SALT LAKE CITY — The average high temperature rarely dips below 50 degrees down in St. George, but you wouldn’t know it by the way Dixie played in the 3A state semifinals. The Flyers braved near-freezing conditions and driving snow to pull off a huge upset against favorite Juan Diego Friday night.
The Dixie players celebrated after making snow angels, throwing snowballs and looking completely at home in the unfamiliar conditions.
“We could get used to this,” said junior Drew Batchelor following the game. “We get snow once every three years or so, but to come up here and play in this atmosphere with this many people — it’s just a once-in-a-lifetime experience and you couldn’t ask for anything else.”
The Dixie players got a taste of the cold the week before when they played at North Sanpete, but the extreme wet conditions at Rice-Eccles were a completely different ball game. Traveling up north the players and coaches knew what type of weather they’d meet and were admittedly anxious.
“We were hoping it wouldn’t be too wet, but when we got here it was just sticky and the snow was coming down hard,” said Batchelor. “We were hoping we could manage to throw the ball just a little bit in these conditions and we did that and our running backs — Joseph Takau, Taylor Beery, Tanner Webster and obviously Blake (Barney) — played a (heckuva) game.”
The Dixie coaching staff emphasized the run the entire week leading up to the game knowing what conditions the Flyers would likely play in. The team responded with 219 yards on the ground — opposed to just 26 yards through the air.
“If it were a bit warmer weather we would have thrown it a bit more, but the last few weeks we’ve run the ball well and our offensive line stepped up,” said coach Blake Monkres.
A big key was simply cutting down on the mistakes that can wreck havoc on a team playing in severe conditions. Dixie played together as a unit and pulled off the monster upset.
“This (team) is the best group of guys I’ve ever been around. You hear people talk about coming together and being a family, but that’s what we’re really about,” said Batchelor. “I’m just so lucky to be part of such a great group of guys.”
The team will now move on the the 3A finals against Spanish Fork and hopes to put forth a smilar effort.
But the Flyers wouldn't mind more St. George-like conditions.
"It should be a good matchup. ... I think it will be a balanced game and maybe even high-scoring, but (hopefully) without the snow," concluded Batchelor.