Ridgeline High School football QB Kaden Cox, center, holds the team trophy as Ridgeline celebrates its 4A championship win against Dixie High School at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021. (Laura Seitz, Deseret News)
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SALT LAKE CITY — Ridgeline’s offense has been among the best in the state, with 4,000-yard skill players averaging 50.7 points in its last seven games, and touchdowns from 13 different players en route to Friday’s state championship game at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
And Kaden Cox has been the director of the entire symphony.
Cox threw for 355 yards and five touchdowns, and Nick White ran for 209 yards and two scores to help overwhelm Dixie 45-20 in the 4A state championship game to clinch the Riverhawks’ first state title in program history.
“He’s unbelievable,” White said of his Cox, who threw for 3,774 yards and 55 touchdowns with just two interceptions as a senior. “I can’t say enough about him. Super nice to have him back there and makes my life easy.”
Ridgeline’s offense was on full display Friday, lighting up the scoreboard to the tune 570 yards — the sixth-most in championship game history, according to Utah high school football historian George Felt — with 355 yards on the ground and 45 points. Ridgeline earned 24 first downs, went 12-of-16 on third down and averaged 8.1 yards per play, including 13.7 yards per completion from Cox.
White’s 7.0 yards per carry that paced 6.3 yards per rushing play helped, too. But behind it all as a dominant offensive line pushing the ball forward on every play.
“We are really explosive; we can do whatever you want on offense, for most part,” said Cox, who recently received a preferred walk-on offer from Utah State. “But I give all the credit to our O-line. We can’t do anything without our line. They are one special group of guys, and O-line coach is remarkable; I give all the credit because we can’t do anything without them.”
But Cox deserves some credit, too. His 55 passing touchdowns is the third-most in a single season in Utah High School Activities Association history, just behind Lehi’s Cammon Cooper, who threw 58 in 2017. The senior finishes his career ranked sixth all-time with 657 completions, eighth in touchdown passes with 99, ninth with 8,657 yards and 15th in total offense with 9,345 yards.
The 6-foot, 170-pound signal caller got a chance to start for the Riverhawks as a sophomore, and ran with it ever since.
“The coach before me took a chance on him and gave him some experiences that have really helped him grow,” Ridgeline coach Travis Cox said of his QB1. “Starting last year, we knew we had something special in him and he’s just continued to get better and better.
“I credit coach Livingston, our offensive coordinator, for really kind of teaching him how to play quarterback. He’s done a fabulous job of Kaden, and Kaden has really been a coachable player. He really has just wanted to get better, and he’s gotten better each and every week.”
Ridgeline wide receiver Braylon Majors scores a touchdown against Dixie in the 4A championship game at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021. (Photo: Laura Seitz, Deseret News)
The Riverhawks converted scoring drives with double-digit plays twice, with a five- and six-play drive scattered in before Cox found receiver Stratford Simmons with his second touchdown on just the third play of a 34…….