SALT LAKE CITY – An incredible run that saw Dixie High win four straight playoff games away from home ended in ecstasy Friday afternoon as the Flyers captured the 2012 3A State Championship with a 49-21 win over Spanish Fork at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
“We knew we could do this, no matter where or who we played,” receiver Lukas Hildebrandt said. “We love being the underdogs. We love coming in and surprising people.”
The Dixie defense was good, but the offense was borderline insane, scoring touchdowns on seven of its 13 possessions in the game. Led by Blake Barney, Dixie ripped off big play after big play. The Flyers second-half TDs came on gains of 78, 63, 36 and 33 yards.
Barney had 472 combined yards (173 rushing, 299 passing) and hooked up repeatedly with Hildebrandt, who set a state championship game record with 207 receiving yards.
“It was the most perfect day ever,” Barney said. “The closeness of this team is amazing. We have each others’ backs and we have from the start of the season.”
Head coach Blaine Monkres agreed that this was a rare team in 2012.
“Just the bonding and camaraderie and brotherhood of this team,” he said. “It’s something special. There’s been talented teams, but that doesn’t always translate into a championship team. This team was willing to sacrifice maybe some personal glory for the good of the team.”
Dakota Bair, part of a Dixie defense that held Spanish Fork 15 points below its season scoring average, said the journey to the top was an amazing one.
“Words can’t even describe what I feel right now,” he said. “We really have grown so much and become a great defense. (Defensive Coordinator) Coach (Rick) Berry put a lot of faith in the line. We didn’t blitz very much today. He also had a lot of faith in the DBs and the linebackers.”
Dixie sacked Dons quarterback Jason Money six times and also tipped several passes, including one late in the first half when it was a close game.
With the score 14-7 for Dixie and Spanish Fork in the red zone at the Flyers 8-yard line, Braxton Ipson got his hand on the Money delivery and Hildebrandt picked it off at the goal line. The speedster then returned it all the way to the Dons 36-yard line, a distance of 64 yards.
Two plays later, Barney hit Andy Appel on a deep post in the end zone to push the lead to 21-7 with just 30 seconds to go in the half.
Halfway through the third quarter, Spanish Fork cut the lead in half after a 32-yard run by Braxton Argyle. That made it 21-14 with 7:26 to go in the third and the score would stay that way until the closing seconds of the period.
That’s when Barney and Hildebrandt hooked up on a long TD pass. It was a perfectly thrown ball that beat good coverage on the left sideline. Hildebrandt caught it, made several moves on a couple of defenders and then waltzed into the end zone.
As it turns out, that would be the first of three big plays in a one-minute stretch late in the third and early in the fourth quarters. Spanish Fork cut it to a seven-point game 18 seconds after the Hildebrandt score on a deep pass from Money to tight end Braden Bennett. The 63-yard score came after Barney, playing safety, plowed into Bennett and bounced off of him like a pinball off a bumper. Bennett then strolled into the end zone to make it 28-21.
Two plays later, Barney sliced through the Spanish Fork defense and sprinted untouched for a 63-yard score of his own, making up for the missed tackle.
“He hit me pretty good,” Barney said. “I couldn’t see for a minute. But it felt pretty good to get that score right back.”
As it turned out, that was really the last hurrah for the Dons. Counting the Barney run, plus another 36-yarder by Barney moments later, Dixie outscored Spanish Fork 21-0 the rest of the way.
Tyson Graff had a game-icing 33-yard interception return for a score with four minutes left to start the blue and white celebration on the sideline and in the stands.
“I knew we could do anything if we set our minds to it,” Hildebrandt said. “Blake is a stud, a stud muffin. I told him I was going to be open all day and he really looked for me. It worked out pretty well.”
Dixie came out all business to start the game, marching 71 yards in eight plays to take a 7-0 lead on a Barney 24-yard pass to Tanner Webster.
Spanish Fork tied it late in the first quarter on a 2-yard run by Gunnar Beus. Barney had his first TD run of the day, from 8-yards out, to give Dixie the lead again early in the second quarter and, as it turns out, the Flyers would never trail again.
Dixie, 11-2, captures its first state championship in 14 years. The Flyers entered the state playoffs as the third seed from Region 9 and won games at North Sanpete and undefeated Stansbury before last week’s semifinal win over Juan Diego at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Barney, a senior, became the sixth-highest offensive producer in state history with his huge day.
Boxscore: CHAMPIONSHIP TO DIXIE HIGH SCHOOL 49-21
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