Underdogs clash for the 3AA state championship

Underdogs clash for the 3AA state championship


Underdogs clash for the 3AA state championship


Out of all the football teams in 3AA, not a whole lot of people thought the South’s No. 3-seed Hurricane Tigers and the No. 4-seed Dixie Flyers would be playing in the 3AA championship game at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Friday.

“Nobody believed in us,” Hurricane linebacker Jeremiah Ieremia said after the Tigers beat Desert Hills in a thrilling semifinal game at Rice-Eccles Stadium last week. “Everyone doubted us, but that’s okay because that motivates us and we will continue to play as a team.”

Throughout the season, both teams have faced many obstacles, particularly with injuries. Hurricane is currently down to its third string quarterback in Josh Parker, who just last month suited up with the junior varsity team.

However, in just three games, Parker has guided his team to three straight wins while completing 61.9 percent of his passes, and most importantly, has not thrown an interception.

“Josh is playing really well right now for us and has really stepped up,” Hurricane head coach Steve Pearson said. “We always tell our players in practice that they need to be ready, because you never know when you are going to be called upon. Josh has been a great example to our team and has really stepped up and handled it well.”

Dixie has also had to overcome struggles throughout the season. Senior dual-threat quarterback Ammon Takau was sidelined with an injury during the Pine View game and had to miss the Hurricane game. The Flyers offense was not as efficient without him and because of it, the team got off to a rocky 2-4 start with two straight losses in region play.

The Flyers stuck together and rolled off seven straight wins and are among the hottest teams in the state right now.

“We have a lot of playmakers on our team, but having Ammon out was tough for us,” Dixie head coach Blaine Monkres said. “He’s a special player and we’re just glad to have him back this time against Hurricane.”

Dixie and Hurricane are very familiar with each other, as the two region foes have already played one another this year. Hurricane came away with a 34-14 win at home thanks to the rushing attack of Jeremiah Ieremia, Nick Mcdaniel and JD Stanworth. The trio combined to rush for 263 yards and three touchdowns as the Tigers cruised to the victory.

Takau didn’t play against the Tigers, but his return makes Dixie’s explosive offense even better. Just this year alone, Takau has amassed 2,860 total yards to go along with 36 touchdowns. Unfortunately for the Tigers, Takau is healthy and he has the Flyers rolling with seven straight wins.

Takau will certainly be tested as the Hurricane defense continues to get better and better each and every week. Over the last two playoff games, the Tigers defense allowed just 14.5 points per game. Impressively, the Tigers held Desert Hills —which had one of the best offenses in the state — to just 14 points.

Monkres said to come away with the victory on Friday, they will need to be able to slow down the Tigers’ rushing attack and to not allow Hurricane to control the time of possession.

“Hurricane is a good football team and they have a lot of talented players,” he said. “They run hard and don’t make a lot of mistakes so we will certainly have our hands full with them.”

Monkres said the Flyers will need to get off to a quick start, play turnover free football, slow down the Tigers rushing game and not let the Tigers control the time of possession.

As for the Tigers, Pearson said his team just needs to continue to focus on themselves and on what they can control and to just enjoy the moment and have fun.

“Sometimes before a game we worry so much about are we going to do this right? Are we going to do that right? What if this? What if that?” Pearson said after his team defeated Desert hills. “I don’t think we focus enough on having fun in sports, especially at the high school level. Our seniors have only one game left in their high school career and it will be the last time they will get to play with one another. We want it to be a great experience for everyone and we will continue to work hard and improve, but we will have fun in the process.”

The championship game between Dixie and Hurricane will take place at 11 a.m. at Rice-Eccles Stadium Friday. You can watch the game live on KJZZ TV.

NOTES: Dixie is the lowest seed to arrive in the championship game in any classification since Snow Canyon was the No. 4 seed in 2006. … Monkres has a remarkable 11-4 playoff record while at Dixie, meanwhile Pearson comes in with a perfect record in the playoffs in his first year and is 1-0 against Monkres. … Dixie has only beaten Hurricane once over the last six meetings.

Follow Justin Giles on Twitter @Justingiles22.


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