Afterward, an exasperated Dixie High student muttered to no one in particular, “How did we just lose to Snow Canyon?”
The answer: It’s because these Snow Canyon Warriors bear little resemblance to the also-rans of yesteryear.
They displayed mental and physical strength Thursday night in a 28-21 upset victory over Dixie, a win that goes a long way in defining a football program that hasn’t been to the postseason in six years.
Mitch Phillips rushed 336 yards on 36 carries and scored three touchdowns, and the Warriors kept the high-scoring Flyers at bay.
“We came out to have fun, enjoy the two games we were guaranteed,” Phillips said.
Because of the victory, Snow Canyon will at have at least two more.
The Warriors travel to Pine View next week. A Snow Canyon victory would clinch a playoff berth outright. A loss to the Panthers would result in a tie at 3-3 for the final playoff spot and necessitate a play-in game.
The Warriors aren’t thinking about that possibility yet. For one night, at least, they’ll soak in what might be the school’s most important football victory since their 3A semifinal triumph over Delta in 2006.
“There is magic in the green and gold,” said SC guard Austin Best.
The Flyers must regroup after a brutal defensive performance. They are idle next week before going on the road to open up the postseason. Dixie had been in great position to snag a home playoff contest, and a victory Friday would have given the Flyers a share of first place.
Meanwhile, who knew what to expect from Snow Canyon? To a man, the Warriors had professed a belief in themselves, but one week ago — in their biggest game to date — they laid an egg. They allowed Desert Hills to pound them into submission in a 42-0 debacle.
The result made Snow Canyon angry. But more than that, the players became resolute.
“Last week was a bad week,” Best said. “We didn’t want it to happen again.”
While you can’t say these are your father’s Warriors — the school hasn’t been around long enough — you can call them your brother’s Warriors, as in the case of Best. The hulking guard, listed at 6-foot-5, 380 pounds, paved the way for Phillips all night, much the same way his sibling R.J. Best did a half-dozen years ago. The elder Best was a member of the last Snow Canyon team to reach the postseason.
That 2006 club caught lightning in a bottle and reached the state final despite being a No. 4 seed.
Since then, the offensive line has not been a strength for the Warriors. On this night, the unit had its way with Dixie.
“Our line pulled through,” he said. “They kept up their tempo, they were studs.”
Snow Canyon stunned many by going ahead 21-7 at halftime. Dixie roared back with a 15-play, 65-yard scoring march, punctuated by a 1-yard touchdown dive by Taylor Berry. The momentum was halted, however, as the game was delayed 40 minutes due to lightning.
When the contest resumed, the Warriors were unable to generate any offense, having to punt twice. After the second fruitless Snow Canyon possession, Dixie tied the contest.
After five consecutive incomplete passes — the first four of which ended a promising possession a few minutes earlier — the Flyers again went to the air and Barney connected with Kyle Hansen in stride for an 83-yard touchdown.
Pandemonium reigned on the Dixie sideline. Across the field, however, the Warriors did not sulk.
How is this for an answer? On the next play from scrimmage, Phillips bolted ahead of the Flyers’ defense before getting dropped in the red zone, a gain of 62 yards. Two plays later he galloped into the end zone to put Snow Canyon ahead 28-21 with 8:31 to go.
“We did a really good job of not getting down, but that just brought us way up,” Phillips said.
Said Best: “It knocked them out. You could tell they were done for after that one.”
Dixie quarterback Blake Barney suffered a hand injury in the first half, but missed only one series. He threw for 232 yards and rushed for 59. He was at his best in the second half, and appeared to have the Flyers in line to tie the contest again.
However, the Flyers’ drive was stalled inside the 10 as Barney was dropped for a loss on a fourth-and-3 play with about five minutes left.
The Warriors needed to run out the clock, and they didn’t get fancy. Phillips had a 16-yard run for a first down, and steamed ahead for another first down on a third-and-2 rush.
Then came the backbreaker — a 32-yard burst that all but ended Dixie’s fading hopes.