3A football MVP: Dixie's Blake Barney
It's the kind of game that a player never forgets.
For Blake Barney, a kid from St. George, the blizzard-like conditions at Rice-Eccles Stadium in the Class 3A semifinals against undefeated Juan Diego were far from home. The Dixie quarterback knew going in that it was going to be a battle, but the weather conditions made the game transcendent.
"That's the coldest I've ever been," Barney said with a laugh. "I knew every time I picked myself up covered in snow that I would never forget this game."
The Flyers shelved their passing game and went with more of a wildcat offense. The self-effacing quarterback relied on preheated gloves, spot-on play calling and a stout offensive line to help pull off the 14-13 victory. Barney rushed for 107 yards and both scores, but as he has done all season, he quickly deflected praise to his teammates.
"These are the hardest-working guys I have ever met in my life," Barney said about his offensive line. "They form the brotherhood, which is the heart of this team."
The 3A state championship game, where Barney racked up 472 all-purpose yards with five touchdowns, was the icing on the cake.
The Flyers were looking for a well-balanced game all season, and they finally found it in their 49-21 victory over Spanish Fork for the state crown. When the Dons threatened to close their deficit in the second half, the Flyers pulled away and thwarted the comeback.
"It was our perfect game," Barney said. "We played amazing on both sides of the ball. It was the perfect way to end my high school career."
Barney finished the season with 19 rushing touchdowns and threw for more than 2,800 yards and 27 scores.
Football always has been more than the X's and O's for Barney. He is grateful for the opportunity to lead Dixie to its first state title since 1998 and wants to play football in college next year.
For the humble kid with a great arm and the ability to break through defensive lines with his legs, Barney wants to maintain the same attitude he has had since getting behind center to take the starting QB job his junior year.
"It's not an easy road that we went down," he said. "If something doesn't work out, don't dwell on it and move on. Learn from your mistakes and [get] better from those hardships."