I coached down in Cedar for 18 years. I am really familiar with Dixie. (Blaine) Monkres was their coach when I was coaching against them, for the most part, but they are running the same stuff. —Mountain Crest's coach Jason Lee
Mountain Crest (10-1) at Dixie (9-1)
4A state tournament quarterfinals
Friday, 6 p.m.
Parry’s Power Guide: Dixie by 6
All-time series: Mountain Crest leads 2-0
Coach vs. coach: First meeting between Mountain Crest’s Jason Lee and Dixie’s Andy Stokes
Last meeting: Nov. 7, 2008 – Mountain Crest 28-26 (4A quarterfinal at MC)
It has been nearly 10 years (2008) since the Dixie Flyers and the Mountain Crest Mustangs have met on a football field, playoffs or otherwise. On that occasion, the school from “up in the north,” the phrase Dixie head coach Andy Stokes used to describe Cache Valley, came out on top with a 28-26 4A quarterfinals victory.
That game, played so far in the past that Stokes couldn’t remember it, let alone any of the players set to be active participants on the field at Dixie High School Friday night, would appear to have little to no bearing on this years contest. How could it?
Well for one thing, the Mustangs are led by head coach Jason Lee.
“I coached down in Cedar for 18 years,” said Lee. “I am really familiar with Dixie. (Blaine) Monkres was their coach when I was coaching against them, for the most part, but they are running the same stuff.”
That familiarity gives the Mustangs an edge from the get-go, as Dixie is more in the dark in regards to its upcoming foe.
“I don’t remember the last time Dixie played Mountain Crest. It’s been a while,” said Stokes. “I know they lost to Sky View, on a last-second drive, but they are good. They are good up front, have good team speed and a good quarterback. We are impressed with them. I believe they are the best team up in the north.”
The Mustangs were one of the best teams to come out of Region 12 this year, finishing the regular season 10-1, their only loss coming against the aforementioned Bobcats.
Leading the way has been quarterback Brady Hall, who has completed 134 of 223 passes, good for a 60.1 completion percentage. More importantly, Hall has thrown for over 2,500 yards and 28 touchdowns. Add in his 177 carries for a team-high 672 yards and nine touchdowns, and it’s clear to see why Mountain Crest has been so successful.
“He’s one of the leaders of our team,” said Lee.
Hall hasn’t been alone, however, as the Mustangs have also benefited from significant production on the ground, courtesy of Beau Robinson (118 carries for 545 yards and five touchdowns) and Nick Nethercott (12 carries for 130 yards and three scores).
Perhaps the most important ingredient in the concoction that is Mustangs football has been a stout offensive line.
“Our entire line, all the way across, are returning starters,” said Lee. “They are great kids.”
Stokes was in agreement, noting “we want to control the front, and they have a big front on both sides of the ball. We need to be able to break even up there.”
“The kids understand that (Mountain Crest) is a good football team,” added Stokes. “We are going to have to give our best effort to compete.”
The Flyers are no underdog, however. They head into Friday night’s contest boasting an identical 10-1 record, and they have yet to lose to an opponent from the state of Utah this season despite a preseason schedule featuring the likes of Lone Peak and Springville high schools.
Not only that, but Dixie plowed through the always-difficult Region 9, taking down the likes of Desert Hills (the defending 3AA state champions) and Pine View (runners-up to Desert Hills last season).
“They are a scrappy football team,” said Lee. “They have some great skill players.”
Chief among them being quarterback Jacob Barben.
Barben has tossed an incredible 33 touchdowns this season, all the while completing 176 of 284 passes for 2871 yards.
“He is quite the difference-maker,” said Stokes. “He does everything for us.”
“(Jacob) is the brains and eyes of the operation,” Stokes continued. “The kids play through him. He gives them the confidence to do things they wouldn’t otherwise.”
Similar to Hall, Barben has help, most notably in the form of Hobbs Nyberg.
The senior has been electric this season, racking up close to 900 yards on the ground (881) and 12 scores all the while hauling in 60 passes for 1,020 yards and 12 additional touchdowns.
“We have to stop Nyberg,” said Lee. “And (Barben).”
Lee is confident that his Mustangs are up for the task, noting “I think it is a really evenly matched game. Only time will tell, but I think we match up really well with them. I think our skill players can match their skill players.”
As for Stokes, he believes his team is “as familiar with (Mountain Crest) as we are going to get without actually playing them. We have our work cut out for us.”
Mountain Crest statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 34.5 ppg (5th in 4A)
Scoring defense: 14.7 ppg (3rd in 4A)
Passing leader: Brady Hall (134-223, 60.1%, 2,567 yards, 28 TDs, 9 INTs)
Rushing leaders: Brady Hall (177 carries, 672 yards, 9 TDs), Beau Robinson (118 carries, 545 yards, 5 TDs)
Receiving leaders: Nick Nethercott (37 rec., 988 yards, 13 TDs), Beau Robinson (35 rec., 643 yards, 6 TDs)
Sack leaders: Tanner Lofthouse (6 sacks), Eli Wells (6 sacks)
Interception leaders: Cameron Moser (3 INTs)
Dixie statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 37.7 ppg (3rd in 4A)
Scoring defense: 18.8 ppg (7th in 4A)
Passing leader: Jacob Barben (176-284, 62.0%, 2,871 yards, 33 TDs, 6 INTs)
Rushing leaders: Hobbs Nyberg (104 carries, 881 yards, 12 TDs), Ammon Ah Quin (63 carries, 387 yards, 4 TDs)
Receiving leaders: Payden Harrah (61 rec., 1,176 yards, 12 TDs), Hobbs Nyberg (60 rec., 1,020 yards, 12 TDs)
Sack leaders: Tyson Fisher (10 sacks)
Interception leaders: Matt Kitchen (6 INTs)
Felts Facts for Mountain Crest High School
Head Coach: 2016-current — Jason Lee (13-7)
All-time record: 234-149 (35 years)
Region championships: 13 (1991, 1992 co, 1994, 1998, 1999 co, 2001 co, 2004 co, 2005, 2007 co, 2008, 2009, 2010-co, 2012)
Playoff appearances: 26
Current playoff appearance streak: 1 (2017)
All-time playoff record: 44-22
State championships: 3 (1987, 2001, 2005)
State championship record: 3-4
Felt’s Facts for Dixie High School
Head Coach: 2015-current — Andy Stokes (26-8)
All-time record: 432-247-6 (73 years)
Region championships: 26 (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, 2013, 2015 co, 2016, 2017)
Playoff appearances: 44
Current playoff appearance streak: 7 (2011-2017)
All-time playoff record: 61-35
State championships: 8 (1957, 1967, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1998, 2012, 2014)
State championship record: 8-3