SALT LAKE CITY — Through the years, there have been some great state championship performances from 3A quarterbacks, most notably Riley Nelson and Jason Zundel in the past decade. Dixie’s Blake Barney etched his name right alongside them in Friday’s 3A title game at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
The senior QB torched Spanish Fork’s defense for 299 passing yards, 184 rushing yards and six total touchdowns to lead Dixie to a lopsided 49-21 victory over the Dons.
In typical Barney fashion, he deflected praise to everyone else.
“It wasn’t me. The line was blocking. I just threw some quick routes and the receivers made plays,” said Barney.
The victory clinched Dixie’s first state title since 1998 and denied Spanish Fork its first title in school history.
“All the hard work, all the waking up at 5 in the morning to go to practice, going lifting every day a couple times. — it pays off right here. Greatest feeling ever,” said Barney.
Dixie didn’t officially start to pull away Friday until the fourth quarter. In fact, through three quarters Spanish Fork was very much in the game, only trailing 28-21 after a Braden Bennett 63-yard touchdown reception from Jason Money.
The long strike upped Money’s passing total to 335 yards and the Dons were in great shape with all the momentum. It was very short lived though.
Barney scored on a 63-yard run two plays into the fourth quarter and then tacked on a 36-yard score a few minutes later to increase Dixie’s lead to 42-21 with 8:07 remaining.
For a Dixie team that lost its regular-season finale to Snow Canyon to drop to third in Region 9, it was a stunning performance on the biggest stage — and no one was bigger than Barney.
“He’s that type of kid. He goes out on the big stage and had his best game today. He’s done that on and off all year long. When there’s a big game he’s ready to go. Today he took us on his shoulders,” said Dixie coach Blaine Monkres.
Barney was great from the beginning, marching Dixie on its opening drive for a 7-0 lead on a 24-yard TD pass to Tanner Webster. After Spanish Fork’s Gunnar Beus tied it at 7-7 late in the quarter on a 2-yard run, Barney again marched the Flyers downfield, capping a 13-play drive with an 8-yard score.
Shortly before halftime, Dixie’s defense came up with the defining defensive play of the game. Just as the Dons were poised to tie it with a first-and-goal, Dixie’s Lukas Hildebrandt intercepted a pass at the goal line and returned it to Spanish Fork’s 36. Two plays later Barney connected with Andy Appel from 36 yards to increase the lead to 21-7.
“That’s a big turn of events right there. They’re going in to tie it 14-14,” said Monkres.
That interception forced Spanish Fork to play catch-up the rest of the way. It did well to cut the deficit to 21-14 and then 28-21 in the third quarter, but ultimately ran out of gas.
“You can have a lot of talent and not win a state championship. It’s about how a team comes together and how they gel and how they want to sacrifice their individual stuff for the team,” said Monkres.
As great as Barney was throughout the playoffs, so was Dixie’s defense. A week after shutting down No. 1 Juan Diego in the semifinals, the Flyers held Spanish Fork to just 61 yards rushing.
Not bad for a team that gave up 336 yards rushing to Snow Canyon’s Mitch Phillips in the surprising Week 9 loss.
“It’s not who’s bigger. It’s whoever has most heart and works the hardest. We decided from that game on we were not going to take a play off we were going to play every down like it was our last 'cause it could’ve been,” said Jesse Lambert.