GAME PREVIEW CAPSULE
Payson (1-6, 0-3) at Dixie (5-2, 3-0), Walt Brooks Stadium, tonight @ 7 p.m.
Previous Meeting: Lions 26, Flyers 21 (Oct. 9, 1992)
Classification: 3AA South Region
Coach: Jeremy Chapman (5th year, 16-29 overall)
Last game: Lost to Bear River 44-34
Players to watch: The Lions again fell behind early and picked up a lot of yards when the game was essentially over. The passing game, with QB Easton Smith, RB Phil Perez and WRs Preston Little and Brody Adams, has made great strides. Smith has more than 1,700 yards on the season. But the defense has to keep Payson in the game for it to matter. LB John Harmon has been a beast, but could surely use some help.
Trend: Hmmm, no way to sugarcoat a six-game losing streak. A positive spin is that the Lions have picked up the scoring pace (58 points in the last two games). But the defense seems to be getting worse (24.5 ppg the first three games, 38.5 ppg since). But Smith has picked up his game with 897 yards and 7 TDs in the last three games. At 1-6, a winning season is out of the question. But with six teams making the playoffs from the region, the postseason is not.
Classification: 3AA, South Region
Coach: Blaine Monkres (24th year, 173-90 overall)
Last game: Beat Desert Hills 27-7
Players to watch: WR Lukas Hildebrandt had a big game vs. the Thunder and has 445 yards receiving this year. His 15.9 yards per catch make him a big-play threat. He also plays DB and has 22 tackles this year. LB Stetson Jones leads the team in tackles with nearly nine per game. QB Ammon Takau hits 65 percent of his passes and has 13 TDs, while averaging 14.5 yards per completion. He’s also rushed for 306 yards.
Trend: The Dixie defense, led by Jones, Taylor Strehlow and Braxton Ipson, was pretty dominant against DH, allowing just 14 passing yards and 139 total yards. That’s a huge step forward as Dixie’s offense carried the team vs. Hurricane two weeks ago. This year’s group of Flyers are starting to look more and more like last year’s state championship team. While the Dixie offense isn’t quite as dangerous as the 2012 squad, the defense is better. Dixie has won four straight and is getting healthy.
The bottom line is that Payson is 0-3 in region with Dixie, Pine View and Cedar left. Somehow the Lions have to find a win to make the playoffs. Meanwhile, Dixie is sitting pretty at 3-0 in region and has really put together a complete squad. One interesting fact: Payson’s Smith has passed for more yards than Dixie’s Takau (1,733 vs. 1,664). The difference: Takau’s yards come early in the game, Smith’s come late. And of course, Takau’s defensive teammates are holding opponents to 12 fewer points per game. There will be a lot of passes tonight, but when and where they happen is the key.
STGnews (record) PREDICTION
Andy Griffin (29-7) — Dixie
Darren Cole (25-11) — Dixie
Noland Parry’s spread: Dixie by 33
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