Our mindset for a homecoming game is that we want to play our best opponent. We know [Desert Hills] knocked us out of the playoffs last year, and we want to prove ourselves. —Stansbury High School quarterback Chase Christiansen
STANSBURY PARK, Utah — From the time Stansbury High quarterback Chase Christiansen was in the fourth grade, football has been something that he loved to play. From his early years as solely a linebacker to his days as the Region 11 MVP quarterback, the passion to play the game has always been there.
After a breakout 9-2 2011 campaign for the Stallions that ended with a second-round loss to Desert Hills in the state playoffs, the junior is focused on helping Stansbury return to the playoffs, and this time, take a step further toward the state championship.
“Last year was a good year, but it’s not quite where we want to be,” said Christiansen. “The team has a mindset and that (the state championship) is what we want. Anything less than that is unacceptable.”
After the season-ending loss to Desert Hills, the Stallions scheduled the Thunder for their homecoming game in 2012.
“We learned a lot about the character of our team after that loss,” said Christiansen. “We played them at camp this summer, and they’re better than they were last year. We know that to beat them we’re going to have to bring it.”
Generally, teams will schedule a weaker team for their homecoming game, but at Stansbury, that is not the case.
“Our mindset for a homecoming game is that we want to play our best opponent,” he said. "We know they knocked us out of the playoffs last year, and we want to prove ourselves.”
After racking up 1,149 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns last season, Christiansen is looking to contribute more in the passing game. After throwing for 522 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions last year, the Stallion quarterback has done just that.
While he has also been outstanding on the ground, rushing for 320 yards and five touchdowns, he has thrown for 330 yards, seven touchdowns and no interceptions through his first four games of 2012. He has also raised his completion percentage from 44.3 percent, up to 55.9 percent, and he has almost doubled his total touchdown passes from last season.
“This offseason I worked heavily on throwing mechanics,” Christiansen said. “Last year we were almost entirely one-dimensional. Teams were stacking the box on us, making it very hard on our linemen. We wanted to make teams have to back off of us and give ourselves the opportunity to be able to throw the ball and score more points.”
Although Christiansen is Stansbury’s leading rusher, the Stallions have five other players with at least 100 yards rushing for the season, including three with 200 yards or more. Having multiple offensive weapons on the field is something the Stallions don’t take for granted. They like to call it “the giving tree.”
“You can’t take everybody away,” said Christiansen. “Our guys are so unselfish, nobody is asking for the ball. My job is to recognize who they are taking away and get the ball to whoever they are not. “
After a huge season for Christiansen in 2011 and a great start to the 2012 season, several colleges have taken notice of the talent the dual-threat quarterback presents. Although he has expressed interest in playing collegiate football, he does not have a preference on where it would be, or even what position he would play.
“I want an opportunity to play anywhere, I’m not too picky,” said Christiansen. “I just want to keep playing football.”
After starting off the season 4-0, their best start ever, the Stallions will host cross-town rivals the Tooele Buffaloes in The Battle for the Boot on Friday. The Stallions beat Tooele 35-7 last year behind a 136-yard rushing and two-touchdown performance from Christiansen. He also threw for 89 yards and a touchdown. The Stallions ended up pulling away in the second half, but it was just 7-7 at halftime. Although Tooele has had its early struggles, Christiansen knows that beating them is not going to be an easy task.
“We just have to go out and play our game and we should be OK,” said Christiansen. “We know they’re a good team so we just have to come out and stay level-headed.”
Chase is doing a great job staying level-headed, and staying humble.
When it comes to team sports, especially football, teams are renowned for giving nicknames. Christiansen’s teammates call him "Hoss," based on a character from the old TV show "Bonanza. Hoss Cartwright was a man that was quiet and nice, but if he needed to put a beat down on somebody, he could do it. The Stallions junior quarterback might not understand, but it makes perfect sense to me.
CJ Pronk is a Deseret Digital Media intern and a senior at Stansbury High School.