With both Dixie and Pine View coming off last-second victories in the 4A quarterfinals last week, Friday’s showdown between the Flyers and the Panthers seemed destined for another thrilling finish in the storied cross-town rivalry.
Except Dixie had other plans.
After jumping out to a quick 21-0 lead in the first quarter, the Flyers rolled to a 42-20 victory at Walt Brooks Stadium to advance to the 4A championship game.
With the win, No. 4 Dixie will take on No. 2 Ridgeline next Friday at Rice Eccles Stadium.
“It’s a great feeling knowing we are headed to the state championship game,” said Dixie running back Seth Takau. “That’s been our goal the entire year, and to be able to get to this point is amazing.”
“Pine View has a great football program, and we knew it was going to be a battle, said Dixie head coach Blaine Monkres. “Our players rose to the occasion and played great on both sides of the ball. We couldn’t have asked for a better start, and I’m just happy for our kids to have the chance to play one more game with each other.”
The first play of the game set the tone, as Dixie scored just seconds into the contest. After a bad snap put the ball on the ground, Takau quickly picked it up before making several guys miss en route to a 68-yard touchdown run.
“The play was to get Seth the ball, but we definitely didn’t draw it up like that,” said Monkres, smiling. “Seth made a great heads-up play, and that really set the tone for us.”
A couple minutes later, Dixie’s Bode Ray recovered a fumble to give the Flyers the ball back. It didn’t take long for Dixie to take advantage of the turnover, as Bronson Barben threw a deep pass to Shea Anderson, who caught the ball in stride for a 69-yard touchdown catch to give Dixie a 14-0 lead.
On Pine View’s next possession, Dixie’s Mamao Tofi stepped in front of a pass and made a great interception, which gave the Flyers the ball inside the 15-yard line. Two plays later, Takau rumbled in for a 9-yard touchdown run to give the Flyers a 21-0 lead.
Pine View quickly responded with two touchdowns to make it a game, as Tyler Brown threw a pass over the middle to Dominique McKenzie, who made several guys miss en route to a 52-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 21-7.
On the ensuing kickoff, Pine View forced a fumble and took over on the 20-yard line. Four play later, Brown threw a perfect pass to Tyson Moten in the corner of the end zone to make it a 21-14 game.
But that’s as close as Pine View would get, as Dixie responded with big plays to stop any comeback attempt made by the Panthers.
Dixie used a balanced attack on offense, as the Flyers had 277 yards on the ground and 208 yards through the air. Barben finished the game completing 6 of 11 passes for 208 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Takau had 145 yards and three touchdowns on the ground and Shea Anderson added 65 yards and two touchdowns.
“All credit goes to the offensive line,” said Takau. “They make my job easy, and I couldn’t do it without them.”
Pine View totaled 450 yards of offense, but penalties and turnovers killed drives as the Panthers managed just 20 points.
Brown finished the game completing 26 of 43 passes for 321 yards and two touchdowns. His favorite targets were McKenzie and Moten, who combined for 13 catches and 219 yards and two touchdowns. Keith Adams also rushed for 97 yards in the loss.
“Pine View has a lot of playmakers and so we adjusted our defense by only rushing three guys,” said Monkres. “Usually we blitz a lot, but we didn’t tonight, but our guys up front were still able to get a lot of pressure. That was huge for us.”
With the win, Dixie will look to win its eighth state championship in program history and the first one since 2014.