SALT LAKE CITY — The Dixie Flyers and Pine View Panthers football teams will meet in the 3AA semifinals for the second time in three years. The Flyers won the last semifinal matchup in 2014, as well as the teams' matchup earlier this season. However, this matchup will not be the same as last time, as each team has grown and changed drastically.
The Flyers, the No. 1 seed from the Southern region of 3AA, will be without their quarterback Jacob Barben for the second week in a row. However in last week's quarterfinal victory over Bear River the Flyers proved they are more then a one player. Backup quarterback Hobbs Nyberg filled in admirably for Barben, throwing two touchdown passes while also rushing for 128 yards, and even returning a punt for a touchdown.
"Hobbs just always has fun; he is a special player," Dixie coach Andy Stokes said when asked about Nyberg's performance.
The Flyers will also gain a boost in the run game as running back Ammon Ah Quin returns after missing the quarterfinal game with a sprained ankle. Ah Quin leads the Flyers with 897 rushing yards and five touchdowns, and he figures to be in for an increased load this week in his return.
The Panthers, the No. 3 seed from the Southern region will likely be at full strength. The Panthers boast an explosive offense loaded with extremely talented athletes.
"They're really explosive offensively, really big up front and at the skill positions, and just really athletic all around," Stokes said of his opponents offensive strengths.
Pine View's vaunted offensive attack is led by two of the states most explosive players running back Jacob Mpungi and Quarterback Ryan Javines. Mpungi leads the Panthers with 1,336 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns to his credit, Mpungi had a big part in the Panthers' quarterfinal victory of highly ranked Tooele. Mpungi scored three touchdowns while amassing 282 yards of total offense to lead the Panther to the upset win.
"Defensively we don't want to focus too much on one player, we just need everyone to do their job," Stokes said when asked about Mpungi's incredible statline.
Despite Mpungi's statistical dominance, quarterback Ryan Javines is no slouch. The Panthers' quarterback has amassed over 2,500 yards of total offense and 24 touchdowns this season. Javines played his part perfectly in last weeks quarterfinal victory over Tooele throwing for 345 yards and two touchdowns while also running in a score.
Of the four remaining teams in the 3AA tournament, three hail from the Southern region, with Dixie, Pine View, and Desert Hills all representing the south. The north's loan representative, the Stansbury Stallions, will take on Desert Hills at 6:30 pm on Thursday.
The winner of the Pine View-Dixie matchup will face the winner of the Stansbury-Desert Hills matchup in the 3AA state championship game next week.
Dixie (7-3) vs. Pine View (9-2)
Series history: Pine View leads 24-18.
Last meeting: Dixie slapped DH 38-7 on Sept. 16 (Week 5) at Pine View.
Coach vs. coach: Dixie’s Andy Stokes is 3-0 vs. Pine View’s Ray Hosner.
Current winning streaks: Dixie – 7, Pine View – 3.
Dixie’s last semifinal: 2015, popped Tooele 45-6 before losing in the championship.
Pine View’s last semifinal: 2014, fell to Dixie 38-28. A year earlier, the Panthers advanced to the 3AA final (and lost).
Dixie’s playoff record (43rd appearance in 72 seasons): 60-34.
Andy Stokes’ playoff record (second appearance in two years): 3-1; semifinal record: 1-0.
Pine View’s playoff record (25th appearance in 34 seasons): 23-24.
Ray Hosner’s playoff record (14th appearance in 16 seasons): 21-13; semifinal record: 4-2.
Extra Point 1: Dixie admirably reaches the semifinals for a fifth straight year, but the Flyers once made the semis seven times in a row, from 1970-76.
Extra Point 2: Pine View seeks its first 10-win season since 2008 and the fifth in school history.