Prep football: Barney has emerged as a big factor in Flyers' success
As has become tradition, Dixie opened the season with Springville. Another shootout ensued, but this time the Flyers' QB took care of the ball. Barney threw for 344 yards and four touchdowns, with no interceptions.
"Being bigger helped," he said. "But getting a better understanding of the offense was the biggest thing."
The Flyers went 3-0 in the preseason and got a 35-33 win over rival Pine View to open region play. Barney had 252 yards passing in that game and started to develop some chemistry with two of his receivers, Lukas Hildebrandt and Drew Batchelor.
Undefeated and highly-ranked, Dixie went into a Top-5 matchup with another undefeated team, traditional powerhouse Hurricane. The results were not prettty.
"That game had a lot of hype, with the Salt Lake media and television and everything," Monkres said. "We didn't handle it very well. We got our butts kicked."
Hurricane won that game 51-21 and Barney turned the ball over three times. And though Dixie would make the state playoffs in 2011, the Hurricane game proved the Flyers were nothing more than an afterthought when it came to state 3A powerhouses.
Dixie would eventually go 7-3 in 2011, including a jarring 41-0 loss in the first round of the playoffs at Juan Diego.
"We were embarrassed last year by Juan Diego," Barney said. "We wanted to prove that we belonged with the best and it didn't happen then. That's why this year is so important."
After the Juan Diego loss, Barney went to work again in the off-season. The focus this time: Become more of a threat in the running game and improve his speed.
"I ran track last spring," he said. "I wasn't that good, but it did teach me a lot about quickness and speed."
The difference was dramatic. In 2010 and '11, the QB rushed for a combined 600 yards and 10 touchdowns. In 2012, Barney has racked up 1,148 rushing yards and 16 TDs. And the turnovers, such a problem early in his career, have all but vanished. Barney rarely fumbles and threw just five interceptions in 256 pass attempts this season.
And he has climbed the ranks of great QBs in Utah state history. Barney currently stands seventh in total offense in Utah all-time.
He also proved his coach right in making that decision two and half years ago.
"He's our guy and I trust him completely," Monkres said. "We are definitely on the same page."
Monkres trusts Barney so much that on the biggest play of the semifinals, a fourth down with under a minute left and the Flyers holding a one-point lead over Juan Diego, he made up a play on the spot that called for Barney to sweep right and read the blocks for a hole. The senior responded with an 11-yard run on the 4th-and-6 play, clinching the victory.
And of course, despite the nearly 7,000 passing yards and 57 TD passes, the biggest accomplishment for Barney is this: He has his team on the cusp of a state championship.
"We had a goal and it hasn't been easy getting here," Barney said. "Beating Juan Diego was big for us, especially after what they did to us last year. But we still have one more thing to accomplish."
Barney and his teammates will get their chance Friday morning against Spanish Fork.
Andy Griffin is the sports editor of STGnews.com, covering Region 9 sports.
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