MILLVILLE – It was a perfect season for the Ridgeline Riverhawks and they captured the 4A state football championship in dominating fashion. And just as they dominated the field, they dominate the individual awards and All-Region 11 teams as voted on by members of the Cache Valley Media Group* who regularly follow high school football. Quarterback Kaden Cox was recognized as the MVP; running back Noah White was recognized as the Offensive Player of the Year; linebacker Jaxen Hollingsworth was recognized as the Defensive Player of the Year; and, head coach Travis Cox was a unanimous selection as the Coach of the Year.
Kaden Cox / Ridgeline – Overall MVP
Kaden Cox was not only the most prolific passer in 4A, but arguably among the best quarterbacks regardless of classification in the entire state of Utah. Unofficially, Cox threw for 3,774 yards (#3 in the state regardless of classification) and 55 touchdowns (#2 in the state regardless of classification and 30 more than the next closest quarterback in 4A). Cox led the Ridgeline Riverhawks to a perfect 13-0 season and 4A state championship.
“Kaden is probably the smartest quarterback I’ve seen,” says Dave Simmons, the play-by-play announcer for the Ridgeline Riverhawks on 104.5 The Ranch. “He reads and sees the game as well as anyone in the state. Because of his high football IQ, the Ridgeline offense was able to do things that most high school football teams can’t do.”
Simmons has been connected to calling high school sports on the radio for nearly 20 years and has been the play-by-play voice of the Riverhawks for the last several seasons.
“Kaden Cox has done things this year as a quarterback that we may never see again at the high school level,” says “The Patriot” Nick Zollinger, color analyst for the Ridgeline football broadcasts. “Throwing 55 TDs and two interceptions, at a 71% completion rate and for 3,774 yards is an incredible stat line for any level for quarterback let alone a high school quarterback. Kaden has a moxie for the game of football like no other. His ability to extend plays, read defenses, scramble, throw on the run, throw with precision sets him apart as an elite quarterback. On top of all that he has a competitive fire and desire to win like I’ve never seen before.”
“You don’t throw 55 touchdowns and only two interceptions without understanding the game at a very high level,” Simmons adds. “He’s a very special player.”
Noah White / Ridgeline – Offensive Player of the Year
Ridgeline’s offense was not only fueled by a prolific passing game, but also a dominant running game led by Noah White who unofficially ran for 2,002 yards. No other running back rushed for more yards in Utah, regardless of classification. To go along with his impressive tally of yardage, White found the end zone 19 times, second most among all of 4A and top eight among all classifications.
“Noah is the complete package for the running back position,” Simmons says. “He’s fast, he’s extremely strong, he’s slippery, has great hands when receiving the ball, and deadly in the open field. Very rarely is he brought down on first contact. His vision is second to none.”
“Noah White is a one man wrecking crew!” Zollinger exclaims. “He has power, speed, agility, quickness, and strength that allowed him to run for 2,002 yards and 19 touchdowns this season. He’s as much of an all-purpose back as you’ll find. Touching the ball 275 times and gaining a total of 2,449 all-purpose yards with 23 total touchdowns shows his incredible talent.
“If YAC’s (yards after catch) were kept at the high school level Noah would have shattered any previously held record of YAC’s on the season. I’m certain that the type of kid Noah is, the first group of people that would be recognized for his success would be his offensive line.”
White not only displayed a physical running style, but his speed also allowed him to separate from pursuing defenders and regularly had explosive plays of over 20 yards rushing or more.
“He’s a human highlight reel when he touches the ball,” Simmons continues. “The way he can make defensive players look silly is exciting to watch. Nobody brings more ‘ooohs and ahhhs’ to the crowd than Noah White.”
Jaxen Hollingsworth / Ridgeline – Defensive Player of the Year
The Ridgeline defense deserves just as much credit as its offense for the great season the team put together this year. Just like the offense, the Ridgeline defense had playmakers all over the field and held opposing offenses well below their season averages. There may have been other defensive players in Region 11 who tallied more tackles, but few had as much impact on the defensive game than Hollingsworth.
“Jaxon is huge!” Simmons exclaims. “Jaxon always makes the huge play. Jaxon doesn’t shy away from a huge moment. Jaxon flies around the field and occupies space like he’s 6’4 tall and 250 pounds, even though he is not even close to that size.
“He plays the game with a joy and passion like it is meant to be played. There was nobody better defensively this season. Jaxon may be small in stature, but Jaxon’s game and most assuredly his heart, is huge!”
“For every great football team you have to have that one person that lights the fire and carries the torch,” Zollinger adds. “Jaxon Hollingsworth is that player! Jaxon is the heart and soul of the Ridgeline football team. Jaxon has a tenacity for the game and a willingness to put it all on the line every single play.
“He plays the game the way it is meant to be played with a passion and work ethic like no other. Jaxon is an example of why I love football! As the great Vince Lombardi once said ‘The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.’ Jaxon Hollingsworth did more this year with what he has than anyone I’ve ever seen play the game.”
Travis Cox / Ridgeline – Coach of the Year
In only his second year as a head coach, the former Utah State Aggie and Mountain Crest Mustang signal caller led the Ridgeline Riverhawks to an undefeated season. Cox’s team dominated opponents both offensively and defensively all year. The average margin of victory was routinely by four touchdowns or more and the average score for a Ridgeline game in 2021 was 41.46 to 13.85. The team’s closest game came in the opener when Ridgeline defeated Bonneville by 13 points on the road.
“Coach Cox is an intense competitor. His desire to win and help his players succeed is displayed through his unrelenting preparation,” says Simmons. “There were times it seemed as though his players knew exactly what to expect before the play even started.
“Coach Cox always puts his players in a position to win because they are confident that they are prepared for the situation. It is said that the attitude of a team starts at the top. This team was no exception. His players respect, trust, and genuinely like him. His players were confident and ready to play, every game, without fail. That is the sign of a great leader and coach.”
“Behind every fearless player is a fearless coach who refused to let them be anything but the best they could be. Travis is the true definition of a fearless coach,” says Zollinger. “He is a person who is passionate about football, a sport he has loved his entire life. He is dedicated and committed to each individual on the team. Travis is able to unlock hidden potential in his players and he maximizes his team’s performance by believing in them.
“He exudes confidence in his team and gets them to believe more in themselves than anyone else, something only a great coach can do. His knowledge of the game and the way he prepares is unmatched at the high school level. Travis has also surrounded himself with some of the best assistant coaches in the state. I know Travis would give a ton of credit to his assistants for the success they have had this year.”
All Region 11 1st Team
Quarterback – Kaden Cox / Ridgeline
Running Back – Noah White / Ridgeline
Running Back – Matt Mason / Logan
Wide Receiver – Stratford Simmons / Ridgeline
Wide Receiver – Jackson Olsen / Ridgeline
Wide Receiver – Gage Jenson / Logan
Wide Receiver – Davis Hall / Sky View
Tight End – Kyle Baker / Green Canyon
Offensive Line – Bryce Radford / Green Canyon
Offensive Line – Easton Dahlke / Ridgeline
Offensive Line – Daimien Boehme / Ridgeline
Offensive Line – Jake Alles / Ridgeline
Defensive Line – Tanner Paskett / Ridgeline
Defensive Line – Bridger Hammond / Ridgeline
Defensive Line – Will Wheatley / Green Canyon
Defensive Line – Kimball Jackson / Sky View
Linebacker – Jaxen Hollingsworth / Ridgeline
Linebacker – Will Booth / Ridgeline
Linebacker – Michael Cabrera / Logan
Linebacker – Reed Wilde / Sky View
Secondary – Cole Watterson / Sky View
Secondary – Dillon May / Ridgeline
Secondary – Terrell Lee / Mountain Crest
Secondary – Davis Hall / Sky View
Kicker – Caleb Naegle / Green Canyon
Punt Return/Kick Return – Jackson Olsen / Ridgeline
All Region 11 2nd Team
Quarterback – Kody Kirk / Logan
Running Back – Gavin Christiansen / Green Canyon
Running Back – Alex Callister / Bear River
Wide Receiver – Caden Stuart / Green Canyon
Wide Receiver – Gage Hansen / Bear River
Wide Receiver – Jaelin Hoth / Logan
Wide Receiver – Braylen Majors / Ridgeline
Tight End – Payton Cox / Logan
Offensive Line – Alex Lundahl / Ridgeline
Offensive Line – Daxxon Dehek / Sky View
Offensive Line – Dylan Atkinson / Green Canyon
Offensive Line – Blake Bishop / Sky View
Defensive Line – Austin Maughn / Mountain Crest
Defensive Line – Kurtis Morgan / Ridgeline
Defensive Line – James Wang / Logan
Defensive Line – Cordell Pone / Sky View
Linebacker – Boede Rudd / Logan
Linebacker – Carson Olsen / Mountain Crest
Linebacker – Tate White / Green Canyon
Linebacker – Kaeson Burn / Bear River
Secondary – Stratford Simmons / Ridgeline
Secondary – Jaelin Hoth / Logan
Secondary – Matthew Mason / Logan
Secondary – Peyton Johnson / Green Canyon
Kicker – Kasen Erickson / Sky View
Punt Return/Kick Return – Caden Stuart / Green Canyon
Sky View: Truman Moser, RB & LB; Reed Wilde, RB; Jackson Sundstrom, WR & DB; Kimball Jackson, TE; Davis Hall, TE; Kaden Matthews, OL; Izeja Torres, OL; Carson Dunkley, LB; Camron Carling, LB; Daxxon Dehek, DL
Green Canyon: Jack Stephens, QB; Kyle Baker, WR; Thomas Cockran, OL; Jackson Landon, DL; Aiden Merrill, DB; Peyton Wood, DB; Brody Haman, LB
Logan: Tilose Tupou, OL; Jack Wang, OL; Krue Kennington, DL; Gage Jenson, DB; Josh Thomsen, DB
Bear River: Jesse Nevajas, DL; Wyatt Roberts, DB
Ridgeline: Peyton Knowles, TE; Ashton McFarlane, DB; Cameron Craney, DB; Aaron Young, K
Mountain Crest: Preston Lofthouse, QB & LB; Martin Vasquez, DL; Dan Bindrup, LB; Garrett Austin, DB
*The Cache Valley Media Group voting panel consists of those who cover high school athletics on radio stations 106.9 The FAN, KVNU 610 AM / 102.1 FM, 100.9 Lite FM, 104.5 The Ranch, 104.9 The Ranch, 107.7 KLZX and Cache Valley Daily. The panel includes “Hurricane” John Newbold, Rex Davis, Craig Hislop, John Russell, Al Lewis, Josh Anderson, Rod Zundel, Tommy Nielsen, Dave Simmons, “The Patriot” Nick Zollinger, AJ Knight, John Olsen, Ajay Salvesen, Clint Payne and Eric Frandsen.
A previous version of this story had identified Green Canyon’s Peyton Johnson as both a Linebacker and a Secondary player. While he was used in hybrid defensive situations, his primary position is in the secondary. As a result, Logan linebacker Boede Rudd has been elevated from the Honorable Mention list to the 2nd Team.