Football

High school football: San Juan’s returning experience could give it a slight edge over Beaver in 2A South region

High school football: San Juan’s returning experience could give it a slight edge over Beaver in 2A South region

The manner in which Beaver dominated 2A football the past two years was realistically unfair on two levels — unfair to Beaver that it didn’t have a chance to prove itself against bigger competition, but then unfair to its mostly helpless opponents who almost always faced a second-half running clock.

Things should be much different in 2021.

Even though Beaver is still in 2A, 11 of the teams it competed against in 2A a year ago have been realigned and placed in 1A again.

Beaver no longer will competing against teams like Kanab, Milford and North Sevier in region play, and now instead facing some larger schools like San Juan and Delta. Come playoff time, other 2A programs like South Summit and Summit Academy could be waiting.

Despite the increased challenges, Beaver coach Jon Marshall believes his team has the potential to keep building on its 26-game winning streak.

“We have the same expectations. We’re not going to be as physically dominant as we were the last couple years, but I do feel like we have a good enough group of kids that we can play at a high level and have a lot of success,” said Marshall.

A year ago Beaver’s average margin of victory was 42 points. The year before it was 40.2 ppg.

It wasn’t all 2A teams it beat up either during that stretch, as Beaver rolled past some 3A foes last year like Delta, Grand and Grantsville.

Facing those larger schools week in and week out will present some challenges, especially for a largely inexperienced Beaver team this year which returns only a handful of returning starters.

We’re going to be a very new team, a lot of varsity inexperience, but our sub varsity groups have done very well the last two years and we have some good kids,” said Marshall. “We understand it’s going to be harder, more difficult and more challenging, but at the same time we still expect to have success.”

San Juan expects to have similar success in 2A South this year, and a big reason why is experience

The Broncos only graduated four seniors from a team that went 8-4 and reached the 3A quarterfinals last season, with every starter both offensively and defensively returning in 2021.

It’s extremely rare luxury for coach Barkley Christensen, something he said has made a big difference throughout the summer.

“Our summer practices we’re not so much installing plays, but we’re able to practice and go forward and it’s so smooth. It’s just so much easier,” said Christensen.

San Juan actually led the 3A in scoring last year averaging 39.0 ppg, and it’s scary to think how much more efficient it might be this year with all those starters back and moving down a classification.

Christensen said dropping down a classification is a double-edged sword too.

“We were excited to go back down, but the kids were a little bit disappointed because they did feel like we could’ve done something in 3A, which would’ve been fun, but 2A is loaded still,” said Christensen.

While San Juan and Beaver are the clear-cut front runners in 2A South, Delta hopes it can make some noise of its own in a classification that fits its enrollment better.

After starting 0-4 last year, Delta made a surprising run into the 3A semifinals last year and returns five starters on both sides of the ball from that team.

Like Beaver, Millard was the other 2A team from last season that remained in the classification. The transition figures to be much tougher for Millard, which only went 6-6 against the smaller schools a year ago, but coach Ethan Stephenson’s team returns a bunch of starters from that team and should be more competitive.

Grand and South Sevier combined to win just three games last season and they face similar uphill challenges in 2021.

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