Dixie (8-2) at Stansbury (11-0)
3A state tournament quarterfinal
Friday, 5 p.m.
Parry’s Power Guide: Dixie by 11
All-time series: First meeting
Coach vs. coach: First meeting between Dixie’s Blaine Monkres and Stansbury’s Clint Christiansen
TOOELE — Glancing through the recent success, especially this season, it’s rather easy to forget that Stansbury is only in its fourth year of existence.
The Stallions, established in 2009, weren’t exactly Kentucky-Derby quick out the gates. In their first two years they posted a 3-16 record. Since then, enduring the painful beginnings, they’ve gone 20-2 and find themselves undefeated with an opportunity to advance to the 3A semifinals against Dixie at home Friday.
“It would be huge for us. That was our goal last year, to get to Rice-Eccles. Then once you get there, every team is very good, (and) then it’s just roll the dice and hope you have a little luck,” Stansbury coach Clint Christiansen said. “It would be huge. That means there would be 24 teams in the stands watching. We’re not worried about the wins and losses; our goal has been to get to Rice-Eccles and see what happens.”
Despite playing at home, Stansbury (11-0) is still swimming in foreign waters, having never advanced past the quarterfinals, and is considered an underdog against the Flyers (8-2). Dixie enjoyed success in what commonly is considered the toughest region in 3A behind its fast-striking offense. Comparably, the Stallions realistically haven’t been challenged with their scheduled opponents' combined record of 41-72 — not exactly murderers’ row.
Flyers’ coach Blaine Monkres isn’t looking too much into the butter-soft Stansbury schedule.
“Everybody likes to point compare, so we beat Deseret Hills and they did,” he said. “That’s Desert Hills’ only two losses. It should be a pretty even matched game on paper. I’m sure with being a new school they’re going to try and move on into the semifinals. It’d be something that no team has ever done there before.”
In order for Stansbury to advance it needs to restrict Dixie quarterback Blake Barney. Statistically, the secondary looks more than capable of containing the gunslinger that has passed for 2,367 yards and 24 touchdowns. In 11 games this season, the Stallions have given up less than 700 yards through the air and held opposing quarterbacks to less than 60 yards nine times.
“We’re pretty good in the secondary,” Christiansen said. “Our philosophy is, spread offense teams, we want them to go 70-80 yards down the field in small chunks and see if they can do it — not give up the big plays. That won’t change this week. We’ve got to make them earn it without the big hurrah play down the field.
“We’re going to try and get some pressure on (Barney), and hopefully we can get our inside linebackers to lay a few good licks on him,” he continued. “If you get a few good shots on the quarterbacks, sometimes they get a little timid. That’s easier said than done. He’s strong, he’s fast and he makes plays when he’s moving. We got to do our best to see if we can control him.”
“I’m not sure they’ve faced a passing team that’s going to throw it as much as we do. They do have a lot of athletes at linebacker and in the secondary,” Monkres said. “They can all run, and I’m sure they’re going over the passing game this week. Hopefully they haven’t seen anybody that can throw as well as we have.”
Dixie’s main concern heading into the postseason was improving on its rush defense. In the first round, the defense dispelled question marks by holding North Sanpete in check. However, stopping Stansbury’s triple-option scheme that’s accounted for 3,609 yards and 39 touchdowns on the ground will be a whole different animal.
“It’s a little different type of run. They run the option, so you have to play more assignment football to take care of the dive, quarterback and the pitch,” Monkres said. “We’re going to have to be a little more disciplined on defense and not run towards the first guy that shows us the football. We’re going to have to be able to stop the run again, and hopefully they’re not good enough to beat us with the pass.”
In what Christiansen referred to as the “giving tree” — 17 different players have recorded carries this season. The main contributor is quarterback Chase Christiansen, his son. The senior has produced 1,436 yards of total offense with 28 touchdowns despite sitting out the majority of the second half during mop up times.
“It’s been a blast. You wait your whole life to have chance to hopefully coach your son,” Christiansen said of Chase. “You know being around football his whole life he’s going to be a decent football player, and he’s turned out to be a pretty good one for us. So, it’s awesome as a dad to be able to watch your kid play the way he’s been playing. It’s a pretty special experience. I’ve enjoyed the last two years. I only have one boy, (and) so he’s the only one I get to coach.”
Both coaches agree it’ll come down to time of possession and ball security.
“We don’t want to make mistakes. A lot of times on film, the teams that they’ve played, have beaten themselves,” Monkres said. “We don’t want to beat ourselves with penalties and turnovers and make sure we don’t have any three-and-outs on offense. The main thing is, don’t turn it over and don’t have a lot of penalties that kill ourselves on offense.”
“For us to win we’re going to have to keep our offense on the field. We’d love to eat up the clock,” explained Christiansen. “Those big, long drives wear defenses down. That’s the ticket — keep us on and keep them off.”
Dixie statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 38.5 ppg
Scoring defense: 19.0 ppg
Passing leader: Blake Barney (130-221, 58.8%, 2,367 yards, 24 TDs, 3 INTs)
Sack leaders: Jesse Lambert (2.5 sacks)
Interception leaders: Tyson Graff (4 INTs)
Stansbury statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 36.7 ppg
Scoring defense: 9.6 ppg
Passing leader: Chase Christiansen (38-77, 49.4%, 582 yards, 11 TDs, 2 INTs)
Receiving leaders: Chandler Staley (9 rec., 115 yards, 3 TDs)
Sack leaders: Spencer Wihongi (7 sacks)
Interception leaders: Zayne Anderson (4 INTs)
Felts Facts for Dixie High School
All-time record: 384-232-6 (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: 49-32
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 Stansbury High School
All-time record: 23-18 (4 years)
Region championships: 2 (2011, 2012)
Playoff appearances: 2 (including 2012)
All-time playoff record: 2-1
State championships: 0
State championship record: 0-0