High school football :San Juan, Beaver expected to lead way in 2A South

There’s no shortage of uncertainty in the 2A South region heading into the 2022 season.

For starters, three of the six teams have new head coaches — Delta, Millard and Grand. Secondly, both of last year’s 2A finalists, San Juan and Beaver, each only return a handful of starters as they head into the season with plenty of question marks.

Both programs have the depth to pick up right where they left off, and even though most expect them to, there’s still a learning curve the players will need to go through.

San Juan coach Barkley Christensen said his team could even emerge better than last year, when the program captured the state championship.

“I think we’re ready to compete again for another one,” said Christensen. “They work so hard cause they know what it takes and they’ve seen what it takes. They’re doing everything the last class did, they just lack the experience.”

San Juan’s biggest strength heading into the season according to Christensen is the team’s skill position players. He said at just about every position this year’s starters are on par if not better than a year ago.

That includes junior quarterback Parker Snyder, who eats, drinks and breathes football, according to Christensen. A year ago San Juan QB Jace Palmer passed for 39 touchdowns and rushed for 11 more, and Snyder has similar potential.

There’s no denying the talent, it’s just very raw. Last year’s San Juan team returned every single starter from a year ago, a luxury Christensen leaned on all year. This year in many ways it’s back to basics.

“I can’t just call any play I want anymore and the kids just line up and know what they’re doing better than I know what they’re doing,” he said.

While San Juan only returns two offensive starters and five defensive starters, Beaver’s scenario is almost identical with three offensive starters back and five defensive returners.

Regardless of the experience, Beaver coach Jonathan Marshall said there’s an expectation within the program after four state titles in the past seven years.

“Our program, we’ve been very fortunate over the last eight years or so to have a lot of success, and one of the nice things is our kids do expect to win,” said Marshall.

What the Beavers lack in experience, Marshall thinks his team might be able to make up in depth. He believes there’s a lot of depth within the program that will help immensely over the course of the 10-week regular season and then the playoffs.

A year ago in 2A South, there was a massive drop off in the standings after San Juan and Beaver, who combined for a 23-3 record. None of the other six teams finished with a winning record as they went a combined 11-33.

For three of those four teams, a new coach will try and close the gap on the big region front-runners. Ironically enough, all three are taking over as head coach at their alma mater.

Colin Christensen is taking over at Delta, with Stoney Myers at Millard and Dennis Wells at Grand. Wells is no stranger to the sidelines, however, as he previously served as head coach at Grand for 19 seasons before taking a one-year hiatus last year.

In the past two seasons Grand is 1-19 so regardless of who’s the head coach there’s a big uphill climb necessary to simply be competitive.

Of the 2A South teams with new head coaches, on paper Millard seems to have the best chance at quick success as Myers inherits a team with nine starters back on both sides of the ball. Leading the way is all-state running back Morgan Wade.

South Sevier finished fifth in the region a year ago, but stability in the coaching staff and then roughly half its starters back from a year ago should help the Rams be more competitive in region this season.

San Juan’s coach is excited to see how all the unknowns play out this fall.

“I think it’s pretty wide open. There’s definitely not a clear-cut front-runner,” said Christensen.

2A South projections

(Preseason rankings are based on coaches’ votes)

1. Beaver Beavers

2022 schedule

Head coach: Jon Marshall. Entering his sixth season as Beaver’s head football coach on top of the 25 years he’s been the girls basketball coach. Beaver’s football teams have an impressive 55-8 record in his five seasons in charge, including state titles in 2017, 2019 and 2020. He’s led Beaver’s girls basketball team to nine state titles, the third most in state history. He’s a graduate of Beaver High School and Southern Utah University.

Coach Jon Marshall’s general outlook: We lost a lot of good players from last year’s team but we have a lot of good underclassmen returning. Our sub varsity teams never lost a game last year and we are excited to get to work figuring out what our team is going to look like. We have a lot of good players to choose from and are anxious to see who steps up to earn playing time. We play a very tough schedule early on and will find out quickly where we are at.

Offensive coordinator: Jonathan Marshall.

2021 offense: 28.9 ppg (No. 4 in 2A).

Three returning starters.Wing T/triple option.

Returning offensive starters

Tyten Fails, Sr., QB.Trayson Brown, Sr., OL.Taevin Hunter, Sr., OL.

Key offensive newcomers

Ayden Bradshaw, Sr., RB.Tate Gale, Jr., RB.Bentley Bradshaw, Sr., RB.Tavyn Hollingshead, Jr., RB.Jake Marshall, Sr., WB/slot.Kutlur Matheson, Jr., TE/QB.Baylor Blackburn, Jr., WR/TE.Adunn Alisa, Sr., TE/WR.Taggert Harris, Jr., WB/slot.Brayden Evans, Jr., OL.Stratton Bradshaw, Sr., OL.Conner Bradshaw, Sr., OL.Davian Gillins, Sr., OL.Braden Laws, Jr., OL.Luke Wolff, Jr., WR.Bodie Wheatley, So., RB/QB.

Defensive coordinator: Steve Hutchings.

2021 defense: 12.3 ppg (No. 1 in 2A).

Five returning starters.4-2-5 defense.

Returning defensive starters

Ayden Bradshaw, Sr., LB.Trayson Brown, Sr., DL.Kutlur Matheson, Jr., LB.Bentley Bradshaw, Sr., DB.Tavyn Hollingshead, Jr., DB.

Key defensive newcomers

Jake Marshall, Sr., DE/LB.Tate Gale, Jr., LB.Adunn Alisa, Sr., DE.Gage Raddon, So., LB.Baylor Blackburn, Jr., DB/LB.Davian Gillins, Sr., DL.Conner Bradshaw, Sr., DL.Taevin Hunter, Sr., DL.Stratton Bradshaw, Sr., DL.Brayden Evans, Jr., DE.Taggert Harris, Jr., DE.Luke Robinson, Jr., DB.Tyten Fails, Sr., DB.Braden Laws, Jr., DE.Luke Wolff, Jr., DB.

2. San Juan Broncos

2022 schedule

Head coach: Barkley Christensen. Entering his sixth season as head coach at his alma mater, where his teams have posted an 38-19 record over the past four seasons, including a state title in 2021. He’s a graduate of Dixie State.

Coach Barkley Christensen’s general outlook: We are excited for the upcoming season having to fill a lot of holes from last year’s senior-heavy state championship team. With the amount of work these kids coming up have been putting in, we have the expectations of reloading instead of rebuilding. We still bring back some studs from last year’s team and are filling the holes with guys who have the same amount of talent, just not experience from the kids we had a year ago. We expect to be playing for another state championship this upcoming year and look forward to seeing what this new team can do.

Offensive coordinator: Barkley Christensen.

2021 offense: 42.6 ppg (No. 1 in 2A).

Two returning starters.Spread offense.

Returning offensive starters

Jerzy Nieves, Sr., WR.Taylor Black, Jr., OG.

Key offensive newcomers

Parker Snyder, Jr., QB.Zack Conway, Jr., RB.Magnum Nielson, Sr., RB.Collin Baker, Sr., Slot.Garrett Young, Sr., WR.Taeg Palmer, Jr., OL.Jared Burke, Jr. OL.Callen Burke, Sr. OL.Hughston Ketchum, Sr. OL.Anthony Done, Jr., Slot.Trace Bennett, Jr., TE.

Defensive coordinators: Bobby Bowring / Landon Palmer.

San Juan defense: 17.9 ppg (No. 3 in 2A).

Five returning starters.4-3 defense.

Returning defensive starters

Magnum Nielson, Sr., MLB.Jerzy Nieves, Sr., S.Garrett Young, Sr., DB.Collin Baker, Sr., Safety.Callen Burke, Sr., DL.

Key defensive newcomers

Taeg Palmer, Jr., DE.Taylor Black, Jr., DL.Jared Burke, Jr., DL.Hughston Ketchum, Sr., DL.Hudson Whatcott, Sr., DB.Trace Bennett, Jr., LB.Brad Duke, Sr., LB.Shawn Black, Sr., LB.Parker Snyder, Jr., DB.Zack Conway, Jr., LB.

3. Delta Rabbits

2022 schedule

Head coach: Colin Christensen. Enters his first season as head coach at his alma mater, where he graduated in 2012. He’s a graduate of the University of Utah.

Coach Colin Christensen’s general outlook: There is a lot of new things happening with a change in head coach — but overall Delta is going to try to live up to the great tradition of having a hard-nose football team this year. We don’t have a ton of experience coming back, but we do have some great athletes coming back. Delta should have some hard-nosed kids that are excited to get back out and play. There will be a lot of holes to fill this year, but kids are working hard and ready to step up. We are excited about the upcoming year to compete — things should be exciting and competitive in the 2A.

Offensive coordinator: Colin Christensen.

2021 offense: 26.3 ppg (No. 5 in 2A).

Four returning starters.Inverted wishbone.

Returning offensive starters

Tanner Taylor, OL.Cam Skeem, QB.Ryder Rogers, RB.Will Skeem, WR.

Key offensive newcomers

Cooper Nielson, OL.Cam Smith, RB.Cam Curtis, RB.Cody Fisher, OL.Kyle Nickle, TE/OL.

Defensive coordinator: Dennis DeLoach.

2021 defense: 22.1 ppg (No. 6 in 2A).

Four returning starters.4-4 defense.

Returning defensive starters

Tanner Taylor, DE.Cam Smith, CB.Ryder Rogers, LB.Will Skeem, CB.

Key defensive newcomers

Max Bassett, S.Marcus Chase, LB.Brock Rowley, LB.Kyle Nickle, DE.

4. Millard Eagles

2022 schedule

Head coach: Stoney Myers. A longtime assistant at Millard, Myers is taking over as head coach at his alma mater. He’s a graduate of Southern Utah.

Coach Stoney Myers’ general outlook: We feel that we have a good nucleus of kids returning. The kids have been very dedicated to the weight room so far this offseason. We will definitely be counting on some younger kids to step up and develop over the course of the season. We are excited for the opportunity to compete and hope to fair well against the tough programs in our region.

Offensive coordinator: Blake Turner.

2021 offense: 21.2 ppg (No. 8 in 2A).

Nine returning starters.Option offense.

Returning offensive starters

Chaz Ashton, Sr., OL.Wade Brunson, Sr., OL.Hunter Rodriguez, Sr., OL.Ethan Rowell, Sr., OL.Cooper Whatcott, Sr., OL.Taylor Davies, Sr., RB/WR.Conner Hem, Sr., RB.Morgan Wade, Sr., RB.KC Whitaker, Sr., RB.

Key offensive newcomers

Brooks Christensen, Jr., RB.Sam Rasmussen, Jr., QB.Luke DeGraffenried, Jr., T.E./RB/receiver.Milo Jackson, Jr., O-line.Santana DeHerrera, Jr., O-line/T.E.Lincoln Fullmer, Jr., RB/T.E.

Defensive coordinator: Stoney Myers.

2021 defense: 29.5 ppg (No. 8 in 2A).

Nine returning starters.4-4 defense.

Returning defensive starters

Morgan Wade, Sr., FS/DB.KC Whitaker, Sr., LB.Chaz Ashton, Sr., DL.Wade Brunson, Sr., DL.Taylor Davies, Sr., FS/DB/LB.Hunter Rodriguez, Sr., LB.Luke DeGraffenried, Jr., LB/FS.Santana DeHerrera, Jr., DL/LB.Sam Rasmussen, Jr., LB/DB.

Key defensive newcomers

Conner Hem, Sr., LB/DB.Brooks Christensen, Jr., LB.Milo Jackson, Jr., DL.

5. South Sevier Rams

2022 schedule

Head coach: John Ramage. Entering his fourth season as head coach at South Sevier, recording a 6-26 record his first three seasons. He’s a graduate of Orem High School and BYU.

Offensive coordinator: John Ramage.

2021 offense: 14.7 ppg (No. 9 in 2A).

Five returning starters.Open-wing offense.

Returning offensive starters

Carter Abraham, Sr., QB.Grayson Friant, Sr., RB.Brigham Bradshaw, Sr., RB.Kyson Wood, Sr., OL.Brock Hardinger, Jr., OL.

Key offensive newcomers

Holden Unsicker, So., OL.Kanyon Okerlund, So., WR/RB.Ty Sorenson, Sr., WR.Ian Louder, Sr., OL.Cole Peterson, Sr., RB.Easton Anderson, Sr., TE.Brock Hardinger, Jr., OL.Grayson Jenkins, Jr., WR.

Defensive coordinator: Bryce Twitchell.

2021 defense: 32.3 ppg (No. 9 in 2A).

Five returning starters.4-3 defense.

Returning defensive starters

Kyson Wood, Sr., LB.Cole Peterson, Sr., LB.Easton Anderson, Sr., DE.Ty Sorenson, Sr., DB.Brock Hardinger, Jr., DL.

Key defensive newcomers

Kanyon Okerlund, So., LB.Grayson Friant, Jr., LB.Carter Abraham, Sr., DB.Holden Unsicker, So., DL.Brigham Bradshaw, Sr., DB.

6. Grand Red Devils

2022 schedule

Head coach: Dennis Wells. After a one-year hiatus, Dennis Wells is back as head coach at his alma mater. He previously coached at Grand from 2002 to 2020. His coaching record sits at 102-103 heading into his 20th year, including a state title in 2005. He’s a graduate of Southern Utah University.

Coach Dennis Wells’ general outlook: We are coming off of a 0-9 season after going 1-9 the year before. The only place we can ago is up. We have a lot of work to do and I feel it may take a few years to get there but I think we will definitely see improvement this year.

Offensive coordinator: Dennis Wells.

2021 offense: 5 ppg (No. 12 in 2A).

Seven returning starters.Wing T offense.

Returning offensive starters

Trace York, So., FB.Lane Berry, Jr., TE.Brendan Foy, Sr., OG.Remington Roberts, Sr., TE.Trenton Nelson, Sr., C.Rayce Walling, Sr., TB.Jeffrey Davis, Sr., OT.

Key offensive newcomers

Defensive coordinator: Ron Dolphin.

2021 defense: 44.2 ppg (No. 12 in 2A).

Six returning starters.3-4 defense.

Returning defensive starters

Trenton Nelson, Sr., MLB.Draven Shaw, Sr., DB.Trace York, So., DL.Rayce Walling, Sr., DB.Riley Davis, Sr., DB.

Key defensive newcomers

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