(Juan Diego) has been pretty focused on that goal. They’re a pretty tight-knit group and focused on getting us back up there. —Juan Diego coach John Colosimo

Dixie knows better than anyone not to take anything for granted in the playoffs.

After finishing third in Region 9 a year ago, the Flyers ripped off victories against North Sanpete, Stansbury, Juan Diego and Spanish Fork to clinch their first state championship in 12 years.

This year Dixie enters the playoffs as the 3AA South champ, but it knows you can’t sleep on those lower-seeded teams.

“It seems like it happens every year someone you don’t expect sneaks up in there, and not just in our classification but every classification,” said Dixie coach Blaine Monkres.

Knowing that, don’t expect Dixie to look past a Cedar team it beat 41-0 a few weeks back when they meet again in the 3AA quarterfinals this Friday.

Because of UHSAA realignment and the split of 3A into a large and small classification, this year’s 3AA tournament is very bottom-of-the-state heavy with six of eight quarterfinalists hailing from the 3AA South region.

The Dixie-Cedar matchup isn’t the only all-south quarterfinal, as Hurricane also visits region foe Pine View. The other two games pit Snow Canyon at Juan Diego and Desert Hills at Stansbury.

Three of the four are rematches of earlier meetings, with Dixie, Pine View and Desert Hills prevailing the first time around.

Monkres is hoping the experience his players gained from last year’s march to the title pays off again this November.

“We have a lot of kids back off that team, especially on the defensive side of the ball, so hopefully the experience of knowing what it takes, all the work and the effort, and practicing hard and being focused, hopefully all that will pay off for us this year,” said Monkres.

He also believes No. 1 Juan Diego (10-0) is the team to beat.

The Soaring Eagle head into the playoffs as the No. 1 scoring team in 3AA at 42.1 ppg, and also feature a stingy defense that only surrenders 13.5 ppg.

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Since a pair of seven-point victories over 4A schools Corner Canyon and Skyline to start the season, Juan Diego’s average margin of victory the last eight games is 34 points.

Juan Diego was bounced from the playoffs by Dixie in the semifinals at Rice-Eccles Stadium last season, and coach John Colosimo said this year’s group is extremely motivated to get the program on top of 3AA.

“This group has been pretty focused on that goal. They’re a pretty tight-knit group and focused on getting us back up there,” said Colosimo.

The next step is beating Snow Canyon, and if things go as many expect, Juan Diego’s shot at redemption against Dixie will come in the 3AA championship.