Game Preview Capsule: Dixie (4-2) at Desert Hills (5-1)

GAME PREVIEW CAPSULE
Dixie (4-2, 2-0) at Desert Hills (5-1, 2-1), Thunder Stadium, 7 p.m.
Previous Meeting: Flyers 30, Thunder 27 (Sept. 21, 2012)
Broadcast: Triplecast! STGNews.com, ESPN SportsRadio 106.1 FM and CEC-TV 22, Mike McGary and Devin Dixon on play-by-play

FLYERS
dixie-smClassification: 3AA, South Region
Coach: Blaine Monkres (24th year, 172-90 overall)
Offense: Spread
Last game: Beat Hurricane 41-20
Players to watch: WR Drew Batchelor had a huge game last season vs. DH and last week vs. Hurricane. He should be a big factor again this week. WRs Andy Appel and Konner Aitken are quietly playing Robin to Batchelor’s Batman. On defense, LBs Taylor Strehlow and Stetson Jones always seem to find a way to be around the ball. QB Ammon Takau has nearly 1,500 yards and completes nearly 65 percent of his passes — pretty good considering he hadn’t even won the starting job outright until Week 2.
PPG: 35.8
PAPG: 24.8
Trend: Dixie has won three straight and can stake an early claim to the region title with a win tonight after having beaten Pine View two weeks ago. Ammon Takau seems to be getting better and better, at times matching the efficiency of superstar predecessor Blake Barney. And an efficient Dixie offense is tough to beat. The defense is improving as well, allowing Hurricane less than 300 yards. In fact, Dixie has surrendered 43 points the last three games (14.3 ppg) after giving up 106 the first three games of the year (35.3 ppg).

THUNDER
Desert-Hills-sm
Classification: 3AA, South Region
Coach: Carl Franke (2nd year, 13-5 overall)
Offense: Spread, pistol
Last game: Lost to Pine View 16-10
Players to watch: Ty Rutledge and Barney were the stars in last year’s game, but right beside them were Batchelor and Jordan Hokanson. Hokanson, a senior WR, has 23 catches for 417 yards and 4 receiving TDs this year and leads his team in all those categories. RB Bridger Cowdin’s 91-yard screen pass was really the lone highlight offensively for DH last week. LBs Tucker Cowdin (12 tackles, 1.5 sacks) and Sil Bundy (10 tackles) continue to play well.
PPG: 22.8
PAPG: 8.0
Trend: The offensive woes were evident last week with Cowdin’s big catch-and-run producing the only TD for the Thunder. The four turnovers didn’t help, including the pick-6 early in the fourth quarter. Desert Hills has got to find a way to get the running game going as DH produced just 83 yards a week ago, with Bridger Cowdin gaining just 21 yards on 10 attempts. The defense is still getting after it, with no team scoring more than 16 points on it all season. The high penalty total (more than 130 yards, including several personal fouls) has got to be a concern for Franke.

GAME OUTLOOK
Make no mistake, Dixie knows that a win tonight would pretty much clinch a first-round bye in the playoffs and put the Flyers in the driver’s seat for the 3AA South region title. The Thunder, meanwhile, can make it a logjam at the top with a win. The Flyers gave up a lot of yards to Pine View, but made the clutch plays late in the game. Desert Hills was better overall vs. PV, but couldn’t get a stop late in the game when it was tied. Both defenses will play well, but the one that will force turnovers should get the win. That puts the pressure on DHS junior QB Ammon Takau and Desert Hills sophomore QB Nick Warmsley.

STGnews (record) PREDICTION
Andy Griffin (27-5) — Desert Hills
Darren Cole (21-11) — Dixie
Noland Parry’s spread: Dixie by 3

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Twitter: @oldschoolag

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