26-11)

All-time record: 515-304-21 (90 years)

Region championships: 28 (1935 co, 1941, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1951, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1970 co, 1974, 1985 co, 1987, 1990, 1993, 1994, 1996 co, 2000 co, 2004-co, 2012, 2013 co, 2017, 2018)

Playoff appearances: 54

Current playoff appearance streak: 3 (2016-2018)

All-time playoff record: 53-47

State championships: 6 (1962, 1968, 1994, 2017)

State championship record: 6-7