High school football: Stansbury Stallions 2012 preview

Published: Monday, Aug. 6 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Note: Stansbury finished with a 9-2 overall record and was first in Region 11 with a 6-0 record 2011. It lost to Desert Hills, 26-7, in the 3A quarterfinals.

TOOELE — Clint Christiansen has always been a coach who talks confidently about his teams. Even in Stansbury’s first year back in 2009, he went into the season believing the Stallions could compete for a playoff spot.

That team won just one game, and it came against fellow newcomer Maple Mountain.

Entering the 2012 season, Christiansen’s confidence isn’t misplaced.

A year after winning every Region 11 game by double digits and advancing to the 3A quarterfinals, Stansbury returns the vast majority of its starters this year.

“We’re really excited where we’re at right now. It’s going to be a heck of a year for us,” said Christiansen.

With the talent Stansbury has coming back, there’s no reason it shouldn’t win the Region 11 title again. The next challenge is competing consistently with the big boys of 3A. It lost two games last season, a Week 3 contest to eventual Region 12 champion Delta and a quarterfinal contest to eventual 3A runner-up Desert Hills. Both were double-digit losses.

The offense sputtered in the Delta loss, but Desert Hills’ 26 seniors and superior size wore out Stansbury in the playoffs.

That playoff loss, and the frustration of getting pushed around in the second half, has fueled a passionate offseason.

“To win it, you’re going to have to go through St. George. Bottom line. They’re loaded from top to bottom, and we’ve preached that to our kids,” said Christiansen. “Can we compete with the size of those schools? The option game gives us the opportunity to do that offensively, but defensively we’re going to have to figure out if we can stop them.”

In that loss to Desert Hills last year, Stansbury power running back Mike Needham carried the ball 20 times for 133 yards and three TDs.

Conversely, Stansbury running quarterback Chase Christiansen only had 32 yards on 10 carries. It’s hard to imagine Christiansen ever being held in check on the ground like that again.

Following a sophomore season that opened the eyes of Georgia Tech’s coaching staff, the option quarterback is poised for even greater things in 2012. He carried the ball 150 times for 1,149 yards and 19 TDs last year.

Christiansen’s next step as a quarterback is improvement in the passing game. His coach — who’s also his father — enlisted the help of a friend to help with that. Pine View coach Ray Hosner and Christiansen were college roommates, and Hosner spent some time this summer with the young quarterback teaching him to release the ball higher.

After a slight adjustment to Chase’s mechanics, coach Christiansen said he could see an immediate improvement in his delivery and velocity.

With offensive experience around him, that should pay big dividends this fall.

“Skill wise, we’re definitely better. The kids are more mature and they’re bigger and stronger. We’re fast everywhere. We have a lot of speed on the field,” said Christiansen.

Offensively, the only significant voids Stansbury must fill are two spots on the line, but those were addressed and solved at Southern Utah’s team camp.

“We had an outstanding camp, probably as good as we’ve ever had. We answered some questions on the offense line. There wasn’t really anybody who could stop us or slow us down at camp,” said Christiansen.