Prep 3A football: Underdog Dixie runs past Juan Diego
Dixie quarterback Blake Barney never shook last year's loss to Juan Diego.
"I thought about it every day," the senior said. "We thought [the first-round matchup in 2011] was going to be a little closer, but 41-0, that was a bad taste in our mouths. Every single day, I thought about that. I was hoping we would rematch them this year."
Friday night, Barney and his Flyers got their wish and their revenge with a 14-13 win.
Under the lights, on a snow-covered field, the underdog Flyers relied on Barney's legs and a stingy defense to upset an undefeated Soaring Eagle team that had never before lost at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Barney rushed 23 times for 107 yards and his team's two touchdowns.
"Even though he didn't play his best game, he played good enough to win and got after it," Dixie coach Blaine Monkres said of his quarterback.
Barney completed just three of his 10 passes and threw a pair of interceptions. In the fourth quarter, Barney was picked off by Soaring Eagle linebacker Kalei Reyes-Kauhaahaa. But Juan Diego, up 13-7, lost a fumble just two plays later.
Barney capitalized, capping off a 13-yard drive with his second rushing touchdown of the night.
And with the game winding down, it was Barney again wriggling through tacklers for one final first down.
Juan Diego, 12-0 entering Friday night's game, looked dominant at times running the ball. Quarterback Nick Markosian combined with running backs Chase Williams and Jessie Springer for 209 yards on the ground. But the Flyers' defense kept Juan Diego off the scoreboard for the entire second half.
After taking down previously undefeated Stansbury to reach the semifinal game, junior wide receiver Drew Batchelor said his team has embraced the underdog role.
"We weren't supposed to win a lot of games this year," he said. "Personally, I think we like to have it on our back that teams and people don't think we're going to win. I think it's motivation for us."
Juan Diego struck first, on a Springer touchdown run in the second quarter. But Barney brought Dixie back with a 2-yard score in the waning seconds of the half.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Flyers elected to kick the ball deep, and Reyes-Kauhaahaa made them pay.
The Soaring Eagle senior returned the ball 28 yards to the Juan Diego 45. One play later, with just 11 seconds left on the clock, Markosian threw to Reyes-Kauhaahaa, who sprinted down the sideline for a touchdown.
A Soaring Eagle penalty pushed the extra-point attempt back, and the try clanked off the right upright. In all, Juan Diego committed 10 penalties for 107 yards.
Dixie faces Spanish Fork next Friday for the 3A title. The last time the Flyers played in the championship game was 1998, a game that Dixie won.