BY SHAIN GILLET
Clipper Sports Editor
SALT LAKE CITY – A long road back to Rice Eccles Stadium has now become a reality for the Woods Cross Wildcats football team.
After taking down Salem Hills in a 21-7 win last Friday, the Wildcats will make their first appearance in the 4A semi-finals in over 20 seasons.
A win Thursday night means a finals appearance for the first time since 1989.
“I have never been (at Rice Eccles) before,” said Wildcats coach Justin Spencer after last week’s win over the Skyhawks. “It’s special and I’m happy for our kids.”
In the Wildcats (11-1, 5-1 Region 6) way this week; however, is a Timpview (11-1, 6-0 Region 8) squad that will once again test the Woods Cross defense.
For the second year in a row, Woods Cross and Timpview will meet in the 4A playoffs when the game kicks off at 6:30 p.m.
Last season, the Thunderbirds knocked the Wildcats out of the playoffs in the quarterfinal round with a 35-14 score. Timpview went on to win the 4A title, beating Mountain Crest 38-31 in the title game two weeks later.
The Thunderbirds have continued to showcase their dominance on offense this season. Through 12 games, Timpview has a scoring average of nearly 42 points per game.
However, both Timpview and Woods Cross boast two of the top scoring defenses in the 4A class.
The Wildcats, who have allowed 183 total points this season, are ranked third in scoring defense. Timpview, at 153 points allowed, has the top scoring defense in 4A, making for a good matchup.
“We thrive around our defense,” said Spencer. “The defense sets the tone for us.”
The offense for Woods Cross will revolve around a running game that has seen as many as three running backs rotating carries behind quarterback Clay Kidman, who has started under center in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
Last week, Tomasi Giles led the charge with 104 yards rushing and two touchdowns, and Spencer said afterward that, despite his limited amount of carries, Giles is a “true running back.”
“There’s no gimmick,” said Spencer. “It was his turn ... we knew we were going to need him at some point and he executed when his name was called.”
Braxton Gunther has been getting the bulk of the carries, and played well against Salem Hills in the quarterfinal win.
Kickoff for Thursday night’s game is 6:30 p.m. A Woods Cross win will have the Wildcats facing the winner of the East/Olympus semi-final, which will kick off at 2:30 p.m.