Note: San Juan finished with a 11-1 overall record in 2009 and a 5-0 record in 2A East. The Broncos won the 2A state title with a 7-0 victory over South Summit.
After staying steady as one of the top teams in 2A for over a decade, the San Juan Broncos won it all for the third time in the last 10 years last season.
Although the Broncos lost 2A MVP Jace Holliday, as well as first-teamers Peyton Black, Jimmy Tate and Benny Royer (among others) to graduation, they will be returning seven starters both offensively and defensively. With so many key returnees, the Broncos will again be the team with the target on their backs this year, and coach Monty Lee wouldn't have it any other way.
"It's always nice to have somebody else that we have to aim for, but with the caliber of our kids and our program, I'd just assume it be us as anybody," coach Lee said. "Coming in with a bull's-eye is tough, but somebody's got to do it. I wouldn't bet against us."
Stetler Shumway, who led the state in tackles last year, will move to linebacker this season, joining fellow returners Ryan Lyman and Taj Eldredge to shore up the Broncos' defense. Offensively, Shumway and Lyman will share the backfield, while Cameron Shumway will return to quarterback the Broncos.
With so many kids returning who saw action last year, coach Lee does not want his team to get complacent.
"I think a lot of that has to do with the attitude of the coaches. Each year, we stress and expect our kids to be playing the last week. It's what we emphasize, " Lee said. "Some of the most successful seasons you have, you don't win the championship, but you do get the most out of the kids."
The Broncos aren't overlooking any other teams in their bid to repeat this year, however. Last year's runner-up, South Summit, will also be returning several key starters, and the Broncos and Wildcats have a mid-September matchup that could be very revealing.
"That'll be tough, because we play Grantsville the week before on the road, too," Coach Lee said. "Traveling seven-eight hours two weeks in a row is going to be rough on our boys. I'll be lucky if they're able to walk off the bus."
Traveling is something the Broncos have had to deal with every season. The majority of their road games will be over four hours away this year, and only one game is under 21/2 hours away.
"It is hard on the kids sometimes, but we have tons of fans. Most of the places we go, we have more people show up than the home team," Lee said. "We have the best fans in the state by far."
SAN JUAN BRONCOS
Coach: Monty Lee was born and raised in Blanding, and has spent the last eight seasons coaching the Broncos. He's racked up 63 wins and 17 losses at San Juan.
(7 returning starters; split-back and single-back offense)
The Broncos will sorely miss Holiday and his 13 rushing TDs, but expect Stetler Shumway to fill the spot handily as his carries increase. Returning second-team All-State quarterback Cameron Shumway will carry a heavy load for the Broncos this season, and with the Broncos having lost several key receivers, returning wideout Tyler Nelson should see more looks. Three-year starter AJ Slavens, described by coach Lee as "one of the fiercest blockers I have ever seen," also returns as a vital piece of San Juan's offensive line.
(7 returning starters)