Snow Canyon looks to take down the undefeated Flyers

File photo of a football on a field, with full moon rising between goalposts. Photo by Aaron Crane, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The Warriors of Snow Canyon will take on Dixie at Dixie High School on Friday, with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m.

“We prepare for them just like we do everybody else,” Flyers head coach Blaine Monkres said. “They’re a good team, they’ve got a lot of good players and a lot of team speed. They’re going to give us problems on defense and offense. It’s just a matter of trying to figure out what they’re trying to do to us and find something to counter it with.” 

Snow Canyon seems to be standing in front of a runaway train, as Dixie has one of the most explosive offenses in Region 9.

“This year especially, their offense comes in putting up a whole bunch of points, so that’s probably where we start,” Warriors head coach Mike Esplin said. “We’ve done probably as good a job as anybody in the region, if not better, doing that the last few years. We played them to some really low scoring, close contests and felt like we should have won some of those. Almost doesn’t count in those games, so we’re definitely not looking for a moral victory.”

The Flyers have been led by Reggie Graff, one of the best quarterbacks in the region and an incredible dual threat quarterback. Graff has 845 total passing yards and 591 rushing yards, both team highs.

Tyler Walden of Dixie catches a 43-yard TD pass from Reggie Graff, Dixie at Cedar, Cedar City, Utah, Sept. 6, 2019 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

“Reg (Reggie) Graff is tough because he can run the ball and throw the ball, so you’ve got to be good in all areas,” Esplin said. “You’ve got to be able to defend both”

Monkres has been pleased with the play of his senior quarterback.

“It’s been huge. I was hoping for this kind of play out of Reggie this year,” he said. “He had a good year last year, but he made some mistakes also, so he’s kind of figured that out. Since Springville, he’s been doing a great job for us and hopefully he continues to get better.”

While having Graff as the leader of their offense, the Flyers also have a senior led receiving core, with Simmons, Walden and Schweitzer all being targets for Graff. While their receivers have been putting up big numbers, Monkres is most impressed with their blocking.

“You’re only going to catch, if you’re lucky 10 balls a game, maybe 6, so the rest of the time you’re going to be blocking for somebody,” Monkres said. “They’ve been blocking for each other and helping us in the running game. Then when it’s their turn to make big plays, they’ve been able to do that.”

Just as Monkres talked about, the running game has opened up for the Flyers, as Preston Moore has been exploiting offenses this year with more then 100 yards in the last three of their four games.

Snow Canyon at Hurricane, Hurricane, Utah, Aug. 30, 2019 | Photo by Dave Larson, St. George News

“Preston is one of the hardest workers on the team,” Monkres said. “He works in the weight room, he never misses a film session, he never misses anything. Preston is going to give you 110 (percent) all the time, and he gets those rough yards. Sometimes he doesn’t carry it as much as he’d like to, but he doesn’t complain, he just goes out and does his job.”

As for Snow Canyon, they’re coming off a tough loss against Desert Hills last week, a game in which Esplin said the team was inconsistent.

“The issue with us is consistency and being able to play four quarters at the same level, regardless of the team,” he said. “The good news for us is, playing Dixie, you know the kids are going to be up, we’re not going to have to get them motivated. They want to win this game, and that’s good, we just have to carry that up all the way through four quarters.”

The Warriors have been led by junior quarterback Landon Frei, who is coming off a rough outing against Desert Hills. Frei completed 14 of his 37 passes while throwing two interceptions. Frei jumped on the film of that game as soon as the Warriors got it.

“There were definitely some times that he didn’t throw the ball as good as he could and didn’t make every read correctly, but the good thing about him is he recognized that and got on film as soon as we got it,” Esplin said.

Senior Jase Mendenhall has led the receiving core with 254 passing yards and 10 receptions, with five of those receptions coming last week at Desert Hills.

“He’s a good teammate and leader, so if they’re going to focus a lot of their defense on him, we’ve got some guys that can definitely take advantage of being single covered and maybe not having safety help,” Esplin said. “If they’re going to focus a ton of attention on him, then we can go somewhere else and still be successful. We expect when people are focusing on him, to get the ball where it’s open, but we also know that if we need something, even if he does have a lot of attention, he’s got the talent and skill to still get the ball and run.”

Dixie at Cedar, Cedar City, Utah, Sept. 6, 2019 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Esplin also spoke highly of his running back, junior Bretton Stone, who is leading the team in rushing yards and carries, while also being second on the team in receiving yards. The running game will play an important role in Friday’s game.

“I think it’s really important. Stone is a kid that gets better as he gets into the rhythm of the game. The running game does a lot of things, and one of the things it will do is slow the game down, get first downs, and then score.”

For Dixie, they are not focused on going undefeated this year and are taking it week by week.

“We don’t really talk about trying to go undefeated, we just try to go one week at a time like everybody else does,” Monkres said. “If we play every play hard and go into every week and prepare hard for the game, eventually we are going to get where we want to get at the end of the year.”

The Warriors are looking forward to this game, and after some close games in the past, including a 13-7 loss last year, Esplin’s team is looking forward to the match-up.

“Lots of challenges,” Esplin said. “It’s a really good Dixie team that we respect a lot, but we look forward to another really good game.”

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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