Nicoll will be grooming all new starters on the defensive line, but does have some experience at linebacker with seniors Gunnar Beus and Wyatt Groves. Fellow seniors Cam Money and Colton Olsen are returning starters in the secondary, and Chambers has seen great things from all his seniors so far.
“The senior class is very motivated and they understand their role as being leaders and being the players that push this team. The great thing about them is they’re the ones with the high expectations of themselves. You can coach that, but it’s much better if you don’t have to so you can focus on the finer points of the game,” said Chambers.
Spanish Fork Dons at a glance
Coach: Kirk Chambers is entering his first season as Spanish Fork’s head coach. The Provo High graduate spent the past seven years playing in the NFL, including last season with the Atlanta Falcons.
(5 returning starters; Spread offense)
Spanish Fork was among the Top 5 scoring offenses in 3A last year at 33.3 ppg, and the task of trying to duplicate that production is going to fall on the shoulders of an underclassman. Junior Jeremiah Evans and sophomore Jason Money have been battling throughout the summer for the starting QB job, and they have big shoes to fill with the departure of all-stater Hayden Nielsen. Whoever gets the nod, they’ll have five returning starters to ease with the transition. Levi Mitchell and Jordan Brandon are returners on the line who hope to give Spanish Fork’s new quarterback time to adjust. Also back offensively are Gunnar Beus at fullback and Cam Money and Olsen at receiver.
(4 returning starters)
The inability to stop quality running teams is ultimately what prevented Spanish Fork from winning the region or state championship last year. Delta ran all over Spanish Fork to clinch the Region 12 championship, and then Hurricane did the same in a 38-35 semifinal victory over the Dons. Shoring up the defensive front and getting stops against quality opponents will be the biggest challenge this season for new defensive coordinator Kevin Nicoll.
Coaches preseason Region 12 straw poll: First
Deseret News Region 12 prediction: First
Bottom line: Despite the coaching change and the graduation of some extremely talented offensive players, there’s no reason Spanish Fork won’t be in the hunt for a state championship again this year. The Dons can help themselves out by claiming the Region 12 title, and the schedule is certainly favorable with three of five region games at home, including the Delta game on Oct. 5. That game will likely determine the Region 12 championship.
Aug. 17 — PARK CITY, 7 p.m.
Aug. 24 — at Springville, 7 p.m.
Aug. 31 — AMERICAN FORK, 7 p.m.
Sept. 7 — at Logan, 7 p.m.
Sept. 14 — at Judge, 7 p.m.
Sept. 21 — CARBON, 7 p.m.
Sept. 28 — at Juab, 7 p.m.
Oct. 5 — DELTA, 7 p.m.
Oct. 12 — NORTH SANPETE, 7 p.m.
Oct. 17 — at Payson, 7 p.m.
Felt’s Facts for Spanish Fork High School
All-time record: 335-416-20 (92 years)
Region championships: 7 (1935 co, 1961, 1969, 1970 co, 1973 co 1977 co, 1991 co)
Playoff appearances: 29
All-time playoff record: 16-29
State championships: None
State championship record: 0-0