High school football: Stansbury hopes to recapture past successes in new Region 10 and 4A classification

In 2021, the new UHSAA region realignments were put in place, and with it, an inflated 5A class was created. The 5A classification consisted of five regions and 32 football programs, making 5A as competitive as ever.

Despite the high level of competition, the Stansbury Stallions stayed successful and earned back-to-back trips to the 5A semifinals and finished at the top of region 7 in 2021 and 2022.

But in December, the UHSAA made the decision to adjust the classifications at the start of the 2023 season. With the change, the Stallions move from 5A in region 7 to 4A in region 10.

In the change, Stansbury will see some familiar faces with Cottonwood and Tooele also coming from region 7. The Stallions now have Jordan, Murray, and Park City as new in-region foes.

Following its previous success, Stansbury stands as pre-season favorites to win the new region 10, but despite all the changes, Stallions head coach Eric Alder says he’s trying to keep things ‘business as usual’,

“I haven’t even talked about it with my players,” said Alder.

“I haven’t even mentioned the fact that we’re back in 4A. I haven’t even talked about who’s on our schedule.”

“I haven’t even talked about who we’re playing in week 1. I may have posted it online or I may have hung it up in the locker room, but there’s no talk of it yet.”

“I think there’s a time and a place for that, but we focus on “first things first” and we focus on the process and the results take care of themselves.”

“I haven’t even talked about the fact that we’re in 4A, instead, we talk about what it takes to be our best and what our core values are, and if our habits are consistently matching up with those core values.”

In the escape of a loaded 5A class, Stansbury is in a nearly equally difficult 4A class with many of the state’s best programs fighting for the state title.

But the Stallions have proved they’re up for the challenge after recording 22 wins with only 4 losses in the two seasons in 5A. Stansbury has also been an offensive juggernaut in the 2021 and 2022 seasons where it recorded an average of 42 points per game between both seasons and a blistering 47.4 points per game in 2022.

However past success is just that, in the past, Stansbury is returning only three offensive starters and four defensive starters for next season. The Stallions know how tough the new 4A classification will be and how important up-and-coming players will be for their success in this upcoming season.

“We have a lot of players to replace, we have a lot of things to learn, we have got a lot of growing up to do and there’s no indication that we won’t do that, but it’s never easy,” said Alder.

“I’m certainly not taking the approach of, ‘Hey, we’re bumping down so we should go kick some butt.’

“Our schedule has me as concerned as any schedule any year. So our mindset is definitely not that the path is now suddenly easier because I just don’t feel that way.”

Region 10 projections

(Preseason rankings are based on coaches’ votes)

1. Stansbury Stallions

2023 Schedule

Head coach: Eric Alder

Entering his fifth year as head coach at Stansbury, where he’s posted a 38-11 record the past four years. Previously he was the head coach at Ben Lomond from 2014 to 2018, where his teams were 10-41. He’s a graduate of Sky View High School and Utah State.

Coach Eric Alder’s general outlook

Stansbury looks to build on previous years of success as the culture in the program continues to grow stronger. New athletes look to fill roles vacated by last years graduating class. Our athletes have worked hard and dedicated themselves to the process of becoming the best they can possibly be. New leaders will emerge and new faces coupled with some very key returning starters will be making plays for the Stallions this fall.

Offensive coordinator: Eric Alder

2022 offense: 47.4 ppg (No. 1 in 5A)

Three returning startersSpread, no-huddle offense

Returning offensive starters

Falinisi Vaka, Sr., OTXavier Gagnier OT, Sr.Taylor Toth C, Sr.

Key offensive newcomers

Coleman Dearden, Jr., QBMason Maxwell, Jr., WRAlex Geovjian, Sr., RBBracken Mathews, Sr., WRNoah Nunley, Sr., WRKandend Hadlock, Sr., WRTyson Ferry, Jr., RB

Defensive coordinator: Alex Huxford

2022 defense: 17.8 ppg (No. 5 in 5A)

Four returning starters3-4 defense

Returning defensive starters

Easton Baker, Sr., ILBFalinisi Vaka, Sr., DTLuke Daynes, Sr., ILBBracken Mathews, Sr., DB

Key defensive newcomers

Mason Maxwell, Jr., OLBMax Olson, Jr., OLBNoah Nunley, Sr., DBTobi Johnson, Jr., DTAlex Geovjian, Sr., DB

2. Park City Miners

2023 Schedule

Head coach: Josh Montzingo

Entering his eighth season at Park City, where his teams have posted a 54-30 record the past sixi years and a state runner-up finish in 2021. He’s a graduate of Edmonds Woodway High School in Washington and North Park University in Illinois.

Coach Josh Montzingo’s general outlook

While we have a lot of big shoes to fill on both sides we have some very talented players ready for their chance to step up. We are blessed to have a strong Senior class to lead us and help us compete in a very tough 4A this season.

Offensive coordinator: Josh Montzingo

2022 offense: 27.1 ppg (No. 16 in 5A)

Four returning startersSpread offense

Returning offensive starters

Nate Rust, Sr., OLSpencer Gallwas, Sr., OLJustin Mchaelis, Jr., OLWill McCurdy, Sr., RB

Key offensive newcomers

Rocco Daly, Sr., OLLiam Gallon, Jr., OLLincoln Jackson, Sr., QBTyler Montzingo, Sr., WRTate Campbell, Jr., WROwen Campbell, Jr., WREli Warner, So., RBAlex Moore, Sr., RBCharlie Cusimano, So., WR

Defensive coordinator: Mike Polinsky

2022 defense: 17.27 ppg (No. 3 in 5A)

Six returning starters3-4 defense

Returning defensive starters

Ben Beatty, Sr., DLAndy Watanabe, Sr., DLCarson Navarro, Sr., DBBlake Tabarraci, Sr., LBCorbin Towery, Sr., LBMason Christensen, Sr., DB

Key defensive newcomers

Brooks Bezmer, Sr., DLTrey Beichner, Sr., LBOwen Tabarraci, Sr., LBPierce Garner, Jr., DBJake Roller, Sr., DB

3. Tooele Buffaloes

2023 Schedule

Head coach: BJ Hunter

A long-time assistant at Tooele, BJ Hunter is heading into his second season as head coach after last year’s 2-8 record. He previously served as the head coach at Granite from 2002 to 2004, where his teams went 1-26. He’s a graduate of Granger and Utah.

Offensive coordinator: B.J. Hunter

2022 offense: 16.7 ppg (No. 29 in 5A)

Seven returning startersWing-T offense

Returning offensive starters

Kaden Dean, Sr., QBAaron Davis, Sr., WRNic Arellano, Sr., WRIsiah Pacheco, Sr., WRKolt Earl, Sr., TCanyon Smith, Jr., GGabe Cruz, Sr., GNico Pagnani, Sr., TCameron Barrett, Jr., TE

Key offensive newcomers

Liandro Herrera, Jr., RBBritton Rosser RB, Jr.Vaughn Gritzmacher, Jr., RBBram Gustin, Sr., RBGarrett Brown, Sr., RB

Defensive coordinator: Hayden Barney

2022 defense: 32.1 ppg (No. 23 in 5A)

Seven returning starters4-3 defense

Returning defensive starters

Kolt Earl, Sr., DEJohn Leakehe, Jr., DEJimmy Tuipeatau, Sr., DTBritton Rosser, Jr., LBBram Gustin, Sr., DBAaron Davis, Sr., DBVaughn Gritzmacher, Jr., DB

Key defensive newcomers

4. Jordan Beetdiggers

2023 Schedule

Head coach: Rodrigues Smith

Enters his fourth season at Jordan, where his teams have posted a 4-27 record the past three years. He’s a graduate of West High and Weber State.

Coach Rodrigues Smith’s general outlook

As a team we have to come in and play within our system. By doing so the players will be doing things the correct way which is the Gold Got way.

Offensive coordinator: Justin Belliston

2022 offense: 12 ppg (No. 32 in 5A)

Seven returning startersOpen to all offenses

Returning offensive starters

Zachary Dubois, Sr., LB/WRDerell Nichols, Sr., FS/WRJakarin Owens, Sr., QB/DBBoston Williams, Sr., WR/DBJake Miller, Sr., WR/DBAmani Malae, Sr., LB/HBSantos Garcia, Jr., OL/DLNoah Gatti, Jr., RB/LB

Key offensive newcomers

Kai Smith, Sr., HB/DEJacob Anderson, Jr., G/LBLaaui Bossy, Jr., OL/DLAdam Adudan SO, OL/DLRiley Mills, SO OL/DL

Defensive coordinator: Luis Cruz

2022 defense: 42.9 ppg (No. 30 in 5A)

Six returning starters5-3 monster defense

Returning defensive starters

Zachary Dubois, Sr., LB/WRDerell Nichols, Sr., FS/WRJakarin Owens, Sr., QB/DBJake Miller, Sr., WR/DBAmani Malae, Sr., LB/HB

Key defensive newcomers

Boston Williams, Sr., WR/DBSantos Garcia, Jr., OL/DLNoah Gatti, Jr., RB/LBKai Smith, Sr., HB/DEJacob Anderson, Jr., G/LBLaaui Bossy, Jr., OL/DLAdam Adudan SO, OL/DLRiley Mills, SO OL/DLFrank Silva, Jr., OL/DL

5. Cottonwood Colts

2023 Schedule

Head coach: Donovan Malmrose

Is entering his first year as head coach at his alma mater. He’s a graduate of the University of Utah.

Coach Donovan Malmrose’s general outlook

Excited for the upcoming season! Almost our entire coaching staff are Cottonwood alumni (Alo Moli 2009, John Martinez 2009, Etu Moli 2010, AJ Jones 2004, Donnie Beck 2001, Mike Demkov 2008, Hunter Workman 2018, Donovan Malmrose 2007, and more). In addition to football we have challenged the boys with a much higher standard of living (higher GPA, higher school attendance, etc). Character is where it is going to start and what is going to have the greatest impact for our kids future. We are working to re-establish the foundation that Coach Cecil Thomas and Coach Scott Cate laid at Cottonwood training boys into men. Our boys have rose to the occasion and have lived up to the standards we set and are living #4TheTribe. We’ve and excellent response from our leaders: Dom Chidester, Kaelen Gray, Xavier Yazzie, Gabriel Bricio, Dylan Henry, and Cooper Post.

Offensive coordinator: Donovan Malmrose

Three returning startersSpread offense

Returning offensive starters

Kaelen Gray, Sr., WRXavier Yazzie, Sr., TAsher Danner, Sr., G

Key offensive newcomers

Peter Oguama, Sr., WRRyan Nielson, Sr., WRRobbie Jensen, Sr., QBPalmer Johansen, Jr.Siaosi Tuitavake, Jr., ATH, RBMalcolm Mundy, Jr., QBKorbyn Lynch, Jr., WRDylan Henry, Jr., TackleDJ Ma’ae, So., WRRoman ISr.ayelyan, So., WRSunia Fifita, So., RB

Defensive coordinator: AJ Jones

Four returning starters4-2-5 defense

Returning defensive starters

Kaelen Gray, Sr., DBDamien Stonehocker, Sr.Martize Johnson, Sr., DT, LBElliot Payne, Sr., DEDaven Peterson, Jr., DT,

Key defensive newcomers

Dom Chidester, Sr., DBCody Sharp, Sr., DBCooper Post, Sr., DBDrew Barth, Sr., LBKorbyn Lynch, Jr., DBNikk Rains, Jr., LBDylan Henry, Jr., DE

6. Hillcrest Huskies

2023 Schedule

Head coach: Robert Kaelin

The Skyline High graduate is entering his first season as head coach at Hillcrest. He’s a graduate of the University of Utah.

Coach Robert Kaelin’s general outlook

We bring in a new coaching staff and philosophies on both sides of the ball. Though returning a few starters on both offense and defense, we have many new, and young, players filling key positions this year for our team. We are excited to get on the field and show what Hillcrest football is all about.

Offensive coordinator: Robby Kaelin

2022 offense: 15.8 ppg (No. 30 in 5A)

Five returning startersSpread offense

Returning offensive starters

Mickey Alcivar, Jr., OLRyder Hommes, Sr., OLMarcus Sollers, Sr., RBSteven Hoskins, Jr., WRGage Pyper, Sr., WR

Key offensive newcomers

Anthonie Taylor, Sr., QBMateo Paul, Sr., WR

Defensive coordinator: Seth Kaelin

2022 defense: 46.2 ppg (No. 32 in 5A)

Four returning starters3-4 defense

Returning defensive starters

Ryder Hommes, Sr., ILBAlex Gonzales, Sr., OLBZion Jackson, Sr., OLBMateo Paul, Sr., DB

Key defensive newcomers

Josiah Gonzalez, Sr., DBTayden Black, Sr., DB

7. Murray Spartans

2023 Schedule

Head coach: Roger Armijo

Taking over for Todd Thompson, who was head coach the past six years. Armijo is a graduate of Charter Oak High School and the University of La Verne, both in California.

Coach Roger Armijo’s general outlook

The outlook for the 2023 Murray High School football season is cautiously optimistic, with effort and excitement being the key components to a successful season. Coming off an 0-10 season can be daunting for some, but the reason for optimism is in the character of the kids in the program. Not once have we mentioned last season as we prepare for the upcoming campaign. I’ve instructed the players and the staff, “we must look forward, not backwards, to achieve our goals this season.”

We’ve developed in a lot of ways. We’ve spent a lot of time in the film room, taking any opportunity to teach the game of football and teach our schemes, to help them understand how to handle as many situations as possible. We’ve developed in the weight room. We always say you have to be very good in that department. The young men have really bought into what we’ve asked them to do. They have a great approach each and every day. We’ve developed on the football field as well, and we had a tremendous spring. The guys competed hard every day, got after each other, and brought competition amongst themselves. Ultimately, we are looking for that to pay off in the fall. That’s when it counts.

Murray is a fantastic community, with great people of character and athletic ability. It’s my job to highlight those strengths and provide a product on the field that will make the community proud on Friday nights. We will give full effort and compete on every play. The schedule is always formidable in Utah so we will focus on one game at a time and let the results fall where they may. I’m really excited and looking forward to a great season!

Offensive coordinator: Brayden Linde

2022 offense: 6.5 ppg (No. 33 in 5A)

Four returning startersSpread offense

Returning offensive starters

Kadine Racine, Sr., WRBrock Perry, Sr., RBSpencer Bushman, Jr., WRJayden Cottonwood, Sr., OL

Key offensive newcomers

Alex Bojorquez, Jr., QBJosh Zullo, Jr., RB

Defensive coordinator: Roger Armijo

2022 defense: 48.5 ppg (No. 33 in 5A)

Five returning starters4-2-5 defense

Returning defensive starters

Thanasi Johnson, Sr., LBJosh Zullo, Jr., LBStockton Hughes, Jr., LBSpencer Bushman, Jr., DBAnthony Thompson, Jr., DB

Key defensive newcomers

Beck Lutkin, Jr., DLEvan Talbot, So., DB

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