With state playoffs beginning tonight, it’s time to recap the regular season and how Region 9 teams got to this point.
The high school football season in Southern Utah started with a bang. Both the Hurricane Tigers and Dixie Flyers scored upsets over 5A teams, while Desert Hills and Pine View came up just short of upset victories. The stage was then set for a memorable season of Region 9 high school football. Here is a brief look back at the more memorable games over the course of the season that was:
Dixie 35, Pine View 33
The Flyers made a bold statement with their biggest win early in the season on the turf at Pine View. In the ultimate back-and-forth game, Dixie held on to grab the victory in Washington County’s marquee battle. The Flyers were led by familiar names. Blake Barney went 16-of-28 passing for three touchdowns, but also had three interceptions. Justin Cummings ran the ball 23 times for 118 yards and one score. Lukas Hildebrandt caught seven passes for 152 yards and scored twice.
Pine View certainly held their own in the cross-town battle, but the Flyers were just too much. Despite a 2-2 record at the time the Panthers were still considered one of the strongest teams in Region 9.
Braxton Peterson led the Pine View offense with 19 carries for 162 yards and two touchdowns. Kody Wilstead was 6-of-13 through the air for 187 yards and one score. The Panther defense intercepted the Flyers three times, but the Panther offense fumbled three times.
Desert Hills 21, Pine View 14
Desert Hills managed to one-up the Panthers, getting the last laugh Friday night. It was a back and forth battle all night. Tied at 7-7 after the first quarter, 14-14 at halftime and the third quarter, and it was 21-14 when the score matters most.
By the numbers, games don’t often get more even than this one. Total offense was 350-346 in favor of Desert Hills. Possession was 24:42 to 23:19 in favor of Pine View.
The area where Desert Hills made an impact was in the running game. Mike Needham led the Thunder with 17 carries for 125 yards and one touchdown. Porter Harris also added big numbers, carrying the ball 12 times for 97 yards and a touchdown, including one run of 80 yards.
This was a huge win for the Thunder, having a four game winning streak as they prepared for the 4-1 Dixie Flyers.
The Panthers put up solid numbers Friday night, but their attacks were limited to only a few people. Prentiss Miller ran the ball 33 times, and gained 140 yards. He averaged 4.2 yards per carry, and was never able to get into the end zone. Kody Wilstead went 18-of-32 passing for 197 yards and two touchdowns, both to Jake Arsianian.
In the end, the Thunder simply got the better of the Panthers.
Desert Hills 41, Dixie 38
The Flyer offense took off quickly Friday night, despite losing the coin toss thrown by Governor Gary Herbert.
Dixie jumped out to a quick start behind a strong defensive core and quarterback Blake Barney, who got the Flyers off to a 17-0 start. Desert Hills battled their way back in the first half, scoring 14 consecutive points to pull within three. The Flyers managed to score one more touchdown right before the first half closed out, giving Dixie the 24-14 advantage at halftime.
This game was a battle for bragging rights, and the upper hand in Region 9. Both teams were 4-1 heading into Friday night, with Desert Hills looking to improve to 3-0 in region 9 play. Dixie at 1-1 in region, looking to bounce back from their tough loss at the hands of the Hurricane Tigers the previous week.
The Thunder continued to climb their way back into the game in the third quarter, outscoring Dixie 20-7 in the period, to take the 34-31 lead. In the end, Desert Hills had too much power in their offense and survived a late-game surge from Dixie.
The Thunder rushed for 268 yards. 155 of those yards belonged to Porter Harris, who ran 19 times and scored twice. Porter Harris had his arm working too, completing 12-of-20 passes for 216 yards and three touchdowns.
A bright spot for the Flyer offense has been quarterback Blake Barney. Barney at this point in the season sat second in the state in total passing yards, and in touchdown passes. He was averaging 268 yards a game through the air, and had the most total passing yards in the state with over 1,600, and having thrown 19 touchdowns.
Hurricane 35, Pine View 21
The Tigers continued their dominance by beating up on the struggling Panthers of Pine View. It was much of the same for the Tigers, who’ve been operating a total ground and pound offense all year.
Brian Scott rushed 27 times for 168 yards and three touchdowns. Taylor Parker only threw three passes the entire game, completing two of them for 17 yards.
This was the worst-case scenario for the Pine View Panthers. A season that started out with hope and promise slowed to a painful limp. Four of their five losses have come by single digits, and the Panthers having actually scored more points than they had allowed.
The Panthers had better statistics in nearly every area of the game. They had seven more first downs than Hurricane. They had 45 more yards of total offense, three more minutes of possession, and less turnovers than the Tigers.
Dixie 28, Cedar 26
In the battle for third place in Region 9, the Flyers held their ground and flew out of Cedar with a big win. The Flyers book-ended two scoreless quarters of play, with quarters of 14 points each. This was enough for Dixie, but barely. The Cedar Redmen put up a huge 20 point fourth quarter, and nearly came back to steal third place from the Flyers.
In what was Dixie’s worst offensive game of the season, only gaining 264 yards of total offense, they still managed to get more points up than Cedar, who had 341 yards. Dixie quarterback Blake Barney saw a drop-off in his offensive numbers, only throwing 8-of-19 for 123 yards, with one touchdown and one interception.
It certainly was not Dixie’s strongest game of the season, but a win is a win. With that win, they managed to keep pace with the leaders of Region 9, and bumped their overall record to an impressive 6-2.
Cedar was only three points away from a three game winning streak, and third place in Region 9 play. The Redmen missed a PAT attempt in the second quarter, and missed their two attempts at two-point conversions in the fourth quarter– that adds up to five points that could have, and probably should have, been there for the Redmen.
Statistically, Cedar outplayed the Flyers. Quarterback John Ursua threw for 139 yards and three touchdowns. The Redmen had 202 yards on the ground, and 139 yards through the air. But in the end, their inability to convert when it mattered was the reason for the games final outcome.
Hurricane 35, Desert Hills 8
The Tigers pounced on the Thunder to claim the out-right Region 9 title at Desert Hills High School.
It didn’t take Hurricane High School long to get on the scoreboard. In fact, it was the Tigers’ first play from scrimmage, after stopping the Thunder on a fourth-down attempt early that did it. Weston Yardly ran the ball 57 yards for the touchdown.
The touchdowns continued to pour in for the Tigers. Behind running back Brian Scott and quarterback Taylor Parker, Hurricane jumped out to a 21-0 lead going in to the half.
It was much of the same for Hurricane in the second half. The Tigers scored in all four quarters of the game, and held the Thunder scoreless until late in the final period of play.
Brian Scott came into the game as the state’s seventh leading rusher, averaging 118 yards a game. Scott leads the state in rushing touchdowns with 21. The Thunder did slow him down, only rushing for 78 yards, but Scott still put two of the Hurricane touchdowns on the board.
Quarterbacks Taylor Parker and Zac Prince each played a perfect game. Parker was 9-for-9 passing for 120 yards. Prince was 1-for-1 for 12 yards and a touchdown. Hurricane was dominant offensively, racking up 468 yards. While Desert Hills only managed 200 yards of total offense. Prior to Thursday’s game, the most yards the Thunder defense had allowed in a game was 346, back in week five against Pine View.
Hurricane racked up 22 first downs, and converted on 3 of their 4 fourth down attempts. Desert Hills only had 11 first downs, and were 1-of-4 on fourth down conversion attempts.