Dixie (7-2) at North Sanpete (5-5)
3A state tournament first round
Friday, 5 p.m.
Parry’s Power Guide: Dixie by 32
All-time series: Series tied 4-4
Coach vs. coach: First meeting between Dixie’s Blaine Monkres and North Sanpete’s Matt Roberts
Last meeting: Aug. 19, 2005 — Dixie 15, North Sanpete 14
MOUNT PLEASANT — In Dixie’s seven wins this season the Flyers have contained the run. In its two losses? You guessed it. Plain and simple, the Flyers were slashed more than Michael Myers on the ground.
In its two-point loss to Hurricane, the Flyers coughed up 157 yards and five touchdowns. Then, in an unexpected setback the last week of the season against Snow Canyon, they allowed 480 yards and four scores.
That concern has grown as Dixie (7-2) now prepares for its 3A first-round game as substantial road favorites against North Sanpete (5-5), a program primarily dependent on establishing the rushing game, at 5 p.m. Friday.
“They’re a kind of team that gives us trouble where they run it a lot and play-action pass off the run,” Dixie coach Blaine Monkres said. “We’ve been working on that all week and obviously that has been our Achilles heel the last couple of years. We’ve played some good running teams before that (we've) stopped, so hopefully (we'll) do it again Friday.”
The Hawks' duo of Brady Walker and Kaden Poulson have accounted for 1,675 of the 2,219 total team rushing yards and 15 touchdowns. North Sanpete coach Matt Roberts said, “you kind of pick your poison” with the two backs equally able to hurt an opposing defense in a multitude of ways.
“They have a couple studs up front, some of their D-lineman are tough and they’ve had some ups and downs,” Roberts said of the Dixie defense. “We definitely looked at what Snow Canyon did and know (its running back Mitch Phillips) had a great game. We’re trying to see where they attacked and follow that pattern.”
For the Hawks, adverse weather conditions and sustaining, long, clock draining drives are crucial to advancing to the second round. With expected showers and potential flurries of snow it plays to the strength of the run. But, keeping the Flyers’ highpotent offense off the field is priority No. 1.
“I don’t know if I can trust the weatherman. They say it’s supposed to be pretty cold – high 40s, low 50s – and when the sun goes down it gets pretty cold,” Roberts said. “I know it’s supposed to be rainy and maybe some snow, so we’ll see if that comes in later or earlier.
“I can’t help but think last year when I was at Desert Hills and the state championship. That game totally changed once it started snowing against Hurricane,” Roberts continued. “They were a ground, pound, running team and that was really tough for us. If you’re a running team the weather definitely plays to an advantage for you.”
The Flyers, who averaged slightly less than 40 points per game, aren’t one dimensional on offense, however. Behind three-year starting quarterback Blake Barney, Dixie has the ability to incorporate the rushing attack.
Barney has thrown for 2,149 yards and 22 touchdowns with only three interceptions and rushed for 842 yards and 11 scores. Including Barney’s production, Dixie has rushed for 29 TDs and 1,804 yards.
“We’re just going to (take) whatever the defense gives us. If they stack the box to try and stop Blake then we’ll go ahead and throw it,” Monkres said. “But if they’re going to spread out to cover the pass then Blake is very capable of running it. We can run as well as we can throw it.”
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