It’s almost too cliché to call Xavier Dias the “X-factor” for the Many Tigers.
But it’s also too true to avoid.
Dias is the team’s leader in every facet. He’s the quarterback, and a dangerous one with both his feet and arm.
He’s the free safety, where he roams center field and places the Tigers’ defenders in the right spots at the right times.
And he’s a special-teams standout, returning kicks, recovering onside kicks and blocking potential game-tying PATs.
You name it, and most likely, Dias has done it for coach Jess Curtis.
“He’s the heart and soul,” Curtis said. “He’s the leader on both sides of the ball.”
“He’s one of our key players on the team,” said junior defensive end Pepi Kennedy. “He’s very important for our offense and defense.”
All you have to do is look at what transpired in the Tigers’ 27-26 win over Loreauville last week, a victory that propelled Many to its first trip to the Superdome in 25 years.
The top-ranked Tigers will face No. 3 Kinder at 4:30 p.m. Friday in the Class 2A championship game.
Dias fumbled a snap that was recovered by Loreauville in the end zone late in the fourth quarter that nearly cost Many the game, but he made up for that blunder.
He burst through the line and blocked the PAT attempt to preserve Many’s one-point lead, then sealed the game by recovering Loreauville’s onside kick attempt.
In the game, Dias rushed for 113 yards and a 7-yard touchdown while also throwing for 105 yards with a 59-yard touchdown pass to freshman receiver Isaiah Smith late in the first half.
When the Tigers need a big play, whether it’s on offense, defense or special teams, Curtis said he’s come to expect that Dias will do what’s needed of him.
“At this point you just expect him in the tough moments to make a play,” Curtis said.
Curtis described Dias’ uncanny knack of making big plays at opportune times as a “Troy Polamalu-type of big-play potential.”
When he saved the day by blocking the potential tying PAT that sent the Tigers to the Dome for the first time since 1988, it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. Curtis said Dias did the same thing in Many’s 14-13 win over Winnfield in Week 1 and again in a quarterfinal victory against Oak Grove.