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.”
North Sanpete needs a strong performance out of its secondary that has been susceptible in the air, especially against Wasatch. With a comparable offensive scheme to Dixie, they were torched for 441 yards and five touchdowns.
“Well I think their front seven are pretty good against the run and their secondary has struggled against the pass,” Monkres said. “So, hopefully it’s going to be good enough weather and we’ll be able to exploit that and see if teams have just had really good passing games or if they’re a little weaker in the secondary then they are up front.”
Roberts believes his secondary is up for the task after showing improvements against Spanish Fork.
“Our corners are playing a lot better; safety play has been a lot better,” he said. “There’s no doubt that Barney is one of the best playmakers in the state and we have to take that away from them or we’re going to be in trouble.”
Citing the loss to Snow Canyon mixed with what is expected to be a euphoric atmosphere as North Sanpete looks for its first playoff win since 2001, Monkres believes a quick start is critical to escaping to the second round.
“I think we need to be ready to go from the start and not overlook their record. They played Canyon View and won by a touchdown and we kind of beat them up pretty good,” he explained. “So, hopefully we convince the kids that they’re a good team and not overlook them and be ready to go from the start and not show up at halftime and try and come from behind.”
Dixie statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 38.8 ppg
Scoring defense: 20.4 ppg
Passing leader: Blake Barney (115-199, 57.8%, 2,149 yards, 22 TDs, 3 INTs)
Rushing leaders: Blake Barney (101 carries, 842 yards, 11 TDs), Taylor Berry (38 carries, 200 yards, 7 TDs)
Receiving leaders: Drew Batchelor (35 rec., 647 yards, 10 TDs), Tanner Webster (24 rec., 406 yards, 5 TDs)
Tackles leaders: Tyson Graff (106 tackles), Jesse Lambert (82 tackles)
Sack leader: Joseph Mitchell (2)
Interception leader: Tyson Graff (4)
North Sanpete statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 18.0 ppg
Scoring defense: 19.8 ppg
Passing leader: Brady Wheeler (45-124, 36.3%, 499 yards, 4 TDs, 6 INTs)
Rushing leaders: Brady Walker (143 carries, 905 yards, 10 TDs), Kaden Poulson (101 carries, 770 yards, 5 TDs)
Receiving leader: Kaden Poulson (21 rec., 255 yards, 2 TDs)
Tackles leaders: Kaden Poulson (73 tackles), Ed Moroney (62 tackles)
Sack leader: Oliver Silva (5)
Interception leader: Hunter Atkinson (4)
Felts Facts for Dixie High School
All-time record: 383-232-6 (68 years)
Region championships: 22 (1949, 1956, 1957, 1959, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970 co, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1982, 1983, 1988, 1989, 1991 co, 1994 co, 2009 co)
Playoff appearances: 39 (including 2012)
All-time playoff record: 48-32
State championships: 6 (1957, 1967, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1998)
State championship record: 6-2
Felt’s Factoid(s): Dixie owns the state record for most points in a season with 678 in 1972.
Felt’s Facts for North Sanpete High School
All-time record: 284-411-19 (97 years)
Region championships: 10 (1923, 1984 co, 1990, 1996 co, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2003 co, 2004 co, 2005 co)
Playoff appearances: 24 (including 2012)
All-time playoff record: 9-232 comments on this story
State championships: 0
State championship record: 0-0
Felt’s Factoid(s): North Sanpete racked up 12 sacks to set a state playoff-game record against Union in 2001. ... Dave Peck, who has coached Bingham to three state championships, and Mark Wootton, who has directed Mountain Crest to a state title, both began their head coaching careers at North Sanpete in 1984 and 1991, respectively.
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