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Ridgeline caps perfect season with 4A football championship

The Riverhawks beat the Dixie Flyers 45-20 for the first title in school history.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Ridgeline head coach Travis Cox hoists the trophy above his head, as he celebrates the Riverhawks 4A Championship, after defeating the Dixie Flyers, at Rice-Eccles Stadium, on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021.

Many of the seniors on the Ridgeline High football team already considered themselves champions after winning a little league title in eighth grade. But four years later, the Riverhawks are champions again, this time on a stage that makes many teenagers’ dreams come true.

“This moment tops that by far,” Ridgeline senior quarterback Kaden Cox said. “There’s nothing like this moment.”

The Riverhawks took the 4A football title with a 45-20 win over the Dixie Flyers on Friday at Rice-Eccles Stadium. It was Ridgeline’s first football championship in school history and capped a 13-0 season.

“We can look back and we’ll always go down in history as getting the first one,” senior running back Noah White said.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Riverhawks dump water on the Ridgeline head coach Travis Cox as they celebrates their 4A Championship, after defeating the Dixie Flyers, at Rice-Eccles Stadium, on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021.

Cox passed for 355 yards and five touchdowns and was efficient, completing 26 of his 36 attempts. White rushed for 209 yards — the whole team tallied 2015 — and punched in two touchdowns of his own.

Senior Stratford Simmons caught two touchdown passes, while three different receivers caught one apiece for Ridgeline.

The Riverhawks were trouble when they walked in. Their first score came just three minutes into the first quarter on a 68-yard reception by junior Braylon Majors. That set a tone for a relentless Ridgeline offense that scored on all but two of its nine drives.

The Riverhawks held the ball for nearly nine more minutes than the Flyers. They were 12 of 16 on third-down conversations and 2 of 3 on fourth-down conversions.

“A lot of that was short stuff — three, four yards,” White said of the team’s ability to sustain drives. “Put that together, and you get long drives.”

Ridgeline beat opponents by an average of 30.8 points this season. Cox finished the season with 3,774 passing yards and 55 touchdowns.

“He’s unbelievable,” White said of Cox. “I can’t say enough about him. It’s super nice to have him back there. Makes my life easy.”

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Ridgeline quarterback Kaden Cox (4) throws downfield, In 4A Championship action between The Ridgeline Riverhawks and the Dixie Flyers, at Rice-Eccles Stadium, on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021.

White finished the season with 2,002 rushing yards. Junior wide receiver Jackson Olsen finished the year with 1,125 receiving yards, while Simmons capped his season with 1,101 receiving yards.

“You have players everywhere, so defenses have to choose to take away one and when they take that thing away, we’ll just take the other thing,” White said of Ridgeline’s offense. “It makes us super explosive and after a while, it’s super hard to stop because they don’t know what to stop.”

Dixie had the opportunity to win its first title since 2014, but Ridgeline dominated every phase of the game and ran away with the game in the first half it led 25-6 after 24 minutes.

Flyers quarterback Jaxon Barben threw for 207 yards and a touchdown, while running back Seth Takau ran in a score. Barben also had a rushing touchdown.

Cox also plays for Ridgeline’s varsity boys’ basketball team, so his senior year in sports is far from over. But when it comes to football, he seemed to relish the opportunity to win the state title with his closest friends.

“It’s been one heck of a ride,” Cox said. “I wouldn’t want to go out any other way with any other guys.”

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