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High school football: Kanab the front runner in what should be a very competitive 1A South region

For Kanab coach JR Quarnberg and Enterprise coach Andy Messersmith, they’re hopeful some subtle tinkering with their respective football programs can help push their teams over the top in 2022.

It would’ve been easy to just stand pat and try and build on their success from a year ago after they went 1-2 in the 1A South region. They each bowed out of the playoffs earlier than expected, although each was by the slimmest of margins to Layton Christian.

Both coaches are trying to be proactive in changing the narrative this season.

“We kind of peaked in the middle of the season and didn’t get better, so we’re trying to approach a little bit differently with our preseason stuff to build a little momentum so we’re playing our best football at the end of the year,” said Quarnberg.

Kanab beat eventual state champion Duchesne in Week 4 a year ago but it never got the chance to repeat that victory as its offense stalled in a semifinal loss to Layton Christian.

Kanab’s last state championship came back in 2007, and after beating Duchesne in the regular season a year ago the Cowboys went into the playoffs as the favorite.

“”We feel like in our program we’re competitive every year and we expect to compete. We lost that game by a point, and that was the only loss in the classification. We feel like we’re right there. We’ve got to figure out how to make that jump and achieve our goals,” said Quarnberg.

He’s hopeful the players are learning the blueprint for that success this summer.

For Messersmith, changes to his approach began back in the spring. Instead of trying to making everything about football, he made a point of encouraging his players to focus on their spring sports and weight lifting and improve as an overall athlete.

The hope is his players don’t burn out too early, and Messersmith said he’s already seeing it pay off.

“The kids are really hungry and ready to get after it. They’re wanting m to keep pushing them,” said Messersmith. “Hoping they will be hungry all season long.”

Enterprise was a relatively young team a year ago as it finished with a 6-4 record. Of its 10 games, six were decided by one possession. Enterprise went 3-3 in those games. That included a 30-26 loss in the quarterfinals to Layton Christian after leading 20-10 at the half.

“That last game left a bitter taste in their mouth and they just want to get back to playing football. Layton Christian is a tough team and it came down to one turnover either way,” said Messersmith.

While Kanab and Enterprise are the projected favorites in the 1A South region, both Milford and Parowan could be in the mix as well. They finished third and fourth, respectively, in the region a year ago, but played the top teams tough and can’t be discounted as contenders this year.

“All of those games are so close. You’ve got to be ready every single week in this region,” said Messersmith.

Enterprise returns eight starters on both sides of the ball as it looks to dethrone Kanab as the region champ. The biggest question mark is at quarterback, but Messersmith said three different players are battling for the spot this summer and he has faith in all three.

Kanab returns seven starters on offense led by returning 1,000-yard rushers Travis Stewart and Parker Franklin. Quarnberg said his team has some important holes to plug on the offensive line, but assuming everything comes together as he expects the Cowboys could be even better offensively this season.

Water Canyon rounds out the 1A South region this year as it will be playing varsity football for the first time. Coach Heber Horsley said the players and the community in general are excited about adding football for this school year.

“They are excited to compete and look to prove themselves as a competitor in all of their games,” said Horsley.

Water Canyon will play a handful of games in the newly-created eight-man league. The format of that playoff and which state tournament Water Canyon will participate in hasn’t been determined yet.

1A North projections

(Preseason rankings are based on coaches’ votes)

1. Kanab Cowboys

2022 schedule

Head coach: JR Quarnberg: He is entering his third season as head coach at his high school alma mater after leading the team to a 17-6 record the past two years. He’s a graduate of Southern Utah University.

Coach JR Quarnberg’s general outlook: We return a number of key players and are expecting big things out of them. We need those players to excel statistically but more importantly we need them to take on leadership roles. We do have some big shoes to fill in several very important positions, so we are excited to see who will take advantage of the opportunity and step up for us. We expect the 1A classification to be tough again this season, with tough teams in each region. Which means we have a challenging schedule from start to finish, but we are counting down the days to “Friday Night Lights.” We are excited to get to work this summer and get to camp. Good luck and have fun to the teams across the state strapping up for the 2022 football season.

Offensive coordinator: JR Quarnberg.

2021 offense: 26.8 ppg (No. 5 in 1A)

Seven returning startersWing T

Returning offensive starters

Griffen Bone, Jr., QBParker Franklin, Sr., RBTravis Stewart, Sr., RBKason Janes, Sr., TEMax Kartchner, Sr., CJaden Holder, Sr., TPreston Houston, Sr., T

Key offensive newcomers

Preston Brown, So., RBNate Stewart, So., RBWyatt Orton, So., OLBritton Little, Jr., OLKarter Ramsay, Jr., OL

Defensive coordinator: Brandon Brown.

2021 defense: 14.8 ppg, No. 3 in 1A

Four returning starters4-3 defense

Returning defensive starters

Griffen Bone, Jr., STravis Stewart, Sr., LBKason Janes, Sr., DEPreston Houston, Sr., DT

Key defensive newcomers

Nate Stewart, So.. LBWaylon White, Sr., CTroy Federkeil, So., LBLane Simms, Jr., CJaden Holder, Sr. (DT)

2. Enterprise Wolves

2022 schedule

Head coach: Andy Messersmith. Entering his seventh season as head coach for the Wolves, as he’s guided the program to a 35-30 record in his first six seasons. He’s a graduate of Juab High School and Adams State in Colorado.

Coach Andy Messersmith’s general outlook: We are excited for this season. We most of our starters back from last season. That experience help especially in the trenches. We have three to four athletes fighting for the quarterback spot.

Offensive coordinator: Andy Messersmith.

2021 offense: 21.3 ppg (No. 7 in 1A)

Eight returning startersMulti formation

Returning offensive starters

Clayton Anzalone, Sr., WRAustin Humphries, Sr., TEGage Schoeffler, Sr., TParker Holt, Jr., GSam Johnson, Sr., GCale Day, Jr., TAiden Dougherty, Sr., FBKyron Bracken, Jr., Slot

Key offensive newcomers

Brayden Gardner, Jr., WREaston Watkins, Jr., TJaden Drake, Jr., Slot

Defensive coordinator: Phil Mcleod

Enterprise defense: 15.7 ppg (No. 4 in 1A)

Eight returning starters4-2-5 and 5-3 defense

Returning defensive starters

Clayton Anzalone, Sr., CAustin Humphries, Sr., MLBParker Holt, Jr., DESam Johnson, Sr., DEAiden Dougherty, Sr., MLB.Kyron Bracken, Jr., SSJaden Drake, Jr., FS

Key defensive newcomers

Chandler Fowler, Sr., CBrayden Gardner, Jr., LBCaden Aylworth, Jr., LBCael Day, Jr., DT

3. Milford Tigers

2022 schedule

Head coach: Thane Marshall. Entering his ninth season as head coach at Milford, recording a 63-30 record over that stretch, including back-to-back 1A titles in 2017 and 2018. He’s a graduate of Beaver High School and Southern Utah University.

Coach Thane Marshall’s general outlook: We are excited to get started this season. Last year was an up and down season with injuries hurting us in the middle of the season. Our kids are hungry to get back to playing football. We got a lot of experience to younger kids last and hopefully it will help us out this year.

Offensive coordinator: Wes Marshall

2021 offense: 29.3 ppg (No. 3 in 1A)

Eight returning startersSpread offense

Returning offensive starters

Luke Swanson, Sr., OLElias Romero, Sr., OLJusten Beebe, Jr., OL.Colton Barnes, So., WRBo Hardy, Sr., QB/RBKilo Tsosie, So., QB/WRDrayton Blackburn, Jr., WR/RBTrey Rose, WR.

Key offensive newcomers

Taylor Dotson, Jr., WRKason Kesler, So., C

Defensive coordinator: Isaako Aaitui

2021 defense: 21.3 ppg (No. 8 in 1A)

Six returning starters4-3 defense

Returning defensive starters

Quaid Thompson, Sr., MLBTrey Rose, Sr., SMorgan Finicum, Jr., OLBBryson Aklin, Sr., OLGColton Barnes, So., CBTesler Fields, Jr., DEDrayton Blackburn, Jr., DB

Key defensive newcomers

Elias Romero, Sr., DLTaylor Dotson, DB

4. Parowan Rams

2022 schedule

Head coach: Ryan Heath. Entering his third year as head coach at Parowan after leading the program to an 11-13 record the previous two seasons. He’s a graduate of North Sevier High School and Southern Utah University.

Coach Ryan Heath’s general outlook: We are replacing a huge group of graduating seniors (60% of all starters) and will need kids to step up in a big way. We have kids that are willing and ready to finally get their shot to show what they can do. We have the kids to do, it and we are excited for what this season will bring.

Offensive coordinator: Ryan Heath

2021 offense: 29.3 ppg (No. 3 in 1A)

Four returning startersSpread option

Returning offensive starters

Wyatt Hall, Sr., WRCooper Miller, Sr., OLPreston Eisenach, Sr., OLBoden Mackelprang, Jr., OL

Key offensive newcomers

Justin DeGroff, Sr., QBWaylon Robinson, Sr., SBMatt Townsend, Sr., WRBrennan Church, Jr., RBNic Gale, Sr., OL

Defensive coordinator: Dave Bettridge

2021 defense: 19.6 ppg (No. 6 in 1A)

Four returning starters4-2-5 defense

Returning defensive starters

Cooper Miller, Sr., DEWyatt Hall, Sr., CBBoden Mackelprang, Jr., DE/DTPreston Eisenach, Sr., DE

Key defensive newcomers

Matt Townsend, Sr., S

Waylon Robinson, Sr., OLB

Nic Gale, Sr., DT

5. Water Canyon Wildcats

2022 schedule

Head coach: Heber Horsley. Guiding Water Canyon into its first-ever year of varsity football. He’s a graduate of Centennial Academy in Arizona and Mojave Community College.

Coach Heber Horsley’s general outlook. Wildcat football kicks off its inaugural season this year. They are excited to compete and look to prove themselves as a competitor in all of their games.

Offensive coordinator: Coach Heber Horsley

Key offensive newcomers

Dylan Horsley, Sr., QBNick Timpson, Sr., HBPatrick Hammon, Sr., WRJonathan Timpson, Sr., WRTristan Phelps, Sr., OTJJ Barlow, Sr., OT

Defensive coordinator: Jeromy Williams.

Key defensive newcomers

Lester Barlow, Sr., LB/EdgeCollin Kelsch, Sr., LBJohnny Johnson, Jr., DBDomanik LaCorti, So., Edge

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