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Chunner Nyberg

ST. GEORGE — In the past four years, Fremont High School quarterbacks have passed for 10,221 yards and 94 touchdowns. In 2004, its quarterback set a then-state record with 40 touchdowns, with two receivers going over 1,000 yards. A year later, a Fremont receiver set a new state record with 81 receptions.

The aerial show is now heading on the road — sort of.

The offensive mastermind behind Fremont's passing attacking for 14 years is now Dixie High's head coach, and the run-first days at Dixie are a thing of the past.

"We'll run just enough to keep them honest," joked Blaine Monkres during an early-morning practice in early August.

Switching from an I-formation offense to a spread offense is a complete paradigm shift that produced a 2,000-yard rusher in Nate Carter just two years ago.

"These kids are used to I-backs and smash-mouth football, so they have an adjustment to make," said Monkres. "They seem to be enjoying it. It gets a lot more kids involved than just the tailbacks. We've got four or five guys involved in the offense on every snap."

Even the shotgun snap is something new for the lineman, who rarely if ever used it in Dixie's previous offense. Monkres said he's really enjoying himself in his new surroundings, and he's been pleasantly surprised with how quickly his quarterback is picking up the offense.

"Usually the person that has the hardest time is the quarterback, but (Mike Sharp) picks it up every time," said Monkres. "He's a smart kid; you only have to tell him once. He's real athletic."

If he continues to pick up the nuances of the spread offense, there's no reason Sharp shouldn't be able to equal the stats of Fremont's quarterback last year — 2,375 yards, 21 touchdowns.

Will it translate into wins, though?

"If we can get the offensive linemen clicking, that's going to make us go. That's what we're struggling with now," said Monkres. "They're having the hardest time with what they're used to. They'll get it figured out and we should be pretty good."

Two of the key returning guys on that line are Logan Taele and Logan Lloyd, each of whom will also start on the defensive line as well. They'll be joined defensively by standout linebacker Bill Katoa and cornerback Chace Harmon.

Offensively, a good quarterback isn't the only thing that makes an offense go, and Monkres really likes the collection of receivers he has at his disposal. Dalton Smith and Jake Mills will start at wideout, with Ian Gatchell and Chunner Nyberg starting at slot receivers.

Nyberg, a star pitcher for Dixie's baseball team, is thrilled with his increased role on the football team.

"It's been fun. It's a good adjustment we all wanted to make," he said. "I think everyone's really excited for the new offense, a chance to play a new kind of football."

Dixie opens the season at home against Springville, and then plays its next three games against out-of-state teams.

Dixie Flyers 2008 prep football preview

COACH: Blaine Monkres is in his first year at Dixie High after spending 14 years as Fremont's head coach.

KEY PLAYERS: So much of what Dixie will try and do this year in the spread offense revolves around quarterback Mike Sharp and his collection of receivers. Dallen Reber has a much more subtle role at tailback. If he can be productive, especially on screen passes, it will prevent opposing defenses from dropping eight guys into pass coverage. Logan Taele and Logan Lloyd and will see double duty this year playing on the offensive and defensive line.

QUESTION MARKS: As expected, it's taking Dixie's offensive line a while to adjust from 80 percent run blocking to 90 percent pass blocking. Nonetheless, it's taking even longer than Monkres anticipated. Thus far quarterback Mike Sharp is picking up the spread offense just fine, but how will he perform under the real pressure of game situations later this year?

LAST YEAR: 6-4, lost to Cottonwood in the first round.

PREDICTED REGION 9 (4A) FINISH: Second.

POSTSEASON POSSIBILITIES: In the quirky southern Utah region, it all comes down to two games — Pine View and Snow Canyon. Dixie hasn't beaten Pine View in 11 years, and it's unlikely again this year with as loaded as the Panthers are. That puts an insane amount of pressure on Dixie's Oct. 24 visit to Snow Canyon. The winner likely clinches a playoff spot while the loser misses out.

2008 SCHEDULE

Aug. 22 — SPRINGVILLE, 7 p.m.

Aug. 29 — at Cimarron, Nev.., 8 p.m.

Sept. 5 — LA COSTA CANYON, CALIF., 7 p.m.

Sept. 12 — at Bishop Gorman, Nev., 8 p.m.

Sept. 19 — CEDAR, 7 p.m.

Sept. 26 — CANYON VIEW, 7 p.m.

Oct. 3 — at Desert Hills, 7 p.m.

Oct. 10 — PINE VIEW, 7 p.m.

Oct. 15 — at Mountain View, 7 p.m.

Oct. 24 — at Snow Canyon, 7 p.m.


E-mail: jedward@desnews.com