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Pleasant Grove routs Cyprus for first playoff win since 2019

By Darnell Dickson - | Oct 21, 2022
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Pleasant Grove's Jaeden Wright (20) scores a touchdown against Cyprus in a Class 6A state football playoff game on Friday, October 21, 2022.
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Pleasant Grove's Makai Peterson (6) celebrates after teammate Bronco Winterton (1) scored a touchdown in a 6A state football playoff game on Friday, October 21, 2022.
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Pleasant Grove's Cannon Hale (5) tries to keep his feet after catching a pass in a 6A football playoff game against Cyprus on Friday, October 21, 2022.
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Pleasant Grove's Wade Christiansen (25) applies a straight arm to a Cyprus tackler during a 6A state football playoff game on Friday, October 21, 2022.
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Pleasant Grove's Cannon Hale (5) and Bryce Paulsen (54) lead their team down the stairs to the football field before a 6A state playoff game against Cyprus on Friday, October 21, 2022.
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Pleasant Grove's McKay Murdock kicks off during a 6A football state playoff game against Cyprus on Friday, October 21, 2022.
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Pleasant Grove's defense takes down Cyprus ball carrier Jeff Griffith during a 6A football state playoff game on Friday, October 21, 2022.
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Pleasant Grove's Jake Payne (41) fights off a block by a Cyprus player during a 6A high school football playoff game on Friday, October 21, 2022.
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The Cyprus football team takes the field before a 6A high school football playoff game against Pleasant Grove on Friday, October 21, 2022.
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Pleasant Grove captains Nick Staffieri (10), Bryce Paulsen (54), Ty Lillywhite (64) and Jaeden Wright (20) participate in the coin flip before a 6A state football playoff game against Cyprus on Friday, October 21, 2022.

Progress is easily measured in wins and losses for a high school football program, but it is not so easily earned.

Pleasant Grove, which finished 1-10 in Taylor Walkenhorst’s first season as coach in 2021, is showing it has put in the work.

Nic Staffieri threw six touchdown passes to six different receivers as the Vikings sped past Cyprus 63-38 in Friday in the first round of the Class 6A football playoffs.

It was Pleasant Grove’s first state playoff win since 2019.

“Us seniors, we were talking and the reality was that this could possibly be the last time we ever play on this field,” said Staffieri, nephew to former BYU linebacker Markell Staffieri. “So I think it was good that we played as well as we did. This is the Pleasant Grove team that I love. We spread the ball out to seven or eight different guys and let them rack up the receiving yards. Then the rest just works itself out.”

Staffieri, who came into the game with 21 touchdown passes, spent the game picking apart the Pirates secondary with pinpoint accuracy, finding teammates Bronco Winterton, Mataira Brown, Shawn Cottle, Cannon Hale, Makai Peterson and Tanner Blake on scoring plays.

“Watching film all week, we knew that Cyprus was going to run a little softer coverage then we’ve faced in the past few weeks,” Staffieri said. “We did install some different things but most of it was just our bread and butter stuff that we knew would work. We worked on it early in the season and tonight we kept hitting it over and over until they could stop us.”

Pleasant Grove scored on all five first half possessions, opening with a 14-yard Jaeden Wright run for a quick 7-0 lead. Staffieri fired a 22-yard scoring pass to Winterton and the Vikings led 14-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Pleasant Grove scored three times in the second quarter, including a 4-yard touchdown pass from Staffieri to Cottle with 9.2 seconds remaining for a 35-14 halftime lead.

The Vikings faced a unique Cyprus offense, led by 6-foot-2, 210-pound battering ram and state championship wrestler Skyler Argenta. The big quarterback led No. 17 Cyprus to more than 400 yards rushing, mostly on quarterback keepers and kept the chains moving for the Pirates. Argenta scored three touchdowns and a two-point conversion in leading his team on numerous long scoring drives.

Fortunately for PG, Staffieri and the offense was on fire and scored on eight of nine possessions into the fourth quarter.

“I think this shows that the hard work has paid off,” Walkenhorst said. “We’ve worked really hard in the weight room, in the offseason and then did spring ball in April and May. The commitment level from the kids has been there, which is really what you need. It really shows we’ve come together as a team because when I got here, we had a lot of fragments. We’re meshing at the right time now.”

The Vikings (6-5), the No. 14 seed, move on to the second round of the 6A playoffs next Friday against No. 3 seed Bingham (8-2), with which they have a spirited playoff history. In 2020, The Miners kicked a last-second field goal to win 24-21 on the Vikings home field in the 6A second round after a first-round bye for PG.

“Bingham is going to be running the ball,” Walkenhorst said. “They have great talent and they’ve won eight games. They want to only throw it six times a game. It’s a little bit different offense than Cyprus but still heavy run-oriented with power. We need to get ready and I’m really proud of the way the guys have worked. But we’re not satisfied yet.”

PLEASANT GROVE 63, CYPRUS 38

Cyprus 0 14 8 16 — 38

Pleasant Grove 14 21 7 21 — 63

PG–Jaeden Wright 14 run (McKay Murdock kick)

PG–Bronco Winterton 22 pass from Nic Staffieri (Murdock kick)

PG–Wright 6 run (Murdock kick)

Cyprus–Skyler Armenta 1 run (Benson Kofe run)

PG–Mataira Brown 9 pass from Staffieri (Murdock kick)

Cyprus–Armenta 1 run (run failed)

PG–Shawn Cottle 4 pass from Staffieri (Murdock kick)

Cyprus–Skyler Armenta 1 run (Benson Kofe run)

PG–Cannon Hale 12 pass from Staffieri (Murdock kick)

Cyprus–Dee Kofe 2 run (Julian Garcia run)

PG–Makai Peterson 44 pass from Staffieri (Murdock kick)

PG–Tanner Blake 13 pass from Staffieri (Murdock kick)

PG–Wade Christensen 4 run (Murdock kick)

Cyprus–Benson Kofe 2 run (Armenta kick)

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