Dixie Flyers: Defending champs know if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

Photo by Robert Hoppie, St. George News

Note: This is one of six football previews for the upcoming 3AA South Region season, which begins Thursday and Friday nights.

ST. GEORGE – New Dixie head coach Andy Stokes might be replacing an offensive genius, but he’s a pretty smart guy himself.

dixie-smStokes, taking over for Blaine Monkres (who now coaches as Dixie State’s offensive coordinator), makes it very clear to anyone who will listen that the Flyers aren’t going to change much. Why would they? Dixie has won the 3AA state championship in two of the last three seasons.

Former Dixie Flyer Head Coach Blaine Monkres congratulates a player after a touchdown, Dixie vs. Hurricane, 2014 3AA Football State Championship, Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 21, 2014 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Former Dixie Flyer Head Coach Blaine Monkres (right) is now at Dixie State. Andy Stokes is the new Dixie High coach. | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

“I’ve always been a believer that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Stokes said. “I think the transition has been pretty smooth. The kids are competing and working hard. We have a whole offensive line to replace except one guy (Gavin Begay) and of course losing Ammon (Takau) hurts us, but the guys are putting in the time.”

stokes
Andy Stokes

One spot Stokes doesn’t have to worry about is the running back position. Tre Miller, who rushed for nearly 1,500 yards and 16 touchdowns, is back to make a run for the record books, perhaps. Although Miller is the first to say that records of those kind mean little.

“It doesn’t matter to me how many yards I get, as long as we’re putting points on the board and winning games,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if I run it 30 times or 10, as long as we’re winning games.”

Dixie also has a couple of very good receivers back in slot Jaden Harrison and all-state wideout Bret Barben.

“We’re just trying to be leaders for all the young guys who are stepping up (to varsity),” Barben said. “They make it easy on us because they’re good athletes and learn really fast.”

Flyer receiver Bret Barben makes a spectacular one handed catch and sprints to the endzone, Pine View vs. Dixie, 2014 3AA Football Playoffs, Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 13, 2014 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Flyer receiver Bret Barben makes a spectacular one handed catch and sprints to the endzone, Pine View vs. Dixie, 2014 3AA Football Playoffs, Salt Lake City, Utah, Nov. 13, 2014 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

Of course, one of those “young guys” is actually a senior — quarterback Zak Harrah. He’ll take over for two-year starter Ammon Takau. Harrah has not taken a single snap at the varsity level.

“I’ve got some big shoes to fill,” Harrah said. “Blake (Barney) and Ammon were both great quarterbacks. We all look up to them and what they did. But I’ve got receivers to make plays for me, I’ve just got to get them the ball.”

Stokes said Harrah has taken his new role very seriously and has risen to the occasion.

“Zak made the decision easy for us,” he said. “From the day I talked to Zak, I’ve never seen a kid work harder than that. He’s the one coming to me saying, ‘Hey, can we watch film? Hey, what do you think about this?’ When you have a kid that wants to work like that, it makes the decision easy.”

Dixie gave up a lot of points early in the year in 2014, but the defense seemed to get much better as the season progressed. With seven starters back, starting with seemingly unblockable defensive tackle Jeff Martinez, the Flyers D should be good from the get-go.

Martinez and Harrison (at DB) were both first team all-staters. Also back on defense are Namu Stevenson, Keanu Faumuina, Malakai Fakahua and Mason Oki.

Defensive coordinator Wayne Alofipo likes what he sees as Dixie heads into Friday’s season-opener at Springville.

Flyer defender Jeff Martinez strips the ball from a Uintah player, Dixie vs. Uintah,  St. George, Utah, Oct. 31, 2014 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News
Flyer defender Jeff Martinez strips the ball from a Uintah player, Dixie vs. Uintah, St. George, Utah, Oct. 31, 2014 | Photo by Robert Hoppie, ASPpix.com, St. George News

“Last year we switched from a 4-3 to a 3-4 front and the key piece to that was Jeff Martinez,” Alofipo said. “Kind of the house rests on his shoulders. But we have maybe six seniors coming back for us and that is great.”

Oki, a defensive back, is coming off a serious injury and will be worked back into the mix slowly.

One thing Stokes does hint at that may be a little different from life under Coach Monkres. The ol’ ball coach loved to throw the football. A lot.

“Coach Monkres loved to let it fly,” Stokes said. “I love my offensive line and I love my run game, too. We’ll probably try for a little more balance.”

The Dixie File

Head coach: Andy Stokes (1st season)

Last year: 10-4, beat Hurricane to win the 3AA championship

Returnees: offense 4, defense 6

2015 Schedule:

Date Game Time/result
Fri. Aug. 21, 2015 at Springville 7:00 p.m.
Fri. Aug. 28, 2015 Mojave, Ariz. 7:00 p.m.
Fri. Sept. 4, 2015 Alta 7:00 p.m.
Fri. Sept. 11, 2015 Canyon View 7:00 p.m.
Fri. Sept. 18, 2015 Cedar 7:00 p.m.
Fri. Sept. 25, 2015 at Desert Hills 7:00 p.m.
Thu. Oct. 1, 2015 Snow Canyon 7:00 p.m.
Fri. Oct. 9, 2015 at Hurricane 7:00 p.m.
Fri. Oct. 23, 2015 Pine View 7:00 p.m.

2015 Key Players

Offense — Miller is the lynch pin, but those stud receivers, Barben and Harrison, are also big playmakers. Harrah’s big job is to make sure those three guys get the ball in a position to make something happen. Begay and his line-mates have to mature quickly.

Defense — Martinez and Harrison are true leaders and Alofipo calls them extensions of his coaching out on the field. Last year, the O was good early and the D late. It may be the other way around this season.

2014 results:

Springville 37, Dixie 30 Final
Dixie 49, Lehi 48 Final (2OT)
Riverton 62, Dixie 28 Final
Dixie 55, Canyon View 30 Final
Pine View 42, Dixie 36 Final
Hurricane 34, Dixie 14 Final
Dixie 17, Desert Hills 16 Final
Dixie 56, Payson 14 Final
Dixie 42, Cedar 10 Final
Dixie 46, Snow Canyon 14 Final
Dixie 55, Uintah 8 Final
Dixie 49, Stansbury 42 Final
Dixie 38, Pine View 28 Final
Dixie 27, Hurricane 19 Final

Last 5 years
2014 — 10-4 (4-2 in 3AA South – 3AA Champs)
2013 — 9-3 (6-0 in 3AA South – 3AA Semifinals)
2012 — 11-2 (4-2 in Region 9 – 3A Champions)
2011 — 7-3 (4-2 in Region 9 – 3A First round)
2010 — 2-7 (1-5 in Region 9 — Missed playoffs)

Email: sports@stgnews.com

Twitter: @oldschoolag

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

 

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