South Valley high school football preview
Aug 30, 2017 03:44PM
● By Jana Klopsch
By Greg James | [email protected]
The summer heat means one thing: High school football season is right around the corner. South Valley teams have been gearing up for the season.
The 2016 Mustangs football season by some could be considered a disappointment. After coming off a championship in 2015 the expectations were high to begin 2016. They finished the regular season with a 5-4 record and were forced into a play-in game against American Fork to qualify for the state playoffs.
The Mustangs held a 14-6 halftime lead in that game, but American Fork stormed back scoring 11 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, including a game-winning field goal in the final minutes. The game marked the end of the season, but Herriman’s players and coaches have adopted the saying “no one cares, work harder” this year.
“We are right where we want to be,” Herriman head coach Dustin Pearce said.
Returning junior quarterback Blake Freeland has accepted an offer to play at BYU following his graduation in 2019. The young quarterback split duties last season and completed 29 of 72 passes for 350 yards.
On defense, the Mustangs return top linemen Drake Elliot, Jaren Kump and David Fotu. Tyson Herrera had two interceptions last season in pass defense. The defense will be charged with stopping the tough offenses in Region 3 this season.
The Bears are coming off a successful season. They completed the regular season with only one loss, a 44-20 drubbing by San Juan. Despite that loss early in the season, the Bears regrouped and trampled through the 2A north division.
They qualified for the playoffs and defeated South Sevier 41-14 in its first game. Isaac Hamilton threw for 187 yards and three touchdowns, but in the semifinals the Bears lost to 35-14, ending its ascent to a second state championship game in the school’s five-year history.
The graduation of Hamilton will be a giant hole for the team to fill. He threw for 3,156 yards and 36 touchdowns last season. Mitch Hansen and Parker Clawson return for the Bears at the other skill positions, receiver and running back, respectively.
Under the new Utah High School Activities Association realignment plan, the Bears will be placed in 3A’s south region and will face Juan Diego, Juab, Manti, North Sanpete and Richfield.
A new head coach will be roaming the sidelines at Riverton High School this fall. Blaine Monkres takes over at Riverton after one season in the same position at Murray High School. The Riverton job presented a new opportunity at what he considers an up-and-coming program.
The Silverwolves had a rough season in 2016. They finished with a 1-9 overall record; their only victory came on the last day of the season against Olympus, 28-21.
“I like our new coach,” senior lineman Tanner Vernon said. “He has a lot of experience. He has brought in a new idea on offense and has reinforced the importance of working hard. He has reemphasized the importance of putting our nose to the grindstone and getting stuff done.”
The Silverwolves are expected to abandon the wing-t offense they have used exclusively the last few years.
Monkres currently ranks eighth all time in coaching victories in the state of Utah. Besides coaching at Murray, he has also coached Fremont, Morgan and Dixie high schools. He has won three state titles and five region titles.
The UHSAA realignment will also affect its 5A schools. Riverton and Herriman will compete in 6A’s Region 3. For football, they will be joined by East, Copper Hills, Taylorsville and West Jordan.