ST. GEORGE — Dixie has won every Region 9 title since 2014. That changed Friday as Pine View defeated Desert Hills 55-3, winning the title after going undefeated through Region 9 play.
It seemed like everything was going the Panthers way, and the Thunder just couldn’t keep up.
“There’s not a whole lot more that can go wrong in a game,” said Thunder head coach Mark Murdoch. “It’s tough to have to go out like that, but it is what it is.”
Leading up to the game, there was plenty of talk about what was on the line. A possible three way tie for first place, a possible Desert Hills title if Dixie would have lost and the Thunder won. The various scenarios were being thrown around, but Pine View came out firing on all cylinders.
The Panthers led 28-3 after the first quarter and extended that lead to 35-3 going into the half. The lone Desert Hills score of the game came on the opening drive when Kire Goulding kicked a 23 yard field goal. The Pine View defense silenced a good Thunder offense and helped out with the scoring as well, taking two interceptions to the house for touchdowns.
Enoch Takau had three of the five touchdowns scored on offense, as he was used in goal line situations to punch the ball in from short distances.
It is also key to note that Macloud Crowton finished the season with 3,291 passing yards, which is 746 more yards then the next high-schooler on the list. He was one of the best, if not the best, passing quarterbacks in the country and it showed again against Desert Hills. Crowton threw for 362 yards in a winning effort.
With six total turnovers for the Thunder, mental mistakes proved to be costly, including penalties. Murdoch preached that the mental side of the game would play a big role in this game, and it did.
“That’s what it was,” Murdoch said. “They did a great job, but offensively we just couldn’t do anything because we wouldn’t catch a snap, or we’d fumble it, or we’d make a poor throw and that’d get intercepted. We definitely weren’t ourselves tonight.”
Desert Hills is looking ahead to the playoffs as they hope to bounce back from this loss to end region play.
“Just getting to the postseason,” said Murdoch. “Just moving on and getting better. That’s been our mentality, too. We still got a chance, we still have a lot of things we can do.”
For Pine View, they bulldozed their way through the region schedule and pulled out a gutsy win against Dixie two weeks ago. They capped the season off with a big win to take the region title.
“This group of kids, they don’t ever quit,” head coach Ray Hosner said. “They’ve got great character, and this is something they wanted to accomplish. That hard work for the past year has paid off, and these guys are getting better and better, so it’s starting to get scarier.”
Being up big at the half, the Panthers were able to get some younger players into the game, and Hosner said that was something his seniors were pushing for in the locker room.
“They were playing hard for their teammates; that’s what they were doing so they could get in the game,” Hosner said.
Senior Izaiah Moten had a pick six on the day and wrapped up his last Region 9 game on a high note.
“Man, I just remember losing to Desert Hills during little league, during freshman year, and just to get them back my senior year — there’s no better feeling.”
When asked about matchups and RPI rankings with regards to postseason matchups, Moten didn’t have much to say.
“It don’t matter who we play, who we match up with, we’re going to play every game the same,” Moten said.
All in all, it was an electric night at Pine View, and to come out of such a tough region with an undefeated record is no small task.
“It’s a special win to be undefeated region champs in a region as tough as our region,” Hosner said. “Every week it’s a dog fight. We’ve got great coaches in the region, great athletes in the region, great players in the region, and I’m just proud of our kids.”
Region 9 will take next week off as they await the other regions to finish their regular season. The final RPI rankings for Class 4A will be released on Oct. 20, and that is when we will find out who the local teams will be playing, with seeds 11-21 playing in the first week while the top 10 seeds have a bye in the first round.
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