SALT LAKE CITY — Dixie's Tyler Walden missed on an interception early on during his team's semifinal matchup with Park City on Thursday that may have gone for a pick-six.
He more than made up for that miss after, however.
The Flyers' leader in interceptions on the year contributed two more in a 20-0 skunking of the Miners, leading a defensive effort that has headlined the team's success throughout the season.
"We knew we had to come out and play well, and we did a great job as a team tonight. It feels awesome," Walden said after celebrating with his team.
Walden's first pick came at the 6:13 mark of the third quarter, halting a productive possession for the Miners that saw them cross over to Dixie's side of the field. A Dixie fumble on the following possession led to the Miners' next threatening drive until Walden's second interception in the end zone ended the scoring threat at the 5:04 mark of the third quarter.
"That was great getting the two and yeah, I think that really helped us get the win. It was great getting those here in the semifinals," Walden said.
For Dixie coach Blaine Monkres, he's relied heavily on Walden all year with his performance in Thursday's win not coming as a surprise.
"He's a great cover guy. We can use him on the other team's best receiver to shut him down, usually," Monkres said. "Now if we end up playing Orem next week that's going to be a little bit tough, but he's up to the task...He works hard and works hard on his technique, so hopefully he can get it done next week."
Orem has to get past Pine View in Friday's second 4A semifinal matchup and should the Tigers prevail, Walden will likely draw the unenviable task of covering star receiver and USC-bound Puka Nacua. Should the Flyers draw Pine View the task will be to help limit the Panthers' high-octane offense that has scored over 38 points in every game this year, save when they played Dixie and took a 20-14 loss.Comment on this story
"We're so excited to be here and get a chance to play for a state championship. Just one more game and hopefully we can get it done," Walden said.
As for Thursday's game, it was Tyler Walden's older brother, defensive lineman Conner Walden, who contributed the final Dixie turnover by falling on a fumble with 10:14 left to help seal things up.
"It was an awesome day for our family and like I said, hopefully we can get it done just one more time in the state championship," Tyler Walden said.