Orem (11-2) vs. Dixie (11-1)
4A state championship
Friday, 11 a.m. (At Rice-Eccles Stadium) | Watch live
Parry’s Power Guide: Orem by 18
All-time series: Orem leads 3-2
Coach vs. coach: First meeting between Orem coach Jeremy Hill and Dixie coach Blaine Monkres
Last meeting: Aug. 29, 1986 — Orem 38, Dixie 13
The 4A football championship isn’t exactly a David-battling-Goliath matchup.
Both teams enter with undefeated region records, stifling defenses and versatile offensive stars. But Orem’s offense is so much more prolific than any other 4A team, it’s difficult not to see the Tigers as an almost invincible, intimidating giant.
The approach of both head coaches is surprisingly mundane.
“We’re preparing for this game like any other game,” Dixie head coach Blaine Monkres said. “The big thing is we cannot afford to make mistakes, turn the ball over and hurt ourselves.”
For Orem, it’s about finishing something they started last year when they earned the school’s first football title in more than two decades. Before the Tigers ever stepped onto a football field this season, head coach Jeremy Hill was preparing them for what is always difficult for a program to do.
“It’s always harder to go back-to-back,” he said. “Last year, most people didn’t expect anything from us after a 5-7 season the year before. …But this year, after they went and won last year, people obviously know who we are.”
The approach for the top-ranked Tigers doesn't change with the opponent.
“Playing the defending champion, it’s everybody’s championship,” he said. “We have to be ready for everybody’s best. Our boys have done a great job — in game and out of game.”
Both teams have impressive defenses and they will be tested in just about every way imaginable in Friday’s 11 a.m. championship game at Rice-Eccles. The contest will pit the classification's No. 1 offense against the No. 1 defense, statistically.
Both teams are led by quarterbacks who can carve up a defense with their arm or their legs.
Orem’s senior quarterback Cooper Legas is second in the country in passing yards (just over 4,000 yards) and has 43 passing touchdowns. Dixie’s junior quarterback Reggie Graff has thrown 20 touchdown passes with a total of 2,328 yards.
Orem running back Noah Sewell (15) and Legas (14) lead Orem in rushing touchdowns. Westin Banuelos leads Dixie’s ground game with nine rushing touchdowns.
USC-bound Puka Nacua leads the state in receiving touchdowns with 24, while Tyson Miller leads Dixie with six passing touchdowns, although Nate Mahi leads in yardage.
Dixie scores an average of 31.4 points per game, while Orem scores a jaw-dropping 53.3 points per contest.
Both teams have four or five receivers that can have impressive games, and both teams boast two of the most stifling defenses in the state.
Orem has only allowed an average of 19.2 points per game, while Dixie has given up an average of just 12.1 points per game.
Orem’s Ethan Slade leads the state in defensive interceptions with eight. Sitting at No. 2 is Dixie’s Tyler Walden, who has six interceptions in one less game.
For both coaches, the key to earning a title on Friday will be playing the brand of football that carried them to Rice-Eccles and doing it as mistake-free as possible.
“When I talk to the boys, I talk about playing Orem Tiger football,” Hill said. “We protect the ball offensively, and we go take it away defensively. …I think we match-up well across the board. We just have to play our game, and as long as we do, and as long as we play clean, we’ll be ok.”
Monkres approach offered a similar game-plan for the Flyers.
“Orem doesn’t have any real weaknesses on defense, so we’re going to have to make sure we don’t hurt ourselves with turnovers,” Monkres said. “We’ve got to go out there and play football and not make any mistakes.”
Orem statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 53.3 ppg (1st in 4A)
Scoring defense: 19.2 ppg (5th in 4A)
Passing leader: Cooper Legas (213-309, 68.9%, 4,005 yards, 43 TDs, 10 INTs)
Rushing leaders: Cooper Legas (86 carries, 1,000 yards, 14 TDs), Noah Sewell (43 carries, 618 yards, 15 TDs)
Receiving leaders: Puka Nacua (94 rec., 2,154 yards, 24 TDs)
Tackles leaders: Noah Sewell (93 tackles), Ethan Slade (88 tackles)
Sack leaders: Rylen Su’a-Filo (6 sacks), Terrance Faumui (5.5 sacks)
Interception leaders: Ethan Slade (8 INTs), Jakob Robinson (4 INTs)
Dixie statistical breakdown
Scoring offense: 31.4 ppg (7th in 4A)
Scoring defense: 12.2 ppg (1st in 4A)
Passing leader: Reggie Graff (155-273, 56.8%, 2,328 yards, 20 TDs, 3 INTs)
Rushing leaders: Westin Banuelos (135 carries, 774 yards, 9 TDs), Reggie Graff (112 carries, 695 yards, 13 TDs)
Receiving leaders: Josh Cazier (33 rec., 671 yards, 5 TDs), Nate Mahi (43 rec., 591 yards, 5 TDs)
Tackles leaders: Jake Staheli (62 tackles), Lorenzo Schwalzer (46 tackles)
Interception leaders: Tyler Walden (6 INTs)
Felt’s Facts for Orem High School
Head Coach: 2016-current — Jeremy Hill (28-11)
All-time record: 517-304-21 (90 years)
Region championships: 28 (1935 co, 1941, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1951, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1970 co, 1974, 1985 co, 1987, 1990, 1993, 1994, 1996 co, 2000 co, 2004-co, 2012, 2013 co, 2017, 2018)
Playoff appearances: 54
Current playoff appearance streak: 3 (2016-2018)
All-time playoff record: 55-47
State championships: 6 (1962, 1968, 1994, 2017)
State championship record: 6-7
…….Comment on this story
Felt’s Facts for Dixie High School
Head coach: 2018 — Blaine Monkres (11-1)
All-time record: 443-249-6 (74 years)
Region championships: 27 (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, 2018)
Playoff appearances: 45
Current playoff appearance streak: 8 (2011-2018)
All-time playoff record: 64-36
State championships: 8 (1957, 1967, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1998, 2012, 2014)
State championship record: 8-3