Note: Juab finished with an 8-4 overall record in 2010 and a 3-2 record in Region 12. It lost to Juan Diego, 27-12, in the 3A quarterfinals.
NEPHI — There's been a lot of complaining coming out of Juab High School about, first, moving up to 3A two years ago, and secondly about being left in 3A in the most recent UHSAA realignment.
Over the course of the past two years, though, the football players have realized there's no use complaining. The situation is what it is, and they've gone out and worked their tails off regardless.
There's enough evidence to suggest that the third season in 3A could be Juab's best.
In 2009, the Wasps finished with a 6-5 record and were humiliated 56-0 by Juan Diego in the 3A playoffs' first round. Last season they improved to 8-4, and despite losing to Juan Diego in the quarterfinals this time around, it was a much better showing. Juab only trailed 20-12 with under two minutes remaining before Juan Diego returned an interception for a touchdown to prevail 27-12.
"They know we just need to dig in and work and do the best we can," said Juab coach Mike Bowring. "It's a credit to the kids and the coaches that they've been able to compete at this level."
There's no reason to think Juab won't continue to compete in the revamped Region 12 either, which now includes Spanish Fork and Payson.
Juab doesn't return many starters, but Bowring has established a program at Juab that knows how to compete week after week, and he has players that don't sit around and feel sorry for their predicament.
"A lot of these kids haven't got a lot of experience. The ones that do are pretty strong and the ones that aren't they're catching on quick," said Bowring. "It's going to be a team that will continue to get better as the season goes on. As we gain more experience, we'll be better."
Statistically, Juab had the seventh-best defense in 3A last year, but Bowring expects to be even better this year. He's got a collection of good hitters who love to fly around to the ball and make plays. He admits that the defense always looks better than the offense in the summer, but he's optimistic it will carry over into the season.
As much as anything, Bowring said his team needs to play fundamental football this year.
"We don't have a big gap for margin of error. Playing fundamentally sound, being good tacklers, not turning the ball over. If we do that I think we'll be in most games," he said.
Juab Wasps at a glance
Coach: Mike Bowring is entering his eighth season at Juab with a 58-23 record. Prior to moving to Juab, Bowring was the head coach at Monticello for seven years and he won a state championship in 2001. Bowring is a graduate of San Juan High School.
(3 returning starters; Spread offense)
Spencer McPhearson was thrust into the starting QB role in the first round of the playoffs last year, and he did well for himself in a win over Union and a loss to Juan Diego. The experience gained in those two games is already paying off. He's reading the defense very well and getting the ball where it needs to go. Outside of offensive lineman Dallin Evans and Jackson Jones, there aren't many other returning starters. Juab will be breaking in an entire new group of receivers, and even though known of them have blazing speed, Bowring said they're all good route runners who just need to improve their run-after-the-catch abilities.
(3 returning starters)
Juab will hang its hat on defense this year. Big things in particular are expected out of a linebacking corps that includes Talon Bryan, Kelton Brough and Dalton Brooks. On the line, Jake Nielson, Evans and Jones all return with some experience. In the secondary, McPhearson is the lone returning starter, but Kaden Kelson and Joe Allred are expected to make big contributions.
Coaches preseason Region 12 straw poll: Third
Deseret News Region 12 prediction: Fourth
Bottom line: Juab wasn't an explosive offense last year, and probably won't overwhelm many teams this year, either. Defensively, though, the Wasps will be very good and should be competitive in every game. Juab's season could very well be defined during Weeks 4-6, as it ends the preseason with Wasatch and Park City and then opens region play at Spanish Fork.
Aug. 19 — at Canyon View, 7 p.m.
Aug. 26 — GRANTSVILLE, 7 p.m.
Sept. 2 — at Union, 6 p.m.
Sept. 9 — WASATCH, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 — at Park City
Sept. 23 — at Spanish Fork, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 — PAYSON, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 — DELTA, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 — at Carbon, 7 p.m.
Oct. 19 — NORTH SANPETE, 7 p.m.