ST. GEORGE — It’s been an up and down season for the Dixie High defense, but there’s always been a one steady influence — Jeff Martinez.
“Hey, you’ve got to do whatever it takes to help the team win,” Martinez said.
It was Martinez who made a diving interception, in the snow no less, that stopped one of the Pine View drives in the second half.
“When I came off the ball, I was getting double-teamed,” Martinez said. “Keanu (Stevenson) hit the quarterback’s arm as he threw and I just dove and made the play we needed. You go out and do what you gotta do.”
It was also Martinez who burst into the backfield and hit Pine View running back Pano Tiatia before he could get to the line of scrimmage on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line in the fourth quarter with Dixie nursing a 35-28 lead.
And it was Martinez who recorded four sacks in a span of six plays against Payson earlier this season.
“I was just feeling it that game,” Martinez said. “I’m feeling it this week, too. I’m feeling that same surge of energy and I’m hoping I can do the same thing. I was just blowing through the line and making tackles by the shoelaces with ease, you know. It was just working for me.”
Martinez, who is a straight-A student who loves art and graphic design, anchors a defense that has gotten better as the season has progressed. Dixie surrendered 42 points a game in its first six contests, but has whittled that number down to 19 a game during the Flyers seven-game winning streak.
Another key piece of the puzzle is safety RJ Wilgar. He had two interceptions against Pine View in the semifinals and Dixie has not lost a game that Wilgar has started this season. The senior defensive back, who has four interceptions and 52 tackles this season, missed five games with an infection in his leg.
“RJ has been big for us and it’s true, we haven’t lost when he’s been out there,” Dixie head coach Blaine Monkres said. “The defense has really improved. The biggest thing is just getting experience and playing together as a team.”
Martinez and Wilgar are definitely two of the big playmakers on a defense that forced four turnovers last week and will be looking to do the same against Hurricane in Friday’s 3AA Championship game (11 a.m.).
“Last time we played Hurricane, they ran it down our throats pretty hard,” Martinez said. “So I’m taking that a little personal this week and I’m going to make sure it’s not going to happen again. No regrets, I’m going to leave it all out there this Friday.”
Email: [email protected]
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.